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All People > Thomas3.20.2010 > Thomas3.20.2010 Blog > 2015 > January

says mother who now becomes breathless just brushing her teeth

  Kirsty Vass, 33, began smoking at 15 as she thought it was cool\

  At 31, she felt a piercing pain and doctors said her right lung had collapsed

  A year later her left lung collapsed and doctors diagnosed emphysema


  Her 20-a-day habit damaged her lungs and she now struggles to breath


  Becomes breathless walking up stairs, brushing her teeth and can't work


  Her daughter Lucy, 15, has to help with the cleaning and cooking


  Ms Vass is now campaigning to have smoking banned from public places


  'It's too late for me - but don't make the same mistake as me,' she says 

A mother who smoked 20-a-day for more than 15 years says cigarettes have ruined her life after they caused both her lungs to collapse. 


Kirsty Vass, 33, from Torbay, Devon, can now barely get dressed or brush her teeth without becoming breathless.


The mother-of-one says it feels as though she is ‘breathing through a straw’ and has been diagnosed with emphysema, a lung disease normally seen in people over 65.


She says she is heartbroken to have developed the condition so young, and believes smoking has dealt her a ‘life sentence’ – robbing her and her family of the prime years of her life.

She had to give up her job as a carer, and now has to be looked after by her 15-year-old daughter and elderly mother.


Ms Vass said: ‘I try not to think about the future, I just take it day by day and I’m glad to have woken up.


‘It’s an old people’s disease. I wasn’t supposed to get this until 65 and I’ve got it at 33.

‘My mum says she’s swap places with me, that this shouldn’t be happening to me.’

‘I just want to help people understand that smoking can do serious damage to your life.

‘If people who smoke spent one day with me they’d realise and understand and give up smoking.’

Emphysema is where the air sacs inside the lungs have become weakened and ruptured, reducing the surface area of the lungs, and the amount of oxygen that gets into the bloodstream.


This means the lungs become ineffective, leading to difficulty breathing.

The leading cause is smoking, and there is no way to reverse the damage. Treatment can stop further damage and help with the symptoms, but there is no cure.


Because of this, Ms Vass calls it a ‘life-sentence’.

She said: ‘I call it a life sentence because I can’t go to work, I can’t go to the shops, I can’t do the washing up.

‘I can’t have a tickle or playfight or go swimming with my daughter.

‘I can get up the stairs but once I’m at the top I’m out of breath.’

‘Getting out of bed, brushing my teeth, leaves me out of breath.

If the weather is too hot I can’t leave the house, or if it’s cold and wet I can’t leave the house either.

‘It affects everything.’


She began smoking at 15, when hanging out with friends in a park and someone handed her a cigarette.

She saw other people smoking and began smoking around five a day before or after school.

As soon as she was 16 she began buying her own Golden Virginia or Cutter’s Choice tobacco and she gradually began smoking more and more.


By the time she was 30 she was addicted, and had been smoking 20 a day for at least ten years, but had no health problems other than the occasional sore throat or cough.


But in September 2012 she began experiencing chest pain, and went to the doctor.

‘He listened to my chest, gave me some painkillers and I went home.

‘He rang me back in the morning and I said “I’m hurting badly” and he said “I think you should get yourself to hospital.

‘It felt like someone had put a huge sharp object in my chest and run at me. It was a piercing pain.’


At the hospital, an X-ray revealed her right lung had collapsed, and doctors had to re-inflate it with a tube put in her chest.


A year later, in November 2013, her left lung collapsed, and that was when alarm bells rang for the doctors treating her.

She said: ‘I was making a cup of tea and went to grab my phone from the front room. And when I got back into the kitchen it was that piercing pain again.

‘My partner at the time drove me to hospital again and I had the X-ray again and it was collapsed, and they re-inflated it.


‘They said “this isn’t normal, you should not have two lungs collapsed within a year".'


Doctors carried out scans, blood tests and a spirometer test, which measures how much air a person can breathe in and out.

It was after this test that Ms Vass was diagnosed with emphysema.

She said: ‘A consultant sat me in a room and said “You’ve got emphysema”.

‘I didn’t really know how to react because I didn’t know what emphysema was. I was trying to get my head around it.

‘They explained a bit to me but I wasn’t really listening and I didn’t understand because they’d just told me. 

‘It was only when I got home and read some leaflets I realised how serious it was.’

After she was diagnosed, Ms Vass’ breathing got so bad she had to give up her job as a carer.

She said: ‘I’d been cleaning for 12 years. Then a few months before my lung collapsed I thought I’d change my job to do supported living for disabled people, a carer.

‘It’s quite a difficult job with taking them out and taking them swimming, so I couldn’t do it anymore.’


Losing her job meant she could no longer afford the rent on her home, so she and her daughter had to move, which left her feeling as though she was unable to cope.

She said: ‘I was heartbroken, I lost my job and I lost my home because the rent was so high.

'My breathing was bad. I had a chest infection, I was fatigued. 

‘I didn’t cope with it all, I was having panic attacks. 


'I got myself in such a state my hands went numb and stiff and I had to go to hospital

'I talked to doctors about being depressed. I just couldn't accept I wouldn't be able to get up and go to work as normal.' 


‘But luckily I’ve got a supportive family and they all got together and told me to sit down and mind my breathing and they would help.’

Now Ms Vass’ mother and her daughter Lucy, 15, help care for her, as she cannot go shopping alone and struggles to travel.

‘I’ve tried not to get Lucy to help me, she’s 15, she’s got her GCSEs coming up,’ she said.

‘She’s got her daily jobs to do, washing up, cooking, vacuuming .

‘She does the cooking most nights. I sit at the kitchen table and tell her what to do.

‘I feel sorry for her because she shouldn’t be doing it for me. When I do have a bad day, it’s not nice.

‘But she understands, and tells me to put my feet up.

‘It’s just upsetting. I can go to the cinema, but I can’t do swimming, I can’t walk to the zoo with her, I can’t play with her or muck around. It upsets me.’


Ms Vass has regular contact with a COPD nurse at her local surgery, who she calls ‘fantastic’.


She takes an inhaler in the morning to open her airways, and another she carries around with her to take in case she gets out of breath.


it is not known how the disease will progress, and whether she will need treatment with oxygen, or home carers, as she gets older, but these are possibilities.


Now, she is fronting a campaign in conjunction with Smokefree South West, calling for public places in Bristol to become ‘smoke-free areas’.  

Ms Vass says if she can persuade one smoker to quit, she will feel happy.

‘I got involved in this campaign because if I hadn’t seen people smoke at such a young age, this might not have happened.

‘Smoking isn’t big or cool. If people didn’t smoke in parks or play areas younger people might not start smoking.

‘Nobody realises this could happen to them. It’s too late for me, but it’s not too late for other people.

‘I just want people to stop smoking. I want to say “Don’t make the same mistake as me". 


A spokesperson from Smokefree South West said: 'Smokers are five times more likely to quit for good with the help of a trained stop smoking adviser alongside them. 

'Local NHS Stop Smoking Services are free to attend and their friendly, expert teams offer practical help and advice, from tips on how to cope with cravings to finding the best tailor made way to quit.


'Recognising that both smokers and their loved ones need support during a stop smoking attempt, Smokefree South West has created a Facebook page to offer friendly help and advice on how to quit.'


Emphysema gradually damages the air sacs in the lungs, making a person more short of breath.

This is because the air sacs in the lungs – called alveoli – are clustered like bunches of grapes.

In emphysema, the inner walls of the air sacs become weak and eventually rupture, creating one large space instead of many small ones.

Emphyema means the air sacs in the lungs become weak and rupture, reducing the surface area of the lungs and causing difficulty breathing

This reduces the surface area of the lungs and the amount of oxygen that gets into the bloodstream.

When a person breathes out, the damaged air sacs don’t work properly and old air is trapped, leaving no room for fresh, oxygen-rich air.

Treatment can slow the progression of emphysema, but it can’t reverse the damage.

