What Causes Human Smoking? Could It Be Mental Illness?

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In summary, the conversation discusses the theory that a delayed chemical reaction, specifically the increased production of cortisol, is responsible for the feeling of fear and anxiety experienced by smokers. This reaction, caused by chemicals in tobacco, is linked to the primitive instinct to survive and can lead to addiction. The conversation also raises the question of whether smoking can cause mental illness or if those with mental illness are more likely to smoke. It concludes with a humorous remark about the difficulty of quitting smoking.
  • #1
fullstopsmoking
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Could it be a delayed chemical reaction that creates a feeling of fear and anxiety in the smoker ?

My theory is different in that rather than blame nicotine dependency as the cause for continual smoking, it is only a small part of the whole smoking process.
I believe it is a delayed chemical reaction that creates the feeling known to the smoker as 'withdrawals'. A chemical such as carbon monoxide or Hydrogen cyanide may cause an increased amount of cortisol into the blood stream that would cause the 'fight or flight response' in the smoker. In other words it mimics an essential reaction needed to survive. Unlike normal danger triggers such as seeing something frightening or smelling danger there is nothing visible to the smoker and because of this there is no way of 'getting away' from this feeling. For example if you are afraid of dogs and you see a large angry looking dog coming towards you your fight or flight response will be activated and increased cortisol will be produced and you will move away from the perceived danger. By going behind a closed door say you will be doing something to relieve that fear. The level of cortisol will then stop being produced and the fear will subside. With smoking however there is no visible thing to be afraid of and so there is no way of getting away from these feeling of sudden increased fear and anxiety. even if the smoker ran to the end of the Earth they would not be able to reduce that feeling of fear. There is a role for nicotine in this process though. Nicotine can halt the production of cortisol and rather than acting on the brain it actually affects the Adrenal gland first and that halts the flow of the cortisol into the system and effectively reduces that perceived fear to a less frightening level. Not rid of altogether but enough to convince the subconsciouspart of the brain that smoking the cigarette has relived the stress and fear felt moments earlier. Because this whole process happens about an hour after smoking the last cigarette the two things. the smoking of the last cigarette and the fear and subsequent reduction in fear by smoking the next cigarette are never linked together.
This primitive instinct that all humans have i.e. the instinct to survive is the prime cause of the uptake in smoking as the new smoker believes that smoking will help in a stressful situation and the reason why people cannot just stop smoking. i.e. the safety net. All smokers have convinced themselves that without smoking they will not be able to cope. This is borne out after their attempts to quit. They are told that after a certain amount of time the nicotine is out of their bodies and so when weeks after quitting they come across a situation that is stressful they feel the compulsion to smoke. What they have felt is the same reaction that was created by the chemicals in tobacco. This time rather than an artificial feeling of fear and anxiety it is genuine but if the smoker is still convinced that smoking will relieve this feeling there conscious mind will shut out all other thoughts that do not directly contribute to the relief of the fear and anxiety. In other words the fact that smoking is bad for you or that it may damage them does not register as this is not the answer. When they have smoked they again enter the cycle of delayed reaction that ensures a steady flow of cortisol into the bloodstream that creates the artificial fear. The prolonged over-production of cortisol causes serious damage to brain cells. Often killing them. The main affected area is the amygdala that also plays a pivotal role in the stress response. Many people start smoking at between 10 and 15 years old. The exact time that this part of the brain is developing and growing from a Childs brain into a young adults. It is also the time when the young adult is learning the new techniques for coping with the added stress and anxiety in their lives at this time. By smoking at this point smoking hijacks that ability to develop. I do not think there has been any scientific studies done to establish how many smokers have got mental illnesses such as Bi-polar or general anxiety disorders but I would suspect that it would run to a very high percentage. Rather than telling young people that they may or may not develop cancer in about 30-40 years - which to a teenager is a lifetime away. Tell them the truth about the mental effects of smoking. That in 6 - 12 months they will have developed a serious mental illness that will then require them to self-medicate themselves with cigarettes until they face the fact or are told what is happening to them. For people with diagnosed mental illnesses the percentage of smokers is about 75 - 90 % and many people believe that smoking is a way of them coping with there condition but what if they would not have had any such problems without first smoking. Many people smoke start smoking as said above at about 10 - 15 years old. well before any symptoms of illness are prevalent. So which came first the cigarette or the illness. Are people smoking because their ill or ill because their smoking ?
I really would appreciate your thoughts on this and if it is possible.
 
