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2013

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Have you "tried your best to fight the craves and can't seem to win?" Are you sitting there scratching your head about what went wrong and feeling like you can "never win?" I'll tell you something I learned Thanks to the Elders who helped me launch the adventure of my lifetime - Smoke FREE Living! 

I came here like most of us not knowing anything about Nicotine Addiction and was told to read and I did! It really helped but there was this guy who I thought was goofy (Thank Goodness I now know that he was spot on!) His name is James and his moniker is the Happy Quitter! ....Say what? what's there to be happy about? Strong, yes! Determined, yes! Stubborn, fierce, a fighter! But happy??? As I thought about it, something really clicked and the light bulb came on! 

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I had been fighting the Nico-Demon with willpower! What could be more effective than that? But I was missing the essential...The Nico-Demon is ME!!!!!

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So when I was fighting myself, how could I win without losing??? And guess what, the loser had been the part that wanted to be FREE! You can't be FREE when you're fighting!!!! 

This fellow James had something - something I really, really wanted! he was not just Quit - He was Happy being Quit! 

So how do you handle the craves if you don't fight??? What do you do instead? 

There's a fellow here named Tommy who repeatedly told me to use Focus and Determination. Could I combine these 2 great pieces of advice? Think about Focus for a minute....

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When you focus with determination instead of fighting with determination, the whole picture changes! I had changed my perspective! The Nico-demon became more blurry, less important and the object of my Focus increased in POWER - the POWER to WIN! And what was that very important object of my FOCUS?

 

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KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE PRIZE! FREEDOM!

FREEDOM from the Chains of Addiction! 

FREEDOM to be the ME that my Creator made me to be!

FREEDOM from pain, suffering, illness, devastation!

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize and ignore the Nico-Demon - but don't fight Him because HE IS ME! Just Focus on the Prize! Will He scream for attention? Oh yea! But when you ignore Him long enough, He loses energy - your Energy is on your Prize! And He gets weaker....and weaker...and weaker...and becomes a little bitty gnat that once in a great while bugs you but you easily have the POWER to swat Him back into His place ...so tiny! So worthless! 

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AND YOU WIN!

Thomas3.20.2010

Curiosity and Kindness

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Apr 29, 2013

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If only we could be so curious about ourselves! We Addicts act in very interesting ways when we quit smoking! 


First there's the fact that nicotine's chemical properties are addictive. So if you take that nicotine away from your body, it will miss it and you will experience physical and mental withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms surface after three-five days of quitting smoking and linger for approximately two weeks. These symptoms, while some are unpleasant, will only be transitionary and once you're rid of them, will leave you feeling much better after quitting smoking.


There's emotional withdrawal. Some of the most common symptoms are... 


Depression: you may feel low, sad and hopeless. hence it is important to surround yourself with people, preferably non smokers and friends who will support your decision to quit smoking.


 Anger: emotional upheaval can make you angry. others may not be aware of it, but you know what's happening to your body. the age-old remedy of counting till 10 isn't such a bad idea. stop, think, regain your calm and composure before losing your cool.


Boredom: you may have noticed that when you were bored, tired or depressed you tended to smoke. Now that you are on your way to a smoke free life replace these voids with hobbies or get involved with people around you. pay more attention to your loved ones. 


Loneliness: withdrawal of smoking can make you feel lonely, impatient and irritable. if your friends are busy, take up a dance class or cooking class. it is important to expect these feelings of loneliness, so stay prepared. 


Mood swing: tempers will flare and tantrums will increase. these are not exactly pms symptoms. Nicotine was once your evil friend but now you have to bear with the loss of the addiction. This will throw your emotional reactions to daily happenings into a tizzy. Most quitters will need help with these mood swings. Replace the smoking placebo with something else. Invest in some great music and strong coffee, maybe?
 
As for physical withdrawal, nicotine obstructs the flow of oxygen and nutrients to various parts of the body. Now that you have quit smoking, your body has to hit the reverse button to detox. 


Bowel discomfort: it's time to change your diet and fitness once you quit smoking. Quitting smoking can cause cramps, nausea, flatulence and constipation, therefore it is important to increase roughage and exercise your body.


Nasal and throat problems: when you stop smoking, your nose and throat will try to clear the mucous that has accumulated over the years. You may experience coughing, dry throat and mouth. Fluids are the key to clearing this process.


Increase in appetite: craving for cigarettes can be confused with hunger cravings. The best way to stay healthy is to consume fluids and low calorie snacks.


Headaches: lack of nicotine can lead to headaches, the way out of it is with massages, plenty of water and rest. Gently massage your temple, drink water, take a hot shower and take a deep breath.


 Lack of sleep: you may experience insomnia after you quit smoking. Take a hot shower before you hit the sack, do breathing exercises too and most importantly avoid coffee closer to bed-time.


Restlessness/lack of concentration: you feel like there is energy bursting in you, transfer this energy into something constructive. In these situations smokes would calm your nerves, but now switch off that thought and cultivate a new habit. You may feel you can't concentrate too; try listening to music or take a break from your routine life. 


Weight gain: increase in craving can lead to weight gain, especially if you indulge in unhealthy food. But don't be dejected, you can cut it out with exercise and the right diet. 


Sweating and shaky hands and feet: you will feel that your hands and feet tremble. it is a passing phase that will stop. if you experience these withdrawals you know your body is simply shedding an addiction and leading you to a much healthier life.


Skin trouble: while quitting smoking is associated with healthier skin, the period of withdrawal will cause some skin trouble. some people with sensitive skin might break out into a fresh acne case or suffer from some ulcers in the inner-cheeks, tongue and mouth. The reason is simply that your body is letting go of the toxins and levelling up. 


Instead of losing motivation, after reading these withdrawal symptoms, the one thought any quitter must focus on is this: the fact that your body is changing so much when quitting, simply showcases how much it is continuously changed and affected while you still smoke. 


You can point to any one or any combination of these symptoms as a "reason" to relapse or you can fight them with willpower, "Fight, fight, fight!" until you're EXhausted fighting, what??? - Yourself! Or you can gain the knowledge about what you might EXpect, prepare options for how to cope with any and/or all of them and then be curious about them and kind to yourself during the healing process! Give yourself 4 small Months that will literally save your Life and provide you FREEDOM after how many years of being a slave to Nicotine???? 

Avoid poor health and dangerous diseases - quit smoking today with curiosity and kindness!

Tired of the same old quitting tips? How will you navigate the up to 72 hours needed to reach peak withdrawal and again reside inside a nicotine free body? The below cold turkey quitting tips are vastly different from the advice rendered by those advocating the use of weeks or months of nicotine replacement products.

1. The Law of Addiction - "Administration of a drug to an addict will cause re-establishment of chemical dependence upon the addictive substance at the old level of use or greater." Yes, just one powerful puff of nicotine and all your hard work is down the drain. Adherence to just one rule guarantees success to all ... Never Take Another Puff.

Nicotine rewired your brain, growing millions of nicotinic receptors in eleven different regions. Although your mind's nicotine induced dopamine/adrenaline intoxication is an alert high, your chemical dependency is every bit as real and permanent as alcoholism. Treating a true addiction as though it were some nasty little habit is a recipe for relapse. There is no such thing as just one puff. Nicotine dependency recovery truly is an all or nothing proposition.

2. Measuring Victory - Forget about quitting "forever." Like attempting the seemingly impossible task of eating an entire elephant, it's the biggest psychological bite imaginable. Instead, work hard at adopting a realistic and do-able victory yardstick that celebrates freedom an hour, challenge and day at a time. If you insist on seeing success only in terms of quitting forever then on which day will you celebrate?

3. Emotional Phases - Chemical dependency upon smoking nicotine is one of the most intense, repetitive and dependable relationships you've likely ever known. It has infected almost every aspect of your life and thinking. Be prepared to experience a normal sense of emotional loss when quitting that gradually transports you through six very different phases: (1) denial, (2) anger, (3) bargaining, (4) depression, (5) acceptance, and (6) complacency. This emotional journey is normal and a necessary part of recovery.

4. Do Not Skip Meals - Each puff of nicotine was your spoon releasing stored fats and sugars into your bloodstream. It allowed you to skip meals without experiencing wild blood-sugar swing symptoms such as an inability to concentrate or hunger related anxieties. Don't add needless symptoms to withdrawal but instead learn to spread your normal daily calorie intake out more evenly over the entire day. Don't eat more food but less food more often.

