Can you be a social smoker?

Posted by wgatap21 @wgatap21, Jan 25 7:25am

Fortunately, I am a healthy 70 yr old, with supposedly a strong heart. some ills for thyroid, some cholesterol, anxiety/mild depression now and some usual
small stuff. See my physician twice a year, lungs x-rayed once a year. I can’t tell you what pattern of smoking I had since college. Never a pack a day that I remember, mouched(sp?) in college and after from friends. so many smoked in the ’60s and ’70s. Fast forward. I stopped for months of various reasons(such that it is no good for anyone #1), but drifted back in and truthfully not sure of the timing. I went through tough last five years of a child having a nervous breakdown, and much better now but just not the same. Yes during that period I smoked, but never a pack!! In a casino, hard not to light up and with a friend who smokes. NOW….I have a safe zone in my garage(I call it my chapel-spent a lot of time in here last 5 years in deep thinking, prayer or my child and frankly for all ups and downs we all go through. No one smokes in my house(all grown up now and know I sneak out there. Honestly, I feel I look forward to getting out there psychologically more than I feel a nicotine drive. Chew some Nicotine during the day. Now I am talking about 3-5 cig a day tops. Thought a month ago, that’s it!! 5 days. seriously seemed easy. Drifted in there the sixth day, had one. Now I’m back to 3 maybe a day.
Say to myself, what’s the harm? “Social smoker,” I say. Everyone is different…Should I psychologically go 3 to 2 to 1 over next month(some people suggest!)…cold turkey again???…Something about that safe place, believe it or not, a garage(my chapel)…Long story but true. Not many people I know smoke openly, but they do sneak cigs(not many, maybe 1)…Sorry for the lengthy story…. God Bless and Healthy living! JB

Welcome to the “Addictions & Recovery” group, @wgatap21.
Most people recognize that smoking causes serious harm, yet many people continue to smoke––why? Smoking or nicotine addiction is an extremely complex process and psychological, behavioral factors play a big role!

The brain has its own receptors for nicotine – so-called ‘nicotinic acetylcholine’ receptors. Many of these are located in the area of the dopamine ‘reward’ pathway. Dopamine release is usually concerned with naturally rewarding activities (such as eating, drinking, sexual activity, and so on), but addictive drugs can ‘hijack’ this system resulting in faster and greater amounts of dopamine release. When nicotine activates the nicotinic receptors brain, it results in massive dopamine release. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7982062

Smoking also taps into the negative reinforcement system – via the withdrawal syndrome. When a regular smoker stops smoking, they experience bad withdrawal symptoms (e.g. irritability, depression, restlessness, poor concentration, increased appetite) and strong urges to smoke. Nicotine ingestion, especially via smoking, extinguishes these symptoms.

I’d like to invite @littleonefmohio @stressedmesseddepressed @jo54 @merpreb @trellg132 to join this conversation. You might also wish to view this Connect discussion in the Lung Health group:
– Ways to curb your cravings for nicotine https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/ways-to-curb-your-cravings-for-nicotene/

May I ask what has prompted you to consider quitting or even reducing the number of cigarettes?

REPLY

thought about absolutely quitting many times and did for probably months! Like I said in my post, I never smoked anytime a pack a day that I remember going back probably 55 years ! many times when I would only smoke one at night with my wife when the kids were young. Or at social events a few more. I went through about 5 tough years, and stepped it up under some serious stress. I just thought it seemed I was now actually psychologically addicted to go to my peaceful place and relax…2 or 3 a day. about a month ago l kinda said no more, cold turkey for 5 days and honestly didn’t seem to crave it. Something happened and l needed that safe space and back l go. Reality thinking…I’m 70, healthy, regular check ups, etc., but still I do think I should stop. And everyone should! but to be truthful, I don’t think stopping three a day it’s going to make me feel wonderful. That probably sounds strange but Smoking three a day is strange also. I probably made a short answer long 😜😀

REPLY
@kanaazpereira

Welcome to the “Addictions & Recovery” group, @wgatap21.
Most people recognize that smoking causes serious harm, yet many people continue to smoke––why? Smoking or nicotine addiction is an extremely complex process and psychological, behavioral factors play a big role!

The brain has its own receptors for nicotine – so-called ‘nicotinic acetylcholine’ receptors. Many of these are located in the area of the dopamine ‘reward’ pathway. Dopamine release is usually concerned with naturally rewarding activities (such as eating, drinking, sexual activity, and so on), but addictive drugs can ‘hijack’ this system resulting in faster and greater amounts of dopamine release. When nicotine activates the nicotinic receptors brain, it results in massive dopamine release. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7982062

Smoking also taps into the negative reinforcement system – via the withdrawal syndrome. When a regular smoker stops smoking, they experience bad withdrawal symptoms (e.g. irritability, depression, restlessness, poor concentration, increased appetite) and strong urges to smoke. Nicotine ingestion, especially via smoking, extinguishes these symptoms.