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  • #2
Being an inveterate smoker myself, I've found the perfect answer:
Anyone who smokes, is an idiot.
Because I'm an idiot, I don't quit smoking..:smile:
 
  • #3
Gokul's modification of arildno's theorem :

Anyone who smokes is an idiot. Further, all idiots smoke. Additionally, smoking increases idiocy. As a consequence all idiots are smokers for life.
 
  • #4
" Further, all idiots smoke. "
This is incorrect: or at least, evidence please.
(The rest is of course trivially true)
 
  • #5
I have known people whose personal problems vanish when they smoke. I have known alcoholics who have stopped drinking but had to smoke instead, so that they were either a smoker or a problem drinker. There does seem to be a "self medication" factor of nicotine, and there does seem to be a permanent "chemical imbalance" in the brain of a smoker. Whether this is a natural imbalance, or an acquired defect, I couldn't say, but its worth studying.

I still can't pass judgement on a smoker even though I can't stand it myself. Here in Connecticut, there is a new law that says you can't smoke in any bar, at all. Well, that's going too far.
 
  • #6
Chi Meson said:
Here in Connecticut, there is a new law that says you can't smoke in any bar, at all. Well, that's going too far.
We already have that stupid law in Norway
 
  • #7
arildno said:
" Further, all idiots smoke. "
This is incorrect: or at least, evidence please.
(The rest is of course trivially true)

Perhaps you are confused by my use of the word 'idiot'. By definition (mine), an idiot is one who embraces smoking despite the knowledge that it'll screw him/her over in the long run.
 
  • #8
Now that we have all agreed the meaning of idiot how about answering a few of the points I made about smoking. For a minute i thought I had joined the muppet forum on yahoo.(LOL)

I have been researching smoking and it's affects on the human brain for over three years now and need someone with inteligence to verify if any of my theories have any substance.

Thanks
Ian
 
  • #9
Sorry for the digression...my bad :redface:
 
  • #10
Gokul43201 said:
Perhaps you are confused by my use of the word 'idiot'. By definition (mine), an idiot is one who embraces smoking despite the knowledge that it'll screw him/her over in the long run.
Fair enough, it is a basic human right to infuse any word with some arbitrary, private meaning.
However, not all morons&fools in this world are smokers, or what?
 
  • #11
fullstopsmoking said:
Now that we have all agreed the meaning of idiot how about answering a few of the points I made about smoking. For a minute i thought I had joined the muppet forum on yahoo.(LOL)

I have been researching smoking and it's affects on the human brain for over three years now and need someone with inteligence to verify if any of my theories have any substance.

Thanks
Ian
It is interesting enough, but do you have any references which contain evidence which supports your theory?
 
  • #12
Who's going to take the challenge of proving that theorem?

Let's just make it an axiom, since it is basic truth.
 
  • #13
Fullstop, if you want an evaluation of the physiological/psychological aspects of your ideas, perhaps you should try the Biology Forum. In addition, people will likely ask you for evidence you have that nicotine triggers cortisol production. Do you speak from a knowledge of the biochemistry involved, or are you merely guessing based on the rest of your theory ?

I'm pretty sure the psychosomatic effects of nicotine are well established and follow the general biochemistry of any addictive drug.
 
  • #14
Well, drikning a coke yesterday in the corridor, a close friend "big smoker" asked for a sip...I said [the important in short] " you are smoking now..and i do not like the smoke smell and could make the coke taste bad" feeling after a bit that he felt offended in a way i said "**** ok"...

After that I did drink a bit...and i hope i DID NOT drink a bit...it was the first time ever i taste a bit of the ****** chemical **** there in that stupid burning stick...I have a sort throat now because of the "new & good" taste i experience maybe since it just started afterwards...

