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2014
Thomas3.20.2010

It's a Pleasure!

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Sep 30, 2014

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  ReClaim your Brain! Reclaim your Pleasure!
   
  The natural function of the reward circuit is to provide a reward and associated pleasurable feelings in response to life sustaining functions, such as eating, sex, exercise and laughter to encourage repetition of that function. The reward circuit functions through the use of neurotransmitters, mainly dopamine. Nicotine use  stimulates this same response, in many cases to a greater degree than the natural response causing a spike in dopamine levels. It  can block dopamine receptors in the reward circuit. After being released, if the receptors are blocked, dopamine has nowhere to go and it remains in the synapse where it was originally released causing a build up of dopamine. The use of Nicotine to influence the reward circuit can lead a user to bypass survival activities and repeat use, because it is being rewarded over other activities such as eating.
   
   A "negative state" of dopamine level can be produced, since the natural level has been elevated, causing a need for Nicotine by the user to restore normalcy. Changes that take place in the brain also affect behavior. Circuits are altered in the brain change the way the neurons in the system work. Dopamine's production, how its message is received, and how it is inactivated are all affected. 
   
   If this is true, how do people overcome their own brains to recover from addiction? Could it be that the brain changes back to its normal state in turn allowing the addict to recover or could it be the addict forcing his brain to change back to its normal state, causing recovery?
   
  You have to recapture your Brain and relearn natural pleasure! That takes a lot of self talk and retraining! Mindfulness allows you to see the simple pleasures of the senses in a whole new light.
  Gratitude helps readjust your thinking about natural pleasures that occur in your life every day (but you couldn't see them because of Addiction Hijacking!)
   
  Meditation helps you to recapture your reward circuit.
   
  Eating, sex, exercise and laughter  stimulate your dopamine production in a healthy way! 
   
  You literally relearn Pleasure the way that our Creator intends for us to EXperience it!
   
  It's a GOD Given Pleasure!
Thomas3.20.2010

Join the Party!

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Sep 29, 2014

Do you have 10 days, 3 days, or even one day quit? 

Please join us on the FREEDOM TRAIN! 

You're invited! We're having a Party celebrating our Smoke FREE Days! And it's for YOU!

Just hop on and tell us how many days you've quit and accept the accolades of your Fellow Community Members!

A Great Source of Dopamine! Have FUN! Quitting is for FUN and Happiness! Smoking is boring!

https://excommunity.becomeanex.org/blogs/smorgy8513-blog/2014/09/29/freedom-train-monday

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  Every smoker and ex-smoker knows that nicotine is the major culprit of the smoking addiction. In addition, they may even know that cigarette manufacturers use ammonia  to free-base nicotine in order to boost it's addictive hook up to 35 times. Yet, scarce is the man or woman who understands how nicotine functions like a dopamine imposter, raising levels of this "feel good" chemical in the body artificially.
   
  Nicotine also acts as an enabler, widening capillaries, allowing for the rush of the 4,000 plus chemicals in a commercial cigarette to penetrate cells and foster anxiety, nervousness, and sickness. Dopamine can also raise levels of awareness and general pleasure, but the problem is that as dopamine levels increase from the use of cigarettes, natural chemical reactions in the body like dopamine and serotonin decrease  their natural production. When a smoker tries to quit cold turkey, they experience days, weeks, and sometimes months of depression and anxiety, mainly because their dopamine production levels cannot recover quickly enough. Ever hear of people getting very "cranky" after they quit? The central nervous system is so accustomed to being nurtured with nicotine, it's almost like a border-line diabetic's body, which barely produces insulin because it's so accustomed to a high sugar diet.
  Replenish with a natural supplement which boosts dopamine levels and ends the cravings
  Put simply, nicotine damages dopamine production for smokers, so to supplement the production of dopamine is the ultimate way to help a smoker quit, and quit for good. Even though the smoking habit is also a behavior addiction, the "feel good" drug aspect is stronger and is the driving force for smokers to return to the habit when something stressful comes along, unless they know how to supplement.
   
  
   The highly under-estimated issue for smokers is that commercial tobacco is "free-based" with ammonia and has been for about 50 years. Marlboro got busted in the 1990's and admitted to it, and then paid off Blue Cross and Blue Shield over 4 billion dollars to "let it rest," basically so they could keep doing it. Then all the other major brands learned the news of the "hook trick" and starting doing it as well. Ammonia cooked with tobacco makes the nicotine up to 35 times as strong. The function of ammonia in commercial cigarette manufacturing is to turn the nicotine into a vapor ready form by converting bound molecules into free molecules. If you are smoking commercial cigarettes, you're getting up to 100mg of potency in one cigarette. This alone wrecks the body's ability to properly regulate dopamine and serotonin levels, balancing the entire process on three fulcrums: the potency of the brand being smoked, how many cigarettes are smoked per day, and when the cigarettes are being smoked. This is why so many smokers grab a cigarette and light it up before or after something stressful, or a situation which requires energy and motivation. 
  
   Visualize the war that's going on inside a smoker's brain: Nicotine versus Dopamine. Natural fight or flight reactions are now becoming nervous disorders. Organic feelings and emotions about life in general become exaggerated problems which seem insurmountable at times. After long term use of high-potency cigarettes (about 15 to 20 years), a person can permanently cripple the dopamine system, and ruin the ability to feel pleasure at all without first smoking a cigarette. 
  
     
  
   Understanding and addressing the chemistry of it all is the cure. Dopamine functions in your brain to help you deal with stress, anxiety, and relaxation, and should occur naturally, instead of being chemically induced. This is what cigarette manufacturers realized 50 years ago and this is the hook which keeps smokers addicted and pulls them "back in" when they quit. 
  
     
  
   The brain neurotransmitter dopamine activates the metabolism helping the body establish a healthy weight. Additionally, dopamine helps the brain generate sufficient energy to run the body. It stimulates the heart, regulates the flow of information through our brains, controls movement, and allows humans to experience feelings of passion and pleasure, according to the Health News Standwebsite. Dopamine production is boosted by the consumption of certain foods, especially those containing the amino acid tyrosine. Eating these special foods adds to our ability to respond optimally to our lives both physically and emotionally. All foods eaten should ideally be organic to avoid the effects of pesticides, chemicals and genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. 
  
     
  
   
     Proteins 
   
       
   
    Protein are high in amino acids, which are necessary for dopamine production. Include foods such as fish, eggs, chicken, turkey and red meat to supply your body with adequate amino acids. Fermented soy products such as tempeh and miso and other legumes are considered incomplete proteins; however, form complete proteins when eaten in combination with grains, becoming excellent sources for dopamine-related amino acids.  
   
       
   
       
   
     Vegetables 
   
       
   
    Certain vegetables in particular are excellent sources of amino acids that stimulate dopamine production. For example, beets supply the amino acid called betaine, that aids in the regulation neurotransmitters like dopamine. Artichokes and avocados have also been found to increase dopamine levels.  
   
       
   
     Fruits 
   
       
   
    Ripe bananas are a major source of tyrosine, explains MedHelp.com; and as they continue to ripen and become sweeter, their tyrosine component becomes more potent. Tyrosine helps regulate and stimulate dopamine levels, increasing memory and alertness. Apples are recommended for being high in quercetin, a potent antioxidant, according to MedHelp.com, and shown to aid in the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases by triggering the production of dopamine in the brain. Remember to eat strawberries, blueberries and prunes to round out the best fruits supplying nutrients that trigger dopamine release.  
   
       
   
       
   
     Nuts and Seeds 
   
       
   
    Raw almonds, sesame and pumpkin seeds make a great snack and help regulate dopamine levels. Almond butter or tahini, a paste made from sesame seeds, are excellent sources for the amino acids needed for dopamine production.  
   
       
   
    
      Wheat Germ  
    
         
    
     Wheat germ supplies the essential amino acid phenylalanine, that's converted to tyrosine, which then stimulates additional dopamine release. Do not use wheat germ if you are gluten intolerant or allergic to wheat.   
    
         
    
         
    
      Herbs  
    
         
    
     Several common herbs are known for helping to regulate dopamine levels. These include nettles fenugreek, ginseng, milk thistle, red clover, and peppermint. They are best consumed as herbal teas.   
    
         
    
      Supplements  
    
         
    
     Adding supplements to your diet to increase dopamine levels may be helpful if you're unable to get those nutrients from foods. Tyrosine, plus several vitamins such as B, C and E as well as iron, folic acid and niacin all help to trigger dopamine release. Check with your health care practitioner before including additional iron in your diet.   
    
         
    
         
    
         
    
      EXercise regularly  
    
         
    
     Exercise increases blood calcium, which stimulates dopamine production and uptake in your brain. Try 30 to 60 minutes of walking, swimming or jogging to jump-start your dopamine levels.   
    
     It also ups your endorphins. A genuine laugh or a stretch gets your endorphins going, which is similar to a dopamine high. Except for if you were actually on an endorphin high it'd be seriously dangerous -- it's a pain inhibitor.   
    
         
    
     
       Practice Mindfulness   
     
           
     
      Mindfulness has been described as “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgementally.” The objective is to help individuals learn, at times, to become aware of thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations rather than trying to modify them or acting on them.  This suggests that mindfulness  might not only decrease relapse in depression and addiction but also prevent the onset of the first episode of depression in susceptible people.     
     
