Taking The Edge Off Nicotine's Grip

Smoking is an age old habit and the bane of many an unsuspecting victim. We start when we are young, too young. It looks cool to our friends; cigarettes are easy to obtain and after all it does take the edge off those uncomfortable teenage blues. But suddenly we're hooked and all the statistics in the world won't change those feelings of psychological and physical addiction.

Today, tobacco smoking is the cause of one-third of all cancer deaths and one-fourth of all fatal heart attacks in the United States. Many degenerative diseases and illnesses are directly linked to cigarette smoking: bronchitis; heart disease; hypertension and various cancers. The American Lung Association reports that 350,00 Americans die every year from smoking. This is more than the combined deaths from alcohol, illegal drugs, traffic accidents, suicide and homicide. I could go on and on with facts like everyone else but it will not help you quit smoking. If the facts would help us quit we would have done so by now, yet we continue to choose this habit, why?

Research on addiction indicates that nicotine works much like heroin, cocaine and alcohol. If fact, when nicotine was intravenously administered to volunteers, many of them could not tell the difference between the effects of nicotine and cocaine. Nicotine produces pleasurable sensations and physical dependency (how's that for a sales gimmick) because it operates through the central nervous system. This is the physically additive side. Then we have to deal with the physiological aspects. The pleasure of having that smoke with a friend after your evening meal or being in a social setting with smokers is tough when you're trying to quit.

Very little is written about how to quit. There are lots of facts that should scare the "begeebers" out of us but no "blue book" on how to quit. Everyone is different and you may need a different approach to achieve your goal. Of course determination and motivation is a must regardless of which way you choose to end your smoking habit.

Here are some things I've been reading:

The urge to smoke lasts only from three to five minutes. Although it is difficult, wait it out, remember who is in charge here. When those edgy feelings come, reach inside and ask yourself what is this feeling I'm experiencing? Try to label it. Is it anxiety, nervousness, panic? What is it? This helps erase the cell memory associated with the need to smoke and very important in releasing the desire to smoke. Talk gently to yourself when the urge to smoke comes.

Hypnosis is good and can be used as a positive affirmation but more than likely you will need to be hypnotized repeatedly for it to stick.

The herb lobelia is the active ingredient in several brands of smoking deterrent preparations. Use a homeopathic dilution or a tincture. Take lobelia under the tongue when the craving for nicotine occurs. Be careful not to overuse this herb.

Slippery elm throat lozenges can soothe the cough that sometimes accompanies kicking the habit. It is healing and soothing to the mucous membranes of the bronchial tree.

My daughter is working with a new system she found on the web that seems to be working. It's a device that punches extra minute holes in the paper of the cigarette drawing more air through the cigarette and reducing the amount of smoke inhaled. The first week you start with eight extra holes and add more as the weeks go by. It's an eight week program that costs about $40.

Of course other more traditional methods such as the nicotine patch do help thousands of people quit smoking every year. Whatever method you choose is suitable­­ your goal is to quit. Just remember who's in charge here!

Till next time, Rebecca.

This article posted to Zephyr online July 19, 1997
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