I do not know how people do it...and love it to the extened to destroy money and health to win that burning stick company...& heart :biggrin:
 
  • #15
fullstopsmoking said:
A chemical such as carbon monoxide or Hydrogen cyanide may cause an increased amount of cortisol into the blood stream ... Nicotine can halt the production of cortisol and rather than acting on the brain it actually affects the Adrenal gland first and that halts the flow of the cortisol into the system and effectively reduces that perceived fear to a less frightening level

According to you (you don't provide references) cigs both increase and reduce cortisol. Are you saying that the effects of carbon monoxide etc outweigh those of nicotine? I have been told that smoking is a stimulant, and the following suggests that the stimulant is nicotine:

"No increases in ACTH or cortisol were detected after subjects smoked
0.48-mg-nicotine cigarettes. Cortisol levels rose significantly in 11 of
15 instances after smoking the high-nicotine cigarettes"
http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/sgr/sgr_1988/1988SGR-Chapter%203.pdf

Of course other substances may not have been controlled for.

fullstopsmoking said:
So which came first the cigarette or the illness. Are people smoking because their ill or ill because their smoking ?

Perhaps there is a third variable acting upon the other two?

You mentioned that you have been doing some research. What are you aiming to do with the results?
 
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  • #16
fullstopsmoking said:
Why do humans smoke ?

Because they're on fire?
 
  • #17
As the number 42 already suggested, nicotine results in an increase in cortisol concentrations, and the activation of dopaminergic neurons in the brain has been attributed to this increased cortisol (or corticosterone, the analogous glucocorticoid in rats), in a dose dependent manner. In rats, there's a paper suggesting adrenalectomy reduces the locomoter sensitization response to nicotine in rats, but a look at the results shows that vehicle treated rats had lower activity levels when adrenalectomized than when sham-operated, and the nicotine-treated adrenalectomized rats still had increased locomoter activity compared to the vehicle-treated, adrenalectomized rats. This suggests to me that the effect of adrenalectomy was an overall lowering of locomoter activity, and not an effect on the development of behavioral sensitization to nicotine. If adrenalectomy doesn't block this behavioral response, then it seems to throw the adrenal action of nicotine theory out the window, although it does appear that adrenal steroids may enhance this response.

Molander A, Soderpalm B. 2003 Pre- and postsynaptic dopamine mechanisms after repeated nicotine: effects of adrenalectomy. Eur J Pharmacol. 481:51-8.
 
  • #18
Why do humans smoke?

Forget humans! Why do monkeys smoke?

http://www.humorbg.com/Karikaturi/animals/smoking_monkey.jpg

:-p
 
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  • #19
Thanks for clearing that matter up, Moonbear :confused: :-p

But the real answer is to be found in the photo of the president: doesn't he look cool? I mean seriously, that's the coolest monkey I've ever seen. I want to be like that monkey. I bet all the girl monkeys swoon over him, and all the males respect him. Smoking is the Key to Cool.

(Parental request: please do not post a photo of this monkey smoking crack).
 
  • #20
I make my own cigarettes,and allways use DRUM tobacco..simply the best tobacco there is!Heaven!
You guys have to try sometimes. Peace.
 

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  • #21
Why people smoke

People START smoking for egocentric reasons, in that they are giving into peer pressure. Usually the young are vulnerable to starting the habit since teenagers or young people are quite sensitive to what THEY THINK others think of them (the ego).
People continue smoking for what is already known by most. Physical addiction.
 
  • #22
I smoke cause it makes me look cool.
 
  • #23
Tumor,

Apt name. you probably think it happens to other people. That you have a plan whether you know it or not and that is to quit before you get ill. The problems start when you come to stop. You must be intelligent to get involved in a forum like this yet you show little when it comes to something as serious as this.
You have been sucked into the biggest con in the world.

Ian
 
  • #24
Tribdog.

Makes you look cool ?
That's what you think. The thing is next time you get a chance watch a smoker and non -smoker together. The smoker is there with there emotions and frailties for the world to see. The non-smoker can portray their emotions as cool.
You think it looks cool but when your face starts to crease and you stink. how cool is that.
Your image like most peoples image o smoking has come from the screen yet films only show you one side of smoking. Do you see the lead man coughing his guts up in the morning or in a state of utter panic when he only has 2 cigs left before he goes to bed, do you see the way depression and desperation takes over their lives as they try to free themselves from smoking. do you see the way people move away from them as they light up in a public place. No, all you see is the image they want you to see.