           
     
      Another reason mindfulness is helpful in terms of recovery is that it yields The Now Effect, that “aha” moment of clarity where we enter into a choice point, a moment where we access possibilities and opportunities we didn’t know were there before. This is crucial when it comes to our addictive behaviors to take a step back, “think through that just one smoke” and recognize the various options that lie before us. We can learn to step into the pause, notice the sensation of the urge that’s there and as the late Alan Marlatt, PhD says, “Surf the Urge” as it peaks, crests and falls back down like a wave in the ocean.    
     
      Just because our brains have been altered by addiction, doesn’t mean we’re destined to fall into the same habits. With the right skills, community and support we can learn how to break out of routine and into a life worth living.    
     
           
     
           
     
       Get plenty of sleep   
     
           
     
      One of the best ways to feel energized and ready to tackle the day is to get plenty of sleep. Dopamine has been tied to feelings of wakefulness, so in order to get that wakeful feeling, get 7 to 8 hour of sleep a night.    
     
      Or...don't get any. If you're actually looking to up your dopamine levels as opposed  to feeling good, dopamine levels skyrocket with sleep deprivation. You'll feel fatigued, groggy, and irritable, but your dopamine levels will be through the roof.     
     
           
     
       Reach a new goal   
     
           
     
      Dopamine is all about pleasure; it's one hedonistic brain chemical, that's for sure. Luckily, all you have to do is train your brain. Whether it's important to you to get to work on time or finally get that PhD, reaching a new goal will put your pleasure centers into party mode.     
     
           
     
      It doesn't have to be big. Start thinking of your little daily activities as goals. Did you make it through the morning without checking Facebook?! FANTASTIC. Reward time, because that goal has been achieved! Keep in mind that celebrations of our little goals – per week, month, 50 day increments or simply FREEDOM Train and Bonfire Parties all serve a very important purpose! We all need to find natural ways to replace natural dopamine and serotonin in our systems when we quit smoking!    
    
   
  

NRTs were studied and approved by the FDA as temporary aids to help people quit smoking.  “Though we know it occurs, the products were not approved for long term use. Data are inadequate comparing the safety of long term use of NRT versus not smoking.”

If you wish to use NRTs, please do so with a Doctor’s supervision – even OTC products! And please follow the instructions and guidelines provided with the product!  Nicotine is a poisonous volatile alkaloid, derived from tobacco and responsible for many of the effects of tobacco. It first stimulates (small doses) and depresses (large doses) at autonomic ganglia and myoneural junctions. It is also used as an insecticide and fumigant.

 (source: Black's Medical Dictionary, thirty-fourth edition)

 

Recent research has shown in fine detail how nicotine acts on the brain to produce a number of behavioral effects. Of primary importance to its addictive nature are findings that nicotine activates the brain circuitry that regulates feelings of pleasure, the so-called reward pathways. A key brain chemical involved in mediating the desire to consume drugs is the neurotransmitter dopamine, and research has shown that nicotine increases the levels of dopamine in the reward circuits. Nicotine's pharmacokinetic properties have been found also to enhance its abuse potential.

 

·         Nicotine gum – Nicotine gum is an over-the-counter product that you can buy at your local pharmacy. A piece of nicotine gum is chewed briefly, allowed to rest in the mouth, then chewed again. This process enables nicotine to be absorbed into the body through the mouth lining. Nicotine gum is used for two to three months, up to a maximum of six months.

·         Nicotine lozenges – Nicotine lozenges come in the form of hard candy and release nicotine into the system as they dissolve in the mouth. Each lozenge lasts for about a half hour and can be used as needed for up to twelve weeks.

·         Nicotine patch – The nicotine patch is a medication applied to your skin each day. It delivers nicotine through the skin into your body. Some brands of the nicotine patch are available over-the-counter, while others require a prescription from your doctor. The nicotine patch is available in 16-hour and 24-hour doses, and is used for two to three months.

·         Nicotine nasal spray – Nicotine nasal spray is a prescription medication that you spray into your nostrils every couple of hours. Nicotine nasal spray is used for three months, up to a maximum of six months, and gradually tapered off.

·         Nicotine inhaler – The nicotine inhaler is a prescription medication that you hold to your mouth and inhale to combat cravings. The inhaler is used for three months, up to a maximum of six months. It is recommended that people use at least 6 cartridges per day in the first three to six weeks, then taper off as cravings become less severe or less frequent.

If you have already passed the 3 day mark of when Nicotine is removed from your System, please do not reintroduce Nicotine back into your System via NRTs! Remember the Law of Addiction:

"Administration of a drug to an addict will cause re-establishment of chemical dependence upon the addictive substance."

You will have many challenges to your quit decision by your Addictive Mind. That is the process of withdrawal, both physical and psychological. The latter is the much more difficult to overcome! You can halt the psychological addiction only with the Power of your own Mind! NRTs can do nothing to help you with that process! They are designed to alleviate the physical withdrawal in order to give you more time to tackle the psychological withdrawal not to do it for you! Only YOU can reclaim your Brain!

Thomas3.20.2010

Watch This!

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Sep 26, 2014

THE SEDUCTION OF SMOKING, reported by Peter Taylor and presented by Kerry O'Brien, goes to air on Monday 29th and Tuesday 30th September at 8.30pm on ABC. Part One will be repeated on ABC TV at 11.00am on Tuesday 30th September, Part Two will be repeated on ABC TV at 11.35pm on Tuesday 30th September. The program can also be seen on ABC iview until 14th October.

Thomas3.20.2010

Be Prepared!

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Sep 26, 2014

Growing up in Kansas, we basically had 2 options 4-H and/or Boy Scouts. I picked Boy Scouts. There was something about collecting all those badges and getting my Mom to sew them onto my uniform! Well, if you know anything about Boy Scouts then you’ve probably heard of their slogan “Be Prepared!”

To this day that’s how I am! At work they call me Inspector Gadget! Need a flashlight, pair of scissors, bandaid, needle and thread? Ask Thomas! He has them all in his backpack! Coworkers often ask why I bring so much stuff with me and my answer, “I always come prepared!”

Although this may be an annoying habit of mine, there’s one place where it came in handy – my Quit Journey! I didn’t just jump off a cliff from smoking to nonsmoking! OH NO! Thomas had to be prepared!

I was diagnosed with COPD March 14 and gave myself until Spring Day, March 20 to quit cold turkey. Only 6 days because I knew that waiting too long would make my interest and motivation fall off! Going Cold Turkey that same day would set myself up for failure! I wasn’t prepared! But I was determined to become prepared!

That same day I was diagnosed I enrolled in BecomeanEX! I also prepared to quit by noting triggers, practicing delay for each smoke, investigating ways to distract myself through the craves, buying healthy snacks and drinks like cranberry juice, making lists of what I might like about becoming an EX as well as what I presumed were smoking advantages, reading about Nicotine Addiction, and even telling Family and Friends that I was quitting smoking! I was one busy person!

When Quit Day came I had read whyquit.com/Day 1 and knew what to expect. I drank gallons of water and bottles of cranberry juice. I ate 6 small healthy meals a day and gave myself lots of time to rest and sleep whenever I could. I threw out all of my smoking paraphernalia – ashtrays, lighters, anything that reminded me of smoking – even my old coffee cup I used to drink my first cup with my first sickerette of the day! I cleaned out my car, stayed away from my old smoking areas, avoided gas stations, even skipped my breaks at work!

I apologized to my Wife for any grumpiness I might have in the week to come. I told my smoking Friends that I wouldn’t be around for awhile until I was sure of my Quit. I told all of my Friends and Family what I thought would be most helpful for me  - some it was, “don’t ask!” others it was “don’t scold!”

Every day I came to BecomeanEX and read through all of the Blogs. I didn’t write a whole lot but I lurked – and listened! You see, I had never read or written a Blog before! I had no idea what it would be like!

As my Doctor’s appointments came up (I had just been diagnosed with lung infection and COPD) I talked to my Health Care Professionals about my Quit Journey and how it would affect my Body and Mind. I asked about how medications might be changed and what to expect in the future. Most of the responses had a sort of vague skeptical  reassurance about them even though I knew that this was it! I had touched my last sickerette! I guess Doctors are used to being disappointed by smokers’ promises to quit….

Anyway to make a long story short, I took each day minute by minute, counted my blessings and stayed disciplined and focused! 4 ½ Years later, I know it was all worth it! My only regret is that I didn’t quit sooner! But life is what it is and I’ve learned to live it by Life’s terms – one day at a time knowing that I’m Exactly where I need to be!

Somehow I imagine that I will always Be Prepared!

You can take the Boy Scout out of Kansas but you can never take the Man out of Boy Scouts!

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Thomas3.20.2010

Anxiety

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Sep 25, 2014

As you approach your Quit Date you may experience an increase in anxiety. Even after you quit in the first weeks you may feel some anxiety about your ability to maintain your quit. This may give you the impression that smoking alleviates stress and anxiety.

BUT a 2013 Study by Oxford Unversity took a very close look at just this issue and they discovered that Smoking Cessation relieves stress and anxiety!

"The belief that smoking is stress relieving is pervasive, but certainly wrong. The reverse is true: smoking is anxiogenic (causes anxiety) and smokers deserve to know this and understand how their own experience may be misleading." the researchers wrote.

Successful quitters showed a drop in anxiety. The decrease in anxiety was particularly noticeable among the ex-smokers who used to smoke "to cope", compared to those who used to smoke "for pleasure".

 In summary, stopping smoking reduces anxiety and the effect is larger in those who have a psychiatric disorder and who smoke to cope with stress. A failed quit attempt may well increase anxiety to a modest degree, but perhaps to a clinically relevant degree in people with a psychiatric disorder and those who report smoking to cope.

