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2015
Thomas3.20.2010

Use Your Imagination!

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Dec 20, 2015

Many if not most of us have smoked for soooo long that we have a hard time envisioning EX smoking! We wonder if Quitting will be full of misery, deprivation, sacrifice, stress, and loneliness. 

That's where BecomeanEX can set you straight!

HERE we have an entire Community filled with comradery, fun, laughter, caring and even LOVE! 

From the first Blog I wrote some 2100 days ago I was wrapped up in support by Folks I had never met before! That feeling of belonging helped me become even more determined to SUCCEED!

But it also gave me a very different picture of what it means to Become an EX!

Being an EX means that I no longer put my Addiction before Family and Friends. It means that my Friends aren't based on their own Addiction and our commanality is smoking Sickerettes together even when honestly we had very little other than that in common.

My Friends want the best for me in Body, Mind, and Soul!

I used to miss out on so many FUN TIMES because smoking was prohibited there! How many of us have ducked out halfway during a Great Movie to catch a smoke? Haven't we skipped out on Dinner gatherings "to step outside?" I shamefully hid around corners or behind buildings puffing away! Define misery, please!

I deprived myself of Health and of Happiness because I "need a Cigarette!" I knew about Cancer, of course,  but made EXcuses as to why it wouldn't be me! I call it the little Suicide now! Quitting smoking is so Life Affirming that it often leads to other healthy habits such as Nutrition and Exercise!

I sacrificed peace of Mind and Soul! I knew that this Nicotine Addiction was in contrast to my Values but I did it anyway because I was an Addict! Nothing was more important to me than my next Fix! Now, I know that I am doing all I can for ME and that I can and trust in the LORD for the rest! (Serenity Prayer!) When we turn our backs on Right we can't help but feel Wrong somehow!

As an EXer I have learned that smoking causes Stress - it doesn't truly relieve it! Yes, I get that hit of Dopamine but all it does is rob me of access to natural Dopamine use. And the artificial Dopamine wears off very quickly leaving me in need of another Sickerette! The more Stress the more likely to chain smoke the more need for more Dopamine the less true relief and ability to address stressers in my life!

At this point in my life only 1 in 5 people smoke. That leaves 8 out of 10 people who I avoided because "they can't understand!" I would slink away and hang out with my smoking buddies who "get it!" Now I have ended most of those relationships because they were senseless and have replaced them with new relationships both EXers and Nonsmokers. I also do have some smoking Friends and I encourage them to use their imaginations to envision just how much BETTER Life can become one step at a time - Smoke FREE!

I consider you my Friend whether you have been here even before me or you just joined today by the simple fact that you visited this Community and have read this Blog! For that reason, I want you to use your imagination of a Life FREE of misery, deprivation, sacrifice, stress and loneliness because that is what EXsmokers Live! You can FREE yourself one day at a time. We know because

We were where you are now and we are where you wish to be!

Thomas3.20.2010

How Did That Happen?

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Dec 18, 2015

On Monday December 14 I found myself at 58 Years OLD!

In my head I still feel 30 something! Then I talk to my coworkers in their 20s and soon realize that they weren't even born until 1990 something!!! My Sons were born in the 80s. So isn't it strange how our Brains don't always match our bodies? Because I'll be honest - my body sure knows that I'm getting close to 60! And then some!

So my Wife and I went for a carriage ride downtown Fort Collins (see the avatar.) We are lucky enough to live in a beautiful area Summer, Spring, Fall and Winter! It was spectacular! And of course, we had to sing Jingle Bells! My Wife is something of a romantic! Actually, it was a wonderful Birthday present! 

This Year will be much different from all other Years for me. Next Month I will become a Grandfather! My youngest and his Wife are expecting a baby girl! Instead of buying Christmas presents for each other we're buying baby toys for the little one! So many big changes ahead for the coming Year!

Fortunately I've left the depression of November far behind me and moving onward and upward as Dale says so often! No worries that I might contaminate our little munchkin with Second Hand Smoke or miss the exciting moments we get to be with her to go out and get my fix! I can look forward to being with our next generation of Family for some time to come and with good health management feeling good enough to enjoy these precious times and build memories that will last a very long time! 

I may be 58 but I intend to make it the Best Year of my Life so far. They say more mature people have more FUN! I will be testing that theory!

Merry Christmas Everybody! 

You're never too young or too old to Quit Smoking and ENJOY LIFE - Smoke FREE!

Thomas3.20.2010

Third Hand Smoke

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Dec 18, 2015

Yesterday I spoke of Third Hand Smoke believing that folks knew about it only to find out that most had never heard of it. My apologies for that oversight!  You are not alone!

Researchers asked people if they agreed with the statement that “breathing air in a room today where people smoked yesterday can harm the health of infants and children.” Only 65 percent of nonsmokers and 43 percent of smokers agreed with that statement, which researchers interpreted as acknowledgement of the risks of Third Hand Smoke.

