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Why is it so difficult to stop smoking

Jens Nähler has quit smoking many times already. But he also started over and over again. The best way to help him was with another addiction.

I quit smoking again. So I introduced myself to the entry for the article. Now that powerful sentence is actually at the beginning of the text. But he is wrong: it still bothers me – and I don't know that God is proud of it. Why is it really so hard to stop?

I'm a late flower, I smoked my first cigarette at the age of 19. At the time, in 1992, there was stress in high school. Today, I no longer know why I was hoping for some relaxation from lighting one as I study. At that time, the flock cost only eleven cents, today it costs about 29 cents. Smoking was so much cheaper than it is today – but actually always an expensive pleasure.

Nonetheless, pricing is one of the arguments often used in many applications designed to help smokers quit. Not so much, because in the end, precious money is a factor that stops one thing: addicts are always left with something to smoke – or they just break through. The amount saved should be the incentive for the reward system first. For a purchase that would otherwise go up in the blue haze and rather larger: Because who smokes 20 cigarettes a day, there is a whopping 174 euros less at the end of the month.

I smoked for 20 years less, usually more, until, for the first time, after some half-hearted attempts, I made the real jump. By that time, I was flirting with American writer Mark Twain, who is credited with the quote: “Quitting smoking is very easy. I've done it a hundred times already. "Right, I didn't make it until 2012.

Office colleagues persuaded me a year ago to participate in the marathon relay. In my youth I played handball and tennis for a long time – until I completely lost sight of an active sport of study and work. But such a small, short distance relay? That should be inside. It was her in the end too – but with pain. And for the first time, I really realized how much cigarettes restrict my freedom of movement and endanger my health.

Not to mention the health of others: anyone who consumes passively consumes nothing but tobacco smoke, which is inhaled during active smoking. This is especially dangerous for children because they have a higher respiratory rate and their detoxification system is not as well developed as in adults. Who can want that? Incidentally, between 110,000 and 140,000 people die each year from smoking.

For me, physical impact led me to think. However, it took several months before the change actually led to serious results – too much psychological dependence was too great as nicotine released the hormone happiness dopamine in the brain. And without cigarettes, there seems to be something missing that makes you happy. Especially in moments of a well-loved habit: a cigarette with coffee, at bedtime, while reading a newspaper, having a beer with friends.

While physical addiction quickly disappears when smoking stops, mental addiction is a constant struggle. I needed a counterpoint. If thinking about one's own health was not enough to quit smoking, an ambitious and extraordinary goal could be achieved – incompatible with nicotine use. So I started running. I'm not just running. To walk a lot.

After 15 months, I did my first marathon. For the first time in 2015, I stayed under three hours this distance. A year later, I ran 100 kilometers at 9:15 am, the following year 110 km passed through the French Alps with 7,000 vertical meters and as the crowning of the same year 100 miles Berlin at 3:29 pm. For more than six years, I have been practicing almost daily, often over ten hours or more than 100 km per week – with full professional and family responsibilities. I weighed 78 pounds at 1.92 meters, body fat was below 10 percent. But I was also away from cigarettes, which were incompatible with such intense training. One addiction replaced another, I heard from a friend. Because not only can drugs drive addictive behavior: Sports can be addictive behaviors – although it is socially rated and quite positive. Is that the case with me, I doubt it though. But sports have had a huge impact on my life; and at least I was in danger: one extreme replaced the other. Kind sports psychologist Oliver Stoll, who deals with "running" experiences in sports, has experienced it himself. In a conversation with the Die Welt newspaper, it is brief: "I quickly achieved success. 10 kilometers, 15 kilometers, half marathon, marathon – then you look what it feels like to run 100 kilometers or 24 hours. When you are in that spiral, from there is cognitively difficult to get out of. "

Today, I weigh over 92 pounds, more than ever before. Following the ultra light in Berlin, private problems led to the cigarette being held again. And sports ambition was moving toward the goals achieved in the second line. I'm not physically burned, but at least I'm tired. A combination of stress at work and private worries. I could no longer motivate myself and with one or the other beer nicotine followed. A short blow to the length of a cigarette. Only one. Now that's sometimes fifteen to twenty a day. Physically, I'm long gone from the material. But psychic addiction reciprocated. And so in the last two years, I am one of the 14.85 million people who use their daily cigarette according to World Health Organization statistics in Germany. By the way, I haven't been running for two years.

But I start again. And stop the other one. I promise.