Emphysema is one of the conditions that make up Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

A person with COPD, might just have emphysema, or might also have another condition such as chronic bronchitis, in which the airways become inflamed and produce excess mucus, making it hard to breathe.

The main cause of emphysema is smoking or long term exposure to air pollution or manufacturing fumes.

Rarely, it is caused by a deficiency of a protein that protects the elastic structures of the lungs. 

This type of emphysema is called alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency emphysema.

Most people with tobacco-related emphysema begin to experience symptoms between the ages of 40 and 60.

The symptoms are wheezing, particularly when breathing out, breathlessness when resting or active, a tight chest and a cough


By: Vivek H. Murphy, MD, MBA, U.S. Surgeon General

Eliminating tobacco use seemed like an impossible task when the first
Surgeon General's report on smoking came out in 1964. Almost half of our
population smoked, and tobacco use was everywhere from airplanes and
restaurants to sports and magazines. However, one year ago this month, when
we released the Surgeon General's Report, The Health Consequences of
Smoking-50 Years of Progress, we recognized how much progress we've made in
lowering those statistics-from nearly one in two to now less than one in
five American adults who smoke cigarettes.

Our goal, as described in the 50th anniversary report, is to reduce the
smoking rate to less than 10% for both youth and adults in 10 years
(currently 15.7% and 17.8% respectively). With the release of the 50th
anniversary report, we directly called on all sectors of society to help
make the next generation tobacco-free. Our partners answered that call with
remarkable action. These are just a few examples of the incredible work done
on the local, state, and national levels this past year:
.New Orleans City Council unanimously passed an ordinance extending
smoke-free protection to most public spaces, including bars, clubs and
.Columbia, MO, Evanston, IL, and Hawai'i County raised the age for legal
tobacco sales to 21 years old.
.Chicago, IL and Houston, TX prohibited smoking in their public parks.
.The University System of Georgia and University of California system became
tobacco-free, adding 31 and 10 campuses, respectively, to the more than
1,500 college campuses now with similar policies.
.CVS Health committed to stop selling all tobacco products at its 7,700 plus
stores and to rolling out a robust smoking cessation program.
.Legacy's truth campaign began enlisting youth to "FINISH IT" and become the
first tobacco苯ree generation.

.The Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and

Prevention released robust multimedia campaigns to prevent youth from
starting and help adults quit smoking, respectively.

Reflecting on the 50th anniversary year, I am inspired by how much was
accomplished by working together - across sectors from the private sector to
education to local government - in just one year. Never before have we had
so much momentum toward ending the most preventable cause of premature death
in this country.

As we embark on the 51st year of first Surgeon General Report, let us
celebrate the progress we have made, while not losing the momentum and
inspiration for continuing this work. The #20Million Memorial, a social
media effort also launched in 2014 by CDC, reminded us of the more than 20
million Americans who have died from smoking and secondhand smoking since
that first Surgeon General's Report. The 50th anniversary report
demonstrated that without more action, 5.6 million American children alive
today will die prematurely because of tobacco use.

For the lives of our children and our communities, we cannot stop now. Let's
carry on the efforts of the last half century to put an end to the tobacco
epidemic. Together, we can help the next generation be tobacco-free.

To learn some more tips to quit smoking go to:

What this doctor discovered about his smoking habit

Is smoking a physical addiction or a mental habit? Dr. Max Pemberton thinks he knows the answer

One day, after years of being addicted to smoking, English psychiatrist Dr. Max Pemberton had an epiphany! He realized that this long-term habit was not a physical dependency on nicotine. It was a mental addiction to the habit of smoking. In his article on, he writes:


“I realized that the real problem was the psychological dependence. This was underpinning my belief that I loved cigarettes and needed them and it was this that I needed to address. This also explained why the gums and patches hadn’t worked – I was mentally addicted to smoking. So I began thinking about the psychology of smoking.”

Dr. Pemberton’s eventual freedom from his long-term habit as a result of understanding the mental factors of addiction, gives an old problem a new, much-needed perspective. And, it comes at a time when prescription remedies for nicotine dependency are found wanting, and worrying questions about their safety are being raised.

The good news is that Dr. Pemberton is not alone in his epiphany. Realizing that nicotine dependence may be a mental habit, rather than a physical impulse, is also being studied by health professionals in North America. They are looking at the effects of meditation or mindfulness on cessation of smoking.

If dependency on nicotine is in thought, then a right change in consciousness can bring freedom. Pemberton’s concept of being imprisoned mentally and then discovering his freedom reminds me of the old story of the canary in the cage. Like Pemberton, the bird, long imprisoned, had given up trying to escape his environment. Having accepted his fate, he sat on a perch, observing the world through the bars of his prison. Then, one day someone left the door of his cage open. Even though the canary could see the door was open, and even inspected it, he remained in the cage – so conditioned, even comfortable, in accepting his imprisonment. What was needed was not a way out of the cage, but out of the mental trap.

As a pastoral caregiver and counselor, Rabbi Yaacov Kravitz understands the mental side to addictions such as tobacco or food. The word “addiction” in Hebrew means slavery. Rabbi Kravitz likens the story of Moses leading the children of Israel in their exodus from Egypt to an individual’s journey out of this mental slavery to freedom.

Rabbi Kravitz explains that, although the Children of Israel were free once they crossed the Red Sea, like the canary in the cage, they had yet to mentally claim and then realize (“to make real”) their freedom. The backsliding, the return to old habits of thought, the desire for the predictability of dependency in times of challenge and fear, echo the human struggle to realize a spiritual and mental freedom that enables us to fly free from the limiting environment of the human mind.

He explains that as the children of Israel slowly discovered that freedom through a closer relationship with the divine, it changed the way they saw themselves and freed them from imprisoning habits. As they deepened their understanding of that relationship, even in times of stress and fear, they could see and accept their innate right to independence.

We don’t have to accept that we are helpless prisoners to a craving of any kind. Each of us can experience that same epiphany – that light bulb moment when we realize our innate freedom from slavery and accept our right to a sphere of thought and action unlimited by human thinking.

The Likely Cause of Addiction Has Been Discovered, and It Is Not What You Think

By Johann Hari

It is now one hundred years since drugs were first banned -- and all through this long century of waging war on drugs, we have been told a story about addiction by our teachers and by our governments. This story is so deeply ingrained in our minds that we take it for granted. It seems obvious. It seems manifestly true. Until I set off three and a half years ago on a 30,000-mile journey for my new book,Chasing The Scream: The First And Last Days of the War on Drugs, to figure out what is really driving the drug war, I believed it too. But what I learned on the road is that almost everything we have been told about addiction is wrong -- and there is a very different story waiting for us, if only we are ready to hear it.

If we truly absorb this new story, we will have to change a lot more than the drug war. We will have to change ourselves.

I learned it from an extraordinary mixture of people I met on my travels. From the surviving friends of Billie Holiday, who helped me to learn how the founder of the war on drugs stalked and helped to kill her. From a Jewish doctor who was smuggled out of the Budapest ghetto as a baby, only to unlock the secrets of addiction as a grown man. From a transsexual crack dealer in Brooklyn who was conceived when his mother, a crack-addict, was raped by his father, an NYPD officer. From a man who was kept at the bottom of a well for two years by a torturing dictatorship, only to emerge to be elected President of Uruguay and to begin the last days of the war on drugs.

I had a quite personal reason to set out for these answers. One of my earliest memories as a kid is trying to wake up one of my relatives, and not being able to. Ever since then, I have been turning over the essential mystery of addiction in my mind -- what causes some people to become fixated on a drug or a behavior until they can't stop? How do we help those people to come back to us? As I got older, another of my close relatives developed a cocaine addiction, and I fell into a relationship with a heroin addict. I guess addiction felt like home to me.

If you had asked me what causes drug addiction at the start, I would have looked at you as if you were an idiot, and said: "Drugs. Duh." It's not difficult to grasp. I thought I had seen it in my own life. We can all explain it. Imagine if you and I and the next twenty people to pass us on the street take a really potent drug for twenty days. There are strong chemical hooks in these drugs, so if we stopped on day twenty-one, our bodies would need the chemical. We would have a ferocious craving. We would be addicted. That's what addiction means.

