Is smoking supposed to make me feel this way?
October 28, 2007 3:16 PM   Subscribe

Is smoking supposed to make me feel this way?

I have been smoking for the past four months, 3 to 5 clove cigarettes a day, afternoons and evenings. I know most smokers say it helps them calm down, but sometimes I just feel completely drained after a smoke.

I enjoy the quiet, alone time, the chance to stop and think stuff over or not think at all, so I keep doing it. I'm going through major changes in my life, I have been anxious, worried, grumpy. I wish smoking would help me calm down, but it seems to just drain my energy. You smokers out there: is that what it's supposed to do? I feel numb, lazy, and I was going for clear-minded and sort of refreshed.

I'm not looking for a substitute, I enjoy my five cigarettes a day, I'm just wondering if everybody feels such low energy after smoking.

And btw, please guys, spare me the lecture. As stupid as it is, this a conscious, educated decision by an adult over 30. I am aware.
posted by ArchBr to Grab Bag (27 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I have an on-again-off-again one cigarette before bed habit. I do it specifically because it sort of makes me a little drained of energy. The alone time is good for thinking and then when I'm done I'm pretty much ready for bed. I have never felt that smoking made me feel either clear-headed or refreshed.
posted by jessamyn at 3:26 PM on October 28, 2007

Smoking helps smokers "calm down" because they are addicted to nicotine and smoking tobacco provides them with it. You claim that this was an "educated decision" but you don't understand this?
posted by ethnomethodologist at 3:35 PM on October 28, 2007 [2 favorites]

Cloves have a much more immediate downer effect than nicotine does.
posted by rhizome at 3:35 PM on October 28, 2007

When you have a cigarette you're welcome to add your two cents ethno, meanwhile just leave me alone with my cluelessness and my cigarettes.

Thanks, rhizome. That makes sense.
posted by ArchBr at 3:40 PM on October 28, 2007

I agree with ethnomethodologist, for one thing. For another, I am an occasional smoker, much less than 3 daily, but my experience from cigarettes isn't so much "relaxed" as "envigorated" or "focused." Nicotine is a stimulant. Could be you've got some brain chemistry that uses stimulants to a different effect, as many people with ADD react differently to caffeine and amphetamines. Or it could be that you're smoking cloves, which make me fee like SHIT. Very heavy sort of effect. I can't finish one, and anymore, I can't even be around them. Why not try some natural all tobacco smokes if you're after the supposed mood altering benefits of nicotine?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:41 PM on October 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

Partly it's that your smoking cloves, which do tend to make one feel a bit numb and dizzy.

You're only clear-minded and refreshed after smoking in that you are no longer thinking about smoking for the moment. The calm is both craving satisfied and the psychological satisfaction of that moment of focusing on smoke and not the other things in your head.

I like to have a smoke before bed sometimes for the exact reasons jessamyn describes.
posted by desuetude at 3:41 PM on October 28, 2007

I don't know what cloves are like, but tobacco does absolutely nothing but satisfy an addiction. If you're addicted to nicotine, smoking tobacco will make you feel better. If not, you're just going to be wondering what the fuss is about.
posted by Reggie Digest at 3:57 PM on October 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

(absolutely nothing desirable, that is)
posted by Reggie Digest at 3:59 PM on October 28, 2007

i've felt like that, too. as a former smoker, i'd really advise you to stop. cloves can become addictive, too, and man, that is not an addiction you want.

i would take a walk around the block for the peace and quiet, and drink some valerian tea to help you calm down. much safer, and no long-term effects.

also, i have found that st. john's wort really helps with anxiety.
posted by thinkingwoman at 4:04 PM on October 28, 2007

Former regular smoker moved to casual smoker (occasional on the weekends when I'm drinking). I can't speak for cloves but normal cigarettes actually have the opposite effect for me. Have you tried non-clove cigarettes?

Personally I can't stand cloves.
posted by Octoparrot at 4:06 PM on October 28, 2007

I quit smoking precisely because I got to a point where I felt like I needed a nap after every cigarette. It's an awful way to live.
posted by The Straightener at 4:07 PM on October 28, 2007

FWIW, Wikipedia says:

At low doses, Nicotine potently enhances the actions of norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain causing a drug effect typical of pyschostimulants. At higher doses nicotine enhances the effect of serotonin and opiate activity, producing a calming, pain killing effect. Nicotine is unique in comparison to most drugs, as its profile changes from stimulant to sedative/pain killer in increasing dosages and use.
posted by backupjesus at 4:24 PM on October 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

The carbon monoxide in the smoke binds to your red blood cells in the place of where oxygen would normally bind. Therefore you are getting less oxygen to your cells, making you feel more tired.
posted by matty at 4:32 PM on October 28, 2007

When I was a smoker, I often felt lightheaded and somewhat dizzy after a cigarette. The more smoke I inhaled, and the more deeply I inhaled, the more pronounced the effect. The few times I've smoked cloves, I didn't notice much of a difference in how I felt.

