One of the most popular resolutions at the beginning of each year is the promise to stop smoking. However, it is also the resolution that usually doesn’t last past January, much less past the half-year mark! Why is it so hard to stop smoking?

Tobacco, with its drug nicotine, is probably the most widely abused chemical substance in the world. It is one of the most difficult addictions to conquer. It is difficult to conquer because there is not only a strong physical addiction to the nicotine, which basically touches every part of the body, but there is a significant psychological addiction to the activities associated with smoking. I have had some patients who struggled more with the psychological addiction than the physical, but both can be a formidable foe. Tobacco is dangerous and deadly and needs to be taken seriously.

Cigarettes are designed to addict. They are chemically engineered to deliver nicotine to your brain. Along with the nicotine there are numerous other dangerous substances in the cigarette smoke which cause devastating health issues. Some of these substances are acetone, carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide and formaldehyde. These chemicals are added to the tobacco which makes the cigarette even more deadly. These added chemicals are given the general name “tar” and include everything in a cigarette but nicotine and water. The cigarette is manufactured with a deadly delivery system, designed to efficiently send high doses of nicotine to the brain. As you inhale the cigarette smoke, the tar infiltrates your lungs, and the nicotine “rides the tar” into the blood stream. As the cigarette smoke is inhaled there are over four thousand compounds present in that smoke to make that “rush” of nicotine faster and more enjoyable. Out of the over four thousand compounds present in cigarette smoke, at least sixty of them are known to be carcinogens (cancer-forming chemicals).

Tobacco is quite insidious with its consequences. Unlike cocaine, heroin, or other dangerous drugs, tobacco’s nicotine and poison can go undetected for many years. Tobacco can gradually create addiction to nicotine and gradually kill. Tobacco is legal and accessible, but it is one of the leading causes of death throughout the world, causing almost half a million deaths in the United States annually.

As people smoke cigarettes they are not only exposing themselves to the dangers of tobacco but also their loved ones and friends they smoke around. Second-hand smoke was once considered harmless but we now know better. Second-hand smoke is poisonous and it kills. It is estimated that exposure to second-hand smoke causes an estimated three thousand lung cancer deaths each year among non-smoking American adults.

Nicotine withdrawal is a very unpleasant process to go through. For you see, when you take nicotine away, your body craves it, and makes you feel like you need more nicotine or you will die or get sick. Your body will rebel with all kinds of symptoms such as: headaches, anxiety, depression, fatigue, hunger, trouble sleeping, thirst, decreased attention span, agitation, irritability, anger, and frustration amongst many others. The above symptoms can occur in just a few short hours after your last cigarette. They will be at their worst two to three days later and can last for weeks. It is not only a physical withdrawal from nicotine that a smoker goes through. In quitting tobacco, there are physiological and emotional changes that occur. For you see, smokers just don’t depend on nicotine physically. They depend on it behaviorally and psychologically. Smoking is what they do when they get together with friends. And, in fact, it is a major means by which they blow off steam when they are feeling tense. It is what they do while drinking their morning coffee or relaxing after dinner. That is why breaking the bondage of nicotine addiction can be difficult and, in fact, be harder to quit in some instances than heroin or cocaine. A patient of mine that was involved in polysubstance abuse (including tobacco) stated to me, “It (tobacco) was the hardest to quit, and it was the last to leave.” He went on to say, “The thoughts of tobacco use still haunt me.” But, breaking the bondage to your nicotine addiction is of vital importance for you and those around you. Breaking this bondage is well worth the effort.

So, we see the significance of breaking the bondage to nicotine/tobacco addiction. It is so important from the physical side as well as the mental side, but also, and even more importantly, from the spiritual side. What you need to do instead of picking up your cigarette with your morning coffee, pick up your Bible and read it. Instead of lighting up a cigarette on your drive home, put in a preaching CD or a Joy Belle music CD. Instead of a cigarette after dinner, take a walk and meditate on the things of God.

Friend, regardless of where you may be in your struggle with nicotine addiction, the good news is that there is life after cigarettes. Please trade in your cigarettes for Christ Jesus and your nicotine for the name above all names – Jesus. Let Him, the Truth, make you free… finally.

You do not have to wait until the first of the year to try again… kicking this habit will bring glory to God!  I Corinthians 6:19-20 tells us, “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

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