Why are people addicted to smoking?
Smoking, whether recreational or habitual or compulsive, is extremely difficult to completely get rid of. The mental or the emotional dependence on a substance is referred to as addiction. It is marked by the repeated, compulsive seeking or use of a substance despite its harmful effects and related consequences.
Nicotine is the known addictive substance in tobacco and it’s thought to be as addictive as heroin or cocaine.
The two main cause of the habit:
1) Nicotine toxicity
A smoker’s brain seeks the ‘right’ amount of nicotine toxicity to function normally. As the nicotine starts reacting with the brain, smokers unconsciously increase the amount of tobacco they use. This raises the amount of nicotine in their blood, and thus more tobacco is needed to get the same effect. This is called tolerance. Over time, a smoker reaches a certain nicotine level and then will need to keep up the usage to keep the level of nicotine within a comfortable range.
So, when a brain is suddenly deprived of nicotine, simple bodily processes like digestion and sleep get disturbed pushing the smokers to crave for a smoke.
How does this happen?
Most addictive substances cause the brain to release hormones that elicit a feeling of pleasure.
Addiction occurs when an individual has abused a substance or substances to the point that the brain loses the capacity to naturally generate pleasure hormones, leaving the individual to rely on one or more substances to achieve a feeling of normalcy. The Ayurveda states that nothing about an addicted brain is normal.
Āyurvedic theory states that all humans naturally experience kama – “Desire for pleasure” and that this longing and the wish to avoid pain are basic survival instincts.
However, unrestrained attachment to pleasure and keenness to avoid pain can lead to diseases.
What happens when we smoke?
Burning cigarettes is said to result in at least 69 chemicals that have been identified as carcinogens. Research confirms that the “Tar” present in cigarettes increases the risk of diseases. This tar contains many carcinogenic pyrolytic products that bind to DNA and can cause many genetic mutations.
Nicotine present in smoke causes physical and psychological dependency. It alters the balance of chemicals in a smoker’s body such as dopamine and noradrenaline and therby has an effect on the person’s moods and concentration levels.
How do we resist smoking
In Ayurveda the conceptual theory of the five sheaths form the foundation for treatment of addiction. The theoretical understanding of the five sheaths provides a map of how to access body (annamaya kosha), breath (pranamaya kosha), mind (manomaya kosha), intelligence (vijnamaya kosha) and consciousness (anandamaya kosha).
Proper diet, adequate sleep, and a healthy sensory environment will help minimize cravings. A safe environment is essential in order to deny access to substances that can be abused. Herbs will support the body in detoxifying while also sedating the nervous system.
By cultivating awareness and sensory connection to the physical body, an activity is ignited in the root chakra and circulates a feeling of safety and stability through the mind. This in turn sets the stage for cellular repair to heal the body.
Restoration of the breath i.e. recovery of full inhale and full exhale through gentle breathing exercises creates a state of equilibrium in the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems, generating an overall feeling of regulation in the mind and body.
Herbal methods to stop smoking
1) Place a few drops of brahmi ghee on the cigarette. On lighting, the ghee’s smoke will be overpowering and will cut down your desire to smoke.
2) Herbal Tea: A tea made of equal proportions of jatamamsi, chamomile and brahmi can eliminate stress.
3) Dried pieces of pineapple mixed with half teaspoon of honey can bring down the desire to smoke.
4) Herbal mix: Remove one-third of the tobacco from the cigarettes and replace it with a mixture of brahmi, jatamamsi and rose petal powder. When the urge for smoking kicks in, light the cigarette and stop when you reach the tobacco. This practice will slowly diminish your desire to smoke.
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