Drink plenty of acidic fruit juice the first three days. Cranberry is excellent and a bottle will cost you about the same as a pack of cigarettes. It will help to both accelerate the up to 72 hours needed to remove the alkaloid nicotine from your body and help stabilize blood sugars. Take care beyond three days as juices can be rather fattening.

5. Avoid All Crutches - A crutch is any form of quitting reliance that you lean upon so heavily in supporting recovery that if quickly removed would likely result in relapse (a person, product, service or activity). If you feel the need to lean upon a quitting buddy be sure that your buddy is either a sturdy long-time ex-smoker or a never-smoker.

With the exception of using extreme care with alcohol during early withdrawal, you do not need to give up any activity when quitting except for using nicotine. Likewise, successful long-term quitting is not dependent upon you engaging in any new activity either. Contrary to the junkie-thinking you've likely fed your mind, everything you did as a smoker you'll soon adjust to doing as well or better as an ex-smoker.

6. Crave Coping Techniques - You have conditioned your mind to expect the arrival of nicotine when encountering various times, places, activities, people, events or emotions. The first time you encounter each crave trigger you should expect a short yet possibly powerful anxiety episode lasting up to three minutes.

Don't fear or hide from your triggers but confront and extinguish each of them. You'll find that most are re-conditioned by a single encounter during which the subconscious mind does not receive the expected result - nicotine. Welcome and embrace every episode as each reflects a beautiful moment of subconscious healing, and the reclaiming of another aspect of your life.

One crave coping technique is to practice slow deep breathing while clearing your mind of all needless chatter by focusing on your favorite person, place or thing. Another is to say your ABCs while associating each letter with your favorite food, person or place. For example, "A" is for grandma's hot apple pie, and "B" is for ..." It's doubtful you'll ever reach the challenging letter "Q."

7. Cessation Time Distortion - A recent study found that nicotine cessation causes significant time distortion. Although no subconsciously triggered crave episode will last longer than three minutes, to a quitter the minutes can feel like hours. Keep a clock handy to maintain honest perspective.

8. Caffeine/Nicotine Interaction - Amazingly, nicotine somehow doubles the rate by which the body depletes caffeine. Yes, your blood-serum caffeine level will double if no caffeine intake reduction is made when quitting. Although not a problem for most light to moderate caffeine users, consider cutting caffeine intake by roughly half if troubled by anxieties or experiencing difficulty relaxing or sleeping.

9. The Smoking Dream - Be prepared for an extremely vivid smoking dream as tobacco odors released by horizontal healing lungs are swept up bronchial tubes by rapidly healing cilia and come in contact with a vastly enhanced sense of smell. See it as the wonderful sign of healing it reflects and nothing more.

10. Relapse - Remember that there are only two good reasons to take a puff once you quit. You decide you want to go back to your old level of consumption until smoking cripples and then kills you, or you decide you really enjoy withdrawal and you want to make it last forever. As long as neither of these options appeals to you the solution is as simple as ... no nicotine just one day at a time, Never Take Another Puff!

Good Morning, fellow EXers! Today is a beautiful day so I'll be spending the day at the park! Being a graveyarder it's really difficult to get sunshine and Vitamin D naturally and the last 3 weeks it snowed on my days off - so....! Please don't miss the important article about Vitamin E and when you look at the side panel in the article you'll see a related article about Vitamin D. There are many other fascinating articles today that definitely help me to protect my quit. My wish is that they will help you as well! Smoke FREE is the Way to BE!

SECOND HAND SMOKE
Musician plays about dangers of second hand smoke
http://www.wvec.com/video/featured-videos/Musician-plays-about-dangers-of-second-hand-smoke-205155581.html
Secondhand smoke a first-hand risk for one student
http://usmfreepress.org/2013/04/22/secondhand-smoke-a-first-hand-risk-for-one-student/
'Third-hand' smoke also harmful to public - expert
http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/lifestyle/04/25/13/third-hand-smoke-also-harmful-public-expert
Passive Smoking Lifts Risk of Hearing Damage
http://topnews.ae/content/215970-passive-smoking-lifts-risk-hearing-damage
SMOKING AND THE LAW
Anti-smoking plan sure to spread
http://www.thenorthwestern.com/article/20130429/OSH06/304290200/Anti-smoking-plan-sure-spread
Wins and Losses in the Fight Against Tobacco
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/29/opinion/wins-and-losses-in-the-fight-against-tobacco.html?_r=0
New Tobacco Chief Promises U.S. Action as Industry Waits
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-04-24/new-tobacco-chief-promises-u-s-action-as-industry-waits.html
NRTs
Smoking-cessation drug linked to violence
http://seattletimes.com/html/health/2020853472_pharmacy28xml.html
Magnetic Brain Stimulation May Temporarily Dull Nicotine Craving
http://www.philly.com/philly/health/topics/HealthDay675789_20130426_Magnetic_Brain_Stimulation_May_Temporarily_Dull_Nicotine_Craving.html
E-cigarettes: Could they change the tobacco industry forever?
http://theweek.com/article/index/243360/e-cigarettes-could-they-change-the-tobacco-industry-forever
SMOKING CESSATION
Strong arguments in anti-smoking ads spur behavior change, study finds
http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/local/item/54085
It doesn’t pay to smoke
http://thestar.com.my/lifestyle/story.asp?file=/2013/4/29/lifefocus/13025200&sec=lifefocus
Quit Smoking? Vitamin E May Give Extra Boost to Heart Health
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130423090802.htm
Smoker who made death-bed plea against tobacco dies at age 53
http://tdn.com/news/local/smoker-who-made-death-bed-plea-against-tobacco-dies-at/article_21855e7e-aee4-11e2-ab6b-001a4bcf887a.html
TOBACCO AND YOUTH
Kids' smoking influences may change over time
http://www.health24.com/Lifestyle/Stop-smoking/News/Kids-smoking-influences-may-change-over-time-20130429
Study of smokers’ genes yields age-related addiction factor
 http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/04/28/2846105/study-of-smokers-genes-yields.html#storylink=cpy
Alternative tobacco use up in teenagers
http://news-herald.com/articles/2013/04/29/news/nh6789810.txt

On April 25, 2013 CNN ran an article entitled, “Survey: Young Christians want marijuana legalized”. The article illustrated that in a recent poll conducted by a Public Religion Research Institute survey, thirty-two percent of Christian’s aged 18-29 said they “strongly favor” legalization, while 18% said they “favor” the move.

Its official, even the most ardent conservative viewer of Rupert Murdock’s “Fox News” realizes that within a decade marijuana will be legal or decriminalized in most of America’s 50 states. It’s inevitable.

If you stop and think, it’s not a far stretch of the imagination to believe that throughout the country, more than one federal lawmaker and state governor in the privacy of their home / office, has (in “smoke-full rooms” sweetly scented by the aroma of Febreze’s “Alaskan Springtime”) calculated the potential hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue that marijuana is guaranteed to rake in state wide.

In Colorado and Washington State entrepreneurs are already making a lot of money off a plant named cannabis. Legal Weed Draws Tourists To Colorado, Washington

However, in the jubilation of celebrating a positive change of national attitudes towards smoking pot, marijuana smokers who also smoke tobacco products should be warned: “Smoking both marijuana and cigarettes greatly increases the risk of acquiring COPD,

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a progressive condition with no cure that’s characterized by diseased lungs and narrowed airways. Most cases are caused by prolonged cigarette smoking, according to the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Based upon findings that were published in the April 14, 2009 issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, irrefutably, people who smoke cigarettes and marijuana are nearly three times more likely to acquire chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a debilitating condition more commonly known as COPD. However, smoking pot alone doesn’t seem to increase the risk of the deadly lung condition, researchers report.

Lead researcher Dr. Wan Tan, of the University of British Columbia and St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, Canada, supervised a team of fellow medical researchers that collected data on 878 people who participated in the Burden of Obstructive Lung Disease (BOLD) Initiative, which was designed to identify the prevalence of COPD in people over 40.

At the conclusion of the study, Dr. Tan’s team and other researchers discovered that smokers who use both marijuana and tobacco are 2.5 times more likely than nonsmokers to have respiratory disease and almost three times likelier to have COPD.

Dr. Tan: "This combined effect suggests that smoking marijuana - at least in relatively low doses -may act as a primer, or sensitizer, in the airways to amplify the adverse effects of tobacco smoke on respiratory health. Smoking marijuana and cigarettes - even small amounts - is very harmful for your lungs, increasing the risk of COPD by several fold.”

