Understanding the psychology behind cigarette addiction


According to WHO reports, about 5 million smokers face early grave annually. Smoking is projected to kill 1 billion before the end of the century. The psychology behind cigarette addiction is more to blame than the mere taste of tobacco smoke dragging between lips. 

However, this nicotine inclined psychology is built on the premises of pseudo notion. It will do you no good believing firmly that smoking cigarettes will enhance your mental efficiency, calm down your nerves and deliver a good relaxed feel.

You are actually surrendering yourself to tobacco addiction which is injurious to health in all probability. The worst thing is you are caught in a vicious web and it becomes extremely difficult to kick off the habit. A rising consensus among addiction-experts reports that nicotine dependence can be as permanent as alcoholism and is often harder to quit than heroin.

The science behind cigarette addiction: Nicotine, the danger chemical

The-science-behind-cigarette-addictionThe psychology behind cigarette addiction has a scientific reason too. This contributes to the fact why nicotine gets a quick hold on the mind and why it is so hard to quit. Addiction to smoking has a dual interface physical and mental.

Psychological part deals with the habit, the valid reason why people smoke. Why after finishing a fag they feel the urge to light up the second one? Once the habit gets a grip, addiction makes a slave out of us. It is purely an inner battle of mind.

The physical part of the interaction owes to the chemical nature of nicotine. It is very addictive and habitual smokers take it as a support for leaning on to this dangerous chemical. A study conducted by National Institute of Drug Abuse sheds more light on the psychology behind cigarette addiction.

Studies reveal that the addictive nature of nicotine can be attributed to stimulation of a reward-route on inhalation. This route straight leads to the circuitry of human brain. The chemical responsible for the desire for more and more nicotine is called neurotransmitter dopamine.

Addicts experience brain alterations induced by nicotine which is very hard to shake off. The intensity of addiction depends on the route of entry of nicotine into human system. The quickest route for nicotine entry to have a substantial effect is by smoking or vaping the drug. Within 10 seconds, it reaches the brain once it gets absorbed into the bloodstream.

The brain hit by a flow of nicotine releases adrenaline giving a feel-good sensation. The user rides on nicotine and feels at the top of the world. But the ‘feel high’ phase is for a brief transient period alternated by a low gloomy and tiring phase. It forces the user to take another drag and be on high again. Thus, the user is caught in a vicious web of nicotine addiction.

Understanding the psychology behind cigarette addiction:

Much has been explored to find ways for smoking cessation. Studies have revealed that smoking is by and large driven by psychological reasons dealing with which poses the real challenge. From an insightful study of relationship between mind’s requirements and those fulfilled by nicotine inhalations, following inferences are drawn:

Acting out rebellion:

cigarette-addiction-It is often out of suppressed rebellion against parents and figures of authority teens start smoking. A show of disrespect to elders is associated with smoking letting out satisfactory vent for releasing fury and negative emotions.

The thrill of breaking rules:

Many people smoke just for getting a kick out of it violating rules set by authorities and institutions. Soon the thrill is all over and addiction sets in after repeat acts making it hard to shake off.

Projection of a cool image:
In adolescence, people want to exhibit a cool and relaxed image before a friend circle indicating an inner composure. Inside the person may be simmering with tension, it is just an outward show of calm and romantic demeanor. With age, romantic reasoning fades away and addiction lingers.

Peer pressure:
Sometimes smoking is induced by peer pressure and cigarettes are offered free. More you smoke more you get hooked on to nicotine. A time comes when peer pressure fades but the addiction stays.

An exhibit of masculinity:
Many people smoke to feed their subconscious desire to express virility in front of the fairer sex. Cigarette and carefree rugged looks they somehow feel are very appealing to females.

Finding an escape route:

cigarette-addiction-Many people smoke most while they are in problems or tensions. Smoking helps in numbing the feelings providing an escape route to their problems. They can forget about those for the time being.

Nicotine withdrawal symptoms:

Another underlying psychology behind cigarette addiction is to deal with nicotine withdrawal symptoms, which are even tougher to deal with than the real addiction.

People are aware of the ill effects of smoking but still why it is so hard to quit?


Repeated health warnings to enforce smoking cessation turn out to be effective because they fail to address the psychology behind cigarette addiction. There are ample examples of people quitting smoking only to get back into the habit sooner or later. A different psychology acts behind this relapse. So what are those negative psychology drivers?

Battling to get over junkie thinking defying logic:

You had been fed with your reasoning that cigarette smoking isn’t that bad. After all many around you are doing it and they are perfectly healthy. This is the negative reasoning that you need to fight. If you succumb to it, you can never quit smoking.


cigarette-addiction-Despairing because you are not allowed to smoke but your neighbor is doing it. Hardly do you know that he is desperately fighting a lost battle of being addicted for good. Do you want to step into his shoes? It needs an iron resolution to say goodbye to nicotine.

Negative thinking about self:

“I am too weak to give up smoking”. This thought often plagues your mind lowering your self-determination. Instead speak to yourself, “It is the nicotine that is derailing me from my resolution. Once I get into the recovery path, I won’t be distracted with thoughts of smoking”.

Putting the blame on others:

cigarette-addiction-This is the common reason that makes your work tougher. It is quite easy to put the onus on your friends for introducing you to the cigarette. It is a lame excuse that had they been not offered the first cigarette, they wouldn’t be smokers today.


Even if you cease smoking, the craving remains. As it prolongs, you become impatient that why it is still hitting your mind. Finally, you lose the battle and light the butt. Quitting smoking is a gradual process to release you from the addiction. It will take its own time.


cigarette-addiction-This is also known as “romancing the cigarette” where you express your ability to kick the habit any moment. But do not forget nicotine entering your bloodstream is laced with chemicals and inbuilt doping properties of the herb. It is easier said than done. Once the abuse of addiction gets hold on you, it is really hard to pass a day without smoking.

Quitting smoking requires strong will force and, in extreme cases, expert counseling. 26% of the young population shows symptoms of loss of self control for which continued smoking is responsible. The psychology behind cigarette addiction needs insightful investigation before treatment routes could be designed to kick the habit permanently.

Today's Top Articles:

Scroll to Top