Smoking is a way to avoid feeling unpleasant emotions such as sadness, grief, and anxiety. It can hide apprehensions, fears, and pain. This is accomplished partly through the chemical effects of nicotine on the brain.
When smoking, the release of brain chemicals makes smokers feel like they are coping and dealing with life and stressful emotional situations. Nicotine brings up a level of good feelings. Cigarette smokers are aware when nicotine levels and good feelings begin to decrease, and light up quickly enough to stay in their personal comfort zone. However, they may not realize that avoiding their feelings is not the same as taking positive steps to create a life of greater potential and meaning.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that people suffering from nicotine withdrawal have increased aggression, anxiety, hostility, and anger. However, perhaps these emotional responses are due not to withdrawal, but due to an increased awareness of unresolved emotions. If smoking dulls emotions, logically quitting smoking allows awareness of those emotions to bubble up to the surface. If emotional issues aren’t resolved, a smoker may feel overwhelmed and eventually turn back to cigarettes to deal with the uncomfortable feelings.