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Why Is It So Hard to Quit Smoking?

Let’s be real: It’s not uncommon for people to put things off or not honor their commitments. Sometimes, it’s because the initial goal was unrealistic to begin with. We feel disappointment over broken promises or an acute sense of failure over not meeting our goals. Sometimes, we fail because we are afraid to ask for support.

This can be especially true when it comes to quitting smoking. Not only is quitting a difficult task mentally and emotionally, but it can be an intense physical ordeal for your body.

Some Facts About Nicotine

Nicotine can cross the blood-brain barrier within 10 seconds after it is inhaled. When nicotine reaches the brain, it triggers dopamine to be released. Smokers feel pleasure and calm, and their withdrawal symptoms lessen. Unfortunately, after dopamine depletes, these symptoms return, and with it, the urge to smoke. When trying to quit, unpleasant withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, depression, anxiety, and difficulty concentrating often lead smokers back to cigarettes.

Quitting Takes More Than Just Willpower

For most smokers, quitting smoking is more than just a matter of willpower. If a smoker who is trying to quit has a slip-up, there is often blame. In reality, there’s nothing to be ashamed of if you go back to a cigarette. On average, smokers may attempt to quit 6 to 11 times before they actually succeed. With every attempt, it’s important to remember: a slip-up does not mean failure. With every attempt, every smoke-free day should be considered a success.

It can be hard to think of the long-term benefits of quitting, especially when the short-term urges are loud and nagging. Just because you may not have succeeded in past attempts to quit doesn’t mean you can’t do it this time around. Successfully quitting smoking is a physical, mental, and behavioral challenge. If you’ve tried quitting in the past and it has not worked, don’t despair—there are many tools and resources to help you quit. Your healthcare provider, family, and friends can all provide support, along with the resources here on GetQuit®.

Give yourself another chance and try not to put yourself down if quitting takes a while. Every minute you’re smoke-free is a success for your health. Becoming smoke-free is a journey that you take day by day, one step at a time.