I’d like to invite @littleonefmohio @stressedmesseddepressed @jo54 @merpreb @trellg132 to join this conversation. You might also wish to view this Connect discussion in the Lung Health group:
– Ways to curb your cravings for nicotine https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/ways-to-curb-your-cravings-for-nicotene/

May I ask what has prompted you to consider quitting or even reducing the number of cigarettes?

Jump to this post

@kanaazpereira– Thank you for inviting me into this discussion. I just finished a post on ways to curb your cravings for nicotine https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/ways-to-curb-your-cravings-for-nicotene/ but I did not address anything about "Social Smoking". I smoked Marlboro's for 35 years and i understand how difficult it is to quit. Smoking socially is a misnomer. because being social indicates being with others and smoking occasionally. Smoking is not a social activity. Most places inside and a lot of outside ban smoking because second hand smoke is dangerous to others. Much has been written on this subject as well. This can't be compared to social drinking because drinking doesn't harm others and as far as I know if someone gets drunk, few places will allow that person to stay.
The term Social smoking doesn't even make sense now.
When someone has an addiction "just having one more" doesn't work otherwise you wouldn't have a problem.
Almost no-one is left unscathed if they smoke for any length of time. An Xray will not show emphysema or COPD. And both can be mild. You should have yearly CT scans. Probably should quit is just kidding yourself. I want you to quit but the harsh reality is that it is dangerous to your health and others and if you keep smoking than you stand the chance of becoming ill. When you stop smoking you don't automatically stop the effects of damage to your body because every time you smoke the damage accumulates. it multiplies. It takes time for that to stop.
Here are some other side effects of smoking
Immediate effects

Some of the effects that may be experienced after smoking tobacco include:

initial stimulation, then reduction in activity of brain and nervous system
increased alertness and concentration
feelings of mild euphoria
feelings of relaxation
increased blood pressure and heart rate
decreased blood flow to fingers and toes
decreased skin temperature
bad breath
decreased appetite
dizziness
nausea, abdominal cramps and vomiting
headache
coughing, due to smoke irritation.

A high dose of nicotine can cause a person to overdose. This means that a person has taken more nicotine than their body can cope with. The effects of very large doses can include:

an increase in the unpleasant effects
feeling faint
confusion
rapid decrease in blood pressure and breathing rate
seizures
respiratory arrest (stopping breathing) and death.

60 mg of nicotine taken orally can be fatal for an adult.

Tar in cigarettes coats the lungs and can cause lung and throat cancer in smokers. It is also responsible for the yellow–brown staining on smokers’ fingers and teeth.

Carbon monoxide in cigarettes reduces the amount of oxygen available to the muscles, brain and blood. This means the whole body—especially the heart—must work harder. Over time this causes airways to narrow and blood pressure to rise, which can lead to heart attack and stroke.

High levels of CO, together with nicotine, increase the risk of heart disease, hardening of the arteries and other circulatory problems.

Some of the long-term effects of smoking (Quit Victoria, 2010) that may be experienced include:

increased risk of stroke and brain damage
eye cataracts,

, yellowing of whites of eyes
loss of sense of smell and taste
yellow teeth, tooth decay and bad breath
cancer of the nose, lip, tongue and mouth
possible hearing loss
laryngeal and pharyngeal cancers
contributes to osteoporosis
shortness of breath
coughing
chronic bronchitis
cancer
triggering asthma
emphysema
heart disease
blockages in blood supply that can lead to a heart attack
high blood pressure (hypertension)
myeloid leukaemia, a cancer that affects bone marrow and organs that make blood
stomach and bladder cancers
stomach ulcers
decreased appetite
grey appearance
early wrinkles
slower healing wounds
damage to blood vessel walls
increased likelihood of back pain
increased susceptibility to infection
lower fertility and increased risk of miscarriage
irregular periods
early menopause
damaged sperm and reduced sperm
impotence.

Passive smoking occurs when a person who is not smoking breathes in the smoke from people who are smoking. Passive smoking can irritate the eyes and nose and cause a number of health problems such as heart disease and lung cancer. Tobacco smoke is especially harmful to babies and young children.

Nicotine can affect the way the body processes many different drugs. This can affect how these drugs work. For example, nicotine can decrease the effectiveness of benzodiazepines. Smoking while taking the contraceptive pill increases the risk of blood clots forming.

Check with your doctor or other health professional whether nicotine might affect any medications you are taking.