Smoking causes stress and anxiety!

Quitting alleviates stress and anxiety!

If you suffer from a mood disorder, please don't give up! In the long run you will gain relief from your symptoms!

Thomas3.20.2010

Decisions

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Sep 24, 2014

Every day we experience 60,0000 thoughts. Some are positive, some neutral observations  and others aren’t helpful at all. They play in the back of our mind virtually all the time because that’s what thoughts do!

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But thoughts are not in Command of us! They’re there churning away 24/7. Have you ever had a thought and then immediately rejected it as silly, dangerous, or in some other way not helpful? Of course, you have! We all do!

But there’s another part of our brain – the Executive Control. This area is where we make decisions. The Executive Control receives all the information collected by thoughts and determines what actions will be taken.

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All of this goes on without our awareness, of course thousands of times a day. But we can become aware!

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We can pay attention to what we’re thinking and learn how to make decisions based not only on thoughts and feelings but upon Values and our vision for ourselves!

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Imagine these events as clouds floating across the sky.

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Sometimes they may be small and bright

And at other times they may be big and dark.

At times they fly high up into the sky

And at other times they pass very low.

Sometimes there are just a few clouds in the sky

And at other times they almost cover the complete sky.

See if you can follow these sensations from the moment they appear

In the mind until they have passed away.

Now let your attention rest on whatever arises and becomes most predominant in this moment.

It might be your breath, a sound, a thought, a feeling or a physical sensation in the body.

Practicing awareness will give you more conscious control over which thoughts you choose to listen to and which decisions you wish to make right now.

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Because you don’t ignore the negative thoughts you aren’t in denial. You simply choose to focus on the positive and make decisions from that information. Thoughts of all kinds still happen but they no longer are compelled to create narratives and feelings which generate actions that aren’t helpful.

Then you have the space to seek out, hook into, and act on positive thoughts, feelings, and goals Positive affirmations really stick rather than staring back at you in a condemning way, “Why don’t you believe me?” Letting go of Addictive Thoughts becomes easier and requires less effort.

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Right here, right now you can pay attention to your thoughts and decide what you wish to listen to. It’s like picking up your TV remote and choosing the channel! You decide to watch the helpful BecomeanEX channel instead of the “I’m so deprived!” whiny channel!

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Thomas3.20.2010

Cravings

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Sep 21, 2014

Cravings are merely uncomfortable - not intolerable and they pass on in about 3 minutes. So when you get a craving, ask yourself, "What can I do for the next 3 minutes ?" Smoking is definitely not on that list!

Not so easy - but very doable!

Thomas3.20.2010

8,212,500 Steps Later

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Sep 20, 2014

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I’ve been on this Quit Journey Exactly 4 ½ Years today! The average American takes about 5000 steps a day so I’ve taken some 8 Million plus steps in these 1645 days. We do so without even thinking. With each step we let go of the place we were and trusting the mechanics we’ve learned over a lifetime accept that the ground we land on will be safe. Generally we do this with little or no awareness of the complexity of what we just carried out!

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Our quit journey is a journey of thousands of miles! It starts with a willingness to consider the possibility of Smoke FREE Living. We have to let go, let go, let go of what we have come to believe is our identity – a Smoker! It’s not usually the physical withdrawal that gets us – it’s the psychological withdrawal. The willingness to allow that smoke cloud to lift and to see who is really lingering underneath!

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The lack of self-acceptance is a problem for many of us. This subtle defect is difficult to identify and often goes unrecognized. Many of us believed that smoking was our only problem, denying the fact that we often smoked to hide our perceived imperfections. We live in a Society that tells us that where we’re at is never good enough! We must strive to better ourselves somehow when in fact,

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Even after we stop smoking, denial can continue to plague us. Many of the problems we experience in ongoing recovery stem from an inability to accept ourselves on a deep level. We may not even realize that this discomfort is the source of our problem, because it is often manifested in other ways.  We may find ourselves becoming irritable or judgmental, discontent, depressed, or confused. We may hide these feelings behind the thought that “I’m being deprived of my Best Friend!” Accepting our feelings we can see more clearly where we are and even glimpse where we’re going!

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When we accept our true selves, we recognize thoughts as simply that – thoughts. They don’t rule our awareness! Now, we know that thinking isn’t the only state for humans and not even the highest state. Thinking loses it’s predominant place in our lives and actually becomes more effective! Feelings no longer become exaggerated in importance! They’re not ignored but they’re not bigger than LIFE either!

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Today, the first step toward self-acceptance is acceptance of our addiction. We must accept our disease and all the troubles that it brings us before we can accept ourselves as God’s Children. When we understand the nature of Nicotine Addiction we let go of blaming ourselves and begin the process of reclaiming our Brains!

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We identify the Executive Control of our Brains as separate and apart from our Addicted Brain. We take control! Decisions are no longer made based on Addiction but upon our Values! Self Awareness leads to Self Acceptance leads to Self Determination!

Step by step by step…..

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Thomas3.20.2010

Grammar in the Blogs!

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Sep 19, 2014

We don’t give a gosh darn dang how you write your Blog, Folks!

Write in slang (just no cuss words, PLEASE!)

Run-on sentences are just fine.

Fragments and incomplete sentences

Misspelled words – so what?!

CAPITOLS! If that’s how you feel!

If you’re tech savvy, you can change your font ( I’m not!) I barely know what font is!

JUST WRITE! Often,,,even several times a day if that tickles your fancy!

This ain’t no English Class – for crying out loud!

We’re here for one reason only – to learn together to Quit Smoking!

As long as that’s yur sincerely bottom line goal – we want you to share as much as you find useful to your Quit Journey and/or Ours!

No judgement here! WRITE!

Thomas3.20.2010

OUCH!

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Sep 19, 2014

I just had a tooth extraction and I can't tell you how glad I am that I'm no longer a smoker!

I don't have to worry about no smoking for "at least 4 - 7 days. If you can't, try to hold it to an absolute minimum."

OR ELSE! Dry socket!

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Dry socket is an infection that you get way down in your jaw bone because - "Well, I just couldn't help myself!"

Then Your dentist will clean the tooth socket, removing any debris from the hole, and then fill the socket with a medicated dressing or a special paste to promote healing. You'll probably have to come back to the dentist's office every day for a dressing change until the socket starts to heal and your pain lessens. 

Money, money, money! And if you're like me, going to the dentist is stressful. What did I do when I was stressed? SMOKE! 

Viscious Cycle!

Take good care of you! Life Smoke FREE is so much less Worry Free!

PS: If this doesn't make sense, blame it on the Vicodin!

These are some of the Gifts that come to mind as I CELEBRATE my QUIT:

(1) I feel more SELF-CONFIDENT because I made a choice to change my self-destructive behavior and followed through.

(2) I feel more HONEST because I am not evading truthfulness about the consequences in order to support my Smoking Addiction.

(3) I feel more SELF-RESPECT because I made a decision to QUIT SMOKING and honored that decision.

(4) I feel more SECURE because I no longer have that constant battle "I want to smoke"vs"I don't want to smoke."

(5) I feel more OPTIMISTIC because I no longer attack stress with another cigarette, I attack it with a constructive plan of action.

(6) I feel more SPIRITUAL because when I called upon my higher power for assistance I felt his/her response.

(7) I feel more DECISIVE because I saw how I can set a goal and accomplish it one day at a time each and every day.

(8) I feel more SELF-AWARE because I sense days or situations of weakness and have a winning back up plan to protect my QUIT.

(9) I feel more INTEGRATED because when my body said "I need...." my mind and spirit responded affirmatively.

(10) I feel more JOY as I experience COLLATERAL KINDNESS and CELEBRATE each and every daily VICTORY over my Smoking Addiction with my BecomeanEx friends!  THANK YOU for CELEBRATING with me!!!!!!

Thomas3.20.2010

Just One!

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Sep 17, 2014

Even brief exposure to tobacco smoke causes immediate harm to the body, damaging cells and inflaming tissue in ways that can lead to serious illness and death, according to the U.S. Surgeon General's report on tobacco, released in December 2010.

 Every exposure to tobacco, from occasional smoking or secondhand smoke, can damage DNA in ways that lead to cancer.

PLUS!

“Low levels of smoke exposure, including exposures to secondhand tobacco smoke, lead to a rapid and sharp increase in dysfunction and inflammation of the lining of the blood vessels, which are implicated in heart attacks and stroke,” said the report. “The chemicals in tobacco smoke reach your lungs quickly every time you inhale. Your blood then carries the toxicants to every organ in your body.”

Studies can now measure the immediate changes in our bodies as we smoke a single cigarette, from a rise in blood pressure to a change in the gases in our blood stream.

Here's what happens when we smoke a cigarette:

      
  • Although we may feel more relaxed as we smoke, our blood pressure and heart rate both increase, the heart pumps differently, and the blood flow to the capillaries decreases.
  •   
  • Blood carbon monoxide levels increase. "Carbon monoxide takes the place of oxygen in some of your red blood cells, and it sticks on to the red cells for days, preventing oxygen from being carried by these cells.”
  •   
  • Other changes happen in our airways: the little finger-like cilia which keep airways clear of phlegm are 'stunned' by chemicals in the smoke and tiny muscles in our airways contract, constricting them.
  •   
  • There are also measurable changes in the immune system.

These and other changes have a cumulative effect and over time they can eventually lead to cancer (including cancer of the lung, pancreas, esophagus, and bladder) as well as non-cancerous, but potentially lethal, conditions such as heart and vascular disease and lung diseases like emphysema.