Dr. Norman H. Edelman, a medical consultant to the American Lung Association, said he is inclined to believe that smoking marijuana and cigarettes does increase the risk of contracting COPD, but he also stated that Dr. Tan's research may be somewhat flawed due to insufficient data on the long-term effects of marijuana smoking. Dr. Edelman's opinion is that without a large pool of marijuana smokers to have gathered data from, current medical conclusions could be skewed.

“Canada was a good place to do it as they are more relaxed about pot smoking, and it was likely to be easier to get cooperative subjects,” Edelman said. “The most impressive finding is the synergism between tobacco and marijuana smoking.”

“A modest amount of pot smoking added to cigarette smoking really knocks your lungs for a loop,” Edelman added. “One wonders if this is a chemical synergism or behavioral — those who smoke both pot and tobacco inhale each more deeply than those who smoke only tobacco.”

To learn more about COPD, visit the U.S. Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

As always the New Orleans Examiner is always interested in what you think. Food-for-thought, as marijuana laws become more lax throughout the U.S., will there initially be a significant increase in health problems attributed to smoking both cannabis and cigarettes? Inquiring minds want to know. Sound off.

Until the next time good day, God Bless and good fishing.

http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/resources/videos/michael-videos.html#michael?utm_source=Faces+of+COPD+e-Newsletter%2C+April+24%2C+2013+%28Volume+5%2C+Number+4%29&utm_campaign=April++2013+e-Newsletter&utm_medium=email

This could be you! COPD is an auto-immune illness - your body attacks itself - and is triggered after just one killerette. You will never know which sickerette was the one!

Smoking Raises Risk of Lung Disease in RA

BIRMINGHAM, England -- Risk factors for the development of interstitial lung disease among patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) included male sex, smoking, and seropositivity, a researcher reported here.

In contrast to RA patients overall, where there is a large female predominance, almost half of RA patients who developed interstitial lung disease were men, according to Clive Kelly, MBBS, of Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Gateshead, England.

In addition, all patients with the lung disease were past or present smokers, respectively, compared with only 60% of those with RA but no lung disease, he said in a poster session at the annual meeting of the British Society for Rheumatology.

Seropositivity also was significantly higher in the lung disease patients, with 89% and 94% being positive for rheumatoid factor and anti-CCP antibodies, respectively, compared with 58% of controls having rheumatoid factor (P=0.01) and 55% having anti-CCP antibodies (P=0.006).

Moreover, median titers of anti-CCP antibodies were very high, at 180 U/mL in patients with lung disease, compared with 78 U/mL in those without lung involvement (P=0.02). "In genetically susceptible individuals, tobacco smoking may precipitate site-specific citrullination in the lungs, leading to the generation of anti-CCP antibodies in early RA," he explained.

Citrullination is a process during the inflammatory state in which arginine is enzymatically converted to citrulline, which then may be seen as antigenic by the immune system. "This process in the lungs can trigger the activation of B cells, which then mediate disease," Kelly told MedPage Today.

Interstitial lung disease is the only complication of RA that continues to rise, and now accounts for 6% of deaths among this patient population. To examine possible risk factors for the lung disease, Kelly's group collected data from six U.K. centers between 1987 and 2012, identifying 230 RA patients with pulmonary involvement.

A total of 110 were male, and median age was 64 at the time of lung diagnosis. In 82% of cases, the joint manifestations of RA appeared before the lung disease, in 10% the lung symptoms appeared first, and in the remainder both manifestations occurred synchronously.

Men with interstitial lung disease were more commonly smokers than women (75% versus 60%,P=0.02), and had significantly greater pack-years of smoking (35 versus 20, P=0.01).

Among age- and sex-matched controls with RA but no clinical or radiographic evidence of lung disease, smoking was less common and pack-years were fewer among those who did smoke (P=0.03).

An additional finding was that in this cohort, lung disease developed at a younger age than in previous studies.

In a subgroup analysis of mortality, Kelly and colleagues found that among the 230 patients, 73 died. Nonetheless, although the incidence of interstitial lung disease has been rising, the mortality rate has been falling and deaths have been occurring at later ages.

For instance, during the years 1987 to 1993, a total of 67% of lung disease patients died from pulmonary causes at a median age of 63. But between 2006 and 2012, the percentage dying from interstitial lung disease fell to 30% and the median age at death was 76 (P<0.01 for both).

These changes are likely to reflect the earlier use of older immunosuppressive agents such as cyclophosphamide and the wider use of newer agents such as mycophenolate mofetil (CellCept) and rituximab (Rituxan), Kelly suggested. Earlier detection also is now possible with the use of high-resolution CT, he noted.

Source: Med Page Today

Thomas3.20.2010

Nicotine Addiction 101

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Apr 23, 2013

Nicotine is the tobacco plant's natural protection from being eaten by insects. Its widespread use as a farm crop insecticide is now being blamed for killing honey bees. A super toxin, drop for drop it is more lethal than strychnine or diamondback rattlesnake venom and three times deadlier than arsenic. Yet amazingly, by chance, this natural insecticide's chemical signature is so similar to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine that once inside the brain it fits a host of chemical locks permitting it direct and indirect control over the flow of more than 200 neuro-chemicals, most importantly dopamine.

What Are Dopamine Pathways?

 

Brain dopamine pathways

Brain dopamine pathways

What is dopamine? It's hard to understand nicotine addiction, or any form of drug addiction for that matter, without a basic understanding of the brain's primary motivation neurotransmitter, dopamine. The brain's dopamine pathways serve as a built-in teacher. It uses a desire, yearning or wanting sensation to get our attention when it wants to pound home a survival lesson necessary to keep us humans alive and thriving.

Have you ever wondered why it's so hard to go without eating, to actually starve yourself to death, or for that matter, to die of thirst? Why do we seek acceptance by our peers, want companionship, and desire a mate or sexual relations? Why do we feel anxiety when bored and an "aaah" sense of relief when we complete a task?

Remember the very first time your parents praised you for keeping your coloring between the lines? Remember the "aaah" sensation? That was dopamine, the satisfaction of your wanting to succeed. The deep inner primitive brain (the limbic mind) is hard-wired, via dopamine pathways, to keep us drinking liquids, fed, together (there's "safety in numbers"), while achieving and reproducing.

When we feel hunger our dopamine pathways are being stimulated, teasing us with anticipation "wanting" for food. If kept waiting, the anticipation may build into urges or even full-blown craves. Each bite we eat further stimulates dopamine flow until stomach peptides at last tell the brain we're full and wanting becomes satisfied.

But our brain doesn't stop with simply creating and satisfying wanting associated with species survival events such as eating, drinking liquids, bonding, nurturing, accomplishment and sex. It makes sure that we don't forget them, that in the future we pay close attention to these activities.

The brain associates and records how each particular wanting was satisfied in the most durable, high-definition memory the mind may be capable of generating. It does so by hard-wiring dopamine pathway neuro-transmissions into our conscious memory banks (the prefrontal cortex), where each is linked to the event that satisfied dopamine pathway wanting, hunger and yearning.

Drug Addiction's Common Thread

Now ponder this. What would happen if, by chance, an external chemical existed that once introduced into the bloodstream was small enough to pass and cross through the blood/brain barrier (a protective filter), and once inside the brain were somehow able to activate and turn on our mind's dopamine pathway circuitry? Could that chemical hijack the mind's priorities teacher? If so, how long would it take before continuing chemical use resulted in the person becoming totally yet falsely convinced that using more of the chemical was as important as eating food?

The nicotine dependency feeding cycleHunger for food, hunger for nicotine. Food craves, nicotine craves. "Aaah" wanting satisfaction while taking bites, "aaah" wanting satisfaction while replenishing nicotine reserves. Welcome to the addict's world of nicotine normal, a world built on lies. For if we don't eat food we die, while if we stop using nicotine we thrive.

Clearly, I've vastly oversimplified an extremely complicated topic. While dopamine pathway stimulation is the common thread between chemical addictions (including cocaine, heroin, meth, nicotine and alcoholism), my simplified explanation does not explain why users initially continue using the drug prior to a growing pile of dopamine pathway high-definition use memories begging them to use more. Nor does it explain why most regular nicotine users get hooked but not all, or why quitting is often accompanied by withdrawal symptoms.

Although enhanced dopamine flow is associated with all chemical addictions, each chemical differs in how it triggers or enhances stimulation, how long stimulation lasts, and each chemical's ability to produce a different "high" sensation by interacting with other neuro-chemicals and pathways.

Aside from enhancing dopamine flow, nicotine is a legal central nervous system stimulant that activates the body's fight or flight response. This results in an alert stimulated high, which allows us nicotine addicts to feel different or even superior to illegal drug addicts who fill the world's prisons. This despite the fact that this year addiction to smoking nicotine is expected to kill 17 times as many Americans as all illegal drugs combined.