The only comfort I ever found in smoking was in the ritual itself. I miss it sometimes, but not enough to go back. Whether you smoke or not is up to you, but there are far healthier and more effective ways to calm down or take a break. It sounds like meditation or exercise, or even brewing a cup of tea, would work better for your goals.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:56 PM on October 28, 2007

Yes, you are supposed to feel this way, although perhaps you feel it more than others. Of course, if you don't like the way it makes you feel.....
posted by caddis at 5:14 PM on October 28, 2007

I gather this from the net
Contrary to popular belief, clove cigarettes, also called kreteks, contain tobacco — they are made up of 60 - 70 percent tobacco and 30 - 40 percent shredded cloves (a spice).
Assuming that to be true, and being an avid ex-smoker of normal cigs, I have to agree that ethnomethodologist may be exactly one the point.

As far as I know, smoking cigs causes a temporary alteration of how the brain "perceives" dopamine , which is one chemical which ,afaik, causes the perception of "pleasure" sensation.

Say for instance that you are used to eat twice a day, regularly, almost always. Say that you start eating only once a day...probably at the time you had the second meal, you'd feel something is odd or wrong, or physically hungry. That's because you are deliberatedly alterating your eating patterns ..and you certainly are completely aware of the fact you are not eating, so you think that not eating is causing the displeasure or odd feeling.

Now consider your first smoke: usually it gives quite a waaaaaarm sensation and a sensaition of pleasure ...that's an "high". Imagine you develop an habit of smoking daily (or hourly) to get this pleasurable "high" sensation...because it does make you feel better or relaxed. The brain slowly but surely starts adapting to your new smoking habit, so it gets used to a chemical unbalance caused by the cigs.

Because of this routine of smoking, the brain gets used to a balance that cannot be maintained BUT by keeping on smoking REGULARLY...that's why when you don't smoke for , say, 2-3 hours you both want another cigs more intenstly and also get another little high, because the craving was greater, the unbalance greater. SO while all that is happening is NOT an illusion, the brain is being giving you lack of pleasure sensation when you don't smoke..making you feel you think the cig will fix it..but actually it's just reiterating the deal. You see how jessa talks about her RITUAL of smoking..that's more of a ritual than physical dependence, but it's part of the psycological dependence.

Trust me when I say you will absolutely have ONLY advantages if you stop smoking completely. I did, it wasn't that bad and I didn't need the nicotine patch but for one week.
posted by elpapacito at 5:18 PM on October 28, 2007

I've never smoked a cigarette (or cloves) but just wanted to highlight what Ambrosia Voyeur said. I have ADD and caffeine makes me feel slow, sleepy and just generally draggy. I've tried it in all forms, pills, extra strength coffee, caffeine mints, you name it. I've tried various amphetamines, too. It is like an immediate crash with no "up"

If it isn't the cloves like others have suggested, it is possible that your brain chemistry will make it impossible for cigarettes to make you feel the way you want to feel.
posted by birdlady at 5:47 PM on October 28, 2007

Cloves produce lots of carbon monoxide. CO binds the heme in your blood better than oxygen, so a fraction of your blood for a little while is stuck not carrying oxygen. Which causes you to feel short of breath or tired. This will be worse if you're at high altitude, live in a high CO environment, or are slightly anemic.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 5:52 PM on October 28, 2007

As others have said, (tobacco) cigarettes don't calm me down either. I've been smoking one or two cigs a day for ~1.5 years now (it was hard not to get sucked in since my ex-gf did), and I can tell you that they make me a bit more jumpy and "energetic" for a few minutes. But not in a good way, they really only add to my anxiety.

Damn, I should really quit. But I've accustomed my body to crave its nic fix! It's a love/hate relationship.
posted by papafrita at 1:37 AM on October 29, 2007

I'm a smoker, and cigarettes do make me feel a little calmer - not in a relaxed way, but more in a focussed/clear way (if that makes any sense). This is almost definitely because I am addicted, as other posters have noted above. Until you're addicted, too, you probably won't get this particular side effect. I know you don't want to hear it, but there are tons of better ways to relax - hell, even smoking a (tobacco) pipe would be better for your health, and the ritual of preparing your pipe might help with the relaxation too.

When I did try cloves (long ago), all I remember is the incredible harshness of the smoke, which doesn't seem to bother you. I also seem to remember that cloves are not regulated in the same way as regular cigarettes, so maybe trying a different (i.e. non-clove) cigarette would help.
posted by sluggo at 7:37 AM on October 29, 2007

I do about the same thing but i limit myself to one hand rolled cigarette daily. Well weekends or bad days its more...but normally just one cigarette a day.

