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The Unseen Struggle: Understanding Cigarette Smoking as an Addiction

Updated: Dec 1, 2023



Explore the HAZEYouth Survey 2021 results, which highlight the diverse motivators for 218 young people. Discover what fuels the ambition and drive of today's youth. In analyzing the state of motivation among young people, the HAZEYouth Survey 2021 presents a revealing picture. A substantial 32.6% of respondents report high motivation, indicating a strong drive and eagerness to pursue their goals. This is complemented by a further 25.6% who claim very high motivation, showcasing an even more intense determination to succeed.

 

On the other side of the spectrum, a smaller yet noteworthy 10.6% of young people experience very low motivation, alongside 8.7% with low motivation, signaling areas where support and intervention may be necessary. Additionally, 21.5% of participants report an average level of motivation, suggesting a potential for growth with the right encouragement and opportunities.

 

These statistics form the basis for understanding the various levels of motivation within the youth demographic and will guide HAZEYouth in crafting targeted strategies to bolster motivation where it's needed most. What motivates young people? The survey results reveal a multifaceted array of motivators, each reflecting a unique aspect of the young people’s mindset and priorities.

 

Professional Drive and Financial Ambitions

In a landscape where career and financial success are often heralded as prime indicators of achievement, it's no surprise that a substantial 50.5% of young respondents in the HAZEYouth Survey 2021 align their motivation with professional aspirations. This segment of youth is not content with mere participation in the workforce; they are driven by a powerful urge to stand out and excel. Their ambitions are multifaceted, not restricted to ascending the traditional corporate hierarchy but encompassing a broader vision that includes initiating startups, disrupting industries with innovative ideas, and carving out niches in the competitive global marketplace. The motivation here is twofold: personal fulfillment through achieving professional milestones and the broader impact of contributing to economic growth and societal progress.

 

Furthermore, these career ambitions are not pursued in isolation but are closely linked to financial goals. For 16.7% of young people, financial literacy is not just about managing budgets but understanding the broader economic landscape. They aim to navigate the complex world of finance with acuity, recognizing that wealth is not merely accumulated but strategically built through informed investment decisions and entrepreneurial ventures. The goal of achieving financial independence is rooted in the pursuit of autonomy and the liberating sense of security that comes with sound financial management.

 

The drive for professional and financial success is not merely transactional for these young people. It's about the pride in one’s accomplishments, the satisfaction of personal goals, and the independence that financial stability can bring. This combined professional and financial drive is a potent force, one that fuels not just the pursuit of individual success but also the potential for broader economic innovation and societal contribution.

 


Source: HAZEYouth Survey 2021

 

Family Influence and Social Connections: The Foundations of Motivation

The complex dynamics of family relationships significantly shape the ambitions and motivations of 30.3% of young people, as revealed by the HAZEYouth Survey 2021.The family unit, often the primary social structure within which individuals grow and develop, provides more than just basic needs—it's the crucible for instilling values, nurturing talents, and instigating aspirations. Within the familial context, young people find not just a support system but also role models whose footsteps they seek to follow. Parents, siblings, and extended family members contribute to a young person's sense of identity, instilling a desire to achieve and contribute, perhaps as a means of reciprocation for the investment made in their futures.

 

Moreover, the influence of family extends to include a sense of responsibility and the drive to provide for loved ones, which can be powerful motivators for career choices and personal development. The aspirations nurtured within the family environment often reflect a blend of personal ambition and the wish to uplift one's family, underscoring the complex interplay between self-advancement and familial loyalty.

 

Simultaneously, nearly a fifth of young individuals, 19.9%, draw significant motivation from their social networks outside of the familial sphere. Friendships and romantic relationships provide support, presenting opportunities for personal growth, emotional fulfillment, and social integration. These connections serve as a mirror, reflecting back the potential that individuals might not see in themselves, and as a catalyst, encouraging them to step out of their comfort zones and engage with the broader community.

 

The value of these social ties lies not only in the joy and comfort they provide but also in their ability to challenge and inspire. Peers, mentors, and partners can introduce new perspectives, advocate for unconsidered paths, and provide the reassurance or validation that emboldens young people to pursue their dreams with vigor.

 


Source: HAZEYouth Survey 2021

 

Inspirational Forces and Individual Passions: Energizing the Youth

The HAZEYouth Survey 2021 identifies a significant group of young people, 19.3%, who find their drive in the success narratives of peers and leaders alike. Witnessing the accomplishments of others does more than just entertain; it energizes and encourages youth to set their own lofty goals and pursue them with tenacity. These stories of triumph often act as catalysts, sparking the desire for success and prompting youth to envision a trajectory of achievements for themselves.

