Friday, May 18, 2007

It's easy to quit smoking...

It's easy to quit smoking...

Mario Tosto

"It's easy to quit smoking. I've done it hundreds of times!" So goes a quote often attributed to Mark Twain. Anyone who has been addicted to nicotine can relate.

Take me, for example. I started smoking in my teens, like a lot of kids my age. It’s not considered as cool today, but then there were plenty of influences saying, “Smoking is cool.” There were splashy cigarette ads on television, magazine and billboard ads, not to mention ashtrays everywhere. And almost everyone in the movies, and some on TV, smoked.

While today's attitudes about smoking are decidedly different, many people are still struggling with addiction to nicotine. If my own experience is any measure, there will come a time when most of them will desperately want to quit. I remember one time when I was laid up with a very heavy cold—flat out on my bed coughing and wheezing in pain. To my own surprise, I rolled over to the nightstand and lit up a cigarette. Spluttering uncontrollably I suddenly saw my addiction as the humiliating thing it was. Even so, I couldn’t quit.

A few years later I was introduced to Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. As I read and thought about the ideas in that book, for the first time I started to think about my identity from a spiritual perspective. There are many instances where the author writes about man being as perfect as God. For instance, “The spiritual man's consciousness and individuality are reflections of God.”

For me, this meant my identity was insured by an unbreakable law of divine Cause and effect. With a perfect (un-addicted) God as the Cause of my existence and the shaper of my identity, I was fundamentally free of addiction to anything harmful. What appeared as addiction was simply a misstatement about my true identity.

I thought of it like graffiti scribbled over the surface of something good and beautiful. Underneath the superimposed ugliness is the natural state. Thinking further on this I understood that my previous unsuccessful attempts to quit stemmed from a belief that my identity included being a smoker. But if you believe you’re a smoker who is trying not to smoke, you set up an awful inner tension between what you believe yourself to be and what you are attempting to be.

In the past, I had found that with sufficient will power I could live with this tension and not smoke. Once this went as long as eleven months. But the problem with will power in the face of this tension is that it was a lot easier to maintain as long as my sense of self, or ego, wasn’t challenged. But where can you go in this world where your ego won’t be challenged? So, soon I'd be smoking again—because really, I was still thinking of myself as a smoker.

But reading Science and Health was beginning to convince me that the label of “smoker” just wasn't part of the real me, the me God had made in His own image and likeness. Knowing this encouraged me to take a stand for my true identity, and to take an antagonistic stand against the smoking. So I stopped. But more importantly, I stopped thinking of myself as a smoker. Within two or three weeks even the urge to smoke was gone.

I was feeling pretty good about not smoking for several months when one night a misunderstanding with my then girlfriend shook me up emotionally. It started late in the evening and proceeded to get worse by the hour. Finally I broke down, strode to the nearby convenience store and bought a pack of cigarettes. I had smoked about ten of them by the time the misunderstanding got cleared up. The misunderstanding in the end turned out to be a stupid mistake on my part.

I went to bed and a few (a very few) hours later got ready for work. As I was going out the door I spotted the half empty cigarette pack lying on the kitchen counter. I recalled the times when smoking just one cigarette had been enough for me to begin the habit again after I’d managed to quit simply through sheer will power. But this time was different. I remembered that I was not a smoker and didn't really want to smoke. So I flipped the pack into the trash and went on with my day.

Only one more time did I ever light up again—out of curiosity. It took me all of ten seconds to realize what a ridiculously foreign activity this was to me. And I've been free from that desire for many years now.

I'm convinced anyone can break this stubborn habit by reflecting on and cherishing their true identity as the spiritual offspring of God. The power of that spiritual fact is an effective solvent, lifting away the graffiti of superimposed labels, and letting our innate purity and freedom shine forth.