One of the ways this theory was first established is through rat experiments -- ones that were injected into the American psyche in the 1980s, in a famous advert by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. You may remember it. The experiment is simple. Put a rat in a cage, alone, with two water bottles. One is just water. The other is water laced with heroin or cocaine. Almost every time you run this experiment, the rat will become obsessed with the drugged water, and keep coming back for more and more, until it kills itself.

The advert explains: "Only one drug is so addictive, nine out of ten laboratory rats will use it. And use it. And use it. Until dead. It's called cocaine. And it can do the same thing to you."

But in the 1970s, a professor of Psychology in Vancouver called Bruce Alexandernoticed something odd about this experiment. The rat is put in the cage all alone. It has nothing to do but take the drugs. What would happen, he wondered, if we tried this differently? So Professor Alexander built Rat Park. It is a lush cage where the rats would have colored balls and the best rat-food and tunnels to scamper down and plenty of friends: everything a rat about town could want. What, Alexander wanted to know, will happen then?

In Rat Park, all the rats obviously tried both water bottles, because they didn't know what was in them. But what happened next was startling.

The rats with good lives didn't like the drugged water. They mostly shunned it, consuming less than a quarter of the drugs the isolated rats used. None of them died. While all the rats who were alone and unhappy became heavy users, none of the rats who had a happy environment did.

At first, I thought this was merely a quirk of rats, until I discovered that there was -- at the same time as the Rat Park experiment -- a helpful human equivalent taking place. It was called the Vietnam War. Time magazine reported using heroin was "as common as chewing gum" among U.S. soldiers, and there is solid evidence to back this up: some 20 percent of U.S. soldiers had become addicted to heroin there, according to a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry. Many people were understandably terrified; they believed a huge number of addicts were about to head home when the war ended.

But in fact some 95 percent of the addicted soldiers -- according to the same study -- simply stopped. Very few had rehab. They shifted from a terrifying cage back to a pleasant one, so didn't want the drug any more.

Professor Alexander argues this discovery is a profound challenge both to the right-wing view that addiction is a moral failing caused by too much hedonistic partying, and the liberal view that addiction is a disease taking place in a chemically hijacked brain. In fact, he argues, addiction is an adaptation. It's not you. It's your cage.

After the first phase of Rat Park, Professor Alexander then took this test further. He reran the early experiments, where the rats were left alone, and became compulsive users of the drug. He let them use for fifty-seven days -- if anything can hook you, it's that. Then he took them out of isolation, and placed them in Rat Park. He wanted to know, if you fall into that state of addiction, is your brain hijacked, so you can't recover? Do the drugs take you over? What happened is -- again -- striking. The rats seemed to have a few twitches of withdrawal, but they soon stopped their heavy use, and went back to having a normal life. The good cage saved them. (The full references to all the studies I am discussing are in the book.)

When I first learned about this, I was puzzled. How can this be? This new theory is such a radical assault on what we have been told that it felt like it could not be true. But the more scientists I interviewed, and the more I looked at their studies, the more I discovered things that don't seem to make sense -- unless you take account of this new approach.

Here's one example of an experiment that is happening all around you, and may well happen to you one day. If you get run over today and you break your hip, you will probably be given diamorphine, the medical name for heroin. In the hospital around you, there will be plenty of people also given heroin for long periods, for pain relief. The heroin you will get from the doctor will have a much higher purity and potency than the heroin being used by street-addicts, who have to buy from criminals who adulterate it. So if the old theory of addiction is right -- it's the drugs that cause it; they make your body need them -- then it's obvious what should happen. Loads of people should leave the hospital and try to score smack on the streets to meet their habit.

But here's the strange thing: It virtually never happens. As the Canadian doctor Gabor Mate was the first to explain to me, medical users just stop, despite months of use. The same drug, used for the same length of time, turns street-users into desperate addicts and leaves medical patients unaffected.

If you still believe -- as I used to -- that addiction is caused by chemical hooks, this makes no sense. But if you believe Bruce Alexander's theory, the picture falls into place. The street-addict is like the rats in the first cage, isolated, alone, with only one source of solace to turn to. The medical patient is like the rats in the second cage. She is going home to a life where she is surrounded by the people she loves. The drug is the same, but the environment is different.

This gives us an insight that goes much deeper than the need to understand addicts. Professor Peter Cohen argues that human beings have a deep need to bond and form connections. It's how we get our satisfaction. If we can't connect with each other, we will connect with anything we can find -- the whirr of a roulette wheel or the prick of a syringe. He says we should stop talking about 'addiction' altogether, and instead call it 'bonding.' A heroin addict has bonded with heroin because she couldn't bond as fully with anything else.

So the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is human connection.

When I learned all this, I found it slowly persuading me, but I still couldn't shake off a nagging doubt. Are these scientists saying chemical hooks make no difference? It was explained to me -- you can become addicted to gambling, and nobody thinks you inject a pack of cards into your veins. You can have all the addiction, and none of the chemical hooks. I went to a Gamblers' Anonymous meeting in Las Vegas (with the permission of everyone present, who knew I was there to observe) and they were as plainly addicted as the cocaine and heroin addicts I have known in my life. Yet there are no chemical hooks on a craps table.

But still, surely, I asked, there is some role for the chemicals? It turns out there is an experiment which gives us the answer to this in quite precise terms, which I learned about in Richard DeGrandpre's book The Cult of Pharmacology.

Everyone agrees cigarette smoking is one of the most addictive processes around. The chemical hooks in tobacco come from a drug inside it called nicotine. So when nicotine patches were developed in the early 1990s, there was a huge surge of optimism -- cigarette smokers could get all of their chemical hooks, without the other filthy (and deadly) effects of cigarette smoking. They would be freed.

But the Office of the Surgeon General has found that just 17.7 percent of cigarette smokers are able to stop using nicotine patches. That's not nothing. If the chemicals drive 17.7 percent of addiction, as this shows, that's still millions of lives ruined globally. But what it reveals again is that the story we have been taught about The Cause of Addiction lying with chemical hooks is, in fact, real, but only a minor part of a much bigger picture.

This has huge implications for the one-hundred-year-old war on drugs. This massive war -- which, as I saw, kills people from the malls of Mexico to the streets of Liverpool -- is based on the claim that we need to physically eradicate a whole array of chemicals because they hijack people's brains and cause addiction. But if drugs aren't the driver of addiction -- if, in fact, it is disconnection that drives addiction -- then this makes no sense.

Ironically, the war on drugs actually increases all those larger drivers of addiction. For example, I went to a prison in Arizona -- 'Tent City' -- where inmates are detained in tiny stone isolation cages ('The Hole') for weeks and weeks on end to punish them for drug use. It is as close to a human recreation of the cages that guaranteed deadly addiction in rats as I can imagine. And when those prisoners get out, they will be unemployable because of their criminal record -- guaranteeing they with be cut off ever more. I watched this playing out in the human stories I met across the world.

There is an alternative. You can build a system that is designed to help drug addicts to reconnect with the world -- and so leave behind their addictions.

This isn't theoretical. It is happening. I have seen it. Nearly fifteen years ago, Portugal had one of the worst drug problems in Europe, with 1 percent of the population addicted to heroin. They had tried a drug war, and the problem just kept getting worse. So they decided to do something radically different. They resolved to decriminalize all drugs, and transfer all the money they used to spend on arresting and jailing drug addicts, and spend it instead on reconnecting them -- to their own feelings, and to the wider society. The most crucial step is to get them secure housing, and subsidized jobs so they have a purpose in life, and something to get out of bed for. I watched as they are helped, in warm and welcoming clinics, to learn how to reconnect with their feelings, after years of trauma and stunning them into silence with drugs.

One example I learned about was a group of addicts who were given a loan to set up a removals firm. Suddenly, they were a group, all bonded to each other, and to the society, and responsible for each other's care.

