Smoking is The Gateway to Any Addiction – Dr. Joydeep Acharjee


Dr. Joydeep Acharjee is a renowned Psychiatrist in Kolkata. He has had many happy patients in his 9 years of journey as a Neuropsychiatrist. He has done MD – Psychiatry, MBBS. In a conversation with Zotezo, the doctor talks about smoking, health risks associated with it and ways to prevent the relapse of smoking.

Here is the excerpts of his interview.

Zotezo: What are the causes of Smoking?

Dr. Joydeep Acharjee: Basically, the causes can be divided into two parts. One is the Psycho Social cause and the other is Physiological cause. Psycho Social cause comes mainly from teenage problems, peer pressure, stressful family life etc. The teenagers tend to follow their idols who are into the practice of smoking, because they think that it is glamorous or more stylish in the society. Even media videos about smoking can have an adverse effect on their personalities. The two personalities, borderline personality trait people and antisocial personality disorder people are more prone to smoking since they have adrenaline rush and prefer trying out newer thing in life and as a result start smoking early. The Physiological cause i.e. why do people smoke viciously, the reason behind it is the nicotine content of the smoke which is the predominant cause of smoking. It has an addictive material that enhances neuro hormone dopamine, which gives a kick of pleasure activity in humans. This alleviates stress and brings tranquility temporarily and this is an addiction for people who start smoking at an early age.

Zotezo: What happens to our body when we start smoking?

Dr. Joydeep Acharjee: Most people start smoking at a very early age, around 13-18 years of age. When we start smoking, the blood level of nicotine shoots up and increases dopamine in the brain. Since dopamine is a pleasure hormone, it gives a feel good factor and stays in the brain for approximately 30 minutes post one puff of smoke. After a period of around one or one and a half hours, dopamine level starts decreasing in the brain, as a result is person thinks that he’s feeling down, and he feels the craving for smoking. This keeps on repeating and after a period of one month your body adapts this and starts smoking in a chain reaction.

Zotezo: What are the effects of smoking on our body?

Dr. Joydeep Acharjee: There are multi varied effects, from the discrete organ of brain to the lowermost part, that is the reproductive organ. Smoking can be a major cause of ischemic heart disease, which the common people know as a heart attack. It enhances the chances of heart attack by 30 to 40%. Smoking adversely affects the lungs causing Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) which includes diseases like chronic bronchitis, asthma etc. When we smoke, along with nicotine, the major part that goes in is carbon monoxide and this carbon monoxide is a cause of COPD. It also affects your cognitive functioning, a term referring to a human’s ability to process thoughts. Also there is high possibility of hemorrhagic stroke since blood does not reach a section of your brain. Infertility is also growing these days. Women pick up smoking which reduces blood supply to the reproductive organs causing infertility, hence it causes problems like conceiving, premature delivery etc. The most dreaded and the common effect of Smoking is Lung Cancer”. It can also cause other lifestyle diseases like Hypertension, Diabetes Mellitus etc.

Zotezo: How to quit smoking naturally?

Dr. Joydeep Acharjee: Smoking can be quit naturally if he or she is motivated. A person can be taken to a psychiatrist where he or she will be assessed physically and mentally of how capable that person is to quit smoking. A patient can be treated with proper counselling. In a nutshell, an addict can be put on motivational enhancement therapy to help that person quit naturally.

Zotezo: Do nicotine patches & chewing gums really work?

Dr. Joydeep Acharjee: Nicotine patches and chewing gums is a way to reduce smoking. These gums are given based on the amount of cigarettes a person smokes. These are basically prescribed by the psychiatrists on the basis of their assessments of the smoker. Sticking nicotine patches will increase your chances of success since it reduces the withdrawal symptoms like frustration, anger, anxiety, difficulty concentrating and irritability.

Zotezo: How to deal with cigarette cravings?

Dr. Joydeep Acharjee: Smoking is a vicious cycle of dopamine and nicotine. Once a person is away from smoke the brain receptors will secrete pacifying hormones which is glutamate and gaba which induces people for pleasure seeking activities like smoking. So to deal with cravings, medicines are given which reduces the dopamine surge.

Zotezo: Does someone gain or lose weight after quitting smoking?

Dr. Joydeep Acharjee: Smoking does not have any direct effect on our body in terms of gaining or losing weight. May be when a person has quit smoking and is facing irritability issues, then the food intake of the person may reduce and their may be a change in the bowel movement which indirectly may have an effect on weight.

Zotezo: How To Detox Lungs After Smoking?

Dr. Joydeep Acharjee: If there are any problems with lungs, it is better to consult a chest specialist. But there are some natural ways that can detoxify lungs like an antioxidant and alkaline rich diet including fruits, fresh vegetables and lean meat. Also juices made with amla, lemon, garlic and honey, if regularly consumed can clean out the lungs. Another way is yoga, since it reduces stress and negative affect on the body. Practicing yoga mainly deep breathing exercises can enhance your lung capacity which gets reduced due to constant smoking. Also other activities like swimming and running can increase lung capacity. It is better to avoid dairy foods like milk, paneer, yogurt since it hinders the detoxification of lungs.

Zotezo: How to prevent relapse of smoking?

Dr. Joydeep Acharjee: “Smoking is the doorway to any addiction” because it causes multi varied addiction like alcohol consumption. The main thing is the maintenance part. The loved ones of persons addicted to smoking must be informed so that they are well aware and can help prevent any relapse of smoking. They must avoid hanging out with people who can revoke their smoking habits. Also, these people can take part in support programs for smoking cessation to prevent in relapse.

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