The habit of cigarette smoking is often used to tranquilize emotional issues like anxiety, stress, or low self-esteem. In addition, smoking provides comfort to people with conditions of chronic pain and depression. Smokers with emotional stress or chronic pain often turn to smoking as an attempt to treat their pain. For instance, they may use it to reduce anxiety, provide a sense of calmness and energy, and elevate their mood.
Some evidence does suggest that nicotine has some pain-relief benefits. Nicotine releases brain chemicals which soothe pain, heighten positive emotions, and creating a sense of reward. However, any benefit from smoking only eases the pain for a few minutes. Cigarettes contain many other chemicals shown to worsen healing ability of bone, tooth, and cartilage.
The mental association between smoking and pain relief can make quitting quite difficult, as can the increased short-term discomfort that quitting smoking adds to a person already suffering with chronic pain, depression, or emotional distress.
What are some effective ways for people with chronic pain – whether physical or emotional – to make the decision to quit smoking? First, evidence shows that in people who suffer chronic pain, smokers have more pain than nonsmokers do. Also, accept that smoking cessation may indeed make you feel worse in the short run, but may be key to regaining enough vitality to live fully with pain.