Taking The Edge Off Nicotine's Grip

Smoking, an age-old habit, the bane of many an unsuspecting victim. We start when we're young, too young. It looks cool to our friends; the cigarettes are easy to obtain -- and 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 uncomfortable 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 alone. Many other degenerative diseases and illnesses also are directly linked to cigarette smoking: bronchitis, heart disease, hypertension, and various cancers. The American Lung Association reports that 350,000 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 the cold hard facts of smoking but it will not help you quit. If the facts would help us quit, we would have done so by now. So why do so many Americans continue to choose this dangerous habit?

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 because it operates through the central nervous system. The psychological pressures are tough as well. Smokers agree it's hard to give up having that smoke following a meal, with a friend, or refraining in social settings where others are smoking.

Very little is written about how to quit, lots of facts that should scare the ''begeebers'' out of us, but no ''bluebook'' on how to quit. Everyone is different and you may need a different approach to achieve your goal once you decide you must quit. Determination and motivation is a must regardless of the method you choose to end your smoking habit.

Here are some things I found in research for this article:

The urge to smoke lasts from three to five minutes. Although it is difficult, wait it out, remember who is in charge here. When those edgy feelings come, ask yourself what is this feeling I'm experiencing? Try to label it. Is it anxiety, nervousness, panic -- just exactly what is it? This deeper self examination helps erase the memory associated with the need to smoke and is very important in releasing the desire to smoke. Talk gently to yourself when the urge to smoke comes -- reassuring yourself that you can do this.

Hypnosis is good and can be used as a positive affirmation. You will more than likely 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 an herbal 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 worked with a system she found on the internet that helped her kick the habit for good. It's a device that punches extra minute holes in the cigarette filter, drawing more air through and less smoke. The first week you start with eight extra holes and add more as the weeks go by. Nicotine cravings are gradually reduced over an eight-week period which makes ''the end'' almost tolerable.

Of course, other more traditional methods such as the 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.

Uploaded to The Zephyr Online September 26, 2000

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