 

Personal interests and hobbies also play a substantial role in motivating youth, with 18.3% of respondents finding joy and drive in activities that fuel their creativity and satisfy their curiosity. Whether it's through music, art, technological ventures, or travel, these pursuits are more than mere pastimes; they serve as sources of inspiration and incubators for innovation. They offer a means of self-expression and a way to explore one's identity, often leading to the discovery of new talents and the development of skills that can translate into professional opportunities.

 

Moreover, spiritual and religious convictions offer a solid foundation for motivation among 16.2% of the young people surveyed. These beliefs provide a guiding framework and a sense of purpose, helping individuals to navigate life's complexities and find solace in something greater than themselves. In a world where young people are bombarded with choices and information, spirituality and religion can offer a clear path and a stable ground from which to grow.

 

The ability to confront and surmount personal challenges is also a significant driving force for 13.9% of respondents. Overcoming obstacles not only builds character but also instills a sense of accomplishment and the knowledge that resilience is a key ingredient in the recipe for success. It is through these challenges that many young people learn their most valuable lessons and acquire the grit necessary to tackle future hurdles.


Source: HAZEYouth Survey 2021

 

Personal Growth and Educational Pursuits: Expanding Horizons

Personal growth is a key motivator for 21.6% of respondents in the HAZEYouth Survey 2021. This commitment to self-development is an ongoing process that involves nurturing self-esteem, bolstering confidence, and diligently working towards personal aspirations. It's a reflective journey where setting and achieving personal milestones is just as important as the accolades received along the way. Young people are dedicating themselves to this personal evolution, recognizing that self-worth and personal fulfillment often precede external success.

 

Alongside this inner development, educational pursuits are equally crucial, with 17.0% of youth placing high value on the acquisition of knowledge. The motivation to learn goes beyond the confines of a classroom—it involves expanding one’s cognitive boundaries, engaging with a range of disciplines, and applying this knowledge constructively. In a world where information is readily available, the desire to sift through it, to absorb what is relevant, and to utilize it effectively is what sets apart those who are merely informed from those who are truly enlightened.

 

This educational drive is closely connected to a deeper understanding of the world and one’s place within it. It involves equipping oneself with the tools necessary to contribute to society meaningfully and to innovate within one’s field. The pursuit of knowledge is therefore twofold: it is a personal quest for intellectual fulfillment and a strategic endeavor to foster societal advancement.


Introduction: Revealing the True Face of Cigarette Addiction

Cigarette smoking is a common and harmful addiction that affects millions of people around the world, with far-reaching consequences for both individual health and society at large. It is the culprit behind a myriad of diseases, including cancer, heart disease, stroke, and various lung conditions. Yet, beyond the well-documented health risks, lies a lesser acknowledged truth – cigarette smoking is not merely a habit; it is a disease akin to other forms of addiction. This condition ensnares people in a web of dependency that transcends mere choice or lifestyle.


The journey towards cessation is frequently misunderstood, marked not just by a single act of quitting, but by a winding road of recovery replete with challenges and setbacks. Similar to other addictions, smoking demands comprehensive strategies for those seeking to escape its grip. Empathy, a deep understanding, and strategic support are vital in unveiling the true face of this addiction. Only then can we begin to dismantle the misconceptions and societal stigma that shroud the lived reality of people battling to overcome the dependence on cigarettes.


Personal Testimony: The Cycle of Cessation and Relapse

I smoked cigarettes on and off for nearly two decades. Like many young people, the initiation into smoking was driven by peer influence and the allure of social conformity. It began with casual puffs at social gatherings during my university years and gradually escalated to buying my own cigarettes, driven by cravings that became a part of my solitary moments.


My first significant pause in smoking coincided with the life-changing news of pregnancy. This cessation, however, was fleeting; after giving birth, the old habit resurfaced, a cycle repeating itself with each subsequent pregnancy. The pattern of quitting and resuming continued until my mother was diagnosed with heart disease. I made a silent pact: my cessation of smoking in exchange for her recovery. When she did recover, I upheld my end of the bargain and did not smoke again until she passed away nearly ten years later. Her death unravelled the pact and brought forth the challenging relationship between emotional distress and the urge to smoke.


Five years on, during the COVID-19 pandemic, I found myself stranded on a work trip. Confined to a hotel without access to cigarettes and deterred by the risks of venturing out, I was once again forced into abstinence. Previously, my decisions to quit had been intentional, prompted by compelling personal reasons. In this instance, cessation was a consequence of circumstance rather than a proactive choice.