The results of all this are now in. An independent study by the British Journal of Criminology found that since total decriminalization, addiction has fallen, and injecting drug use is down by 50 percent. I'll repeat that: injecting drug use is down by 50 percent. Decriminalization has been such a manifest success that very few people in Portugal want to go back to the old system. The main campaigner against the decriminalization back in 2000 was Joao Figueira, the country's top drug cop. He offered all the dire warnings that we would expect from the Daily Mail or Fox News. But when we sat together in Lisbon, he told me that everything he predicted had not come to pass -- and he now hopes the whole world will follow Portugal's example.

This isn't only relevant to the addicts I love. It is relevant to all of us, because it forces us to think differently about ourselves. Human beings are bonding animals. We need to connect and love. The wisest sentence of the twentieth century was E.M. Forster's -- "only connect." But we have created an environment and a culture that cut us off from connection, or offer only the parody of it offered by the Internet. The rise of addiction is a symptom of a deeper sickness in the way we live -- constantly directing our gaze towards the next shiny object we should buy, rather than the human beings all around us.

The writer George Monbiot has called this "the age of loneliness." We have created human societies where it is easier for people to become cut off from all human connections than ever before. Bruce Alexander -- the creator of Rat Park -- told me that for too long, we have talked exclusively about individual recovery from addiction. We need now to talk about social recovery -- how we all recover, together, from the sickness of isolation that is sinking on us like a thick fog.

But this new evidence isn't just a challenge to us politically. It doesn't just force us to change our minds. It forces us to change our hearts.

Loving an addict is really hard. When I looked at the addicts I love, it was always tempting to follow the tough love advice doled out by reality shows likeIntervention -- tell the addict to shape up, or cut them off. Their message is that an addict who won't stop should be shunned. It's the logic of the drug war, imported into our private lives. But in fact, I learned, that will only deepen their addiction -- and you may lose them altogether. I came home determined to tie the addicts in my life closer to me than ever -- to let them know I love them unconditionally, whether they stop, or whether they can't.

When I returned from my long journey, I looked at my ex-boyfriend, in withdrawal, trembling on my spare bed, and I thought about him differently. For a century now, we have been singing war songs about addicts. It occurred to me as I wiped his brow, we should have been singing love songs to them all along.


Geek Time!

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Jan 23, 2015

Study suggests that belief is as important as biochemistry in addiction

(Medical Xpress)—Are there more than biophysical factors at play in addiction? A new study by Xiaosi Gu and Terry Lohrenz from Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute in Roanoke shows that cognitive beliefs play a significant role in a person's neurological response to an addictive substance and that belief can diminish the neurological effects of an addictive drug. Their research is reported in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


While addictive substances target certain neurological pathways, addiction seems to be more than a mere biochemical response to a drug. Different people respond to addictive substances in different ways, indicating that there must be other mechanisms to account for these differences.

Addiction is a complex phenomenon because, while addictive substances all target the mesolimbic dopaminergic pathway, some people seem to have a stronger neurological response to addictive substances than others. Furthermore, addiction appears to be more complex in humans than rodents. Rodents respond with less interest in the addictive substance when their dopaminergic pathway is suppressed, while humans tend to have mixed results with biochemical suppression, indicating that both cognitive and biochemical factors are likely at play in addictive behavior.

Gu and Lohrenz tested the impact of subject beliefs regarding an addictive substance by investigating computational and neural learning signals using computational modeling and model-based functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in 24 chronic smokers in a within-subject balanced placebo experiment.

The test subjects were given a cigarette either with or without nicotine. Half of the subjects were told that the cigarettes contained nicotine even though some did not; the other subjects were told that the cigarettes did not have nicotine even though some did. Subjects were tested on four separate occasions. Each smoked a cigarette immediately before an fMRI session. Each time, the test subjects were given a sequential market task based on a quantitative model that tests both non-choice dependent behavior and choice-dependent behavior. The task involved betting, and then experiencing a change in the market price to obtain a gain or loss.

Gu and Lohrenz's team found that when test subjects believed that there was no nicotine in the cigarette, the neurological response to choice behavior questions was similar to those who did have nicotine. Those who knew that they smoked a nicotine-containing cigarette had a different neurological response. In other words, the belief that they were not smoking nicotine diminished the neurological effects of nicotine. Additional tests showed that subjects who believed they had ingested nicotine demonstrated different reward prediction signals whether the person had smoked a nicotine-containing cigarette or not.


In order to see whether this effect was specific to learning pathways, Gu and Lohrenz's team investigated whether cognitive belief affected visual attention signals. They found no significant changes in visual attention signals whether or not a subject was told that they were smoking nicotine, thus confirming that the effects are specific to value signal and reward prediction error signal, or to the learning pathways.

This study provides quantitative evidence that belief in nicotine's efficacy plays a much larger role in its effects on neurological systems than was previously thought and supplements prior studies with alcohol and cocaine addiction. This evidence implies that our understanding and treatment of addiction may need to be modified to account for the effects of cognitive belief.

While activating the mesolimbic dopaminergic pathway plays a role in physical dependence, it cannot be the only cause of addiction. The authors conclude that "cognitive beliefs could be as potent as pharmacological interventions in terms of modifying biophysical processes in the brain and changing behavior in addicted individuals." They contend that manipulating a person's beliefs about an addictive substance may be one avenue for treating addiction .

With this week marking Tobacco Free Awareness Week, there's a startling new statistic that smokers may want to take note of: After a lifetime of lighting up, smokers on average will burn through $1.4 million in personal costs.

That outlay represents spending on cigarettes, smokers' own costs for medical treatment, and lower wages, according to an analysis from financial site WalletHub. The biggest portion of the costs are related to buying tobacco, which amount to $1.03 million on average after a lifetime of smoking.

Read more:

Smoking is known to cause a lot of physical transformations and is known to ruin the outside appearance of the person. If you want to know about some of the ways smoking can ruin your looks then you might want to check this out.

1. More Visceral Fat Anyone?
Smoking can make you have more visceral fat than a nonsmoker, making your stomach flabby. Cigarettes are known to help you lose weight which is why so many people on a diet choose to smoke. The loss of weight only adds to the fact that the smoking helps collect the visceral fat around such places as the abdomen. Visceral fat helps pad your internal organs but can also accumulate and put you at risk for other diseases like heart disease or diabetes.

2. More Stretch Marks Anyone?
Smoking also increases your risk for developing stretch marks on your skin which can ruin your looks pretty fast. Nicotine that is found in the cigarettes damages the fiber and connective tissues within your skin. When the nicotine damages these fibers and connective tissues your skin will lose elasticity and strength. Stretch marks can occur when someone gains weight in a short amount of time such as during pregnancy, but often fade over time. If you smoke, your body will not be able to overcome the stretch marks as easily and smoking can be a contributing factor for developing more stretch marks.

3. More Sexually Transmitted Diseases Anyone?
Warts are also another way that smoking can ruin your appearance and put you at risk for other medical conditions. A smoker is more susceptible to the human papilloma virus also known as HPV, a common type of sexually transmitted disease. It is unknown why a smoker is more susceptible to getting this virus but the correlation is obvious. The virus can live on your genitals as well as your mouth and anal areas and can cause serious medical problems if not treated. Having this virus can have long-lasting negative impacts on your health as well as your physical appearance and self-esteem.

4. More Dull Skin Anyone?
Smoking will also ruin your looks by taking away your natural glow and makes your skin appear duller. When you smoke, you displace the oxygen in your skin since cigarette smoke contains carbon monoxide. The nicotine will reduce the blood flow which leaves your skin appearing dry and almost gray. Smoking cigarettes also voids many nutrients needed within the body including vitamin C which is an essential vitamin needed for skin repair and protection.

5. More Trips To The Dentist Anyone?
Smoking can also ruin your looks by the many dental problems caused by smoking. Smoking gives you a higher risk of developing dental problems such as gum disease, oral cancer and tooth loss. Smoking will also make your gums more sensitive putting you at risk for receding gums and gingivitis.