And it's not just cancer and the health of your heart and lungs that you have to worry about.

A recent review of several studies found that light smoking was connected to a host of other illnesses: cataracts, reduced fertility, an increased risk of an ectopic pregnancy (where the pregnancy develops outside the uterus) and weak bones.

 

"Tobacco smoke damages almost every organ in your body," says Surgeon General Regina Benjamin. In someone with underlying heart disease, she says, "One cigarette can cause a heart attack."

 

While the report focuses on the medical effects of smoke on the body, it also sheds light on why cigarettes are so addictive: They are designed to deliver nicotine more quickly and more efficiently than cigarettes did decades ago.

 

Recent changes in the design and ingredients in cigarettes have made them more likely to hook first-time users and keep older smokers coming back, Benjamin says. Changes include:

•Ammonia added to tobacco, which converts nicotine into a form that gets to the brain faster.

•Filter holes that allow people to inhale smoke more deeply into the lungs.

 •Sugar and "moisture enhancers" to reduce the burning sensation of smoking, making it more pleasant, especially for new cigarette users.

"This is the first report that demonstrates that the industry has consciously redesigned tobacco products in ways that make them even more attractive to young people," says Matthew Myers of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

As ex-smokers are fond of saying, cigarettes travel in packs.   Research shows that upwards of 90% of ex-smokers who smoke one cigarette after quitting can't stop there and end up in a full-blown smoking relapse.

The only way to keep the beast at bay is to keep all Nicotine out of your system. If you decide to go ahead and smoke just one, chances are you'll be back to smoking as much as you used to again soon.

 

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You don't have to! In fact, it probably won't work over the long run!

Yes, the first 2 or 3 weeks it takes all you have to get through that next day, hour, even minute but after that you have to learn to LET GO of the Addictive Voice in your head and keep your FOCUS on the things you Value in your New Normal! 

YOU create this New Normal and it can be anything you wish it to be! But clinging to your smoker's past will be of no help at all! LET GO!

Become means change and that's just what you have to do! You have to learn to live without Nicotine no matter what is going on in your Life!

The more you embrace the New YOU the less you will fight with urges and cravings, memories and habits! 

YOU Become an EX for LIFE!

One of two things happens following relapse. Either the user will think they have gotten away with using and, as a result, with the passage of time a "false sense of confidence" will have them using again, or they'll quickly find themselves back using nicotine at their old level of daily intake, or higher.

 

Although it sounds strange, as Joel notes, the lucky ones are those who quickly find themselves once again fully hooked.

 

Why? Because this group stands a far better chance of associating that first puff, dip or chew of nicotine with full and complete relapse. Instead of learning the Law of Addiction from some book such as this, they stand a chance of self-discovering the law through experience and the school of hard-knocks. 

 

It's a lesson that's become increasingly difficult to self-discover since 1984, when the FDA approved the first of a now vast array of nicotine replacement products (NRT), the nicotine gum. 

 

Today, the lesson that just one hit of nicotine spells relapse gets muddied and buried by promotion and marketing associated with ineffective nicotine weaning schemes. Those standing to profit from the sale of NRT have re-labeled a natural poison medicine. They teach that instead of ending nicotine's use that you need to replace it, and describe doing so as "therapy." 

 

Its why teaching and sharing the "Law of Addiction" with those still in bondage is the most important gift we can give. Pre-NRT generations enjoyed clean mental chalkboards upon which to record prior relapse experiences. Today the chalkboards of millions are so filled with conflicting messages that identifying truth has become nearly impossible. 

 

This generation needs us. They need our insights.

No Legitimate Justification for Relapse

 

Over the years we've heard nearly every relapse justification imaginable. Some relate extremely horrific and brutal life situations and then put their back against the wall as if daring you to tell them that their nicotine use and relapse wasn't justified.

 

Guess what? Again, there's absolutely no legitimate justification for relapse. None, zilch! 

 

As Joel puts it, we understand why the person failed. They "violated the Law of Addiction, used nicotine and are paying the mandatory penalty - relapse. We also know that any excuse that the person is attempting to give for having re-awakened an active chemical dependency is total nonsense. There is no justification for relapse."

 

Don't expect any serious support group or competent nicotine dependency recovery counselor to allow relapse excuses to stand unchallenged. They can't, as silence is a teacher too. Here, a deadly one. 

 

It's "like someone standing on a ledge of a building," writes Joel. "Do you want the people standing on the ground giving the person on the ledge reasons not to jump, or after listening to all the woes in the individual's life saying, 'Gosh, I understand what you are saying? ?’ 'I feel that way too.' 'I guess if I were in your shoes I would jump too.' 'Don't feel guilty, though, we understand.'" 

 

"I don't want this statement to be read like a mockery of those attempting to offer help," says Joel. "I am trying to illustrate an important point. Obviously, if the person on the ledge jumps he or she will die. But understand, that if a person relapses and doesn't quit, he or she is likely to face the same fate, just time delayed."

"Yes, if you saw a person on a ledge you would try to use empathy to coax him or her back. 

But, empathy would be in the form of explaining that you understand his or her plight but totally disapprove of his or her current tactic for dealing with it. There are better ways to resolve these problems than committing suicide." 

 

"You may understand the feelings the person had. You may have even felt them at some point yourself. But you don't give into the feeling," writes Joel. We are nicotine addicts: real, live honest to goodness drug addicts. If we were all heroin addicts sticking needles into our arms, when one of us relapsed and started again injecting heroin into their veins, would the rest of us pat them on the back and tell them that "it's ok"?

 

Would we tell them "don't worry about it," "it's just a little slip, nothing big" "you just keep slipping and we'll just keep hugging you each time you come back." "Hey, we all slip everyone in a while; it's just part of life," that "it's no big deal"?

 

No big deal? Surrendering control of life to an external chemical is a big, big deal. The smoker waiting for the sky to fall while committing slow motion suicide is massive. 

 

Continuing Use Rationalizations

While the relapsed addict may feel that their reason for relapse was sufficient, it will not be sufficient to explain the fact that they find themselves still using. They now need a new rationalization to explain why their relapse justification has passed, yet they haven't stopped using.

 

"I'm just too weak to stop."

This excuse dismisses or ignores having been successful up to the point of relapse. 

Obviously, they were not too weak then. 

This user would benefit by focusing upon and breathing renewed life into freedom's neglected dreams and desires. 

 

During their next recovery they need to master putting and keeping those dreams in the driver's seat of their mind, especially during challenge. They'd be wise to review the crave coping techniques shared in Chapter 11 and prepare for battle by arming themselves with additional coping skills. They need to appreciate that the growing pride they felt before they relapsed can take root anew in just a few hours, as they navigate withdrawal again, just one challenge at a time. 

 

"Well, at least I tried."

As Joel notes, chalking the attempt up to "experience" will mean absolutely nothing unless the user "objectively evaluates what caused his relapses." "Instead of recognizing his past attempts as failures, he rationalizes a positive feeling of accomplishment about them.

 

 This type of rationalization all but assures failures in all future attempts." He needs to understand that claimed use justifications never cause relapse. Administering another dose of nicotine is what causes relapse, not the circumstances surrounding it.

"I know I will stop again."

This addict justifies continued use today by promising to navigate withdrawal in the future. But what if their now shattered dreams and desires never again become sufficient to motivate them to stop? What if there just isn't time? What if continuing use causes the fats and plaque building and gathering within an artery delivering oxygen to their brain to become fully blocked before arrival of the courage to again say "no." 

 

Once sufficiently re-motivated, why should they expect a different result if they still have little or no understanding as to why the last relapse occurred? 

If their motivations are sufficient now and they understand why they relapsed, what are they waiting for? 

They are likely waiting because they've invented some new silly drug use rationalization as to why now just isn't the right time. 

 

"I've tried everything to stop and nothing works."

Joel tells the story of a clinic participant named Barbara. She "told me that she had once attended another clinic and liked it more than ours. I asked her how long she had stopped after that program and she said, 'Oh, I didn't stop at all.'"

 

"I then asked her how many of the other people succeeded. She replied, 'I don't know if anybody stopped.' I then asked, if nobody stopped then why did she like the program more?

She answered, 'When I completed the program, I didn't feel bad about smoking!'"

 

I often hear, "I've already tried cold turkey plenty of times!" What this person doesn't yet appreciate is that education is a recovery method. In contrast to uneducated abrupt nicotine cessation it's like turning on the lights. Products and procedures clearly can fail to produce as advertised. But it's a little hard to blame knowledge and understanding when our actions are contrary to them.

 

 Like any tool, knowledge cannot take credit for being used, or blame for being ignored. Unlike products, this book can never claim credit for having endured a single challenge for any reader. Credit for their ongoing victory will always be 100 percent theirs. Likewise, responsibility for allowing nicotine back into their bloodstream and brain is totally theirs too. 

 

"Maybe I'm different."

"Maybe I can't quit."

It isn't that this person is different. In fact, they're the same as us. Relapse after relapse, with at least a dozen serious failed attempts of my own, I eventually came to believe that it was impossible for me to stop. 

 

After one last failed attempt in early 1999, I surrendered to the fact that I was a drug addict, hopeless and would die an addict's death. What I didn't then realize was that each of those battles was fought in ignorance and darkness. I was swinging blindly at an unseen opponent. What I didn't realize was that I'd never once brought my greatest weapon to the battlefield, my intelligence. 

 

I'd made recovery vastly more challenging than need be. I skipped meals, added hunger anxieties, mind fog, experienced caffeine doubling associated with at least a pot of coffee daily, and leaned heavily upon others for support. 