During this enforced break, my previous smoking habit had escalated to two packs a day—a stark indication of the addiction's hold over me. The absence of cigarettes during this period laid bare the harsh realities of dependency and withdrawal. It was a time of enforced reflection that led to an epiphany: the pattern of smoking I had experienced was not a series of independent choices but the hallmark of a chronic disease, characterised by relapses often triggered by life's overwhelming events—a realisation that had eluded me until then.


This realisation made clear the recurring nature of my struggle. It is a vicious cycle that mirrors the relentless push and pull of addiction, marked by periods of cessation and episodes of relapse. These experiences have reframed my understanding of the relationship with cigarettes—it is an addiction, a condition that is as challenging and intricate as any other.


The Science behind Smoking Addiction

Understanding the nature of smoking as an addiction is critical, as it encompasses characteristics common to other addictive disorders. Nicotine hijacks the brain’s reward circuits, creating a dependency that is challenging to overcome. When one inhales cigarette smoke, nicotine is transported to the brain in mere seconds, triggering the release of dopamine and other neurotransmitters that engender feelings of pleasure and well-being. Yet, these sensations are fleeting, setting off a relentless cycle of craving and withdrawal that can sustain the compulsion for the next cigarette.


This physical dependency is intensified by the body's adjustment to the constant presence of nicotine, resulting in smokers often escalating their intake to attain the same effects, thereby deepening their dependency. My own journey from an occasional puff to consuming 40 cigarettes a day over two decades is a testament to this process. The psychological habits that develop in tandem with smoking, such as reaching for a cigarette post-meal or substituting smoking for eating during busy moments, especially coffee breaks or rushed lunches, become deeply embedded behaviours.


Addressing this addiction necessitates a comprehensive approach. This includes pharmacological aids, such as nicotine replacement therapies or non-nicotine based medications, to alleviate physical withdrawal symptoms. Equally important is psychological support to address the habitual aspects of the addiction. Cognitive behavioural therapy, mindfulness techniques, and peer support groups have all proven to be beneficial in managing the psychological triggers of smoking, transforming entrenched habits, and encouraging the adoption of healthier coping strategies.




The Road to Smoke-Free Living & a Caution on Vaping

Quitting smoking is a deeply personal journey that extends well beyond putting out the final cigarette. It varies from person to person; some find it easier to cut down gradually, while others choose to quit outright. Whichever method is adopted, it is essential to have a proactive plan that anticipates cravings and identifies potential triggers, as well as preparing for the emotional ups and downs and the likelihood of weight gain that may come with quitting.


Quitting smoking is often more manageable when you fill the void with new activities. Engaging in exercise, discovering new hobbies, or practicing mindfulness can serve as healthy replacements for the time and rituals once devoted to cigarettes. Communicating your decision to quit to friends and family can also be beneficial. Their support and involvement can provide both encouragement and a sense of accountability, helping you to stay committed to a smoke-free life.


Alongside the conversation about traditional smoking cessation, it is necessary to consider vaping. Often touted as a safer substitute for smoking or as a means to help quit smoking, vaping carries its own set of risks and concerns. The long-term effects of vaping remain largely unknown, and there is some evidence to suggest it may lead to health concerns akin to those associated with smoking. Furthermore, vaping can sustain nicotine addiction and might not be the harmless alternative it is frequently claimed to be.



The ultimate aim is to break free from nicotine entirely, not to replace one source with another. For those looking to vaping as a step towards quitting, set clear intentions and timelines to eventually stop all nicotine use. By doing so, the road to a smoke-free life becomes a journey towards complete freedom from addiction, with a goal of achieving overall health and well-being.


Relapse – An Integral Part of the Recovery Journey

Recognising smoking as a chronic addiction includes understanding that relapse may be a step in the journey to recovery. Often, relapse begins with a seemingly innocuous slip — a cigarette or two might be smoked with the belief that control has been maintained. While a slip does not redefine one as a smoker, it can escalate into a full relapse if not managed with care.


Relapse should not be seen as a failure but rather as a natural occurrence in the path to permanent cessation. Each relapse provides a deeper understanding of the triggers that prompt smoking and the strategies that are most effective in managing these. Such self-awareness is invaluable in preventing future lapses. For many, recognising personal triggers and mastering how to handle them is a process that evolves with each attempt to quit. These triggers can range from emotional stress, environmental cues, to social pressures. By gaining insight into these triggers, one can develop stronger coping strategies.


Concluding Reflections: A Simple Truth

The science of smoking addiction reveals a powerful grip on the brain's reward system, making quitting a challenging but essential endeavour. Recovery from smoking is a personal and proactive journey, replete with moments that test resilience and require persistence. Relapse, often seen as a setback, is a part of this journey, offering lessons and insights that strengthen the resolve for a smoke-free life.


