For people not suffering from severe mental illness, cigarettes may still become a form of self-medication. For decades, soldiers have taken up smoking on the battlefield to deal with wartime stress, for example. Many people experiencing much lower levels of stress -- in a high-pressure job, for example -- may start to smoke as a way to manage the tension and nerves associated with the situation.
Unfortunately, these people may find that they can't easily give up tobacco once the stress passes. The tobacco becomes a psychological -- as well as chemical -- crutch, as any potentially stressful situation sends them instinctively reaching for a cigarette. The tool they had used to alleviate stress suddenly becomes a stressor in itself, as they shift from fighting through a difficult situation with the help of nicotine to fighting the nicotine itself [source: Cleveland Clinic].
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