Anyway, i understand where you are coming from. I do feel a little drained directly after the cigarette. At the same time i also use my smoke break after work to clear my head. And though everyone here is saying it doesn't clear your thoughts or focus them in anyway. I say it does, even if its a mental thing. I have a lot on my mind and the cigarette break is when i think about some of it, it helps.
posted by Black_Umbrella at 8:02 AM on October 29, 2007

I also smoke cloves, around the same amount per day that you do.

I find that sometimes they make me really sleepy, which I can use to my benefit. Also, sometimes they make me hyper. Mostly I think they just sort of mildly enhance what you're already feeling. I'm not a morning person, so if I smoke one while still in my sleep-induced brain-haze earlier in the day, I feel sleepier. Later at night, when I'm more awake, I feel invigorated by a good smoke.
posted by kpmcguire at 9:42 AM on October 29, 2007

but tobacco does absolutely nothing but satisfy an addiction. If you're addicted to nicotine, smoking tobacco will make you feel better. If not, you're just going to be wondering what the fuss is about.

Because of this routine of smoking, the brain gets used to a balance that cannot be maintained BUT by keeping on smoking REGULARLY...that's why when you don't smoke for , say, 2-3 hours you both want another

Just for the sake of clarity, this is inaccurate. Some people get addicted to begin with because it initially causes a feeling of pleasure. I always hated that my mother smoked when I was a kid, but when I was sixteen and someone gave me a cigarette at a party, the very first one I ever tried, I understood immediately why she liked it. As soon as I tried it, it produced a feeling of pleasure - a slight sort of headrush / exhilaration, and the smoke didn't taste like smoke in my mouth but seemed to go through me and just produce the feeling. I smoked on and off during college, and until a few years ago would have a stray cigarette when out with friends here and there (sometimes as often as a few in a week, but sometimes not for months at a time).

Nowadays I pretty much don't, partly because the last few times I tried them, it didn't have the same effect, but just seemed like dirty smokey air, no point really. I dunno if my chemistry changed over the years, or maybe I'm on different meds now (or was then - I change meds a lot - never been on wellbutrin which is famous for this but maybe other meds have more subtle effects) or maybe it's psychological... All I can say is, I was never addicted, and I always enjoyed the experience.

Which is all to say, it's a little like asking "what is coffee meant to taste like" or "is this how chocolate should affect me" - I think it's a bit different for different people. Some people truly can't stand the taste of coffee, and only drink it for the caffeine; others actually love the taste of coffee. Some feel addicted to caffeine but hate it, just use it as a last ditch way to get through the day, whereas others feel like it's a great feeling of focus and wakefulness without real ill effect.

Obviously tobacco has a lot more complications with all its negative health issues, but the immediate "positives" that it provides are probably not going to be identical for each person, so if you choose to use it, it should be because you are weighing that personal experience against potential risks etc (rather than expecting other people's experiences to occur).
posted by mdn at 10:40 AM on October 29, 2007

Most clove cigarettes are especially potent, and contain an anesthetizing ingredient which causes you to inhale more deeply, getting even more nicotine and tar. The big Djarum clove cigarettes took the place of at least 5 regular filtered smokes for me when I had a pack and a half per day habit.

The "clear-minded and refreshed" effect of nicotine is simply the cessation of withdrawal symptoms. A brand new smoker generally feels sedated (following an initial rush) as you describe.

Ethnomethodologist gave you the exactly correct answer at the beginning of this thread and you dismissed it, which perhaps explains how you come to think of this as an "educated" decision. I suggest you open your mind a bit to the drawbacks before you cultivate a full-blown nicotine addiction. Talk to some long-term heavy smokers that you can trust with an honest answer and find out how what percent have tried to quit or wish they could.
posted by Manjusri at 12:48 PM on October 29, 2007

My mother bitches at me about how smoking activates your adrenal gland and I strongly suspect that you are experiencing a drain from having had a low dose of adrenaline and then it dissipates.
posted by frecklefaerie at 2:15 PM on October 29, 2007

Back when I smoked, cloves always made me feel a bit draggy afterwards. I assumed it was because I wasn't getting enough oxygen to my brain.
posted by Space Kitty at 10:43 PM on October 29, 2007

I remember when I started smoking (I've since quit), smoking would make me so relaxed that it was all I could do not to hug the ground. Gravity was sooo much stronger while smoking. Kind of reminds me of how you're feeilng. Don't recall any difference in cloves, except the smell.
posted by pyjammy at 1:00 PM on October 30, 2007

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