6. More Yellow Teeth Anyone?
Along with dental problems, smoking can also ruin your looks by giving you yellow teeth. Smoking contains nicotine which is a known ingredient that causes staining and yellowing of your teeth. You might brush your teeth five times throughout the day and still you could end up with yellow teeth. The yellow teeth can make you appear unkempt and can be construed as you do not have proper hygiene.

7. More Unsightly Nails Anyone?
Your smoking habit might also ruin your appearance by giving you yellow-tinted fingernails and fingers. Nicotine which is found in the cigarette smoke is commonly associated with yellow fingers and nails. Although there are remedies to getting rid of the yellow fingers and nails, as long as you smoke it will come back. The yellowing of your fingers and nails might give someone the impression you do not take care of yourself or wash your hands.

8. More Thin Hair Anyone?
Smoking can also make your hair thinner which can also hurt your appearance. The chemicals found in cigarette smoke are known to damage the DNA within the hair follicles and can generate cell-damaging radicals. A smoker will have thinner hair and there is a better chance they will have gray hair before a nonsmoking friend.

9. More Bags Under Your Eyes Anyone?
If you smoke you also might notice you have bags under your eyes, which can also ruin your looks. Smoking and the possible nicotine withdrawal you go through at night might be the source of the bags under your eyes. The restlessness of not having a smoke through the night might make you toss and turn more which will make you look tired. Smoking is more likely to make you feel tired the next morning and it causes those bags under your eyes to become darker.

10. More Ageing Anyone?
Smoking can also make you have premature aging and wrinkles which will ruin your appearance. Smoking increases the effects of aging even if you are a younger person who smokes. Typically, a smoker will look about one or two years older than they really are due to the aging and wrinkles on their skin. Smoking decreases the blood supply and oxygen throughout the blood which is responsible for healthy and young skin.


What's he talking about?

I've been smoking all my life and I'm 29 Years old! LOL!


I Have a Dream!

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Jan 19, 2015


"Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." 

As we Celebrate Martin Luther King Day, we celebrate the BEST of ourselves. We reach out for our potential BEST just as he had in his short, enlightened inspiring life! Dr. King was intelligent, yes and he was charismatic but more than that he had Faith in his fellow human being and the dream that dwelled in his mind! While we were smoking, we had a dream that seemed so far fetched - a dream for FREEDOM! We had an inkling of our potential selves, a memory of the FREEDOM we relinquished by taking that first puff and that ever since, most of us for decades was being puffed away with addiction. That simple little thought made us strive for FREEDOM - the FREEDOM to be as Our Creator wishes we would be and knows we can be! Many of us have looked under every crook and cranny our our minds for the means to gain our FREEDOM until we found the PRIZE! A few others were able to find the way more directly. And most of us are still searching but refuse to give up! We each had our own motivations for this quest for FREEDOM but what we had in common is the goal! We were motivated by the fact that "a lie cannot live" and we knew on some level (some more conscious than others) that we were living a lie. 

 To reach that goal takes a lot of human fortitude.  As MLK said, "Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our FREEDOM." Too many people see quitting as an event, just as today's celebration is an event and back to "business as usual" tomorrow! But quitting brings change and change is not inevitable! We must straighten our backs and work our quit journey each and every day. That's a BIG ticket so it can only be done one day at a time, giving just for today commitment, focus, and determination - keeping always our eyes on the prize - FREEDOM and remember these words, "I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough can you see the stars."

Many of us have EXperienced the very personal loss of one or more family member, friend, loved one due to the wicked consequences of smoking related illness. It's absolutely devastating! And some of us have been struck down, debilitated, even left disabled, by smoking related illness. I happen to be one of them. If at times, our voices are shrill, it's because we wish to spare you! We want you to see past the Addictive lie that "smoking is a harmless vice", to know that smoking related illness is very real! But life isn't about not dying - it's about living well! Again, MLK said, "Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!" he said those famous words on April 3, 1963. On the next day, he was assassinated. I won't begin to speak for the other elders who continue to visit this site - I speak for myself alone, but these words perfectly EXpress my thoughts when I come here again and again and do my best to share my DREAM of FREEDOM for all of you, for all people caught up in the lie of Nicotine Addiction!

Yes, folks, this struggle we are in is just as life and death, just as critical to the dignity of living as MLK's! And yes, I gladly give the BEST of myself when I come here and ask, "Wouldn't you like to live in FREEDOM? I, Thomas, have seen the Promised Land and believe that we, as a Community, will get there! Join me! I will walk beside you and together we will go up the mountain called FREEDOM!"

Please share your quit story so all the Newbies know it's worth the effort!


COPD on Television

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Jan 18, 2015

I know television is all football today BUT:   CBS is airing a program, COPD A Guide for Patients and Families.  

The show was made by the American Thoracic Society and it is on many CBS channels.  

Tune in to watch “COPD: A Guide for Patients and Families” on the following CBS affiliate stations:

  • WFOR – Miami 1 p.m. (EST) Jan. 18
  • KPIX – San Francisco 10 a.m. (PST) Jan. 18
  • KCNC – Denver 11 a.m. (MST) Jan. 18
  • WBBM – Chicago 2:30 p.m. (CST) Jan. 18
  • WBZ – Boston 1 p.m. (EST) Jan. 25
  • KTVT – Dallas 11 a.m. (CST) Jan. 25

Here's a website for more information:


Addictive Thoughts

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Jan 18, 2015

As Addicts we all have them. I very rarely still have an addictive thought but I still have them. Being able to recognize them is very important especially at the beginning of our quit journey! That can be challenging because we have 60,000 thoughts a day and because we don’t necessarily recognize them when they pass through our minds.

Some folks personify addictive thoughts and refer to the Nico-Demon! I have no problem with that as long as you know that the Nico-Demon is YOU! You are generating these thoughts! Nobody knows what motivates you like you and most addictive thoughts are motivational.  What do they want you to do?

“I need my next FIX!”

That’s it! These thoughts may look very different from that but that is their motivation! Here are some Examples:

-          I need my sickerettes!

-          I’ll never be happy as an Exer!

-          Sickerettes are my best friend!

-          Sickerettes calm me down!

-          Life is too stressful to quit!

-          I’ll quit someday just not today!

-          I don’t smoke that much!

-          I’m a social smoker!

-          I’ve smoked too much for too long! I can’t quit!

-          Just one won’t hurt!

-          I’ve failed at quitting so many times, I can’t imagine success!

-          I like smoking! It smells good! It tastes good!

-          Smoking is my only vice!

-          At least I don’t XXX [drink, do drugs, etc…]

-          Some people smoke their entire lives and are healthy!

-          Smoking is hereditary! Everybody in my ancestry smoked!

I could keep going indefinitely! But it really comes down to one concept! If this thought gives you a “reason”, i.e. Excuse to smoke even one more sickerette – it is an addictive thought!

Here’s the empowering part! YOU get to decide! You don’t have to follow that thought! Imagine thoughts as cars on a highway – they rush by and you can focus on only red cars or you can focus on just blue cars or you can decide to put your focus elsewhere! Not all thoughts are addictive thoughts, are they? It may seem like that at first but you had enough Freedom loving thoughts to find this website and sign up! Let go of your addictive thoughts! They will happen! That’s the nature of addiction. But you don’t have to latch onto them! That’s what we call romancing the sickerette! Call it out and then focus on the Freedom loving thoughts!

READ, READ, READ! When you read you are stimulating many more Freedom loving thoughts! Think of those cars on the highway! The more you read the more the traffic on the highway in your mind has helpful cars! Distract yourself with other stuff! Then you are filling that highway with even another kind of car! Then decide! Take control of those thoughts by choosing your focus! Participate! We know how to do this and we can show you how!

