Like our favorite food, physical activity, or conversations with good friends, cigarettes give us pleasure by affecting the “reward center” in our brains. While in our active addiction, few things can feel as rewarding as having a cigarette. Or at the least, tobacco use becomes closely associated with other rewards. Experts in the field of tobacco treatment attribute this to the cigarette being considered the most efficient drug delivery device in existence, a device that provides an intense kick within 5 to 7 heartbeats of being used.
As a person begins to smoke and cigarettes light up their reward center (no pun intended), they begin to associate smoking with other pleasurable activities such as drinking coffee, having a filling meal, and even having sex. Smoking also becomes a treat after accomplishing a boring or difficult task. When a person quits smoking, there body often still expects the 10 to 20 or more rewards that cigarettes provided throughout the day.
When stopping smoking, it is helpful to identify little ways to replace the unhealthy reward of a cigarette with things that give you personal and private satisfaction. These do not need to be material gifts or even cost money; they can simply be something you enjoy. Becoming an ex is hard work and rewarding yourself can be one way to support your goals of living a healthier life.
Feel free to share with others in the comment section below how you have re-learned to reward yourself!