 

Insanely, more than once I celebrated and rewarded myself with just one cigarette after three days, once the early anxieties began easing off a bit. I knew nothing of the body's ability to rid itself of nicotine within 72 hours. And having inter-spaced cold turkey with at least four NRT attempts, I was totally lost. Was nicotine medicine or was it what was keeping me hooked? 

 

How could I possibly self discover the Law of Addiction via one puff and relapse when now being taught that nicotine was medicine? Was I weaker than the hundreds of millions who had successfully stopped? Was I different? 

 

Certainly not with respect to what happens once nicotine enters the brain. As Joel notes, it Is impossible to locate any person who relapsed who didn't introduce nicotine back into their bloodstream.

More Excuses Coming

As far as relapse excuses are concerned, life will provide an abundant supply for anyone looking for them. We will have friends or loved ones who will get sick, diseased and die. Dying is a normal part of life. If the death of someone close to us is an acceptable reason for relapse then the freedom and healing of nearly a billion now comfortable ex-users is at risk. 

 

Expect imperfect humans to do the unthinkable. We change, disagree, sometimes break promises, argue, and start and end relationships. Expect financial distress as food, medicine, fuel and living costs continue to rise. The loss of a job or inability to work may be an injury, disease or pink slip away.

Floods, droughts, fires, tornadoes, earthquakes and hurricanes will happen. People die, vehicles collide, sports teams lose, and terrorists attack and wars will be waged, won and lost. 

 

Life promises loads of excuses to relapse. But freedom's promise is absolute. It is impossible to relapse so long as all nicotine remains on the outside. We each have a 100 percent guarantee of staying free today so long as no nicotine gets inside. 

 

Harm Reduction

What if we do relapse? What then? Hopefully, relapse will instill a deep and profound respect for the power of one hit of nicotine to again take the mind's priorities teacher hostage. 

 

Hopefully, belief in the Law of Addiction will thereafter forever remain beyond question. 

 

Hopefully, we'll immediately work toward reviving and strengthening our dreams and soon start home again. But if not, what then?

And what if our relapse was to the dirtiest, most destructive and deadliest form of nicotine delivery ever devised the cigarette? 

 

We're told it accounts for 20% of all deaths in developed nations. According to the World 

Health Organization, smoking is expected to claim more than one billion nicotine addicts by the end of the 21st century.

 

Respected nicotine toxicologist Heinz Ginzel, MD writes, "burning tobacco ... generates more than 150 billion tar particles per cubic inch, constituting the visible portion of cigarette smoke. But this visible portion amounts to little more than 5 to 8 percent of what a lit cigarette discharges and what you inhale during puffing. The remaining 90% of the total output from a burning cigarette is in gaseous form and cannot be seen.

 

Many health officials wish they could immediately transfer all smokers to less destructive forms of nicotine delivery. And some are now strongly advocating it. 

"If NRT were ever able to replace smoking, which is highly unlikely," writes Dr. Ginzel, "morbidity and mortality caused by nicotine itself would manifest over time and replace that of cigarette smoking. It would probably be lower for the adult, but nicotine exposure during fetal development and infancy could have alarming consequences for affected populations." 

 

How many fewer deaths would occur? We don't really know. Although most harm reduction advocates are extremely optimistic and expect massive reductions, their suppositions ignore the fact that most smokers have already logged years of tobacco toxin and carcinogen exposure. 

How does their continuing use of the super-toxin nicotine factor into the damage already done? 

What are the long-term risks associated oral tobacco, electronic cigarettes, and replacement nicotine in long-term ex-smokers? It may take decades before science can untangle relative risks and draw reasonably reliable conclusions. 

 

As for any traditional combustion-type cigarette claiming to be less harmful than other burning cigarette, don't buy it. Inhaling gases and particles from a burning mini toxic waste dump is inherently dangerous and extremely destructive. 

 

A recent study examined the effects of smoke from three brands claiming harm reduction upon normal embryonic stem cell development. It found that smoke from these so-called harm-reduction cigarettes inhibited normal cell development as much "or more" than traditional brands.

 

Some public health advocates are alarmed that harm reduction campaigns may actually backfire, keeping millions who would have successfully arrested their chemical dependency hooked and cycling back and forth between cigarettes and other forms of nicotine delivery. 

 

They are also concerned that harm reduction campaigns tossing about terms such as "safe," "safer," or "safety" may actually entice ex-smokers to relapse.

 

I hold in my hand sample packets containing two 2mg pieces of "Fresh Fruit" and "Ice 

Mint" Nicorette gum with tooth whiteners. I was told that these sample packs were being sold at self-service checkout counter displays in Canadian beer stores for one penny.

 

How many ex-smokers will be tempted to give it a try while drinking alcohol? How many will relapse? How much of this sample gum will end up in the hands of youth?

The second sentence on the back of each Canadian sample pack tells smokers that Nicorette gum isn't just for stopping smoking. "Nicorette gum can also be used in cases in which you temporarily refrain from smoking, for example in smoke-free areas or in other situations which you wish to avoid smoking." 

 

Imagine pharmaceutical companies dove-tailing their marketing with that of tobacco companies in order to make continued smoking easier or more convenient. Have you ever wondered why you have never once heard any pharmaceutical industry stop smoking product commercial suggest that, "Smoking causes lung cancer, emphysema and circulatory disease, that you need to buy and use our product because smoking can kill you"? 

 

You haven't and likely never will. But why?

 As hard as this may be to believe, the pharmaceutical and tobacco industries have operated under a nicotine marketing partnership agreement since about 1984. The once secret documents evidencing the agreement are many, and suggest that neither side may directly attack the other side's products.

 

The primary purpose of their partnership is to ensure the purchase and use of each side's dopamine pathway stimulation products. They want you to pay them to satisfy your dependency's wanting. This book's purpose is to aid you in arresting it. 

 

Back to harm reduction where both sides in the debate appear to be overstating their case. 

Some opposed to harm reduction have argued that the risks associated with a smoker transferring to oral tobacco is like getting hit by a small car instead of a large truck, like shooting yourself in the foot instead of the head, or like jumping from a three-story building rather than one ten stories tall. 

Lacking accurate relative risk data themselves, the harm reductionist counters by asserting that, "Based on the available literature on mortality from falls, we estimate that smoking presents a mortality risk similar to a fall of about 4 stories, while mortality risk from smokeless tobacco is no worse than that from an almost certainly non-fatal fall from less than 2 stories."

 

"We estimate"? It's disturbing to see us stoop to educated-guessing when it comes to life or death.

It is also disturbing that no serious harm reduction advocate has yet been willing to provide an accurate accounting of known and suspected harms associated with chronic nicotine use. They know that the amount of nicotine needed to kill a human is 166 times smaller than the amount of caffeine needed to do so (40-60 milligrams versus 10 grams). Yet, in order to sell smokers on "safer" delivery many have resorted to falsely portraying nicotine as being as harmless as caffeine.

 

Harm reduction advocates have also done little to quiet concerns about the impact of marketing upon youth, messages already bombarding them with a wide array of tempting flavors being portrayed as vastly safer than smoking. 

 

They seem unconcerned by an increasing number of adolescent nicotine harm studies showing nicotine's horrific toll on the developing adolescent brain.

 

Let me give just one example among many. Ever wonder why those who started using nicotine as children or early teens tend to have greater difficulty learning through listening?

 

Research shows that adolescent nicotine disrupts normal development of auditory brain fibers. This damage may interfere with the ability of these fibers to pass sound, resulting in greater noise and diminished sound processing efficiency.

Harm reduction advocates not only ignore the harms inflicted by nicotine, they ignore nicotine's greatest cost of all, living every hour of your life as an actively feeding drug addict. They must, otherwise they couldn't sell it. They focus on dying not living. Some have resorted to accusing cessation educators and counselors unwilling to incorporate harm reduction lessons into their recovery programs as having a "stop or die" mentality. 

 

It is as if they have no appreciation for the fact that bargaining is a normal phase of recovery, and there may be no more inviting bargain for a drug addict than one which invites them to keep their drug.

It's why it pains me to include this harm reduction section here at the tail end of this book.

I worry that some new struggling ex-user reading this book, who would have succeeded if this section had not been included, will instead seize upon the words that follow as license to relapse.

 

But the alternative, the potential for relapse and then smoking yourself to death because relative risk had never been discussed or explained, is totally unacceptable. 

Still, as Dr. Ginzel notes, it would be nice if we knew the actual relative risks in contrasting oral tobacco to NRT but we don't. What is the relative risk when comparing cigarettes to oral tobacco or to electronic cigarettes or replacement nicotine?

 

We know that cigarettes currently contribute to nearly five million deaths this year, and that cigarettes release more than 4,000 chemicals while oral tobacco releases 2,550 chemicals. We also know that 81 potential cancer-causing chemicals have been identified in cigarette smoke versus 28 in oral tobacco.

The only as yet known harmful agent in both the new electronic or e-cigarettes (which uses an atomizer to create a nicotine mist) and replacement nicotine (NRT) is nicotine, and trace amounts of tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNA's), which should be correctable via quality control.

 

Still, additional research is needed as we have little long-term data for pure nicotine, as nearly every user has years of cigarette or oral tobacco exposure, which makes it nearly impossible to determine direct and proximate cause.

 

Clearly, smokers face serious risk of many different types of cancers, a host of breathing disorders including emphysema, and serious circulatory disease as carbon monoxide combines with nicotine to destroy vessel walls and facilitate plaque buildup. 