Call to Action

Join the movement for a healthier future. Pledge to support those on the path to quitting smoking and share your stories using the hashtags below. Together, we can build a smoke-free world.



About the Author

Nite Tanzarn is an Independent International Consultant, an advocate for women's and girl's rights, and a passionate voice in the fight against smoking addiction. With extensive experience in addressing GESI dimensions within transport, agriculture, and rural development sectors, Nite offers a unique perspective on public health issues, including the multifaceted struggle against smoking addiction.



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46 Comments


Shamim Balunywa
Shamim Balunywa
Nov 09, 2023

Thanks for sharing! I have got answers to many questions. Very helpful. Keep it up!

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Nite Tanzarn
Nite Tanzarn
Nov 09, 2023
Replying to

You're welcome! I'm thrilled to hear that the article provided you with valuable answers. Your encouragement is much appreciated, and I will certainly continue to share insights and information. Stay tuned for more!

Cheers,

Nite

#NITETANZARNIntellectNest

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nsabimana canisius
nsabimana canisius
Nov 09, 2023

Great article

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Nite Tanzarn
Nite Tanzarn
Nov 09, 2023
Replying to

Thank you for your succinct praise! I'm glad you enjoyed the article.

Cheers,

Nite

#NITETANZARNIntellectNest

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Guest
Nov 09, 2023

On addictive behavior, what do you think conventional approaches are leaving out in handling or tackling these issues.

And what would be your step by step practical guide to solving this loop.?

Are these things that can be over come or Not?

What your opinion.


And in talking about these issues and exposing ones mind to it, if iam hooked on substances what would u advise me to do. By your experience and what is it that I don't understand about myself? In case iam in withdrawal.


it's good work keep it up. 👍👍👍

I spoke to friends about this forum. They say you trigger 5hem to want the answers to the above questions in detail


Have u ever thought…


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Nite Tanzarn
Nite Tanzarn
Nov 09, 2023
Replying to

Thank you for your thoughtful comment and for discussing the blog with your friends. Addressing addictive behavior requires a multifaceted approach, and often conventional methods may not fully consider the individual's emotional and psychological needs. A practical step-by-step guide would vary greatly depending on the individual, but generally, it should include acknowledgment of the issue, seeking professional help, and creating a supportive network for sustainable change.

Addictions can indeed be overcome, with the right support and strategies. It requires continuous effort and often a personalized approach. If you're grappling with substance addiction, my advice would be to reach out for professional help, such as therapy or counseling, and to connect with support groups. Understanding oneself is a journey, and often,…

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Hoi Nite,

You have again shared your lifestyle experiences with the rest of the world. Unknowingly, you might have put pen to paper an observation rhyming with many men and women born in the 50s, 60s, 70s and to a smaller extent the 80s! It was so cool to smoke and be seen to be smoking! Cigarettes were affordable and available. Cigarette advertisements hyped macho men and ultra masculinity. For example ’Malboro’ advertised cowboys on horses smoking Marlboro cigarettes! East Africa’s ‘Sportsman’ cigarettes displayed a polo player or equestrian, a profession many young men and women aspired to belong to. The 90s came and soft drug power took over from cigarette smoking!

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Nite Tanzarn
Nite Tanzarn
Nov 09, 2023
Replying to

Hoi alibalunywa2,

Indeed, the historical context you've outlined paints a vivid picture of the era when smoking was glamorized and deeply embedded in cultural norms. It's a powerful reminder of how societal attitudes towards smoking have shifted over the decades, and how much of that 'cool' image was a constructed appeal by advertising. Your observations offer a valuable lens through which we can view the journey of many who are now grappling with the consequences of those times. The transition in trends from cigarettes to other substances also marks an important shift in health and social challenges. Thank you for adding this rich perspective to the conversation.

Cheers,

Nite

#NITETANZARNIntellectNest

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Guest
Nov 09, 2023

Awww how are you Nite? Thank you for sharing. It's a great article, thank you for sharing yourself with us. We hope the article heals another struggling person🙏🏽

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Nite Tanzarn
Nite Tanzarn
Nov 09, 2023
Replying to

I'm doing well, thank you for asking! Your warm words mean a lot to me. Sharing one's own story is a path to healing, both personally and hopefully for others as well. If this article can provide comfort or aid to even one person in their struggle, it's a victory. Thank you for your kind hopes and for taking the time to engage with the article.

Cheers,

Nite

#NITETANZARNIntellectNest

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