Spirituality a Smoking Cessation Aid

Spirituality a Smoking Cessation Aid, Study Says
May 9, 2007

Most smokers say they would welcome ways to integrate their personal spiritual beliefs into their attempts to quit smoking cigarettes, and research suggests that a spiritual component could improve the odds of quitting.

Oregon Health & Sciences University researchers found that 78 percent of current smokers believed that incorporating spirituality into their quit attempt could be helpful. The finding echoed anecdotal reports by patients encountered by school researchers.

"We know that smoking-cessation medications coupled with behavioral interventions increase quit rates, but quitting is still difficult and some smokers need more support in order to quit successfully," said lead study author David Gonzales, Ph.D. By excluding spiriatuality from interventions, he added, "We may be missing opportunities to assist these smokers."

"Our findings suggest that although not all clinicians want to talk about spirituality with their patients, those who do feel comfortable doing so will likely find most patients who smoke are receptive," Gonzales said. "Asking smoking patients if they have a spiritual practice or belief may be important to their care."

The study was published in the February 2007 issue of the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research.

Gonzales, D., et al. (2007) Support for spirituality in smoking cessation: Results of pilot survey. Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 9(2): 299-303.

How to Quit Smoking and Quit for Keeps

How to Quit Smoking and Quit for Keeps

What Happens After You Quit Smoking

Immediate Rewards

Within 12 hours after you have your last cigarette, your body will begin to heal itself. The levels of carbon monoxide and nicotine in your system will decline rapidly, and your heart and lungs will begin to repair the damage caused by cigarette smoke.

Within a few days you will probably begin to notice some remarkable changes in your body. Your sense of smell and taste may improve. You will breathe easier, and your smoker's hack will begin to disappear, although you may notice that you will continue to cough for a while. And you will be free from the mess, smell, inconvenience, expense, and dependence of cigarette smoking.

Immediate Effects

As your body begins to repair itself, instead of feeling better right away, you may feel worse for a while. It's important to understand that healing is a process; it begins immediately, but it continues over time. These "withdrawal pangs" are really symptoms of the recovery process.

Immediately after quitting, many ex-smokers experience "symptoms of recovery" such as temporary weight gain caused by fluid retention, irregularity, and dry, sore gums or tongue. You may feel edgy, hungry, more tired, and more short-tempered than usual and have trouble sleeping and notice that you are coughing a lot. These symptoms are the result of your body clearing itself of nicotine, a powerful addictive chemical. Most nicotine is gone from the body in 2-3 days.

Long-range Benefits

It is important to understand that the long range after-effects of quitting are only temporary and signal the beginning of a healthier life. Now that you've quit, you've added a number of healthy productive days to each year of your life. Most important, you've greatly improved your chances for a longer life. You have significantly reduced your risk of death from heart disease, stroke, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and several kinds of cancer; not just lung cancer. (Cigarette smoking is responsible every year for approximately 130,000 deaths from cancer, 170,000 deaths from heart disease, and 50,000 deaths from lung disease.)

Have your last cigarette and

  • In 20 minutes your blood pressure will drop back down to normal.
  • In 8 hours the carbon monoxide (a toxic gas) levels in your blood stream will drop by half, and oxygen levels will return to normal.
  • In 48 hours your chance of having a heart attack will have decreased. All nicotine will have left your body. Your sense of taste and smell will return to a normal level.
  • In 72 hours your bronchial tubes will relax, and your energy levels will increase.
  • In 2 weeks your circulation will increase, and it will continue to improve for the next 10 weeks.
  • In three to nine months coughs, wheezing and breathing problems will dissipate as your lung capacity improves by 10%.
  • In 1 year your risk of having a heart attack will have dropped by half.
  • In 5 years your risk of having a stroke returns to that of a non-smoker.
  • In 10 years your risk of lung cancer will have returned to that of a non-smoker.
  • In 15 years your risk of heart attack will have returned to that of a non-smoker.