Read about the effects of tobacco use on pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Many drugs can cross the placenta and affect an unborn child.

In general, using drugs when pregnant can increase the chances of going into labour early. This can mean that babies are born below the normal birth weight.

If a mother uses drugs while breastfeeding, they may be present in her milk, and could affect the baby.

Check with your health professional if you are taking or planning to take any drugs during pregnancy, or while breastfeeding.
Tolerance and dependence

People who use tobacco regularly tend to develop a tolerance to the effects of nicotine. This means they need to smoke more tobacco to get the same effect.

They may become dependent on nicotine. Dependence can be psychological, physical, or both. People who are dependent on nicotine find that using the drug becomes far more important than other activities in their life. They crave the drug and will find it very difficult to stop using it.

People who are psychologically dependent on nicotine may find they feel an urge to smoke when they are in specific surroundings or socialising with friends.

Physical dependence occurs when a person’s body adapts to the nicotine and gets used to functioning with the nicotine present.

For more information, please click on the Australian Drug Foundation’s DrugInfo
Smoking also causes heart disease, stroke, aortic aneurysm (a balloon-like bulge in an artery in the chest), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) (chronic bronchitis and emphysema), diabetes, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, age-related macular degeneration, and cataracts, and worsens asthma symptoms in adults. Smokers are at higher risk of developing pneumonia, tuberculosis, and other airway infections (1–3). In addition, smoking causes inflammation and impairs immune function (1). (https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/tobacco/cessation-fact-sheet)

Other cancers that can be caused by smoking: lung, larynx (voice box), mouth, esophagus, throat, bladder, kidney, liver, stomach, pancreas, colon and rectum, and cervix, as well as acute myeloid leukemia.

I hope that you do quit. Yes it is hard and we hare here to help you. Do you think that you might give it another go?

REPLY
@merpreb

@kanaazpereira– Thank you for inviting me into this discussion. I just finished a post on ways to curb your cravings for nicotine https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/ways-to-curb-your-cravings-for-nicotene/ but I did not address anything about "Social Smoking". I smoked Marlboro's for 35 years and i understand how difficult it is to quit. Smoking socially is a misnomer. because being social indicates being with others and smoking occasionally. Smoking is not a social activity. Most places inside and a lot of outside ban smoking because second hand smoke is dangerous to others. Much has been written on this subject as well. This can't be compared to social drinking because drinking doesn't harm others and as far as I know if someone gets drunk, few places will allow that person to stay.
The term Social smoking doesn't even make sense now.
When someone has an addiction "just having one more" doesn't work otherwise you wouldn't have a problem.
Almost no-one is left unscathed if they smoke for any length of time. An Xray will not show emphysema or COPD. And both can be mild. You should have yearly CT scans. Probably should quit is just kidding yourself. I want you to quit but the harsh reality is that it is dangerous to your health and others and if you keep smoking than you stand the chance of becoming ill. When you stop smoking you don't automatically stop the effects of damage to your body because every time you smoke the damage accumulates. it multiplies. It takes time for that to stop.
Here are some other side effects of smoking
Immediate effects

Some of the effects that may be experienced after smoking tobacco include:

initial stimulation, then reduction in activity of brain and nervous system
increased alertness and concentration
feelings of mild euphoria
feelings of relaxation
increased blood pressure and heart rate
decreased blood flow to fingers and toes
decreased skin temperature
bad breath
decreased appetite
dizziness
nausea, abdominal cramps and vomiting
headache
coughing, due to smoke irritation.

A high dose of nicotine can cause a person to overdose. This means that a person has taken more nicotine than their body can cope with. The effects of very large doses can include:

an increase in the unpleasant effects
feeling faint
confusion
rapid decrease in blood pressure and breathing rate
seizures
respiratory arrest (stopping breathing) and death.

60 mg of nicotine taken orally can be fatal for an adult.

Tar in cigarettes coats the lungs and can cause lung and throat cancer in smokers. It is also responsible for the yellow–brown staining on smokers’ fingers and teeth.

Carbon monoxide in cigarettes reduces the amount of oxygen available to the muscles, brain and blood. This means the whole body—especially the heart—must work harder. Over time this causes airways to narrow and blood pressure to rise, which can lead to heart attack and stroke.

High levels of CO, together with nicotine, increase the risk of heart disease, hardening of the arteries and other circulatory problems.