When you stop paying attention to addictive thoughts, at first they pout, and then they scream, wave their hands, flail around, and throw a tantrum! That’s a good sign, actually as long as you continue to focus elsewhere! It means they're scared that you are serious about FREEDOM! They will say this is too scary, stressful, ugly, whatever! They will bring out every temptation they can muster so you will give in! BUT You still have the choice! YOU DECIDE!

 Eventually these thoughts become less frequent and only once in a very blue moon will they show up! You will go hours, then days, then Months, even years without these thoughts! And by then when they do show up, it’s a little whisper you can easily choose to dismiss! It gets better very soon so don’t be discouraged! What’s 4 Months compared to a lifetime of Freedom?


DECISION is the Ultimate POWER!

I would ask you once again to please quit smoking today!

I would tell you that no dead plant is worth sacrificing your LIFE for!

I would want you to know how much I care – about YOU!

I would say, I want you to be Happy, Healthy, and Addiction FREE!

I would give you a BIG Hug and say I know you can do this.

I believe in You! You can take charge of your body and brain

By simply giving yourself a chance to be your TRUE SELF!

If I could show you my Soul….

You would see that together we will SUCCEED!


Most of the smoke from a burning cigarette doesn't go into the smoker's lungs; it's in the air where it is inhaled by others, and the effect of second-hand smoke is a significant health risk for those who are unfortunate to be near the smoker.

Smoking Cessation without Weight Gain is a corporate wellness program I offer. While doing this program I've heard the most amazing stories related to people quitting smoking. One young man, age 29, thought it was normal to taste blood in his throat throughout his day. Really! He also confided that smoking affects his ability to date. "In the dating world", he said, "the only girls who will date me are smokers." He claims the dating world is complicated and being a smoker makes it more difficult. Can you guess which factor motivated him to quit? Not the taste of blood; the dating scene.

It doesn't matter what motivates you, just find your motivation.

A middle aged woman, who tried unsuccessfully to quit many times, found her motivation when her teenage son was called to the principal's office in school. His teacher accused him of smoking because he smelled of smoke throughout the school day. That motivated her.

In one company, a women in her 60's came to our meeting fifteen minutes early one day. She asked if she could speak to me privately before her co-workers arrived. She then confided to me that this was the first time in her life she had attempted to quit and she'd been smoking since her teens. She went on to tell me that her son, her only child, was in a very serious car accident when he was 21. She received the call in the middle of the night that all parents dread: "Come to the hospital." She hurriedly got herself together and got to the emergency room where she was met her son's doctors. Their very first question was, "How much does he smoke?" Shocked by this question, she answered, "No, he doesn't smoke." The doctor's informed her that they had just drained his lungs, and he had the lungs of a smoker. "I'll never forget" she said, "how I felt when I had to tell the doctors, 'I'm the smoker, it's my smoke.'" She carried this guilt with her for over twenty years, and had never told anyone about it. Releasing herself from that guilt was her motivation to quit.

One thing I teach in Smoking Cessation without Weight Gain is to look at the cigarette as your opponent. Each time you light up, you are stepping into a boxing ring with the opponent, your cigarette. But in the smoking boxing ring, your opponent is reaching out and also punching your loved ones. Your cigarettes harm you and everyone around you. One day when you least expect it, the unhealthy consequence will show on someone you love.

If smoking is so dangerous to the smoker and the people close to them, why do people still smoke, and why don't they just stop? Along with being addictive, one of the major fears people have about quitting is weight gain. As you quit smoking, your metabolism slows and your taste buds are aroused. You now taste food differently, making it more enjoyable. Food will also replace the hand-to-mouth motion the smoker is missing, and there is a void feeling in the air passages that the smoker is not accustomed to. Often they feed that feeling.


The time to lose weight is not as you quit smoking. There will be time for that later, if needed. Just focus on not gaining weight:

1.       For the first month or two after you quit, eat everything with a utensil. This eliminates the hand-to-mouth habit.

2.      Add spices and flavorful condiments to all food. Satisfy you newly awakened taste buds with flavor, not quantity. Eat quality food to nourish your body. When you body is nourished, your cravings will not be as severe.

3.      Enjoy the void feeling in your air passages. It's fresh air without toxins!

4.      Start an exercise plan to help speed your metabolism and to help you to breathe deeper.


I advise people, if you don't quit smoking, smoking will quit you. The tobacco addiction is hard to overcome but you can change your way and become addicted to life, fresh air, and deep breathing.

Find your motivation, change your way, and quit today. Everyone benefits!


Perception Vs Reality!

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Jan 16, 2015

Many teens wrongly think light or occasional smoking isn't bad for them, according to an analysis of a nationwide youth survey. But they are wrong to think that lighter smoking is not very dangerous. Even the occasional cigarette truly is bad for you. Light and intermittent smokers face tremendous future health risks.

Some "light" smokers don't even think of themselves as "smokers” despite the fact that their tobacco use puts them at tremendous health risks down the line. Almost 90 percent of the teens knew that heavy smoking, defined as smoking at least 10 cigarettes per day, is very harmful.

Only 64 percent knew that light smoking - having a few cigarettes per day - is very harmful, and only 33 percent knew that intermittent smoking on some days but not every day is very harmful to health.

Only 35 percent of light smokers and 14 percent of intermittent smokers thought their own level of tobacco use was causing a lot of harm.

Decades of research have found that even light and intermittent smoking increases the risk of cancer and heart disease, the leading killers in this country, The risk of intermittent smoking is not lower than that of regular smoking - only different. 

Adolescents that smoke with less frequency can smoke in a more dangerous way, inhaling deeper or longer.

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.


“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.


Preventing tobacco use is among the most cost-effective things we can do as a healthcare system. Making sure that all of us understand just how dangerous all tobacco is is an important first step in curbing tobacco use nationwide.


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! 



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!!!!!


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...



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?




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 tiny! So worthless! 









Numb vs. Calm

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Jan 11, 2015

 After Years of smoking our feelings away, we have unlearned inner calm and tranquility. What we mistake for calm is actually just numbing out with our drug of choice – Nicotine!

So when we quit smoking we feel disoriented, unbalanced. The true emotions of daily living seem overwhelming and unmanageable.  This is a part of the psychological withdrawal that we have to go through in order to find our New Normal.

We have to give ourselves time and even more challenging, to trust ourselves to find that New Equilibrium that awaits us! Only with time and practice, can we find our new way of being calm and recognize it for what it is – genuine, drug-free peace and tranquility! It’s a strange feeling, outside of our comfort zone – something we haven’t felt in decades! But it’s real and accessible to us just like the anger, sadness, frustration, and other storm of emotions are accessible to us!

Even good change is scary! And this is a very good change! Finally, we feel real calm – not numbness that we mistake for calm! And we no longer need a sickerette to get there!

Ask anybody with even a few Months smoke FREE and they will testify that they are happier, calmer, more integrated, more whole than they have been in a very long time! Give yourself a chance! You will get there!

Take Dale’s 130 day challenge before you jump to conclusions that smoke FREE is awkward, uncomfortable, unbearable and that you no longer recognize yourself! You’re right that you will come out of this leaving behind your Addictive Self but only because you will find your Authentic Self Nicotine FREE!

And it’s all BETTER than ever!

U.S. surgeon general reports that smoking causes lung cancer in 1964 

Scientists declare that cigarette smokers are 10 times more likely to die of lung cancer than nonsmokers. The report was the first of a series of steps by the government to diminish the negative impact of smoking on Americans.


In the 150,000-word report, a committee indicated cigarette smoking as the chief cause of lung cancer in men and contributes to chronic bronchitis in men and women.


(Originally published by the Daily News on Jan. 12 1964. This story was written by Michael O’Neill.)


Washington, Jan. 11 (News Bureau) - A government-sponsored committee of scientists formally declared today that cigarette smoking is a “health hazard” to the nation which calls for “remedial action.”


In a hard-hitting, 150,000-word report, they indicted cigarettes as the chief cause of lung cancer in men, “the most important cause” of chronic bronchitis in men and women, and a cause of cancer of the larynx.


