An Issue of Psychology and Smoking

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Updated: Apr 12, 2019
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Smoking-related diseases and deaths in the US and worldwide is a significant problem that I will explore in detail on how we got to this point and why people continue knowing the health risk to themselves and others around them. Mortality rate is heightened by smoking. This has also made the practice one of the leading factors of premature deaths (Drope, 2008). In recent research it has been estimated by the year 2030 smoking will have killed more than eight million people a year, including 600,000 from second hand smoke (Benzel, 2012).

Therefore, this article is going to collect data and summarize the various factors that lead to smoking, different factors that affect why people smoke, and the psychological effects people experience after being diagnosed with lung disease or after having surgery that was caused by smoking. By the end of this research paper, I intend to tackle these questions with a probe on how to save the human population from the effects and in the long-term smoking-related deaths.

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Why I chose the topic

The topic is relevant to me because my sister has cystic fibrosis and swear on her life by Respiratory Therapists who have helped along the way. My mother has COPD and still smokes. Another good friend collapsed one day and was taken to the hospital. She had a few blood clots in her brain and needed surgery. She was told to quit smoking and drinking. Did she? Not even close, and she decided to smoke and drink more because the operation was going to “fix” the problem. When my friend checked in for surgery at the registration counter, she suffered a major stroke. Now lives in and around the clock nursing care facility and will never be able to walk, fully talk again, and is not fully there mentally.

I have asthma. I grew up with asthma, grew up with parents smoking around me in and out of the house even though they were told it’s not good for my health. And I was told I would never be able to do many things in life.

I was told I would never be able to join the military. So I joined the army. And I was told I would never be able to run a marathon. So I ran 10 and even threw in a few triathlons and a few Tough Mudders.

This topic hits a particular nerve inside me, and I would like to learn more and pass this knowledge on to people who I believe need the education. Furthermore, there is indeed a great connection between my profession and the field of psychology since the profession I hope to achieve in the near future is respiratory care and would like to base my research paper on this subject since it has everything to do with respiratory treatment and psychology.

Why people smoke?

Smoking like any other habitual and addictive practice has been a common trend taken up by the young and old in society for centuries as a stimulus.

Factors that lead to smoking:

Moments; Smoking as a lifestyle behavior makes the user indulge in the activity as part of or a complement to other activities, practices, or businesses. This may include a moring/evening routine, watching television, spending time with friends, in social gatherings such as parties or special events, or simply a way of relaxation. In this pattern, a person is more inclined to smoke while doing the above activities which are related to the smoking habit.

Addiction; in tobacco and cigarettes and now vaping, the component substance is nicotine. According to (McLuckey, 2012), 80-90% of smokers are addicted to nicotine. Therefore, the addictive nature of nicotine makes smokers more inclined to the habit. The alkaloid and other added chemicals is estimated to reach your brain within ten seconds. This makes the user highly susceptible to indulge in smoking.

Emotions; after a traumatic or a life-threatening ordeal, many people suffer from a post-traumatic disorder. This ultimately leaves the person profoundly depressed and emotionally imbalanced in the head. In a way to alleviate this disorder, smoking “helps” the person to cope with the problem, and in effect, causing another problem. This is a failure to reason considering that there are many ways to deal with this problem. One of them, for example, being psychiatric evaluation through counseling which is a more healthy way to lessen the effects of post-traumatic stress.

Different factors that affect why people smoke.

Advertisements and media campaigns:

The media has always been a huge integral form of relaying information and marketing of a companies products. This has led to the habit that smoking is a stylish and fashionable practice. Moreover tobacco companies have invented other ways of luring the public, especially the young and future generation by advertising its product by making fruit and other popular flavors, use of cartoons and even giving free samples to markets.

Family Smoking:

Children brought up in a family setting of smokers in most cases tend to take up the behavior upon them (Myers, 2006). It portrays to children and minors as grown-up conduct since they see their parents smoking and find it an acceptable behavior further motivating them to burn freely leading to an addiction. Therefore such children inherit such traits and find it hard to quit smoking in the future.

Peer pressure:

Peer pressure is a significant factor that leads many individuals to start smoking. Peers are people who are friends, or in one way or another participate in similar activities. One of the events can be tobacco in peer groups leading to addiction. As the saying goes “show me your friends and I will tell you who you are” (Mebele, 2013). Such habits of smoking at an early age can lead to loss of focus, especially to education and career.

Psychological effects people experience after being diagnosed with lung disease or after having surgery that was caused by smoking.