While nicotine stimulates the nervous system, alcohol has the opposite effect in actually depressing it and slowing normal brain function. Heroin's dopamine stimulation is accompanied by an endorphine high, resulting in a short yet intense numbing or analgesic effect. Cocaine's high is a sense of stimulated euphoria associated with delaying normal clean-up (re-uptake) of multiple neurotransmitters (dopamine, serotonin and nor-adrenaline), while methamphetamine is the maximum speed stimulant.Again, the common thread between each of these addictions is that the brain's dopamine pathways were taken hostage and left the drug addict totally yet falsely convinced that continuing drug use was important to their survival, that their drug gave them their edge, helped them cope and that life without it would be horrible.

What we nicotine addicts could not see was that our beliefs and thinking about that next fix were unworthy of belief. Once hooked it was too late. Dopamine pathway generated pay-attention memories were so vivid and durable that they quickly buried all remaining memory of life without nicotine. Gone were our pre-addiction memories of the calm, quiet and beauty of the mind we once called home.

It's why getting off of drugs is so difficult. It's why half of the smokers we see each day will eventually smoke themselves to death. While their friends and loved ones scream the insanity of their continued self-destruction, their brain dopamine pathways scream even louder that continuing drug use is as important as life itself. Who should they believe, their limbic mind's begging for that next fix, or the outside world's begging for them to stop?

Nicotine Dependency a Mental Illness and Permanent Disease

College student holds sign declaring addicted to smoking nicotineI'm sorry but there's simply no nice way to say this. Nicotine dependency, like alcoholism, is a real mental illness and disease. While able to fully and comfortably arrest our chemical addiction, there is no cure. It's permanent. Like alcoholism there's just one rule. Once we're free, just one, using just once and we have to go back. You see, it isn't a matter of how much willpower we have, but how the brain's priorities teacher teaches, how nerve and memory cell highways that recorded years of nicotine feedings have left each of us wired for relapse.

So why are some people social smokers able to take it or leave it, while the rest of us got hooked? Referred to as "chippers," they probably account for less than 10% of all smokers. Jealous? If so and still using don't worry, it's normal. That's what enslaved brains tend to dream about, to want to become like them, to control what for us is uncontrollable.

Being immune to addiction is believed to at least in part be related to genetics. But with up to 90% of daily users hooked solid, spending millions studying nicotine dependency genetics is almost laughable. Before feeling too sorry for yourself, imagine what it's like to be an alcoholic and forced to watch roughly 90% of drinkers do something that you yourself cannot, to turn and walk away. We only have to watch the 10% who are chippers.

Then again, we were each once chippers too, at least for our first couple of cigarettes or oral tobacco uses. There was no urge, desire, crave, hunger or wanting for those first couple of smokes. Nicotine stimulated our nervous system without our brain begging us to come back and do it again. There was no dopamine "aaah" relief sensation, as nothing was missing and nothing in need of replenishment. But that was about to change. Most of us became hooked while children or teens. What none of us knew prior to that first hit of nicotine was how extremely addictive smoking it was. Roughly 26% of us started losing control over continued smoking after just 3 to 4 cigarettes, rising to 44% after smoking 5 to 9.

What we didn't then know was that within ten seconds of that very first puff, that up to 50% of our brain's dopamine pathway acetylcholine receptors would become occupied by nicotine, or that prior to finishing that first cigarette that nicotine would saturate almost all of them.

Nicotinic receptor saturation

No one told us that once saturated, that continued smoking would cause our receptors to become de-sensitized, which would somehow cause our brain to grow or activate millions of extra receptors, a process known as up-regulation.

Every two hours the amount of nicotine remaining in our bloodstream declined by half (known as nicotine's elimination half-life). At some point in the process, continued stimulation, de-sensitization and up-regulation left our brain wanting and begging for more. An addiction was born as our brain was now wired to function with gradually increasing amounts of nicotine. Not only does nicotine stimulate the release of dopamine within ten seconds of a puff, smoking it suppresses MAO, a dopamine clean-up enzyme. Suppressing MAO allows wanting's satisfaction to linger far longer than a natural release, such as the short lived sensations felt when eating food or quenching thirst.

Battling nicotine dependencyOne cigarette per day, then two, then three, the longer we smoked nicotine, the more receptors that became saturated and desensitized, the more grown, and the more nicotine needed to satisfy resulting "want" for replenishment.

As America's leading drug addiction expert puts it, the NIDA's Dr. Nora Volkow, drug addiction is a disease where brain changes translate into an inability to control drug intake. These drug induced brain modifications then signal the brain with a message that's equivalent to "when you are starving," the signal to "seek food and eat it," that the drug is "necessary to survival," that dopamine pathways ensure "long-lasting memory of salient events."

Our priorities hijacked, our mental disorder having left us totally convinced that that next nicotine fix is as important as life itself, where do we turn once we awaken and realize that we've been fooled?

The Good News

The good news is that it's all a lie, that drug addiction is about living a lie. It's hard work being an actively feeding drug addict, and comfortable Yes you canagain being you. The good news is that knowledge is power, that we can each grow smarter than our addiction is strong, that full recovery is entirely do-able for all. In fact, today there are more ex-smokers in the U.S. than smokers.

While the first few days may feel like an emotional train wreck, beyond them, with each passing day the challenges grow fewer, generally less intense and shorter in duration. Recovery leads to a calm and quiet mind where addiction chatter and wanting gradually fade into rarity, where the ex-user begins going days, weeks or even months without once wanting for nicotine.

Recovery is good, not bad. It needs to be embraced not feared. The good news is that everything done while under nicotine's influence can be done as well or better without it.

"Our brain has tremendous capacity for recovery," says Dr. Volkow. But the addicted person "has to take responsibility that they have a disease."While no cure, there is only one rule that if followed provides a 100% guarantee of success in arresting it -- no nicotine today.

Successful Recovery

Each year, more successful ex-users quit cold turkey than by all other methods combined. Their common thread? No nicotine, just one hour, challenge and day at a time. The common element among all who relapsed? A puff of nicotine.

On a conscious level, roughly 70% of daily smokers want to stop. But few understand how and even fewer appreciate that they're dealing with a permanent priorities disorder and disease of the mind. Instead, they invent justifications and rationalizations to explain why they must smoke that next cigarette.

Subconsciously, you've established nicotine use cues. Those cues trigger urges or craves upon encountering a specific time, place, person, situation or emotion during which you've trained your mind to expect a new supply of nicotine. But the catalyst and foundation for both conscious rationalizations and subconscious conditioning is your underlying chemical dependency.

Trapped between nicotine's two-hour elimination half-life and a gradually escalating need to smoke harder or more, the dependent smoker faces five primary recovery hurdles: (1) appreciation for where they now find themselves, (2) reclaiming their hijacked dopamine pathways, (3) breaking and extinguishing smoking cues, (4) abandoning smoking rationalizations, and (5) relapse prevention.

The Law of Addiction

Most quitting literature suggests that it normally takes multiple failed quitting attempts before the user self-discovers the key to success. What they fail to tell you is the lesson eventually learned, or that it can be learned and mastered during the very first try.

Successful recovery isn't about strength or weakness. It's about a mental disorder where by chance our dopamine pathway receptors have eight times greater attraction to a nicotine molecule than to the receptor's own neurotransmitter. We call it the "Law of Addiction" and it states, "Administration of a drug to an addict will cause re-establishment of chemical dependence upon the addictive substance."

Never Take Another PuffRoughly half of relapsing quitters report thinking that they thought they could get away with using just once. The benefit of fully accepting that we have a true chemical dependency and permanent priorities disease can't be overstated. It greatly simplifies recovery's rules while helping protect against relapse.

Key to arresting our disease is obedience to one simple concept, that "one is too many and a thousand never enough." There was always only one rule, no nicotine just one hour, challenge and day at a time.

Navigating Withdrawal and Reclaiming Hijacked Dopamine Pathways

 

Like clockwork, constantly falling nicotine reserves soon had hostage dopamine pathways generating "want" for more. Sensing that "want" thousands of times per year, how could we not expect to equate quitting The body is nicotine free within 72 hoursto starving ourself to death? Again, the essence of drug addiction is about dependency quickly burying all memory of our pre-dependency self. The first step in coming home and again meeting the real us is emptying the body of nicotine.

