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The Law of Addiction: Quitting's Only Rule

According to the World Health Organization, if current smoking patterns persist, more than one billion smokers will smoke themselves to death prior to the end of this century. Sadly, most knew how to quit smoking. The lesson they failed to master was how to stay quit. It is called the "Law of Addiction" and not self-discovering or being taught this law is a horrible reason to die.

Charleston, SC smoker inhaling smoke near the Market on March 3, 2007The Law of Addiction states, "Administration of a drug to an addict will cause re-establishment of chemical dependence upon the addictive substance."

Mastering it requires acceptance of three fundamental principles: (1) dependency upon smoking nicotine is a true chemical addiction, captivating the same brain dopamine reward pathways as alcoholism, cocaine or heroin addiction; (2) once established, you cannot cure or kill an addiction but only arrest it; and (3) once arrested, regardless of how long you have remained nicotine free, just one powerful puff of nicotine will all but guarantee full and complete relapse.

Nicotine's half-life in human blood-serum is roughly two hours. Upon quitting, it takes a maximum of 72 hours for 100% of nicotine to be out of the body and achieve peak withdrawal. It is here that most quitters begin noticing a gradual easing off of the underlying current of anxieties, irritability and anger. It is here that many feel a sense of accomplishment and make the fatal mistake of "rewarding" themselves with just one puff, a puff from a cigarette that guarantees total destruction of their healing, hard work and accomplishment.

WhyQuit is the Internet's most popular quitting site devoted exclusively to teaching the art, science and psychology of cold turkey nicotine dependency recovery. Contrary to the marketing hype of those selling a vast and growing array of quitting products, cold turkey quitting annually produces nearly 90% of the world's successful long-term ex-smokers. WhyQuit restates the "Law of Addiction" using four simple words. Just one day at a time, "Never Take Another Puff!"

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Written July 29, 2007 and updated June 5, 2015 by John R. Polito