 

Smoking's risks and roughly 50% adult kill rate are well known. What wasn't being studied until recently were the health concerns being expressed by long-term NRT users. Although we still don't know whether or not NRT user health concerns are in fact directly related to chronic nicotine use, online complaints among those who have used nicotine gum for one year or longer include: 

 

Addiction with intense gum cravings, anxiety, irritability, dizziness, headaches, nervousness, hiccups, ringing in the ears, chronic depression, headaches, heart burn, elevated blood pressure, a rapid or irregular heartbeat, sleep disruption, tiredness, a lack of motivation, a heavy feeling, recessed, bleeding and diseased gums, diminished sense of taste, tooth enamel damage, tooth loss, jaw-joint pain and damage (TMJ), canker sores with white patches on the tongue or mouth, bad breath, dry mouth, sore or irritated throat, difficulty swallowing, swollen glands, bronchitis, stomach problems and pain, gastritis, severe bloating, belching, achy muscles and joints, pins and needles in arms and hands, uncontrollable foul smelling gas that lingers, a lack of energy, loss of sex drive, acid reflux, stomach ulcers, fecal impaction from dehydration, scalp tingling, hair loss, acne, facial reddening, chronic skin rashes and concerns about immune system suppression.

 

While smoking's harms are clearly vastly greater and far more life threatening than nicotine's, how do we weigh and balance pure nicotine's ongoing use harms against smoking's? 

 

How many millions of additional air sacs would these lungs have today if I'd permanently transferred my dependency to nicotine gum the first time I used it in 1985 or 86? 

 

If my goal had been long-term gum use instead of 8 to 12 weeks during cessation, would I have been more willing to accept gum's slower, less precise and less controllable delivery?

 

If I'd permanently transferred my dependency to cleaner delivery in 1986, would I be able to run for more than a few hundred feet today? Would I have more teeth?

 

If I had allowed myself to become hooked on the cure, as an estimated 37% of U.S. nicotine gum users were as of 2003,451 would I have had the motivation to eventually break free from all nicotine, as I did on May 15, 1999 when I stopped smoking? 

 

Would I have created WhyQuit two months later in July? Would I have met Joel in January 2000? Would this book have been written?

 

I don't know. Maybe, Maybe not. Hopefully you understand a bit better my reluctance to suggest that if you relapse to smoking nicotine, that if a non-pregnant adult, that you consider attempting to adapt to a cleaner form of nicotine delivery.

There, I've done it. But my dream isn't about seeing you develop the patience to allow yourself time to adapt to and remain slave to a cleaner less destructive form of delivery.

 

It's that you develop the "one day at a time" patience needed to go the distance and allow yourself to sample and taste the freedom and healing beyond. 

 

Once free, I pray you never forget the most important lesson of all. As Joel says, the true measure of nicotine's power isn't in how hard it is to stop, but in how easy it is to relapse.

 

Thousands of words but still just one guiding principle determining the outcome for all ... 

no nicotine today! Yes we can!

 

Breathe deep, hug hard, and live long,

Thomas3.20.2010

The Power of Choice!

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Sep 15, 2014

We didn't get addicted with the first cigarette that we smoked so which one was it? The 100th, the 237th? Who knows - at some point we crossed the line and forfeited our right to choose to smoke or not to smoke - it became an addict's necessity.

That's why the quit has everything to do with reclaiming my choice. Did I choose to smoke that last cigarette or was I compelled to feed my addiction? Obviously, I had NO CHOICE AT ALL! I DID make a choice on March 20th that I would not smoke that day NO MATTER WHAT! On march 21st I made an equally binding choice. Today, the 1640th day of my quit I chose N.O.P.E.(Not One Puff Ever) and N.E.F. (Never Ever Forget)

By recognizing my choice about smoking or living FREE - Nicotine Addiction FREE, I honor the POWER of CHOICE. I have made other important choices, too, such as changing careers, nutrition and exercise. I have a saying that if you think you don't have a choice - well then, YOU DON'T! Making that life changing choice to live Smoke FREE helped me see those other choices that benefit my Health and Happiness because I learned something fundamental from my quit journey!Namely, I have the Right and the Responsibility to CHOOSE MY ATTITUDE, to choose my words, even my thoughts and feelings, and especially my ACTIONS!!!

I've heard folks argue that "This is me!" when they carry on with negative attitude and behavior. "I am respecting who I am." Well, I say, I have a choice to make. I can honor who I was yesterday and yet CHOOSE to feel better about myself, the world, and life in general TODAY!!! If I was disgruntled and resentful or depressed and pessimistic yesterday - fine, that was me yesterday! But it doesn't have to continue to be me TODAY! I DO have a choice!

I choose to LIVE LIFE ABUNDANTLY! I choose to see all the beauty and ugliness but to FOCUS on the Beauty! I choose to feel sad, angry, lonely, happy, playful, fascination, etc... but embrace the Happy! I choose to spend my energy on folks who wish to see me flourish and grow and accept my wish that they do the same. I choose to be constructive not destructive when I deal with challenges. I choose to count my blessings not dwell on my losses. I have that CHOICE because I am FREE - FREE of my Addiction - FREE to be ME - the ME that I believe my Creator expects me to be - THRIVING, GROWING, JOYOUS, APPRECIATIVE of this Gift of Life!

  

So with this 16398th cigarette not smoked I CHOOSE TODAY to Pledge N.O.P.E. and N.E.F. and I will RESPECT myself enough to HONOR that decision NO MATTER WHAT! I CHOOSE to PROTECT my ability to CHOOSE! I hope you do the same!

  

UH OH! Time for another Not-Cig! 

  

HA!!! I LOVE MY CHOICE!

  

16398 and counting.....

   
   
Thomas3.20.2010

Trapped!

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Sep 13, 2014

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Do you ever feel like a robot who without free will obeys his Addiction?

One summer day, shortly after having quit smoking, I walked into a convenience store to buy some gum. When I got to the counter and faced the cashier, with absolutely no awareness at all, I said,

“Marlboro Red 100s hard pack!”

BUT then I caught myself! It was as if I were in a trance robotically spilling out those all familiar words in that all familiar setting!

“No! Cancel that! I don’t smoke anymore! I’ll just take the gum,” I told the clerk. He looked at me like I was possessed! And in a way, he was right!

My brain had been possessed by Addiction! But I also was breaking FREE!

So what exactly is awareness and how do you acquire it?

First, you have to BE ALERT! I had to hear what it was I was saying and catch myself in the act! I had to break through the hypnotic spell – the automatic pilot of my brain! I had to recognize that I was about to purchase my drug of choice with the intention of using it!

Second, you have to SHIFT YOUR FOCUS! I was here at this place for the gum and that’s all!

And finally, you have to let the EXECUTIVE CONTROL of your brain make the decisions. That’s the highest part of your brain that has actually processed the information and come to the conclusion that buying gum and not buying sickerettes was in my best interests! I was actively inhibiting task-irrelevance, i.e. buying sickerettes was not the task at hand, buying gum was.

All of these elements are built into trigger awareness training. They are built into the Daily Pledge. They are built into blog reading. They are built into group activity.

Everywhere you look throughout this program Awareness is emphasized and Executive Control is taught.

If you want to be Addiction FREE then BecomeanEX can show you how! But you have the executive decision to stay trapped in a robot or to break FREE! 

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Go, sit upon the lofty hill,
And turn your eyes around,
Where waving woods and waters wild
Do hymn an autumn sound.
The summer sun is faint on them —
The summer flowers depart —
Sit still — as all transform’d to stone,
Except your musing heart.

How there you sat in summer-time,
May yet be in your mind;
And how you heard the green woods sing
Beneath the freshening wind.
Though the same wind now blows around,
You would its blast recall;
For every breath that stirs the trees,
Doth cause a leaf to fall.

Oh! like that wind, is all the mirth
That flesh and dust impart:
We cannot bear its visitings,
When change is on the heart.
Gay words and jests may make us smile,
When Sorrow is asleep;
But other things must make us smile,
When Sorrow bids us weep!

The dearest hands that clasp our hands, —

Their presence may be o’er;
The dearest voice that meets our ear,
That tone may come no more!
Youth fades; and then, the joys of youth,
Which once refresh’d our mind,
Shall come — as, on those sighing woods,
The chilling autumn wind.

Hear not the wind — view not the woods;
Look out o’er vale and hill —
In spring, the sky encircled them —
The sky is round them still.
Come autumn’s scathe — come winter’s cold —
Come change — and human fate!
Whatever prospect Heaven doth bound,
Can ne’er be desolate.

Thomas3.20.2010

Discover Quititude!

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Sep 12, 2014

Quitting smoking is simple! I didn’t say easy!

Actually there’s only one “law!”

It’s called the Law of Addiction and every person who wants to be FREE of sickerettes needs to know it!

 

The Law of Addiction 

"Administration of a drug to an addict will cause

re-establishment of chemical dependence

upon the addictive substance."



This makes smoking cessation different from dieting or breaking bad habits. Coming out of the gate, we Nicotine Addicts must live and breathe N.O.P.E. – Not One Puff Ever! There are no other ways of doing this – period!

Here at becomeanEX we have many tools that will help you achieve this high standard. You can take the daily pledge, blog out your frustrations or blog HELP!, share with your EX friends, ride the FREEDOM Train, learn about the stages of quitting, find tools for your quitsmoking tool box, address your stressors that contributed to your smoking addiction, just to name a few ways.