The blue-ribbon panel declared that male cigarette smokers get 70% more fatal heart attacks than non-smokers. Although smoking hasn’t been nailed down as a direct cause, the experts said it would be “more prudent” to assume this than “to suspend judgement until no uncertainty remains.”


The 10-man committee also declared that research suggests an “association” between cigarette smoking and cancer of the esophagus and bladder, the crippling lung disease emphysema, peptic ulcers, and premature babies. And it said pipe smoking has been established as a cause of lip cancer.


Nothing to the Good


The committee said there was no evidence that filters are effective in reducing the health hazard. It also said it could find “no basis” for concluding that smoking has beneficial effects that should be weighed against the hazards for the general population.


The massive report, a 14 month analysis of hundreds of thousands of research findings was made public at a klieg-lighted press conference amid considerable fanfare and extraordinary security precautions to prevent advanced leaks.


Dr. Luther L. Terry, surgeon general of the Public Health Service, called the study “the most comprehensive compilation and analysis ever undertaken” of the smoking-health controversy. He promised to “move promptly” to decide what remedial measures the service should take.


Meanwhile, however, he said he would “advise anyone to discontinue smoking” or, if he continues, to recognize “the health hazard.”


Terry indicated that any government action would probably be some kind of educational campaign. But he declined to be specific until the Public Health Service and other government agencies had a chance to study the committee report.


The report detailed numerous animal experiments that showed seven different components of tobacco smoke and tars were cancer-causing. Studies of patients, the committee went on, had shown “that many kinds of damage to body functions and to organs, cells, and tissues occur more frequently and severely in smokers.”


Out of 29 large scale studies of smoking histories, the experts said all but one (dealing with women) showed more cigarette smokers than nonsmokers among lung cancer patients. Chronic cough, breathlessness, chest illness; and decreased lung function all “consistently show that these occur more often in cigarette smokers than in nonsmokers.”


Says It’s Clear


For chronic bronchitis and emphysema, the committee said, the death rate for cigarette smokers is 500% higher than for non-smokers. For lung cancer, the risk is 1,000% higher. And for coronary heart disease, the nation’s No. 1 killer, the increased risk is 70%.


“The array of information,” said the experts, “... clearly establishes an association between cigarette smoking and substantial higher death rates.”


In general, the committee said, “the greater the number of  cigarette smoked daily, the higher the death rate.” The increased risk of 70% for those who smoke from 10 to 19 cigarettes a day; 90% for those smoking 20 to 39 a day; and 120% for those smoking 40 or more.


There is also apparently some value to smokers in stopping. The experts said the evidence showed that smokers who stopped smoking before enrolling in seven key studies had a 30% lower death rate than those who did not quit.


Men who began smoking before 20, the experts reported, had a “substantially higher death rate” than those who began after 25. And the hazards are greater for inhalers than noninhalers.


In the case of lung cancer, which has been soaring in the U.S., the committee said “the magnitude of the effects of cigarette smoking far outweighs all other factors.” The findings for women are less striking, but the committee said they “point in the same direction.”


The lung cancer risk for pipe and cigar smokers is greater than for nonsmokers, according to the report, but much, much less than for cigarette smokers.


Cigarette smoking is not only the “most important” cause of chronic bronchitis, the committee said, but also “increase the risk of dying from chronic bronchitis and emphysema.”



  Your Addictive Self is a part of   YOU! That being said there is another part of you that is being dragged down with it - the part that knows that what you're doing is wrong and contradictory to your every moral value!   Your Addictive Self  won’t stop smoking, and you can’t stop forking over the time and money that make the sickerettes possible.
  Of course you can easily see the problem from the outside. Why would an Addict stop smoking when they can squeeze thousands of dollars a month out of you and keep right on doing what they’ve done their whole lives? And how can you say no when your Addiction seems impossible to break? Besides, it’s a disease, isn’t it? How can you deny your sick addiction?
  You probably already know that that’s how the daily cycle continues for years and years, and how it’s apt to go on until you get very, very sick or  die or the money runs out. The Addict within will continue to manipulate you, and you will continue to feel guilty and wonder what you did to cause your decision to smoke that first sickerette and go down the Addict road.
   Nicotine Addiction  is a Choice, not a Disease
  Of course you've always known that the promise of tobacco never really came to fruition. You weren't really cooler, more rebellious, more popular, sexier, calmer and whatever else the commercials depicted just because you smoked your cancer sticks. Even when your childhood quest for those things played a role, it doesn’t excuse ongoing childishness. Searching for the current problems’ beginnings, even finding them, does nothing to fix the mess. As you’ve probably noticed, everyone just stays trapped in the swirl of emotions, habit, myth, and despair.
    There is an Alternative
    This time I have a different  suggestion. Instead of pouring on battles and willpower, I recommend a carefully planned disengagement. No threats, no expectation that your addictive self  will change - just a gradual change in the personal dynamics that will, over the course of a year, result in your Addictive Self being isolated. 
    Concentrate on YOU! What values do you have? What activities would you like to do if you "had the time." Imagine your perfect self in line with your values and then decide on one activity that brings you closer to becoming that person and do it. You are the part of yourself who wants things to change - so ignore your Addictive Self who obviously has a vested interest in things staying the same.  
    It works because you are focusing on that part of you who wants to change rather than to force change onto your Addictive Self. Success means working with the part of you that is motivated; skipping labels and self-justifying EXcuses; focusing on the present and future, not the past; and actively instituting new behaviors.  
      The Temper Tantrum  
     Your Addictive Self will certainly protest, especially if it got it's fix by carrying on loud enough or long enough! But just as you wouldn't given in to a two-year-old throwing a temper tantrum, that's obviously not the solution here either.   
     But you can defuse the tantrum using similar methods as good parenting skills. You can acknowledge that your Addictive Self is frustrated. You can let it know you feel it's pain, too! Even just saying "I know you're upset," you're telling it you're there to help it feel better. That might be enough to calm it down so you can add, "I wish we could have a cigarette, too. It's too bad we can't right now."   
     Be silly. Laughter can be a great tantrum buster. If your Addictive Self starts to pitch a fit about walking past a temptation, try singing a goofy song  -- anything to make yourself giggle.   
     Try a distraction. Give yourself something else to think about. There are several lists of 100 things to do instead. Get busy and if it's an activity for which you're passionate, like art or music, even better!    
        Ignore it. Sometimes, tantrums escalate because your Addictive Self  thinks it will get what it wants if it screams loud enough. If you don't react, it will give up.      
         Leave the scene. When all else fails, get out of public and let yourself have the meltdown, tears and all - just keep those sickerettes away from your face! But do it without making a fuss  -- you'll be proving to yourself that even when you don't feel calm you can display calm behavior. It may be inconvenient, but it shows who's in control:        



The Sad Reality

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Jan 8, 2015

Close to half of U.S. adults over 40 who have trouble breathing due to asthma or COPD still continue to smoke, federal health officials reported Wednesday.

The new U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics come a day after the release of another agency report, which found that 15 percent of Americans between 40 and 79 years of age suffer from some form of lung obstruction -- typically asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

In the new study, they found that in the years 2007-2012, about 46 percent of adults aged 40 to 79 who had a lung-obstructing illness currently smoked. That number rose to 55 percent when the researchers looked only at cases involving "moderate or worse" disease.

Smoking rates were similar between the sexes, and rose as levels of education fell, the CDC said. Rates of smoking for people with lung obstruction were more than double that of people without such illnesses -- about 20 percent.

Why do people whose illnesses are brought on or exacerbated by smoking continue with the deadly habit? The issues are often complex and tough to change.

Approximately 40 percent of those with COPD experience high levels of depression and anxiety, making it more difficult to comply with treatment and quitting smoking. What works best to help patients with COPD quit smoking is treatment for their depression.

Also effective is information about and availability of the most effective ways to quit, including FDA-approved cessation medications, empathetic counseling, motivational interviewing, and ongoing support from professionals, family and friends.