There are more and more portrayals of smoking in kids films, I am talking about PG-13 films. WHY, why should they see things like smoking anymore than they would allow drug taking, sex and violence in the film. Smoking has been desensatized and seen as normal when in fact it is anything but., we were not born needing tobacco.

Thanks
Ian
 
  • #25
fullstopsmoking said:
Do you see the lead man coughing his guts up in the morning or in a state of utter panic when he only has 2 cigs left before he goes to bed, do you see the way depression and desperation takes over their lives as they try to free themselves from smoking. do you see the way people move away from them as they light up in a public place.

Wow, the Tragic Hero. Now THATS what I call COOL. I'm going to smoke double from now on. Anyone got a light?
 
  • #26
It is not my fault I smoke, blame it all on Columbus! :smile:
 
  • #27
tumor said:
It is not my fault I smoke, blame it all on Columbus! :smile:

Leave Chris alone! Cortez has a lot to answer for, but I think Sir Walter Raleigh takes credit for introducing the slow, wheezing, demise to the West.
 
  • #28
Instead of bringing back to Europe tobacco, why did not they brought with them marijuana? WHY? :frown:

PS..actually marijuans grows in Asia too,but anyway...It would be so much more fun,and instead fighting wars with each other we would make love to each other.peace. :wink:
 
  • #29
tumor said:
Instead of bringing back to Europe tobacco, why did not they brought with them marijuana? WHY? :frown:
...It would be so much more fun,and instead fighting wars with each other we would make love to each other.peace. :wink:

Interesting thought. How might European culture developed differently if we'd had weed instead of alcohol? I can't imagine the Nazis getting so worked up if they were getting baked in cafes rather than tanked up (forgive the pun) in beer-halls. Could start a new thread with this one...

Still, cannabis is carcinogenic too. I don't know how it compares to cigarettes in terms of addiction though.
 
  • #30
Smoking tobacco, Hmm? Maybe that is why American Indians were such a easy prey for Europeans?
 
  • #31
Wwii

42,

If the weed was brought back instead most of us would have comitted suicide.
Cigarettes create mental illnesses such as general Anxiety disorder and depression, that's why people find it impossible to stop once started. Everyone thinks weed is a safer option but i and many others I grew up with were heavy cannabis smokers and I for one have had serious depression and others I know also have. Perhaps if kids were told that within six months of starting smoking they would have a mental illness rather than in 30 -40 years they may get cancer perhaps they would not start.

Tumour, I do not know how old you are but that attitude will see you stood alone before you know it.
 
  • #32
The withdrawal symptoms of weed only show up after 6 months since the last toke. I'll give you a first hand report on them when they show up in January.


Edit: as far as I'm aware there are no physical symptoms, only psychological.
 
  • #33
While I lived in the Netherlands I smoked weed for over 4 years almost daily, and a lot... now I have been living in Canada for about a year and have not smoked anything at all, and I do not have any symptoms...

I have a position here for two years. When I am back in the Netherlands I will probably smoke weed now and then again, but I certainly do not think it is as addictive as tabbaco. I long for it in a similar way as I long for a typical dutch candy called "drop"(in dutch) which for some reason you cannot get here in Canada ...
 
  • #34
gerben said:
While I lived in the Netherlands I smoked weed for over 4 years almost daily, and a lot... now I have been living in Canada for about a year and have not smoked anything at all, and I do not have any symptoms...

I have a position here for two years. When I am back in the Netherlands I will probably smoke weed now and then again, but I certainly do not think it is as addictive as tabbaco. I long for it in a similar way as I long for a typical dutch candy called "drop"(in dutch) which for some reason you cannot get here in Canada ...

So..when are you leaving for Netherlands?huh?can i tag along?
 
  • #35
tumor said:
So..when are you leaving for Netherlands?huh?can i tag along?

Tumour! Stop showing off in front of the grown ups, you young scamp

And learn to spell your name properly
 

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