It's surprisingly fast too. Cut by half every two hours, our mind and body become 100% nicotine-free within 72 hours of ending all use. Extraction complete, peak withdrawal now behind you, true healing can now begin. While receptor sensitivities are quickly restored, down-regulation of the number of receptors to levels seen in never-users may takeup to 21 days. But within two to three weeks your now arrested dependency is no longer doing the talking. You're beginning to sense the truth about where you've been.It's critical during early withdrawal to not skip meals, especially breakfast. Attempting to do so will likely cause blood sugar levels to plummet, making recovery far more challenging than need be.

As a stimulant, nicotine activates the body's fight or flight response, Drink natural fruit juice during recoveryfeeding the addict instant energy by pumping stored fats and sugars into the bloodstream. It allowed us to skip breakfast and/or lunch without experiencing low blood sugar symptoms such as feeling nervous or jittery, trembling, irritability, anxiousness, anger, confusion, difficulty thinking or an inability to concentrate. Eat little, healthy and often.

Also, heavy caffeine users need to know that (as strange as this sounds), nicotine doubles the rate by which caffeine is eliminated from the bloodstream. One cup of coffee, tea or one cola may now feel like two. While most caffeine users can handle a doubling of intake, consider a modest reduction of up to one-half if feeling anxious or irritable after using caffeine.

If your diet and health permit, drink some form of natural fruit juice for the first three days. Cranberry juice is excellent. It will aid in stabilizing blood sugar while accelerating removal of the alkaloid nicotine from your bloodstream.

One caution. While we need not give-up any activity except nicotine use, use extreme caution with early alcohol use as it is associated with roughly 50% of all relapses

.Extinguishing Use Conditioning

Embrace crave episodes don't fear themEmbrace recovery don't fear it. Why fear a temporary journey of re-adjustment that transports us to a point in time where we're going days, weeks and eventually months without wanting to use nicotine?

Each cue driven crave episode presents an opportunity to extinguish additional conditioning and reclaim another aspect of life. We may have trained our mind to expect nicotine during stressful events, when walking in the back yard, while driving a car, talking on the phone or upon encountering another user. Attempting these activities after stopping may generate a short yet possibly powerful crave episode.

Success in moving beyond each episode awards the new ex-user return of another slice of a nicotine-free life, a surprising sense of calm during crisis, return of their yard, car, phone or friends. But be sure and look at a clock during craves as cessation time distortion can combine with fear or even panic to make a less than 3 minute episode feel much longer.

Research suggests that the average quitter experiences a maximum of 6 crave episodes per day on the third day of recovery, declining to about 1.4 per day by day ten. If each crave is less than 3 minutes and the average quitter experiences a maximum of 6 on their most challenging day, can you handle 18 minutes of challenge?

quit smoking crave chart

But what if you're not average or normal. What if, instead, you've created twice as many nicotine use cues as the "average" addict? Can you handle 36 minutes of significant challenge if it means arresting your dependency, improving your mental and physical health and the prospect of a significant increase in life expectancy? Absolutely!

Abandonment of Use Rationalizations

Acceptance that drug addiction is a mental disorder and that we're just as addicted as the alcoholic, heroin or meth addict destroys the need for nicotine use rationalizations. Try this. List your top ten reasons for using. Now go back and cross off all the reasons except the truth, that hijacked pay attention pathways kept us wanting for more.

If a smoker, you didn't continue destroying your body's ability to receive and transport life giving oxygen because you wanted to. You did so because a rising tide of withdrawal anxieties would begin to hurt when you didn't.

Convenience store street cigarette ads in Columbia, South Carolina in 2008Contrary to convenience store tobacco marketing, we did not smoke for flavor or taste. In fact, there are zero taste buds inside human lungs. Contrary to hundreds of store "pleasure" signs, drug addiction isn't about seeking pleasure but about satisfying a brain "wanting" disorder.

Our mind's priorities disorder had most of us convinced that we liked or even loved smoking. But what basis did we have for making honest comparisons? Try hard to recall the calm inside your mind prior to getting hooked, going days, weeks and months without once having an urge or crave to smoke. You can't do it, can you? So what basis exists to make honest comparisons about liking the addicted you more than the free you? It isn't that we liked smoking but that we didn't like what happened when we didn't smoke, the onset of withdrawal.

Most of us convinced ourselves that we smoked to relieve stress when in reality our addiction intensified it. While nicotine is an alkaloid, stress, alcohol and vitamin C are each acid generating events that accelerate elimination of nicotine from the bloodstream. Stressful situations would often induce early withdrawal, forcing immediate nicotine replenishment. Replenishment's temporary silencing of our disease left us falsely convinced that smoking had relieved our stress, when all it had relieved was nicotine's absence and the onset of early withdrawal.Think about it. Once we finished tanking-up with a new supply of nicotine and had satisfied our dependency, the car's tire was still flat, or the bad news was still bad. One of the greatest recovery gifts of all is an amazing sense of calm during crisis, as we're no longer adding nicotine withdrawal atop every stressful event.

Probably the most destructive rationalization of all is pretending that all we suffer from is a nasty little habit, that like using a cuss word now and then, that we can smoke just once now and then after quitting and get away with it.

Why tease yourself? Willpower cannot stop smoked, chewed or sucked nicotine from arriving in the brain. Ask yourself, how many marathon runners have the endurance to run two marathons in a row? While we may walk away from one hit and relapse thinking we've gotten away with it, as sure as the sun rises in the sky our disease will soon be begging for more. We can no more take a hit than an alcoholic can take a sip.

"But now just isn't the right time," you say? Frankly, there will never be a perfect time to arrest mental illness. In fact, planning and putting it off until some future date actually breeds needless anticipation anxieties that diminish the odds of success. As backwards as this sounds, two recent studies, one in the UK and the other in the US, found that unplanned attempts are twice as successful as planned ones. The next few minutes are all within our ability to control and each is entirely do-able.

One concern Dr. Volkow hears is that by teaching users that they have a chemical addiction that's both a mental illness and disease, that some will use it as an excuse for avoiding responsibility in arresting it. But as she notes, does a person who's told that they have cancer or heart disease pretend helplessness, or do they instead fight to save and extend their life?

Nicotine dependency recovery can be the greatest personal awakening we've ever known. Destruction of needless fears allow us to savor the beauty unfolding before us. No longer afraid, we're able to notice our breathing improve and savor the richness delivered by rapidly healing taste buds. We discover that white flour and rain drops have smell. It's a clean, ash-free world where the oil on our skin isn't tar's but ours. Imagine the return of self respect, of being home and residing here on Easy Street with hundreds of millions of comfortable ex-users, of knowing it's a keeper, and never having to quit again.

Relapse Prevention

image"One day at a time" is a focus accomplishment skill. Why worry about how much of the mountain is left to climb or how far we could fall when all that matters is our grip upon here and now, the next few minutes? Combining the "Law of Addiction" with a "one day at a time" recovery philosophy is all that's needed to remain free and keep our mind's priorities disease arrested for life.

The greatest unsolved mystery is why after having successfully quit for 5, 10 or even 30 years, that it normally only takes a single lapse in judgment - using on just one occasion - to trigger full and complete relapse. To quote from a study released on May 16, 2011, "Nearly all smokers who lapse experience a full-blown relapse."

What makes our disease permanent? Did years of using somehow burn or etch permanent dependency tracks into our brain? Does new nicotine somehow turn on our addiction switch? Once the brain restores natural receptor counts (down-regulates), is some record kept of how many receptors there once were? Or, does one powerful hit of nicotine simply awaken thousands of old memories of an addict having satisfied "wanting" for more?

Frankly, science doesn't yet know. What it does know is that it's impossible to fail so long as all nicotine remains on the outside. There was always only one rule, no nicotine, just one hour, challenge and day at a time. The next few minutes are yours to command and each is entirely do-able. Baby steps to glory. Yes you can!

In your mind, see and treat that first hit of nicotine as if the survival rate is zero. None of us are stronger than nicotine. But then we don't need to be as it is simply a chemical with an I.Q. of zero. It cannot plot, plan or conspire, and contrary to the teachings of the UK's leading cessation educator (whose lessons are otherwise high quality), there is no demon or monster dwelling within us. Our most effective weapon against nicotine is and always has been our vastly superior intelligence, but only if put to work.Nicotine Replacement Products

The key to nicotine dependency recovery is not in dragging out the up to 72 hours of natural detox by toying for weeks or months with gradual nicotine weaning schemes or other creative means to chemically stimulate brain dopamine circuitry. The nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) industry want smokers to believe that a natural poison is medicine, that its use is therapy, and that it is somehow different from the tobacco plant's nicotine molecule.

