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Why Your Self esteem Determines If You Smoke

Updated on January 20, 2016

The days of James Dean looking effortlessly cool while smoking a crisp cigarette are over. While scenes of celebrities smoking in film are still common, a heightened awareness over the extreme risks smokers take is bringing the “cool” phenomenon to a long awaited end. Cigarettes and alcohol have a higher morbidity rate than other drug related deaths such as heroin or prescription medication. This may be due to a psychological affect lulling the brain into thinking it is safe because no immediate damage can be easily detected. Death related to smoking is more often caused by long term affects, and we now know it affects all areas of the body including eyes, skin, teeth, liver and lungs.


Why do people pick up their first cigarette? Again, this can be caused by many factors such as peer pressure, intelligent marketing or a role model on film or off. Most regular smokers pick up their first cigarette between the ages of 12 and 18. During adolescence the brain and sense of self is still developing which leaves greater chance for influence. Low self esteem often plays a role among teens who feel the need to fit in and is also related to social phobias and weight issues. What is interesting is that there may be a link between self esteem and smoking. Individuals with lower self esteem may pick up smoking earlier and continue smoking longer, if quitting at all. Personal care is an act of self love, once an individual reaches higher levels of confidence an instinct of self preservation may occur, resulting in a willingness or desire to stop bad habits and self destructive behaviour.


Programs are currently run through local health centres to help individuals quit smoking which offer telephone and one on one / group counselling. The addiction to nicotine ingested through cigarettes can be insidious as the affects are deemed less severe than the intense physical withdrawal symptoms created by other drugs. Many detox and rehabilitation centres are now anti-smoking although a few still allow patients to smoke, preferring to deal with the more life altering drugs first. Treatment for individuals with alcoholism and other drug addiction may offer insight into treating nicotine addiction. Nicotine leaves the body within 3 days of quitting smoking and the body adjust’s within 1-3 weeks, after the withdrawal period real treatment can begin.


Self esteem counselling and workshops could be a key factor in reducing the amount of nicotine consumption. Booking an appointment with a quitting coach and attending a group therapy with other smokers trying to kick the habit can offer support and guidance, knowing you are not alone can greatly improve the odds of success. Along with a quitting coach, attending a self esteem workshop might be the extra boost smoker’s need, giving them the confidence to stay quit or keep trying. Adequate nutrition, sleep and relaxation techniques as well as staying on top of triggers such as second hand smoke, feeling overwhelmed or the first coffee of the morning are all part of an excellent quitting program.


Teaching youth about the dangers of smoking at an early age and implementing ongoing self esteem workshops for both genders could be the best place to start for early prevention. Adult smokers should not be deterred, self esteem workshops can help at any age. The link between self esteem and smoking is definitely something to be considered. If you or someone you know is trying to quit smoking you can start by setting a quit date, removing cigarettes, lighters and ashtrays from your home and car, and contacting your local health centre for more information about help with the process and counselling.


Carlee Lloyd - carleecolico@yahoo.ca

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