If you’ve ever watched a movie or TV show from the ‘80s or ’90s, you may notice something (besides the lack of cell phones). Back then, it seemed like everyone was smoking cigarettes – even inside restaurants and bars! It’s hard to believe that was once allowed, but it was pretty standard until we plowed into the 21st century.
As more research emerged linking smoking tobacco cigarettes to health problems, advocates against the vice grew. From lung disease to heart disease and more adverse health side effects, little doubt remained that smoking tobacco cigarettes led to significant physical health problems – but how does smoking tobacco affect your mental health?
Nicotine and Dopamine Affects
Nicotine is naturally produced in the nightshade family of plants, which includes tobacco. It’s a highly addictive substance and classified as a poison (it was used in pesticides for years!).
Here’s what’s interesting about nicotine – it can briefly improve your mood. How? When nicotine is inhaled through smoke, it takes about 10-20 seconds to reach the brain and trigger the release of dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter associated with positive feelings. This release can improve concentration and mood, relaxing muscles, and reduce stress. These properties give most people an almost immediate sense of relaxing – which is why so many smokers claim the act of smoking relaxing them.
Nicotine and Stress
However, the positive effects of this dopamine release are fleeting. As an addictive substance, you can experience nicotine withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety or irritability, as it leaves your system – which stresses your system.
So, when someone thinks their tobacco cigarette is relieving stress, they’re right – sort of. Lighting up will temporarily calm the stress induced by nicotine withdrawal, which is why getting addicted to nicotine is so easy. Smoking tobacco cigarettes perpetuates an endless cycle of cravings that can only be broken by completely eliminating nicotine from the system.
Mental Benefits of Kicking Tobacco
Despite the immediate relief smokers feel after their first puff, smoking tobacco provides zero long-term benefits to mental wellbeing. Any experience of “stress” relief is short-lived and can only be maintained and sustained by more nicotine.
The only way to achieve lasting mental benefits is to kick the nicotine habit. A recent study found that people who stopped smoking for at least 6 weeks experienced less depression, anxiety, and stress than people who continued to smoke. So quitting tobacco smoking is the only way to achieve any long-term mental health benefits.
CBD for Quitting
Combatting nicotine addiction and the never-ending cycle of nicotine withdrawal symptoms is hard. There are many ways to go about quitting – cold turkey has proven the most successful, but often the hardest.
Substituting tobacco cigarettes for CBD cigarettes can help. CBD cigarettes are all-natural and non-addictive, and they look and feel just like tobacco cigarettes. So smokers can satisfy that physical hand-to-mouth habit. However, because CBD cigarettes provide high amounts of CBD, they can help take off the edge without reaching for nicotine.
In fact, according to a Brightfield Group survey of more than 5,000 CBD users in the U.S.: 24% have used it to help quit smoking tobacco. So, if quitting cold turkey is out of the question, consider the CBD alternative to help kick the nicotine habit for good.