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A new study suggests that online social networks help smokers quit the habit effectively.The researchers from the University of Iowa and the non-profit organization, Truth Initiative, analyzed the tobacco use of more than 2,600 smokers who join the BecomeaAnEx.org online community.They found out that 21 percent of active users quit the smoking habit three months later after their first week in the community, while those who were less active in the community were less likely to quit smoking.
"How central you become in the online social network after the first week is a good indicator of whether you will quit smoking.This is the first study to look at smokers' behaviors in an online community over time and to report a prospective relationship between social network involvement and quitting smoking," said Kang Zhao, an assistant professor of management sciences in the UI Tippie College of Business and the co-author of the study.
The BecomeAnEx website has more than 800,000 members who registered since the site's launch back in 2008.Members can share information and support through forums, blogs, and messages.Even though the site is focused on quitting smoking, members may post any subject or topic on the website.Researchers from the study contacted members who joined the community for the last three months to know about the status of their habit.
- At least 21 percent of active members quit smoking.
- About 11 percent of passive members quit smoking.
- Only 8 percent of study participants who never visited quit smoking.
However, the researchers did not inspect the reason why such involvement in social media had a positive effect that inspired members to quit the habit.
How Nicotine Works in the Body
When you smoke tobacco products, the chemical nicotine is absorbed quickly into your bloodstream.It only takes ten seconds to reach your brain.As a response, your brain releases adrenaline that creates a temporary boost of energy and a feeling of pleasure.The effect fades as quickly as it comes and leaves you feeling a little more down and tired.This triggers the craving or wanting to feel that boost again.Because your body develops a high tolerance for the substance, you will need more cigarettes to smoke in order to receive the pleasurable effects.Smoking another cigarette stick also suppresses the withdrawal symptoms temporarily.Once you allow the cycle to repeat, it leads to addiction just like any addictive substances such as caffeine and narcotics.
What makes cigarettes addictive today are the additional chemicals and flavorings manufacturers put in them These let your body absorb nicotine quickly and make their products sell more.Even smokeless tobacco products contain nicotine while the dip and chew types have more nicotine amount than your average cigarette stick.Chewing on an average-size dip for 30 minutes can give nicotine equivalent to smoking three cigarettes.Two cans of snuff for a week can give nicotine equivalent to smoking one and a half pack of cigarettes per day.
Since snuff contains nicotine and other chemicals that can cause cancer, a user is at risk of developing several cancer types, such as nose and sinus cancers, oral cancer, esophageal cancer, and pancreatic cancer.It also exposes the user to a higher risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, heart attack, and stroke.
Quitting the Habit
Quitting the smoking habit can be extremely difficult because of the withdrawal symptoms caused by the lack of nicotine your body craves.Withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, irritability, headaches, and increased cravings for any source of nicotine.Non-smoking therapies are available to help people wanting to get rid of the habit.
1.Cold turkey is a risky therapy using your inner strength and self-control to stop smoking and manage the withdrawal symptoms.Between four to seven percent of smokers are able to quit the habit without any help.
2.Behavioral therapy involves a counselor to find ways for you not to smoke.Both you and your counselor will determine the triggers that crave you to smoke and create a plan on how you can handle your cravings.
3.Nicotine replacement therapy uses several products, such as nicotine gum, patches, and inhalers to give your body nicotine without smoking.These products provide a controlled and monitored amount of nicotine to let your body adjust to the transition properly.It is best combined with behavioral therapy.
4.Medications like bupropion and varenicline are prescribed by your doctor to help your cravings and ease the symptoms of withdrawal.
5.A combination of therapies may be needed in case you are several addicted to nicotine.A combination of a nicotine patch and nicotine gum may be better than a single nicotine delivery system.Another combination is the use of a nicotine replacement therapy and the intake of a prescription drug to help you quit the habit effectively.Be sure to discuss combination therapies with your doctor because some methods like using two replacement therapies have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.