Truth is, the pharmaceutical industry buys its nicotiana from the exact same growers as the tobacco industry. They want us to believe that double-blind placebo controlled studies proved that NRT doubles a cold turkey quitter's odds of quitting and that only superheros can quit without it. Truth is, their studies were not blind as claimed, and did not involve quitters who wanted to quit cold turkey. Truth is that once again this year, out here in the real world, that more ex-users will quit cold turkey than all other quitting methods combined.

Here are a few facts that those selling creative nicotine delivery devices would rather you not know:

Placebo controlled NRT, Zyban, Chantix and NicVax clinical studies were not blind as claimed and thus have no foundation in science. Think about it. You cannot hide the presence or absence of withdrawal from users with significant quitting histories, who have become experts at knowing exactly how withdrawal feels. A 2004 review found that NRT studies suffered from wide-spread blinding failures (May 2004). A 2009 study by the inventor of the nicotine patch found that 4 times as many study participants randomly assigned to wear the placebo nicotine patch correctly determined their group assignment as guessed wrong. Placebo controlled quitting product clinical trials do not measure "efficacy," but frustrations.

A nicotine smoker's natural odds of quitting for six months, entirely on their own, without any products, procedures, education programs, counseling or formal support is roughly 10% (June 2000).

Those using the over-the-counter (OTC) nicotine patch or gum as a stand-alone quitting product have about a 7% chance of quitting smoking for six months (March 2003).

Up to 6.7% of OTC nicotine gum quitters are still chronic users of nicotine gum at six months (November 2003). The math makes you wonder if any gum users actually break free from nicotine while chewing it (May 2004).

36.6% of all current nicotine gum users are chronic long-term users (May 2004).

Studies suggest that you truly would have to be a superhero to quit while using the nicotine patch if you'd already attempted using it once and relapsed. The only two patch user "recycling" studies ever conducted both show that nearly 100% of second-time nicotine patch users relapse to smoking nicotine within six months (April 1993 and August 1995, see Table 3).

The vast majority of long-term ex-smokers quit entirely on their own without resort to any product, procedure or program of any kind including hypnosis, Zyban, Chantix, Champix, acupuncture, magic herbs, laser therapy, or the nicotine patch, gum, lozenge, spray, or inhaler.

The only long-term competition between the nicotine patch and Chantix/Champix produced a statistical draw in the actual percentage of participants still not smoking at both six months and one year (February 2008). If so, why risk serious injury or death using Chantix or Champix? Here in the U.S., as of May 19, 2011 the Food and Drug Administration had received 272 reports of completed suicides by Chantix users, Chantix was ranked first among all prescription drugs in reported deaths (more than twice any other drug), and the total number of U.S. reported adverse drug events of all severity surpassed 35,000, with roughly 10,000 of those being serious, disabling or fatal.

Education, understanding, new skills and some form of ongoing quality support can easily triple your odds of success.

Those who refuse to allow any nicotine back into their bloodstream have 100% odds of remaining nicotine free today! (Today, Tomorrow & Always!).

Education Is a Quitting Method

Is it possible to become so educated and motivated that the deep inner mind no longer sees ending nicotine use as a threat, so much so that the body's emotional fight or flight anxiety alarms hardly ever get sounded? Roughly half of quitters report that recovery was far easier than expected. Is it possible to so embrace coming home that fears evaporate and it feels like a cake-walk?

Did you know that unplanned attempts, which avoid accumulation of self-induced fears, are up to 2.6 times as effective as planned attempts?

Why wait! Watch or listen to WhyQuit's free counseling sesssions or grab one of our free quitting ebooks and jump in the pool. The next few minutes are all that matter and each is entirely doable. It may not always be easy but it is simple. There was always only one rule ... no nicotine today!

 

John R. Polito

Nicotine Cessation Educator

July 4, 2011

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We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors,

We borrow it from our children! -Native American Proverb!

Happy Earth Day, EX Community! What will you do for your environment today? Well, I can name one thing - Live Smoke FREE! Did you know that 2 million sickerette butts litter the planet every single day?

http://www.kab.org/site/DocServer/LitterFactSheet_CIGARETTE.pdf?docID=5182

So, I'm glad to not be adding to this mess which threatens the ecosystem! So give yourselves a pat on the back, grab your favorite beverage (mine is coffee), get comfortable and fortify your quit by knowing your enemy! 

 

SMOKING AND YOUR HEALTH

Negative Health Effects of Smoking

http://allafrica.com/stories/201304160507.html

Even light smoking is associated with increased risk of rheumatoid arthritis

http://www.news-medical.net/news/20130422/Even-light-smoking-is-associated-with-increased-risk-of-rheumatoid-arthritis.aspx

SMOKING AND PREGNANCY

Breathing space for a pregnant woman trying to quit smoking

http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/breathing-space-for-a-pregnant-woman-trying-to-quit-smoking/2013/04/21/44f7484c-a1f9-11e2-be47-b44febada3a8_story.html

SECOND HAND SMOKE

Secondhand smoke is bad for adults, worse for kids

http://www.cdapress.com/news/national_news/article_3a86957b-f301-5350-a202-259227d63dcc.html

CDC talks benefits of smoke-free housing

http://www.ksby.com/news/cdc-talks-benefits-of-smoke-free-housing/

Passive smoking doubles risk of eye disease

http://www.newsfix.ca/2013/04/17/passive-smoking-doubles-risk-of-eye-disease/

SMOKING AROUND THE WORLD

Busted! Lebanese airline smoking video goes viral

http://www.albawaba.com/entertainment/lebanese-airline-smoking-486304

Smoking from Hookah Not a Harmless Alternative to Cigarettes

http://www.ucsf.edu/news/2013/04/105236/smoking-hookah-not-harmless-alternative-cigarettes

SMOKING CESSATION

Magnetic Brain Stimulation May Help Smokers Quit

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/259252.php

MUSC doctor says quitting smoking during cancer treatment is critical to recovery

http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20130421/PC16/130429886/1268/musc-doctor-says-quitting-smoking-during-cancer-treatment-is-critical-to-recovery&source=RSS

NICOTINE REPLACEMENT

Can Virtual Reality Treat Addiction?

http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-04/can-these-virtual-people-treat-addict

FDA's Recommendation - Choose The Safest Beneficiary

http://seekingalpha.com/article/1353751-fda-s-recommendation-choose-the-safest-beneficiary?source=google_news

Smoking Cessation Hypnosis Program from Natural Hypnosis Guarantees Results

http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/4/prweb10651088.htm

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Hers is cocaine - ours is nicotine! But the description is EXactly the same....

 

On March 4th, 2012, I was having trouble breathing. "Am I going to be okay?" I asked the nurse who was monitoring my heart rate. "I don't know," she said. "If you are, I hope you stop destroying your life."

It was not the first time substance abuse had landed me in the emergency room. But, though I didn't know it then, it would be my last.

This is not a 'drunkalogue.' It is not a retelling of my wildest nights and most desperate days because, in the end, every addict's story is the same. At first, the substance -- whether it's drugs or food or sex or alcohol -- works perfectly. It erases the boy who broke your heart, drowns out the voices saying you will never be enough, numbs the fear that suffocates you -- until, first slowly and then all at once, it stops working and all you're left with is pain a hundred times worse than what you were trying to forget.

Addicts are everywhere. Sometimes they're easy to spot -- we hurry past them on the street, our heads down to avoid their wild eyes -- and sometimes they live among us unseen. Even as I pulled away from my closest friends, even as my clothes hung off of my shrinking frame, even as I stopped going to class, I more or less kept things together. I knew how to smile, how to comb my hair and put on mascara, how to say 'oh yes everything is just fine' and how to turn the conversation back to you and away from me.

Yes, friends and family members were increasingly worried as my behavior became more and more erratic, as I stopped answering my phone and as my grades began to slip. My mom made unannounced visits to my college to 'check in' and suddenly New Haven was 'on the way' to everywhere. But if addicts know how to do anything well, it's how to lie. We know how to warp your words so that somehow you are the one in the wrong. "You're projecting," I would cry. Conversations that began with a friend expressing concern would end with friends apologizing to me.

And anyway, good girls are not cocaine addicts.

By the time I left the emergency room last March, sedated and crying in the backseat of my mom's car, I was tired. Tired of lying, of hiding, of spending days in bed with the blinds closed as my classmates loved and learned and lived their lives. I was tired of making my little sister cry and tired of brushing off her pleas to get help. I couldn't do it anymore. So a few days later I sat in a therapist's office and, for the first time in a long time, I told the truth.

