Smokers reason that cigarettes (or pipes and cigars even) bring down the level of irritability, anxiety and stress. They believe smoking relieve tensions and improve the mood. Studies indicate that the stress levels of adult smokers are slightly elevated than those of nonsmokers. Adolescent smokers also report increasing levels of stress as they develop regular patterns of smoking, and smoking termination leads to reduce stress.
Medical Experts Opinion on Smoking to Relieve Tensions
Contrary to common belief, health experts base their arguments on extensive studies conducted on smokers and the after effects of the habit. Experts opine that nicotine dependency seems to intensify stress whereas people do smoking to relieve stress. This is established in the daily mood patterns described by smokers during surveys and medical studies when reportedly normal moods during smoking led to worsening moods between cigarettes. Therefore, they conclude:
- The apparent relaxant effect of smoking only reflects the reversal of the tension and irritability that develop during nicotine depletion.
- Dependent smokers need nicotine to feel normal.
Relationship Between Tobacco Smoking and Stress
This is a controversial issue for smokers and the health fraternity as the former feel relaxed, but in a paradoxical fashion. They also report feeling slightly more stressed than nonsmokers. Positive association between smoking and stress is also obvious in adolescent smokers, who report increasing levels of stress as they develop regular patterns of smoking.
To add to this, it is proven that when smokers manage to quit smoking, they gradually become less stressed over time. So, there are really no grounds for smokers to continue believing that cigarettes help relieve stress, when the observed evidence makes it clear that tobacco dependency is not associated with heightened stress. These findings are based on the concept of nicotine dependency as a direct cause of stress.
The stress relief that smokers claim to get from smoking is dependent on the act of taking time out to smoke a cigarette and from the chemical actions of nicotine in the brain. If the smoker returns to the scene of the stressful event after finishing smoking, the tension is bound to return and compel further smoking. So, the reality is that smoking might not take tension or depression away. The only way to truly control the stress is to identify causes of the stress and learn to change the reactions to these stressful events and situations.
Implications of Health Education
Health specialists feel that smokers could possibly be deluding themselves into thinking that smoking can relieve tensions. But the situation can be improved through effective health management. A good program can give smokers alternate therapies for dealing with positive psychological functions to deter smokers from relying on smoking to relieve tensions and stress. Smoking cessation, awareness of nicotine addiction, the correction of beliefs like smoking can relieve tensions and managing stress practically through counseling, are subjects covered in smoking health education programs.