Smoking is one of the most dangerous recreational drug use practices among people. Smoking can be defined as the practice or habit of burning a substance such as tobacco, bhang and cannabis or marijuana, and inhaling its smoke for recreational purposes (Alder, Morris & Shah 16). During smoking, the substance releases chemical components such as nicotine that are inhaled and absorbed into the body of the user usually through the lungs. Smoking is highly addictive and can cause serious, long-term consequences. It is a habitual behavior that many people all over the world are struggling with. Although many people are suffering from and/or are aware of the results of smoking, they find it difficult to quit smoking because of a number of reasons. Governments, health care professionals and organizations as well as public health advocates are constantly campaigning for reduced use of tobacco by the people. Despite these governmental, organizational and individual efforts to make the society quit smoking, millions of people across the world are still smokers and are faced with numerous challenges as they attempt to give up smoking. According to Borland, behavior change is one of the major challenges faced by individuals (17). Thus, the purpose of this paper is to identify the factors that make it hard to stop smoking. This paper strives to establish the reasons why it is difficult for smokers to break this destructive habit. The research question is: why is it hard for people to quit smoking?
Reasons why One Should Quit Smoking
One of the major reasons why it is important to quit smoking is that smoking tobacco or cigarettes is highly detrimental to the health of an individual. According to the American Heart Association, cigarettes contain deadly substances that can cause serious diseases such as cancer of the mouth and throat, and heart disease among others. Kwabi-Addo and Lindstrom also assert that smoking is a major cause of lung cancer in the society (41). McCay and Dingwell state that the components of cigarettes such as nicotine, tar and carbon dioxide have adverse effects on the human body (80). For example, nicotine and tar clog in the lungs causing lung cancer and other complications of the respiratory system. Smoking is one of the deadliest recreational practices in the long run because of its adverse effects on an individual’s health (Alder, Morris & Shah 22).
Therefore, smoking usually causes serious and chronic diseases such as cancer of the mouth and throat and lung cancer which kill thousands of people every year across the globe. In 2007, it was estimated that smoking causes five million deaths every year in the world (Alder, Morris & Shah 28).
Why is it Hard to Quit Smoking?
One of the major reasons why it is hard to quit smoking is addiction. Addiction refers to the process by which an individual cannot control the use of a substance despite its harmful effects. Drug addiction is usually characterized by intense craving for the drug. Addiction usually causes serious consequences such as poor physical health, behavioral disorders, poor interpersonal relationships and mental health. Currie-McGhee defines addiction as the continued repetition of a behavior in spite of adverse results (9). Addiction to substance or drugs such as alcohol, cocaine and tobacco is the most common form of addiction in the society. Addiction may also result from a neurological impairment that leads to overdependence on a drug. Tobacco is one of the most addictive drugs in the world. It contains nicotine which makes it highly addictive. People who smoke have a continued repetitive habit or dependency on tobacco thus making it hard for them to quit.
Secondly, people find it difficult to quit smoking because of genetic factors. According to Price, genetics play a major role in drug addiction especially smoking. The author reports that a certain type of dopamine receptor known as the D2 receptor is responsible for addiction to substances such as alcohol, tobacco, cocaine and heroin. The author further asserts that genetics accounts for approximately seventy-five percent of the will to smoke and sixty percent of addiction to tobacco. Similarly, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism also asserts that biological and genetic factors play a key role in the co-use and addiction to alcohol and tobacco. The organization states that there are certain genes in the body and some neurons in the brain cells which release mesolimbic dopamine that increases addiction to alcohol and tobacco. Thus, genetic factors determine the ability of an individual to quit smoking. For example, persons with genes that increase an individual’s inclination to smoking are less likely to stop smoking.
Thirdly, it is hard to quit smoking because of physiological adjustments of the body. This refers to the process by which the body adjusts to a substance by incorporating or fitting it into its systems and normal functioning. According to Currie-McGhee, physiological adjustment or dependence creates a situation of tolerance in which the body continuously adapts to the presence of the substance within its systems and normal functioning and also requires increasingly larger amounts to achieve the original effects (15). Tolerance is closely related to withdrawal which refers to such symptoms as increased craving for substance, irritability and anxiety that occurs when the body is denied a substance it had previously tolerated. Withdrawals result in discontinued use of the substance. As stated earlier, smoking is highly addictive. Prolonged use of tobacco leads to tolerance in the body and withdrawal if the use is discontinued. Thus, it becomes extremely difficult to quit smoking after prolonged use because of body tolerance and inability to deal with withdrawal symptoms.
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Last but not least, many smokers cannot quit this destructive and health-threatening habit because of psychological reasons such as mentality with regards to drugs use. People who view smoking their main form of recreation find it difficult to quit.
New Item Learned about the Topic
One new and interesting item that I learned about this topic area is that genetic factors also affect the ability of an individual to quit smoking. Since my childhood, I have always believed that smoking is a habitual behavior that does not relate to genetic factors of an individual but rather the willingness of a person to stop or continue with it.
Although this paper has established that there are a number of reasons why people find it hard to quit smoking, I would assert that smoking is a dangerous recreational practice that should be abandoned by everybody. The governments, health care institutions and medical professionals should discourage the use of tobacco or cigarettes in the society by all means. Moreover, individuals should also work hard toward quitting smoking.