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Quit Myth #3: It's all about Willpower
By the Quitter's Circle Staff
May 26, 2016

Quit Myth #3: It's all about Willpower

Yes, quitting smoking requires determination. But that often isn’t enough. Only 4 to 7 percent of people who attempt to quit smoking are able to do it “cold turkey.” Relying on willpower alone often doesn’t work, because smoking is not just a “bad habit.” It’s a complex addiction that has physical, mental and social components. 

The physical addiction

When you take a drag of a cigarette, nicotine reaches the brain and creates a pleasant feeling by flooding the brain's reward circuits with dopamine (a brain chemical), while also speeding one's heart rate and raising blood pressure. Over time, nicotine produces changes to a smoker's brain which ultimately can lead to a physical dependency. 

The mental addiction

Do you have a cigarette with your coffee every morning, on the drive to work or when feeling stressed? Smoking can become an automatic behavior linked to daily routines or emotions. You’ll need to make a plan to alter your daily routine to avoid smoking.

The social addiction

For many people, smoking can be a social activity. You may have family or friends who smoke. Or you’re used to smoking at parties or taking cigarette breaks with coworkers. Quitting smoking requires you to change these social interactions and that can be challenging.

Smokers have a better chance of quitting, and maintaining the quit, if they address all three parts of their addiction. Talk to a healthcare provider to learn how medication and counseling may help you manage the physical and mental challenges of quitting. In addition, you can download the Quitter’s Circle app, to get helpful tips on how to quit smoking and to invite family and friends to be a part of your Quit Team.

Find the right support for you and exercise your will to succeed! 


See additional quit smoking resources from our partner American Lung Association.