Nicotine Replacement Therapy

~cigarette reaches brain 7-10 seconds
~patch :levels peak 2-6 hours
~gum: 20-30 minutes
~inhaler: 10-20 minutes

Therefore…still need to learn to tolerate cravings.

Who should use NRT?
Assess case by case
~Behavioural analysis
10 cigarettes or less not a good NRT candidate

Why NRT?
~Provides the body with sufficient nicotine to minimize withdrawl cravings
~Eliminates toxic substances from cigs
~Doubles quit rates -+103 studies proves
~Most effective with behavioural therapy
~Can be a part of cutting down

Naturopathic “NRT”
~Products to increase dopamine (tyrosine/DOPA/dopamine) (B6)[i]
-released by hypothalamus; precursor to epi + norepi synthesis in adrenals and nervous tissue
- activated with unexpected rewards in brain i.e. learned behaviours.
~ St. Johns Wort (see study Canadian Herbalism Journal)[ii]
~Sulphonyl (MSM)[iii]

Nicotine Gum:
~2mg or 4mg doses
~ “rescue” medication; doesn’t help chronically
~chew a few times then “park” on gums for oral mucosal absorption
~Females require higher doses of NRT (studies say). Therefore use 4mg.
~1 piece/hour. Max. up to 15 pieces.
~Provides nicotine w/in 20-30 minutes
~Nicotine receptors along GI : possible s/e = hiccups, st. upset
~Caffeine/acidity products lower absorption

The Inhaler
~S/E: nausea, st.upset, HA, mouth/throat irritation
~each cartridge = 10mg nicotine/1mg menthol
~can titrate use to pm/cartridge/24hours
-i.e. take 1-2 puffs, see if craving gone

The Patch:
~24 h continuous dose ideal for +1 pack/day
~can cut or alter patch (i.e. ½, ¾)
~may cause nightmares
~may cause local skin irritation: nicotine is an irritant
~21mg = +15 cigs/day
~14 mg = +7 cigs/day
~rotate patch site
~can combine with gum or inhaler

[i] Effect of vitamin B-6 nutrition on the levels of dopamine, dopamine metabolites, dopa decarboxylase activity, tyrosine, and GABA in the developing rat corpus striatum.

Reasons to quit smoking

To successfully quit smoking, you must be well-convinced of the validity of the decision. Start by making a list of the reasons why you want to quit smoking. You can then put this list in a visible spot.

Here is what some ex-smokers told us about their experience of quitting. Imagine the day when you can express the same point of view!
  • "I'm proud of myself."
  • "I feel the satisfaction of having won the battle."
  • "I don't impose my smoking on those around me."
  • "This valorizes me in the eyes of those around me." "My family is very pleased."
  • "I have more energy." " I am in better shape."
  • " I feel fresher when I wake up in the morning."
  • "I am less tired."
  • "I breathe better." "I can do sports more easily."
  • "I have rediscovered tastes and smells."
  • "I have more money available." "I save 25 Dollars a week (a fill-up at the gas station).
  • "I do not always have to think to bring cigarettes with me."
  • "I have better breath." "The smell on my clothes has disappeared."
  • "I don't always have to be preoccupied about my lungs."
  • "I do not cough anymore." "I do not have headaches anymore." "One gets sore throats less often.
The advantages of quitting smoking for your health:
  • In stopping smoking, you immediately lower the associated critical risks to your health. Whatever your age or state of health, it is NEVER too late to quit smoking.
  • People who have quit smoking before the age of 50 cut in half their risk of dying in the next fifteen years, as compared to those who continue to smoke.
  • Women who quit smoking before becoming pregnant or at the beginning of their pregnancy reduce the risks to the child and to themselves.
  • Parents who stop smoking reduce the risks of respiratory diseases for their children (asthma, infections, etc.), in addition to the risks of sudden infant death (SIDS).
  • If you have already a disease caused by tobacco, stopping smoking reduces the risks of complications of this disease.