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The Addiction

Why is quitting so hard?

You are breaking a powerful addiction your body has to the nicotine in tobacco. You also have to break tough habits and deal with strong emotions you have around smoking.

Understanding the addiction, your smoking habits and your emotions you feel when you want to smoke are important when you build a quit smoking plan. You’ll want to prepare yourself to deal with withdrawals, triggers and cravings.

Physical addiction

Habit (psychological addiction)


Physical addiction

Tobacco (cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco) has nicotine in it. Nicotine is a very addictive chemical. Within seconds of entering your body, the nicotine travels to your brain and gives you a temporary ‘feel good’ feeling.

Over time your brain changes. You need to smoke more to feel the same way.

Signs of nicotine addiction are:

  • You lose control over when and how much you smoke. You keep smoking even though you know that it is harmful to yourself and others. You may start to feel trapped by smoking.
  • You crave nicotine so much that you spend a lot of time and energy getting nicotine and using it.
  • You feel withdrawal symptoms when you stop smoking.
  • You can’t stop smoking when you try.

Habit (psychological addiction)

Tobacco use is probably part of your everyday routine. For example, many smokers say that they want to have a cigarette in these situations:

  • drinking coffee
  • after a meal
  • break time at school or work
  • around certain people
  • drinking alcohol

You may also enjoy the ritual of handling, lighting and smoking cigarettes. Over time, you’ve trained yourself so that you want a cigarette when you do certain things. Smoking has become a habit that’s hard to break.

When you quit, you’ll have to change some of these habits to break the psychological addiction to smoking.


Maybe you smoke when you feel a certain way.

You might feel:

  • stress
  • sadness
  • anxiety
  • boredom
  • anger
  • nervous

When do you smoke? How are you feeling before you smoke?

Emotions are big smoking triggers.