The desire to escape began long before I picked up my first drink or took my first drug. The moment I learned to read at six, I developed a distaste for reality. My parents' divorce was happening to someone else. My difficulties in school and with making friends ceased to be as painful. If I had a book to disappear into it didn't matter that I had no one to play with at recess.

As I grew up and it became clear that I couldn't control what world I lived in, I tried instead to control my emotions. Food was the first drug I used to numb myself. I lived eight years of my life, from 14 to 22, believing, really believing, that nothing could hurt me if I was thin. When something did hurt me I stood in my darkened kitchen and stuffed myself with sleeves of cookies and pints of ice cream and loaves of bread to quell the pain.

And then I found cocaine.

 

The first time I tried it was perfect. One line erased my doubts, my fears and my insecurities. I was euphoric. Gone was the girl who wanted to crawl out of her skin and in her place was the confident, beautiful girl I always wanted to be. For six years, I chased that high on and off, but I never found it again. Instead I found self-hatred. I found pure selfishness. I found bloody noses, heart palpitations and paranoia. I found myself alone on my knees at 6 am searching for that one last hit.

Writing this blog a year ago would have been impossible, because of the shame and the deep guilt I felt about being an addict. I have never been abused or neglected. I didn't grow up in an alcoholic home. I have been blessed with an unconditionally loving family and I have been given every opportunity to thrive. Why then? Why cause the people who love me so much pain? Why be seemingly intent on throwing it all away?

The honest answer is: I don't know. What I do know -- and I have grappled with this over the past 13 months -- is that addiction is a disease. It is progressive, it can be fatal and it can touch anyone.

I was scared to publish this piece. To some degree, I still am. I am scared of the commenters. I am scared of the inevitable "first world" and "poor little rich girl" comments. I am scared of being called self-obsessed, of being told to look outside myself, to get a grip on the real problems in this world.

I know all this. I know that people live lives a thousand times more difficult and devastating than what I am describing here.

But this is what I also know: addiction lives in darkness, it feeds off our secrets and it thrives in the shadows. My life as it is today was unthinkable thirteen months ago. Yes, I mean the particulars -- I have a steady job and healthy, loving relationships -- but more than that I've learned to be vulnerable. I've learned how to apologize and how to forgive. I've learned how much strength it takes to let go. If writing this can help one person feel a little less alone, if it encourages one person to ask for help, if it allows one person to know that no matter how hopeless it feels right now, it can get better, then that is enough.

Not long ago, I went to see a foreign film at a downtown theater that specializes in showing obscure movies that no one's ever heard of. The German nurse on the screen was talking to a young girl as she attempted to administer a shot. "It will hurt terribly but you'll be fine," she told her patient. Remember that. It may hurt terribly but you will be fine.

  by Christina Huffington
   
Thomas3.20.2010

From my Inbox to You

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Apr 16, 2013

Ex-Smoker With COPD Symptoms? Talk With Your Doctor Now, Not Later

 

While being a smoker does not guarantee the onset of disease, if you are an ex-smoker with respiratory complications, such as constant coughing or shortness of breath, it's important to see your doctor sooner rather than later. A simple test may provide an early diagnosis of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), which means you can start caring for your COPD as soon as possible.

What are COPD symptoms?

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease has several symptoms that you should watch for, according to theMayo Clinic:

      
  • Coughing
  •   
  • Shortness of breath
  •   
  • Wheezing
  •   
  • Chest tightness

An ex-smoker with COPD symptoms should pay special attention to these symptoms, as former smokers are particularly susceptible to COPD. In fact, nine of every 10 COPD-related deaths is caused by smoking, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Even if you quit a long time ago, you can still get COPD. 

 

Why you should talk to your doctor

According to Medline Plus, the earlier COPD is detected, the better it can be treated. Your doctor will do a spirometry test. It's very simple and easy. You just take a deep breath and blow into a tube so the doctor can measure your lung function.

If you are diagnosed, your doctor may prescribe a variety of treatments, depending on the severity of your condition. Possible treatments include:

      
  • Medication
  •   
  • Oxygen therapy
  •   
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation
  •   
  • Surgery

Although COPD is not fully curable, you can slow the symptoms and enjoy a healthy lifestyle. In addition to treating you, your doctor may recommend a more nutritious diet, exercise and stress management.

http://www.domorewithoxygen.com/bid/241767/Ex-Smoker-With-COPD-Symptoms-Talk-With-Your-Doctor-Now-Not-Later

  
   
    
     
       Change your thoughts and you change your world. Norman Vincent Peale   
     
           
    
    
     
       Barrie Davenport explains:   
     
           
    
    
     
       Positive thinking really does change your brain. Not in some magical, woo woo kind of way, but in a real physical way.   
     
           
    
    
     
       The science is called neuroplasticity. It means that our thoughts can change the structure and function of our brains. The idea was first introduced by William James in 1890, but it was soundly rejected by scientists who uniformly believed the brain is rigidly mapped out, with certain parts of the brain controlling certain functions. If that part is dead or damaged, the function is altered or lost. Well, it appears they were wrong.   
     
           
    
    
     
       Neuroplasticity now enjoys wide acceptance as scientists are proving the brain is endlessly adaptable and dynamic.   
     
           
    
    
     
       It has the power to change its own structure, even for those with the severe neurological afflictions. People with problems like strokes, cerebral palsy, and mental illness can train other areas of their brains through repetitive mental and physical activities. It is completely life-altering.   
     
           
    
    
     
       So what does this have to do with positive thinking and with you?   
     
           
    
    
     
       It means that repetitive positive thought and positive activity can rewire your brain and strengthen brain areas that stimulate positive feelings.   
     
           
    
    
     
       Fear of failure.   
     
           
    
    
     
       Everyone fears doing something new because we don’t wait to fail. The truth is, we can do most anything if we take action, stop negative thinking, and shift our perceptions of the truth about our abilities.   
     
           
    
    
     
       Action steps: Force yourself to stop thinking about reasons you can’t do something, even if you don’t feel brave or capable. Every time a negative thought creeps in, retrain your brain to think a positive thought about your abilities instead. Then take small actions every day toward achieving your goal or desired change.  Nike’s slogan, “Just do it,” has real validity.   
     
           
    
    
     
       Over-thinking/Worrying   
     
           
    
    
     
       Have you ever found yourself trapped in obsessive over-thinking about a problem or in a state of anxiety or worry that lasts for days or even weeks? It drains your energy, affects your sleep, and spirals your mood and outlook on life. Focusing on your problem only strengthens the worry function in your brain.   
    
    
     
           
    
    
     
       Action steps: When you find yourself in that cycle of worry or compulsive thinking, remember the three R’s — rename, re-frame, and redirect. When the worry begins, mentally yell “Stop!” Rename the issue by reminding yourself that worry isn’t real. Rename it as a compulsive reaction, not reality. Re-frame your thinking by focusing on positive or distracting thoughts, even if you still feel anxious. Force yourself to think different thoughts. Redirect your actions. Go do something uplifting, fun or mentally engaging. The key is following these steps repeatedly, every time you worry obsessively, to break the pattern and rewire your brain.   
    
    
     
      
   
    
    
     
           
    
    
     
      
   
    
    
     
       Need a place to fill your mind quickly with Positive Thoughts?   
     
           
     
      
       There's a group right here with 45 pages of Positive thoughts ready and waiting for you to visit! Please join the 132 members who visit and take as many as they need and leave their favorites behind as well! There's also a section for the relapsed. Positive Affirmations made a BIG difference in my quit journey! They can help you, too!     
      
             
            
     
           
    
    
     
      
   
    
    
     
           
    
   
  

Hi EXers! This morning finds Colorado in a blizzard! *sigh* In case you've been wondering, my Aunt is out of Rehab and I've been caring for her when not working so my online time is highly hadicapped. But I think of all of you whether a Dear Old EX-Family member or a New EX Friend! Auntie is doing very well, BTW! At times I wonder if this series benefits anyone and then as I collect great articles like these - I KNOW! Knowledge is Power and folks who read these articles are bound to fortify their determination and protect their quits! So grab your favorite beverage, get comfortable, and know your enemy!

