It can be both. There is a chemical addiction to smoking. When you first start smoking your body gets used to the nicotine and it can start to miss the nicotine as the levels in your body drop when you stop smoking. This can give rise to cravings as your body tries to restore the balance.
After smoking a cigarette the nicotine levels in the blood fall by a half after about 30 minutes, and a quarter after about an hour (which is why most people smoke about 15-20 a day). As soon as nicotine levels drop to a certain amount the smoker feels withdrawal symptoms.
There is no physical pain in nicotine withdrawal, it’s an empty, restless feeling that something is missing. This is the nicotine addiction part of smoking. The nicotine addiction is not that strong, it doesn’t wake a smoker up in the middle of the night. Most smokers can go for a number of hours without smoking if they know they have to. Many smokers take long flights without climbing the walls.
The main reason people smoke is the way they think about smoking. Some people have beliefs that they get some benefit from smoking, “it relieves stress and relaxes me”, “it’s an excuse to get a break from my desk”. Many smokers have fears that stopping smoking will deprive them from something. It’s easy to fear that life will never be quite as enjoyable, “will I be able to enjoy a night out without being able to smoke?”
Everyone has seen people, images, advertising that gives us ideas about smoking. It can be associated with being glamorous, sexy, sophisticated, cool, rebellious, intellectual and pleasurable. It can be your support in times of need, your escape, your celebration or commiseration. There is a chemical addiction to smoking but it’s very small. As a habit smoking is kept going by the ideas, images and beliefs we hold. We can change our beliefs, change the ideas and associations we have with smoking. Once you change the way you think about smoking it becomes easy to control. Click here to find out more