When you READ, you can use a combination of knowledge and thought management to assist you in applying the Law of Addiction and N.O.P.E. When you change your LANGUAGE about smoking, you change your perspective and your thoughts making smoking cessation – maybe not “easy” but easi-er.

We’re here 24/7 to help you so signing up is just the beginning but participation can make the difference between SUCCESS and RELAPSE! Be here every day in the beginning of your quit journey. Take Dale Jonescarp's 130 day challenge.

https://excommunity.becomeanex.org/people/jonescarp.aka.dale.jan_2007

Use becomeanEX and you will be amazed!

It’s all in your QUITITUDE!

I know I am! I wasn't expecting it but it's true! Smoking Cessation made me much happier about who I am!

Tell me your happiness results.....

Which of the following poisons is the most deadly?   

1.    Arsenic                    

2.    Strychnine

3.    Nicotine                            

If you guessed # 3, you are correct. The lethal dosage for a 150 pound adult is 60 mg. The lethal dosage for # 2 is 75 mg and the lethal dosage for # 1 is 200 mg. In other words, nicotine is three times as toxic as arsenic and one and one half times as toxic as strychnine.

 (source: Poisoning/Toxicology, Third Edition, Jay M. Arena, B.S., M.D.)

Nicotine - a poisonous volatile alkaloid, derived from tobacco and responsible for many of the effects of tobacco. It first stimulates (small doses) and depresses (large doses) at autonomic ganglia and myoneural junctions. It is also used as an insecticide and fumigant.

 (source: Black's Medical Dictionary, thirty-fourth edition)

Recent research has shown in fine detail how nicotine acts on the brain to produce a number of behavioral effects. Of primary importance to its addictive nature are findings that nicotine activates the brain circuitry that regulates feelings of pleasure, the so-called reward pathways. A key brain chemical involved in mediating the desire to consume drugs is the neurotransmitter dopamine, and research has shown that nicotine increases the levels of dopamine in the reward circuits. Nicotine's pharmacokinetic properties have been found also to enhance its abuse potential.

Nicotine - one of the most toxic and addicting of all drugs and it is toxic by all routes of exposure including the intact skin. ....also used as a contact insecticidal.

 Lewis' Dictionary of Toxicology

 Overdose can occur if a person uses too many nicotine patches or chews too much nicotine gum or chewing tobacco, as well as smoking. It can also occur through direct contact with e-cigarette liquids sold in large quantities for refills.

Poison centers are reporting a recent uptick in calls about exposures to e-cigarette devices and liquid nicotine.

Slightly more than half of these reported exposures have occurred in young children under the age of six. However, this is consistent with National Poison Data System exposures to all substances combined.  Some children and toddlers who come in contact with e-cigarette devices or liquid nicotine have become very ill; some even requiring ER visits with nausea and vomiting being the most significant symptoms. 

219% INCREASE

2013 vs. 2012 E-cigarette Devices and Liquid Nicotine Reported Exposures

 

As nicotine can be absorbed into the bloodstream easily through the skin, if an extremely high concentration of nicotine is spilt on the skin, this can lead to toxicity and death.

Nicotine has not yet been clearly identified as a cancer causing agent and is not yet officially listed as a carcinogen. However, Nicotine activates MAP kinases, increases adrenergic signalling in bowel cancer and disrupts apoptosis or programmed cell death. This cell death actually clears the body of cells that have been damaged or have undergone mutations.

Although there is no solid evidence supporting that nicotine is a carcinogen, the carcinogenic potential of the substance has been demonstrated in various animal and cell culture studies over the last ten years.

Impairment of apoptosis means damaged and altered cells remain, creating a pathway for cancers to develop. Nicotine has also been shown to promote angiogensis or the formation of new blood vessels which can help a tumour to survive and grow.

 

Nicotine has strong mood altering effects and can act on the brain as both a stimulant and a relaxant.

Effects

Once within the bloodstream, nicotine may circulate around the body until it reaches the brain. This can occur in as little as 7 seconds.

Once in the brain, it binds to and activates receptors called the cholinergic receptors. These cholinergic receptors are also abundant in other areas of the body such as the muscles, heart, adrenal glands and other vital organs. Normally, these receptors are activated when they bind to a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine which is produced at nerve endings in the brain and in the nerves of the peripheral nervous system. Stimulation of the receptors by acetylcholine is important in maintaining healthy respiration, heart function and muscle movement, as well as cognitive function.

Since nicotine has a similar structure to acetylcholine, it can activate the cholinergic receptors. However, unlike acetylcholine, nicotine enters the brain and disrupts its normal functioning. Regular use of cigarettes leads to an increase in the number of cholinergic receptors and changes in the sensitivity of these receptors which may lead to nicotine tolerance. A smoker then needs to maintain a regular supply of nicotine to maintain normal brain function and the habit becomes addictive.

Nicotine also stimulates the release of several neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine,epinephrine, vasopressin, dopamine, arginine and beta-endorphin. Pain, anxiety and other negative symptoms are relieved and positive pleasant sensations are increased.

Nicotine intake also increases blood glucose levels, which is generally thought to be the result of the increased adrenalin levels that occur with nicotine intake stimulating the liver to release glucose. The increased availability of glucose along with adrenalin is thought to be responsible for the increased learning ability, memory and alertness that has been associated with smoking.

An increase in the rise of blood glucose also reduces appetite, which raises metabolic rate and eventually causes weight loss in the long term.

Nicotine stimulates the reward centres in the brain, providing pleasure and euphoria when taken. On binding to receptors present in the brain, nicotine causes release of the neurotransmitter dopamine, amongst others, a chemical involved in reward sensations

With continued use, nicotine leads to a decrease in the release of dopamine at a dose the body is used to. There is also a down regulation or decreased production of other stimulatory neurotransmitters in the brain.

Furthermore, the number and sensitivity of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in the brain significantly reduces. To compensate, the brain increases production of a number of receptors for important neurotransmitters. Therefore, the reward pathways of the brain become more sensitive, with an increased number of receptors. This increases a smoker's craving to smoke and leads to addiction.

Stopping smoking or intake of nicotine may lead to unpleasant symptoms called withdrawal symptoms. Some of the withdrawal symptoms of nicotine include:

·         Nicotine cravings

·         Irritability, frustration, anger and mood swings

·         Depression and anxiety

·         Weight gain

The International Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCS) notes that: “Nicotine is one of the most toxic of all poisons and has a rapid onset of action. Apart from local caustic actions, the target organs are the peripheral and central nervous systems.”

Thomas3.20.2010

Join the Crowd!

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Sep 10, 2014

Many of us started smoking in order to join the crowd. Now we can use that thought process to our advantage! 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/govbeat/wp/2014/09/08/watch-the-u-s-quit-smoking-over-40-years/

Join the Crowd! Become an EX!

Thomas3.20.2010

Bart becomes an EXer!

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Sep 10, 2014

image

Will you join him? 

You have a decision to make here:

Listen to the Voices in your head

OR create a new Voice that says N.O.P.E.!

My Name is Thomas and I have 16346 Smoke FREE Days!

YOU CAN, TOO!

Good Afternoon Fellow EXers and Becomers!

You are about to embark on an incredible personal journey of transformation from Addiction to Freedom! Not all of it is “easy” but all of it is worthwhile and beneficial not only physically but on every level!

Just thinking about quitting may make you anxious. But your chances will be better if you get ready first. Quitting works best when you’re prepared. Before you quit, START by taking these five important steps:

S=Set a Quit Date.

TODAY is a Great Date to begin your Life of FREEDOM!

T=Tell Family, Friends, and Coworkers that you plan to Quit.

Quitting smoking is easier with the support of others. Be sure to tell them exactly how they can be supportive! The more support you get, the better. But even a little can help. And don’t be timid about setting clear boundaries around your smoking friends’ relationships!

https://excommunity.becomeanex.org/blogs/Thomas3.20.2010-blog/2014/06/29/successful-quitters-stay-away-from-smokers

A=Anticipate and plan for the challenges you’ll face while quitting.

Most people who go back to smoking do it within four months. It helps to know when you desire a cigarette most. Take Dale Jonescarp”s 130 Day challenge and visit his page:

What To Expect The First 4 Months

https://excommunity.becomeanex.org/blogs/jonescarp.aka.dale.Jan_2007-blog/2011/06/26/what-to-expect-in-the-first-four-months

No Mans Land (Study From Thomas Precedes)

https://excommunity.becomeanex.org/blogs/Thomas3.20.2010-blog/2012/08/27/knowledge-is-power-know-your-enemy

https://excommunity.becomeanex.org/blogs/jonescarp.aka.dale.Jan_2007-blog/2011/05/24/no-mans-land-days-30-to130-approximate

and, the two sets of seasons building new memories without smoking to strengthen your quit

https://excommunity.becomeanex.org/blogs/jonescarp.aka.dale.Jan_2007-blog/2013/12/05/the-two-sets-of-seasons

 

You should expect feelings of withdrawal. Understanding how withdrawal works helps you cope with it and get through those critical 4 Months. Withdrawal is the discomfort of giving up nicotine. It is your body’s way of telling you it’s learning to be smoke-free. These feelings will go away in time.

 

https://excommunity.becomeanex.org/blogs/Thomas3.20.2010-blog/2014/06/13/what-is-normal-withdrawal

http://whyquit.com/whyquit/a_symptoms.html

 

R=Remove cigarettes, paraphernalia, and other nicotine products such as e-cigarettes from your home, car, and work.

