Do you smoke because of anxiety?

Hey, I'm T. :)

I've been a smoker for about a year, and I was diagnosed with anxiety over 5 years ago. I didn't really notice the pattern when I started smoking cigarettes, but I am now wondering: do I smoke to calm my anxiety?

I wonder this because a month ago when I tried to start the journey of quitting, I found it incredibly difficult due to everything that went wrong triggering me to smoke immediately. It didn't take long to realize every time I'm stressed at work, or I have a bad conversation, I get a strong craving. So I wondered, am I alone in this? Or do others with anxiety find that their mental health is interfering directly with their ability to quit (cigarettes or anything else for that matter)?

Does anyone have any anxiety-specific suggestions to curb the panic-induced cravings?
  • 14 Commentsby Likes|Date
  • I don't smoke anymore but I kind of used to use cigarettes as an outlet for my depression and anxiety feelings. Whenever I was near people and I felt stressed or out of place I lit one up to calm myself down. Now that I'm better I don't need to smoke anymore! :)
  • Thanks Shammy, that's encouraging to hear. Congrats on stopping smoking, that's awesome. Can I ask what sort of things you did to help with nervous smoking impulses? I'm definitely open to whatever experiences others have had on this topic, I need some help. ^^;
  • Hi T, 

    Smoking is a horrible habit that has been in my life for the last twenty years.  Being able to quit many times, like you, I analyzed the why and hows.  Stress is going to be around no matter what, it all boils down to how we deal with it. 

    Every time I quit, there was one thing I've noticed and I just couldn't deny. Smoking is habit forming.  Who in the world likes the taste or smell or cigarettes? Im sure that number is very low. 

    Although I do not like to smoke, I do it because I want to. I like the buzz I get when i haven't smoked one in a couple hours.  Does it take my stress away? Does it make me feel better? Does it get my mind off what just happened? No, If anything it is a toxic distraction that leaves us smelling like an ashtray. 

    Drink lots of water and try an all natural cleanse.  Making it past week 2 is always the struggle for me. 
  • While I still smoke now,,I dint smoke half as much as I used to and for me, smoking was just a habit that I got drawn in to was I was around 13 or 14 years old.

    I've never been diagnosed with depression or anxiety so for me smoking was and still is just a habit I haven't been able to quit yet.
  • Earlier in my university days I've also felt anxiety during social interactions so I would choose to go out of a room and smoke. It really made me an outsider and chainsmoker so I definitely understand where you're coming from. One thing that helped me was try to reduce my anxiety before I even attempted to quit. I started forcing myself to go out more and interact with people very slowly. I made new friends and found new hobbies through this and made me smoke less more and more.
  • I have anxiety issues as well, but I never smoke. I guess it really depends on the person. As for me, whenever I would feel stressed, I would have a strong craving to listen to rock music, or to read books.
  • I smoke and I do sometimes use it for anxiety although admittedly I use a lot of things for anxiety including playing some mobile games whenever I feel stressed. Most of the time these days I just opt to use mobile games instead as much as possible because at least then I'm not doing damage to my lungs, but I realize it's still not a very healthy practice so I'm hoping to get a much more effective solution.
  • I wasn't smoking because of anxiety. I was smoking because I enjoyed it and it was very, very soothing. However, with time, it turned into a serious problem. I was "borrowing" a lot of money from people which I have never managed to give back in order to buy Marlboros. And when I was broke I even smoked cigarettes with tar in them! My lungs are pretty messed up now, but at least I'm not causing them even more harm.
  • Smoking for me is stress-relief and also something that relaxes me in situations when I feel like I'm losing the plot. I'm trying to give it up and need something to replace it but haven't found that something yet. 
  • @tuebec plenty of people smoke to help relieve stress...and it's simply just a habit and the mind can play tricks on us. when i was quitting many years ago i would unconsciously cause stress, just to light up. crazy, i know.

    i guess for me i just wanted to be a non-smoker so badly i finally made the break and dealt with stress as it came without smoking. but i was in a pretty good spot in life too...there have been stressful times that pop up over the years and i was tempted to smoke and drink, but i knew that that was not the answer and i did not want to become addicted again.

    good luck and keep trying!
  • I've had my fair share of anxiety. It's not a walk in the park, mind you. I just feel thankful that even though I've felt the world cave in on me thousands of times, I can never find it my heart to resort to vices - alcohol, cigarettes, partying, gambling, etc. I simply look towards things, stories and undertakings that inspire me. I can't endure the smell of smoke. If I use cigarettes to cover up my anxiety, I fear I'd end up worse for wear. Better safe than sorry.
  • Smoking definitely affected me in this way. I would always smoke more, sometimes quite heavily, when tense and anxious although I didn't even realize it at first. I first noticed it when I was going through a very rough time (my life falling apart for the 3rd time!). Suddenly, I found that I had been chain-smoking and literally just couldn't find myself able to relax at all.
  • You are not alone, OP, I believe my fiance also smokes out of anxiety :(  He often says that he smokes when he is bored, sometimes I think he does it out of boredom as well.  I have noticed he does it more often when he is anxious or stressed, similar to what I do when I am very stressed out (I eat a lot when I am stressed out). 
  • I don't smoke anymore, but I have done it as a anti-anxiety measure. Just doing anything to get my mind off the anxious feelings was a positive for me and going outside to smoke was one of those things. I definitely believe people may smoke due to their anxiety.
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