Some of the long-term effects of smoking (Quit Victoria, 2010) that may be experienced include:

increased risk of stroke and brain damage
eye cataracts,

, yellowing of whites of eyes
loss of sense of smell and taste
yellow teeth, tooth decay and bad breath
cancer of the nose, lip, tongue and mouth
possible hearing loss
laryngeal and pharyngeal cancers
contributes to osteoporosis
shortness of breath
coughing
chronic bronchitis
cancer
triggering asthma
emphysema
heart disease
blockages in blood supply that can lead to a heart attack
high blood pressure (hypertension)
myeloid leukaemia, a cancer that affects bone marrow and organs that make blood
stomach and bladder cancers
stomach ulcers
decreased appetite
grey appearance
early wrinkles
slower healing wounds
damage to blood vessel walls
increased likelihood of back pain
increased susceptibility to infection
lower fertility and increased risk of miscarriage
irregular periods
early menopause
damaged sperm and reduced sperm
impotence.

Passive smoking occurs when a person who is not smoking breathes in the smoke from people who are smoking. Passive smoking can irritate the eyes and nose and cause a number of health problems such as heart disease and lung cancer. Tobacco smoke is especially harmful to babies and young children.

Nicotine can affect the way the body processes many different drugs. This can affect how these drugs work. For example, nicotine can decrease the effectiveness of benzodiazepines. Smoking while taking the contraceptive pill increases the risk of blood clots forming.

Check with your doctor or other health professional whether nicotine might affect any medications you are taking.

Read about the effects of tobacco use on pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Many drugs can cross the placenta and affect an unborn child.

In general, using drugs when pregnant can increase the chances of going into labour early. This can mean that babies are born below the normal birth weight.

If a mother uses drugs while breastfeeding, they may be present in her milk, and could affect the baby.

Check with your health professional if you are taking or planning to take any drugs during pregnancy, or while breastfeeding.
Tolerance and dependence

People who use tobacco regularly tend to develop a tolerance to the effects of nicotine. This means they need to smoke more tobacco to get the same effect.

They may become dependent on nicotine. Dependence can be psychological, physical, or both. People who are dependent on nicotine find that using the drug becomes far more important than other activities in their life. They crave the drug and will find it very difficult to stop using it.

People who are psychologically dependent on nicotine may find they feel an urge to smoke when they are in specific surroundings or socialising with friends.

Physical dependence occurs when a person’s body adapts to the nicotine and gets used to functioning with the nicotine present.

For more information, please click on the Australian Drug Foundation’s DrugInfo
Smoking also causes heart disease, stroke, aortic aneurysm (a balloon-like bulge in an artery in the chest), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) (chronic bronchitis and emphysema), diabetes, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, age-related macular degeneration, and cataracts, and worsens asthma symptoms in adults. Smokers are at higher risk of developing pneumonia, tuberculosis, and other airway infections (1–3). In addition, smoking causes inflammation and impairs immune function (1). (https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/tobacco/cessation-fact-sheet)

Other cancers that can be caused by smoking: lung, larynx (voice box), mouth, esophagus, throat, bladder, kidney, liver, stomach, pancreas, colon and rectum, and cervix, as well as acute myeloid leukemia.

I hope that you do quit. Yes it is hard and we hare here to help you. Do you think that you might give it another go?

Jump to this post

oh yes, I will quit. It’s all psychological addiction in my mind, but I’m not a doctor a doctor. But I was wondering Was is Cold Turkey the best way? Or three a day a week then two and then one? thank you for all your information and concern Best , JB

REPLY

@wgatap21-Please don't beat your self up about it being psychological. It's just the opposite. The tobacco companies admitted that they knew that it was and lied about it. That's why they have lost so much money with federal and state and personal injury law suits. Please read:
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/nicotine-dependence/symptoms-causes/syc-20351584
Nicotine doesn't take long to get you into it's addictive behaviors. It's nicotine that has been described as being as powerful as as some benzos. I hoep that this helps! Best of luck!

Liked by Lisa Lucier

REPLY

@wgatap21 – I think perhaps instead of asking if one can be a social smoker, you are asking if one can smoke a measured, smaller number of cigarettes (or use chew) each day, especially if smoking goes along with a peaceful, thoughtful retreat from the day? Is that accurate?

@merpreb – you talked about smoking for 35 years and some of the ill effects of smoking in general. If you feel comfortable sharing, wondering if you have seen some of those effects you've mentioned in your own health?

REPLY

@lisalucier– To begin with, I have had lung cancer since 1997. I was coughing up blood. I was short of breath and my voice was very deep. I had periodontal disease, tobacco-stained fingernails, very dry hair and I stunk from cigarettes. I also like to beat myself up for not stopping when I was young.
I picked up every bug that was floating in the air, constant colds and hacking coughs for weeks. I had headaches and if I drank too much I think that my hangovers were worse because I would wake up and smoke and not eat right away.

Liked by Lisa Lucier

REPLY
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