 

NICOTINE REPLACEMENT THERAPY

Nicotine Replacement Therapy Labels May Change

http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm345087.htm

Light smokers benefit from nicotine-replacement medications

http://medicalxpress.com/news/2013-04-smokers-benefit-nicotine-replacement-medications.html

Studies Question Benefits of Nicotine-Replacement Therapies

http://frenchtribune.com/teneur/1316804-studies-question-benefits-nicotine-replacement-therapies

No Smoking in Many Psych Hospitals

http://www.dailyrx.com/smoking-cessation-psychiatric-hospitals-has-improved-still-has-ways-go

SECOND HAND SMOKE

Medical study: Secondhand smoke remains unfiltered threat

http://www.10news.com/lifestyle/health/medical-study-secondhand-smoke-remains-unfiltered-threat04092013

Ad campaign warns of danger of second-hand smoke

 http://www.newstimes.com/news/article/Ad-campaign-warns-of-danger-of-second-hand-smoke-4428991.php#ixzz2QXDcDzz6

UTHealth study explores ways to reduce infant exposure to secondhand smoke

http://www.news-medical.net/news/20130411/UTHealth-study-explores-ways-to-reduce-infant-exposure-to-secondhand-smoke.aspx

SMOKING MYTHS

Busting common myths associated with smoking

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/health-fitness/health/Busting-common-myths-associated-with-smoking/articleshow/19541603.cms

SMOKING AND THE LAW

How Obama’s tobacco tax would drive down smoking rates

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/04/11/how-obamas-tobacco-tax-would-drive-down-smoking-rates/

cigarette tax

Tobacco products should have special treatment in trade deal

 http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/healthcare/293439-tobacco-products-should-have-special-treatment-in-trade-deal#ixzz2QXKJPmhh 

Follow us: @thehill on Twitter | TheHill on Facebook

SMOKING AND YOUR HEALTH

Alaskan with ruined lungs now face of CDC's anti-smoking effort

http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/20130414/alaskan-ruined-lungs-now-face-cdcs-anti-smoking-effort

Yale and AACR call on physicians to urge newly diagnosed cancer patients to quit smoking

http://www.healthcanal.com/cancers/37602-yale-and-aacr-call-on-physicians-to-urge-newly-diagnosed-cancer-patients-to-quit-smoking.html

Aches & Pains Higher in Smokers

http://www.dailyrx.com/smokers-reported-more-intense-long-term-pain

SMOKING AND YOUTH

Impact of smoking and smoking cessation on overweight and obesity

http://7thspace.com/headlines/435973/impact_of_smoking_and_smoking_cessation_on_overweight_and_obesity_scotland_wide_cross_sectional_study_on_40036_participants.html

Exercise helps teen smokers quit

http://www.health24.com/Lifestyle/Stop-smoking/News/Exercise-helps-teen-smokers-quit-20130415

SMOKING CESSATION

Total Health Approach to Quitting Smoking

http://www.dailyrx.com/smoking-cessation-program-including-physical-activity-and-health-tips-result-higher-quit-rate

Incentivized smoking cessation in the workplace could smoke habit

http://www.physbiztech.com/blog/patient-care/incentivized-smoking-cessation-programs-could-benefit-nation

Public slams tobacco industry as untrustworthy

http://medicalxpress.com/news/2013-04-slams-tobacco-industry-untrustworthy.html

SMOKELESS TOBACCO 

Smokeless tobacco presented as ‘safer’

http://thesouthern.com/news/local/smokeless-tobacco-presented-as-safer/article_5f855f8a-a4c1-11e2-9446-001a4bcf887a.html

I had every excuse in the book for both! Turns out I had COPD which literally 12 million people don't know they have! COPD is diagnosed with a simple non-invasive affordable test, no harder to take than a drunk drivers breathalyzer and you get immediate results - no anxiety ridden days of waiting! Here's some info on Spirometry that came from the Mayo Clinic:

 

If your doctor suspects you have Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), he may order a spirometry test to find out for sure. While medical tests can be scary or nerve-racking, preparing yourself and knowing what to expect can help ease your nerves, leading to early detection and better symptom management. Here are the spirometry test basics, from the Mayo Clinicyou should know if you suspect you have COPD.

Why The Test Is Performed

If you show signs of COPD, your doctor may suggest a spirometry test. In addition to diagnosing COPD, the Mayo Clinic says this test can also identify asthma, pulmonary fibrosis and other conditions that affect your breathing. You might also undergo a spirometry test to check your lung function if you’re receiving treatment.

What To Expect

While your doctor or nurse should explain the process of the test to you, it is good to know what is involved. You will be asked to keep your nostrils closed with a clip and breathe out quickly. While you breathe into a tube attached to the spirometer, the machine measures how quickly you can expel air from your lungs and how much air you can exhale after taking a deep breath.

Expect to perform this action at least three times to help get an accurate reading. This usually takes less than 15 minutes. It’s normal to feel a little dizzy or short of breath after performing the test.

 

If your doctor gives you medication on the spot to help open up your lungs, you'll be asked to wait 15 minutes before another set of measurements is taken. That way the doctor can tell if the medication makes an improvement in your lung function.

How To Prepare

Follow the doctor’s instructions regarding whether you should use oxygen or breathing medications before the test. Then, to help the spirometry test go as smoothly as possible, wear loose, comfortable clothing to your appointment. It's also helpful to avoid eating a big meal before visiting the doctor so it’s easier for you to breathe.

If you even think this might be a possibility, it's better to know than to not know! Get tested! Early diagnosis makes a world  of difference in Quality and Quantity of LIFE! I was diagnosed Stage II and can still work full time because I immediately quit smoking and got medical treatment! Since then, 3 years ago, my breathing capacity has not lost any ground! THAT is what's possible! 

Thomas3.20.2010

REFOCUS made easy

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Apr 2, 2013

A good exercise is 5,4,3,2,1

Take a long deep slow breath,

- name 5 things you see that are blue,

- name 4 things that you hear,

- name 3 things you feel (touch),

- name 2 things you taste,

- name 1 thing you smell.

Breathe deeply once more.

Move on!

Good Morning, All! Happy Easter Monday (and April Fool's Day)! Today we're having very springlike rain and warmer weather. I'm so grateful to all of you who sent messages of Easter Joy throughout Holy Week! I was occupied at my job and with my Family - all had a Blessed time! 

Now, it's time for KNOW YOUR ENEMY. If you are new, here are articles from current news items that I use to fortify my Quit and yours and  to encourage those who haven't quit - think about doing so TODAY! May you all gain some knowledge that gives you the Power to overcome Nicotine Addictin for LIFE!

 

SMOKING AROUND THE WORLD

Latin America butting out

http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/westview/Latin-America-butting-out-200740751.html

SMOKING AND THE LAW

New York City marks 10th anniversary of smoking ban

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-03-27/features/sns-rt-us-usa-smoking-newyorkbre92q1ak-20130327_1_bloomberg-smoking-ban-smoke-free-air-act

SMOKING AND YOUR HEALTH

Stop Smoking And Lose Weight: Survey Reveals Key To Happy Relationship Is Keeping Healthy 

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/03/26/stop-smoking-lose-weight-for-happy-relationship_n_2954463.html?utm_hp_ref=uk

Smoking right after waking up raises cancer risk

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/science/Smoking-right-after-waking-up-raises-cancer-risk/articleshow/19315970.cms

Quit Talk Around Mental Health

http://www.dailyrx.com/smoking-cessation-counseling-more-likely-given-patients-without-mental-health-condition

SMOKING AND TEENS

Raise cigarette prices to snuff teen smoking

http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2013/03/28/cigarette-tax-teen-smoking-editorials-debates/2029505/

Genetic Factors Linked to Smoking Addiction in Teens

http://www.forbes.com/sites/robertglatter/2013/03/29/genetic-factors-linked-to-smoking-addiction-in-teens/

Charlie Stebbings: Why I launched a youth anti-tobacco charity

http://www.london24.com/news/health/charlie_stebbings_why_i_launched_a_youth_anti_tobacco_charity_1_1998137

SECOND HAND SMOKE

Dartmouth device measures secondhand smoke

http://www.unionleader.com/article/20130401/NEWS02/130409997

Secondhand smoke in pregnancy tied to behaviour issues in kids

http://zeenews.india.com/news/health/health-news/secondhand-smoke-in-pregnancy-tied-to-behaviour-issues-in-kids_21217.html

CDC Releases Second Round of Anti-Smoking PSAs Targeting Secondhand Smoke

 http://www.medicaldaily.com/articles/14438/20130328/cdc-quit-tobacco-anti-second-smoking-psas.htm#BGxMd8JhPfWFbACJ.99 

SMOKING AND YOUR DOCTOR

Patient resistance, ill-preparedness send most doc cessation attempts up in smoke

http://www.physbiztech.com/news/patient-resistance-lack-preparedness-send-most-doc-cessation-attempts-smoke