The alternative -- to continue smoking -- exacerbates COPD symptoms and raises the odds for death. COPD is the third leading cause of death in the USA.  Also, since it is difficult to eat with shortness of breath, poor nutrition and unintended weight loss are also often consequences associated with COPD. Smoking can be an appetite suppressant and contribute to this weight loss.

The effort needed to quit smoking may be tough, but can pay off in real dividends for health.

For patients with COPD, the single best thing they can do for their lungs is quit smoking.

Find out more about COPD on my page You can access it by clicking on my name or picture.

Cigarette prices in the United States are taking a bigger chunk out of wallets than ever before, and will only go up in the years to come.

According to information posted at, a 2014 survey of pack prices shows that nearly half of states in the U.S. fall between $5 and $7 per pack, with the rest selling for $7 to $13 per pack.  The survey was casual ( a call to convenience stores/gas stations in each state), but gives a reasonable estimate of current cigarette prices in the U.S. this year. 

Using an average of a pack a day at a cost of $7 each, let's take a look at some examples of what that money could buy if you stop smoking. It adds up quickly, as you'll see below.


1.  One Week: Movie Night For The Family

With just one week's worth of cigarette money, you can take the whole family to the movies complete with popcorn and drinks.  What a nice feeling to do something that includes everyone with money that would have gone up in smoke.  It's also a great activity when you're newly quit, since there is no smoking at the movies.

A week's worth of cigarette money will also cover the monthly cost of a membership to most gyms.


2.  Two Weeks: A New Pedometer

Two week's worth of cigarette money can buy you a good quality pedometer that will track your steps, calories burned, and more. Not only will walking improve your health, it offers immediate feedback on non-smoking improvements and is a great craving-buster, as well.

3.  One Month: A Hotel Getaway

A little careful planning could score you  dinner and an overnight at a nice hotel with your significant other for $200, the cost of a one month supply of cigarettes.

Two hundred dollars is also the better part of a monthly car payment.  Imagine having something as big as a car representing the money you haven't spent on smoking. 

4.  Three Months: A Weekend Respite

If you choose to save your non-smoking money to use at the three month mark, you could swap that overnight at a nice hotel for a weekend away with room service and maybe even a spa treatment.

Or, maybe you'd rather buy a new grill or patio set for the deck to enjoy them for years to come.  There's a lot that you could do with $600 worth of fun money. 


5.  Six Months: That New Flat Screen TV You've Been Wanting

Television technology is growing by leaps and bounds.  From LED back-lit screens that offer better color and contrast than ever before to 3D and curved screens, the choices are plentiful.  Six months of cigarette money will buy you a nice TV upgrade without impacting your home budget at all. 


6.  One Year: A Cruise for Two

Save your cigarette money for a full year and go on that cruise you've been dreaming of.  $2400 could cover it, and what a nice reward and celebration to commemorate your first smoke-free year.


Save Your Cigarette Money

When I quit smoking, I saved nearly all of my cigarette money for two years. It bought me numerous tangible rewards that became daily reinforcements of the waste that smoking was, both in terms of my health and money in my pocket. They also gave me a sense of accomplishment and live on as lasting reminders of the work I did to quit smoking all of those years ago. Save your cigarette money and use it in ways that are meaningful to you. It will reinforce your will to carry on and give you something to dream about as you go through the early days of smoking cessation.

Keep your dreams alive. Understand to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, vision, hard work, determination, and dedication. Remember all things are possible for those who believe. - Gail Devers


O.K. So you've "tried" to quit several times and you "always" made it so many hours or so many days and then.... failure! So you convinced yourself that you will probably die a Smoker! Well, you might! But only if you DECIDE to! You certainly don't "have to!" So put that thought behind you! It comes from your addictive mind ( often referred to here as the NicoDemon!) Your Addictive Mind is part of YOU and knows you intimately! LOL! But what it doesn't know is that you CAN change! You CAN LIVE ADDICTION FREE!!!


But you can't just do what you've done before and expect different results! So ask yourself, seriously, what are you going to do differently! One of the main things I did was to admit that I need help! So I came here and read what the folks here were saying! I listened to the people who had established a good solid quit! They told me to read about Nicotine Addiction so I READ! They told me to talk about my quit, don't keep it a secret! SO I TOLD EVERYBODY - EVEN STRANGERS! They told me to take it one day at a time - SO I PLEDGED on a daily basis I, Thomas, promise myself that NO MATTER WHAT I will not smoke for this day! Just for today I will LIVE Smoke FREE! If something comes up that I have to face I won't ask "Can I smoke, now?" I'll ask, "What can I do instead?" But I will not smoke even one little puff! I will RESPECT myself enough to HONOR my DECISION for the next 24 hours under ALL CIRCUMSTANCES! If I need help thinking with my determined Quitter's mind then I'll come here and BLOG before I blow my Quit but I won't give up or give in!


Today I CELEBRATE 1754 Smoke FREE Days! It was no "easier" for me than for you! I have had many challenges, especially at first! But I NEVER GIVE UP! I Believe in ME! I work hard at my Quit! And that means giving myself permission to make ME my First Priority at all times! I can't do anything for anybody if I can't take care of ME FIRST! LOVE YOURSELF! You deserve to LIVE Smoke FREE!


All or Nothing

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Jan 6, 2015

Hi, I tried to quit smoking, and failed. However, I have cut down to just one cigarette a day from 15 cigarettes a day. I am feeling much better, and even enjoying that single cigarette a lot more. How much damage can a cigarette a day cause? Is this okay?

From my experience, even one cigarette a day is not okay as there is nothing positive about a cigarette. Let me explain why.


The great taste is a myth: If you smoke 15 a day, your mouth is bound to be as dry as the Sahara desert, and there’s good chance that you will not appreciate most of what you smoke properly. On the other hand, if you smoke just one, then that cigarette will taste absolutely awesome, because you were waiting for it the whole day and also because your body is craving nicotine.

However, cigarettes have nothing positive about them (they are a cocktail of poison) and even one cigarette is sufficient to affect your breathing pattern negatively. I realised this after smoking one after 31 days of staying quit. Also, let me tell you – that cigarettes are not tasty like biryani is. It is a person’s addiction, coupled with a slight buzz that makes it tasty.

You may not be satisfied with just one: The main difficulty with smoking just one cigarette, is making sure that you do not exceed your quota. There is a popular joke by Dave Allen about smoking, ‘I have a very strict rule about smoking. I never smoke more than an average of ten cigarettes a day. Occasionally, I might borrow one or two from the next day’s quota, but I never, ever exceed the average of ten a day. The cigarette I am smoking now is part of my quota for the fourth of July two thousand and forty six.’

You may be able to restrict yourself to just one, but it is still a negative thing because you’ll want more – and you’ll have to keep resisting all your life! Why not just suffer for a few weeks and be free forever?

I remember, on my journey towards quitting smoking, having the same issue. I had cut down to just one and that one tasted fantabulous. I could look at things from two perspectives – one was to pat myself on the back for having reduced so drastically, and the other was to feel frustrated at not being able to last a single day without nicotine. Thankfully, I chose the second perspective and was gradually able to unchain myself from the prison of nicotine addiction.

And if I can, anybody can!



Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Jan 6, 2015

Yes, I remember how very difficult it is to quit smoking. Were that not true then most of us would have quit Years ago! But it is doable - and totally worth it!

You have the best of the best right here at BecomeanEX! Listen to them! Do your reading! You will learn about Nicotine Addiction and Recovery. Practice it! You will learn about yourself! 

Update: Kenny has lost over 50 lbs of weight due to Lasix and proper nutrition  He looks better, feels better, and breathes better. I on the other hand came down with Acute Bronchitis and have had to step away for a few days while I recover. 

Meanwhile, I wish to Congratulate so many of my Family who have passed major threshholds: Tommy, NanaWendy, Nyima, Jim Freeneasy, Diane Joy, and so many more....

They have shown you how it can be done! One day at a time - one step at a time - Climb! We're all here to lend a hand up when you need it! Will YOU be celebrating your Quit a Year from now? You Decide!

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