Stress and nervousness; a diagnosis of lung cancer can be a very stressful ordeal which causes shock and uncertainty of your future. Studies have indicated that 10-40% of cancer patients suffer from psychological distress (Deng, 2012). It was seen that a lower fighting spirit, helplessness was significant among the ones diagnosed with a disease.

Depression and low mood; this refers to an emotional disturbance which is marked by cardinal symptoms of depressed mood and lack of pleasure in usual activities. According to (Salzman, 1991), 60% of young population and 40% of the elderly were diagnosed with anxiety. The component nicotine in smoking triggers mood swings and destroys the brain passage which controls the moods.

Post-traumatic stress disorder; PTSD is a disorder caused by a person who has suffered a stressful event such as a diagnosis of a fatal disease. The symptoms involve avoidance to go to a place which reminds you of where the determination was made, example- a hospital. Another sign might be increased arousal. This consists in getting irritated easily and insomnia.

Anger; deviation from normalcy may occur after a cancer diagnosis. Anger will cause depression, fatigue, and hopelessness. This will lead to lack of motivation and professional problems leading to financial struggles.

Frustration; after being diagnosed with lung disease caused by their own habit of smoking, which can lead to failure since one is in a condition which they cannot change anything. This leads to someone being upset and annoyed because of their consequences of smoking.

How to quit smoking:

Quitting smoking is a personal decision and can only happen when the desire to quit out weighs everything else. For those that are truly addicted, this does not happen in a single day, it is a journey. Somewhere along the way, the choice of stopping will eventually enhance your life in a productive way that one has not experienced in a while. It will improve your health and those around you. You save money and find other fun and fulfilling hobbies.  Most importantly, it will prolong your lifespan.

In order to quit smoking;

Get ready for a quit day; choose a day when you are supposed to quit and adhere to it. By this one can reduce the amount or quantity of intake. Meaning cigarette intake you slowly reduce  until the quit day then you automatically stop. It is proper to announce your decision to your friends and relatives concerning your choice of quitting smoking.

Use Nicotine Replacement Therapy; NRT increases the likelihood of quitting smoking by about 50% to 70% (Carr, 2006). It goes hand in hand with behavioral techniques. These drugs help your body to get rid of cigarettes and gives your body a controlled supply of nicotine. There are five types of NRT: skin patches, chewing gums, lozenges, nasal spray, and inhaler.

When nicotine replacement therapy is not to be used or does not work, one can try other methods. These include yoga and meditation, hypnosis, herbs and supplements, smoking deterrents, and many other methods not listed here.

Consider non-nicotine medication; the Food and Drug Administration has approved non- nicotine medication which is Zyban and Chantix. These drugs will help you reduce the craving and withdrawal of nicotine and also less chance of smoking relapse.

Seek behavioral support; physical an emotional behavior during smoking make it a bit difficult to leave behind especially nicotine components during your quitting time. In this process of quitting, trying counseling lessons helps a lot, personal friends and family helps. Friends and family play a significant role to assist you to go through this period of changes. Also, you can seek information online, in books, or from certain individuals who quit smoking and are upright with their every day problems and solutions and usual activities.

Combo treatments; in a clinical trial a combination of smoking sensation treatments of the nicotine patch and nicotine lozenge produced the most significant benefits relative to placebo treatment in helping addicts to stop smoking (Miller, 2013).

Affects of quitting:

Your body has physical changes starting in less than an hour after your last cigarette. Shortly after your last cigarette your blood pressure and pulse returns to normal and carbon monoxide levels in your lungs drop which increases oxygen levels. Your lungs start to remove irritants and bacteria and your blood flow increases throughout your body. Nerve endings start to regrow which improves your sense of smell and taste.

Within a few days your lungs start opening up and breathing becomes easier. And after a week you have about 30% more lung function which improves other functions of the body.

After a month and moving passed that, your overall health has drastically increased. More energy, lungs continue to improve with much less mucus buildup, better moods, and more money in your bank account. And people who make it passed a month are 10 times more likely to successfully quit and have drastically decreased the risk of a heart attack.

In conclusion, smoking can lead to an expansive burden to yourself, the public’s health, and the economy as a whole. While more strict and harsh measures are being implemented to decrease and stop tobacco smoking in the United States and around the world, there has been little concern and attention that the public should seek the help of medical professionals. Medical professionals have much knowledge and tools in their scope of practice of working with patients.  In real sense, these medical professionals provide diagnosis, tools, and up to date information that are helpful and can save a life if taken into consideration. This would ultimately reduce to a minimal smoking related lung diseases and smoking related deaths.

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An Issue Of Psychology and Smoking. (2019, Apr 12). Retrieved from