Getting rid of things that remind you of smoking will also help you get ready to quit. Try these ideas:

      
  • Make things clean and fresh at work, in your car, and at home. Clean your drapes and clothes. Shampoo your car. Buy yourself flowers. You will enjoy their scent as your sense of smell returns.
  •   
  • Throw away all your cigarettes and matches. Give or throw away your lighters and ashtrays. Remember the ashtray and lighter in your car!
  •   
  • Have your dentist clean your teeth to get rid of smoking stains. See how great they look. Try to keep them that way.
  •   
  • Some smokers save one pack of cigarettes. They do it “just in case.” Or they want to prove they have the willpower not to smoke. Don’t! Saving one pack just makes it easier to start smoking again.

Don’t use other forms of tobacco instead of cigarettes

Light or low-tar cigarettes are just as harmful as regular cigarettes. Smokeless tobacco, cigars, pipes, e-cigarettes and herbal cigarettes also harm your health. For example, bidi cigarettes are just as bad as regular cigarettes. Clove cigarettes are even worse. They have more tar, nicotine, and deadly gases. All nicotine products have harmful chemicals and poisons.

T=Talk to your Health Team (Doctor, Counselor, Massage Therapist, etc.) about your plans to Quit Smoking and ask for their help.

They may have suggestions that can help alleviate the withdrawal symptoms you may experience. If you have problems quitting “smart turkey” they can suggest alternatives.

https://excommunity.becomeanex.org/blogs/SkyGirl-blog/2013/07/20/a-smart-turkey

There are many, many SUCCESSFUL Quitters here at becomeanEX! They have what you want and they will show you how to get there! 

Thomas3.20.2010

LIVING WELL!

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Sep 9, 2014

My Aunt has diabetes. She used to say, “So what? We all die of something! I’ll eat whatever I want! I’m going to enjoy Life while I’m living!”

In theory that sounds like a great outlook on Life!

Then she had a debilitating stroke! As strokes go, she was lucky! The stroke messed up one side of her body but didn’t affect her mind – too much! She has a little dementia yet she’s still able to do most things she was accustomed to.

That was her wake up call!

NOW she eats properly, exercises, takes her meds, and follows all of her Doctor’s orders! She recently told me, “Thomas, I wish I could go back and do this again! I would have listened to the Doctor! I thought about death but I didn’t realize that self care is about Living Well!”

How many of us are reading this right now with sickerette in hand and thinking, “Death doesn’t budge me?”

Well, this isn’t about death! We all will die anyway! It’s about Living Well!

Would you like to wake up tomorrow crippled with dementia like my Aunt?

How about a nice permanent heart condition that limits your ability to come and go and leaves a ticking time bomb in your chest?

 You might want to check out JoJo’s page if you’re curious about what Stage IV COPD and lung transplant is like when you’re still raising your children!

https://excommunity.becomeanex.org/people/jojo29

Not all of us are fortunate enough to die from smoking related illness quickly! In fact, while Addiction sucks the daily living out of our lives, it kills slooooooowly! That costs a lot of dough!

Look around you! ONE HALF of all smokers will have a smoking related illness. I’m not much of a gambler but I don’t like those odds!

Suppose you want to play the odds and believe that you won’t get sick…

Do you love your sickerettes more than your family, more than your time, more than your money, more than your SELF?

I didn’t quit  in order to not die! I quit in order to LIVE WELL!

Thomas3.20.2010

N.O.P.E.!

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Sep 8, 2014

NOT

ONE

PUFF

EVER!

But what if some tragedy strikes my Family?

N.O.P.E.!

But what if I’m diagnosed terminal?

N.O.P.E.!

But what if I lost my job?
N.O.P.E.!

But what if my house is foreclosed on?

N.O.P.E.!

But what if my kid winds up in jail?

N.O.P.E.!

NO Excuses! There is absolutely no situation that you can dream up in which smoking a sickerette will make it better – NONE!

Smoking is never the answer!

Make the 100% Commitment and those voices in your head will simply give up!

They know you intimately because they are coming from a part of YOU!

When you make it crystal clear to yourself that you’re smoke FREE for LIFE there’s nothing left in your Addictive Mind’s arsenal!

YOU have the Power to DECIDE and to take action!

image

image

Even when you WIN, you LOSE!

Kick those thoughts to the curb and get on with Living - Smoke FREE!

Smoking is never the correct answer to your problems!

N.O.P.E.!

  Smoking Cigarettes Affects Brain Like Heroin
   
  Heroin, Morphine, Nicotine Affect 'Feel-Good' Brain Chemicals in Similar Way
   
  Just like heroin and morphine, smoking cigarettes triggers the release of addictive "feel-good" brain chemicals. The finding helps researchers understand why smokers have such a tough time quitting despite all the health dangers.
   
  Smoking cigarettes stimulates the brain's production of chemicals called opioids. The opioids are known to play a role in soothing pain, increasing positive emotions, and creating a sense of reward. Both morphine and heroin trigger this same chemical flow.
   
  Smoking cigarettes affects the flow of another feel-good brain chemical called dopamine. Researchers are now investigating the interaction between the two chemicals in the brains of smokers and nonsmokers.
   
  "It appears that smokers have an altered opioid flow all the time, when compared with non-smokers, and that smoking a cigarette further alters that flow by 20 to 30 percent in regions of the brain important to emotions and craving," says lead researcher David J. Scott, a graduate student in neuroscience at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
   
  Learn more about brain changes due to addiction at:    http://www.hbo.com/addiction
   
  
   A SPECT scan is a map of brain metabolism. It shows how well the blood is flowing through arteries and veins in the brain. This is important because the brain must have oxygen and glucose to function (oxygen and glucose are carried to the brain through  blood). SPECT scans come as surface scans or in 3-D. Either way, a SPECT shows which parts of the brain are working hard and which parts are not working hard enough. 
  
     
  
   Surface scans, like those below showing the impacts of alcohol | drug abuse, give visual “proof” of these impacts. The areas that appear to be holes in a SPECT show areas of low metabolic activity, low blood flow. They are not areas of lost brain matter, which is the good news. The brain can heal — these holes can be filled in with proper treatment. 
  
   
     ACDuringAbuseTop   AC1YrFreeLaterTop   ACDuringAbuseBottom   AC1YrFreeBottom 
   
       
   
     Top-down Surface SPECT During Abuse  
   
     Top-down Surface SPECT 1 Year After Abuse  
   
     Bottom-up Surface SPECT During Abuse  
   
     Bottom-up Surface SPECT 1 Yr. After Abuse  
   
       
   
       
   
       
   
    Why might this visual evidence help?  
   
       
   
    SPECT is helpful because each area of the brain is responsible for different brain (and therefore different body and behavioral) activities. A term to describe this is Functional Neuroanatomy which are descriptions of the various functions that occur in A SPECT scan are a map of brain metabolism.   
   
       
   
    So what can we do about it? We often speak of Retraining your Brain and here is a Video that tells us the most effective ways to do that:  
   
       
   
    2012 Roundtable at Stanford - Gray Matters: Brain Science in the 21st Century  
   
       
       
       
   
    I'd like to point out the following comments:  
   
       
   
    *There are approximately 100 trillion synaptic connections (which is how brain cells – neurons – communicate) in the brain and the goal is to maintain those connections or gain them back.  
   
       
   
    
     *We form new synaptic connections every hour – what determines if they persist is if they’re being used.   
    
         
    
     *Meditation, prayer, mindfulness activities are good ways to heal the brain because they shut down the stress circuitry – allow you to focus on the bigger world, relax and not get hooked into worry – to see the world differently; this is important to creating new memories, as well.   
    
         
    
     *Stress strips synapses in the hippocampus so reducing stress is critical.   
    
         
    
     *Nutrition, such as a healthy, Mediterranean-type diet, is important for brain health.   
    
         
    
     *Sleep is critical to brain health – it allows the brain to codify and organize the day’s learning.   
    
     
      *Exercise boosts the levels of BDNF (an important protein growth factor); BDNF is critical for promoting plasticity, which is the ability to form new neural connections and maintain the connections we have.    
     
           
     
      *Mindfulness activities are important – they allow for free-thinking – not focused on one task, rather letting random thoughts come and go – pushes synapses.    
     
           
     
      *We need to believe in the ability of the brain to heal itself and that can be hope or faith or…    
     
           
     
      *We need to be “in” the world – not on a cell phone or texting but rather open to what all is around you in order to extend/expand synapses.    
     
           
     
      There are a lot of concrete ways that you can recover your brain. None of them is more effective than keeping those sickerettes away from your face!    
     
      N.O.P.E.!    
    
   
   
       
  
  
     

I fell into a hole - I know it well.

It even has a name - depression.

I tried not to fall - grasping hold of something, anything, that I know is important

But it all seemed so meaningless....

Finally, I landed and stopped to take a breath 

(what little I have left)

And began the slow process of climbing my way out.

Falling takes hours - climbing takes weeks, even Months.

But I'm grateful that yes, I know my way out.

When I get there, I'll let you know...

I'm not smoking - no sickerettes down here.

Chapter One:

I walk down the street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I fall in.

I am lost...I am hopeless.

It isn't my fault.

It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter Two:

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I pretend I don't see it.

I fall in again.

I can't believe I'm in the same place.

But it isn't my fault.

It still takes a long time to get out.

  

Chapter Three:

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I see it is there.

I still fall in...it's a habit.

My eyes are open.

I know where I am.

It is my fault.

I get out immediately.

  

Chapter Four:

  

I walk down the same street.

There is a hole in the sidewalk.

I walk around it.

  

Chapter Five:

I walk down another street.

  

Are you tired of climbing out of that hole yet?

   
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