So today I will share a few facts about Third Hand Smoke and how it affects us and what to do about it.

What is Third Hand Smoke?

Third Hand Smoke consists of the tobacco residue from cigarettes, cigars, and other tobacco products that is left behind after smoking and builds up on surfaces and furnishings. Tobacco smoke is composed of numerous types of gasses and particulate matter, including carcinogens and heavy metals, like arsenic, lead, and cyanide. Tobacco residue is noticeably present in dust throughout places where smoking has occurred. The homes, hair, clothes, and cars of smokers can have significant levels of Third Hand Smoke contamination.

 Gases can be absorbed into carpets, draperies, and other upholsteries. A 2002 study found that these toxic brews can then reemit back into the air and recombine to form harmful compounds that remain at high levels long after smoking has stopped occurring.

Researchers have found tobacco grime in dust and on coffee tables in the homes of people who smoke, even if they don't smoke there. And they've found a metabolized version of nicotine in the hair and urine of children who live in those homes. In fact, The levels of tobacco toxins in the home of someone who smokes outside are up to seven times higher than they are in the house of a nonsmoker.

Among the substances in third-hand smoke are hydrogen cyanide, used in chemical weapons; butane, which is used in lighter fluid; toluene, found in paint thinners; arsenic; lead; carbon monoxide; and even polonium-210, the highly radioactive carcinogen that was used to murder former Russian spy Alexander V. Litvinenko in 2006. Eleven of the compounds are highly carcinogenic.

Third Hand Smoke has been found on windows, walls, floors, wood and metal but the most toxic surfaces are fabrics, upholstery, and carpets. Significant amounts of nicotine and related chemicals have been  extracted from cotton cloth 19 months after smoke exposure had stopped!

 

Third Hand Smoke from E-cigarettes

Vaping is no exception.

Three of the 4 experiments showed significant increases in the amount of nicotine on all five surfaces (The floors, walls, windows, wood and metal surfaces). The floor and glass windows had the greatest increases in nicotine, on average by a factor of 47 and 6, respectively (p < .05).

A Threat to Children

Children ingest twice the amount of dust that grown-ups do. Let's say a grown-up weighs 150 pounds. Let's say a baby weighs 15 pounds. The infant ingests twice the dust [due to faster respiration and proximity to dusty surfaces]. Effectively, they'll get 20 times the exposure.

Young children are particularly vulnerable, because they can ingest tobacco residue by putting their hands in their mouths after touching contaminated surfaces.

Removing Third Hand Smoke

From your clothes

-       Wash clothing with a cup of white vinegar

-       Dry clean clothing that can’t be washed by machine or by hand

From your car

-       Wipe down all vinyl surfaces with very hot water mixed with detergent

-       Wipe glass surfaces with white vinegar

-       Vacuum all carpeting and upholstery thoroughly

From your house

-       Clean all walls with very hot water mixed with detergent

-       Paint your walls with up to 3 layers of paint

-       Steam clean your carpet and upholstery

-       Wipe down all flat surfaces using vinegar

 

I hope this gives a clearer picture of how wide spread Third Hand Smoke is and the danger of exposure. We can’t very well exclude smokers from entering our homes, of course but especially around children, elderly and animals we can reduce the risks.

The best way is to maintain a Smoke FREE Environment!

On our Quitting Journey this time of Year has 2 sides to the Coin of Quitting and Staying Quit. 

On the one side, it's very cold outside! Lots of snow, freezing temperatures, the idea of being couped up with third hand smoke, sore throats, coughs, and other respiratory bad days. Who would want to smoke under those conditions? Only a hard core Addict - that's who!

On the other side, there's the stress of Christmas shopping, the temptation of alcohol/smoking combo, the hazardous street conditions, being around not so easy to get along with relatives. Who could possibly get through all of this without smoking? Only a hard core Quitter - that's who!

We all get to decide which side of the Coin stays upright! There are a ton of reasons not to smoke and a ton of EXcuses to smoke so decide for the one that's in your best interest! It's all about focus!

If we constantly remind ourselves of why we could sure use a smoke then we're probably going to relapse! 

If we constantly remind ourselves of what we hate about smoking this time of Year then we'll probably protect our Quit! But there's more to the Quitting side of the Coin! It makes our Family very Happy and protects their Health! If you see this time of Year about Family then you have even more reason to Quit and Stay Quit! 

Keep that side flipped up! You can't see the other side when you focus on this one! 

I find Winter the easiest time of the Year to Protect my Quit! No more driving one-handed (Sickerette in the other one) when the roads are trecherous! No more second hand smoke in my car! No more standing outside in 11 degree weather! No more stinky third hand smoke in my house! No more constant coughing throughout the night with Bronchitis and Sore Throat! No more skipping out on Family time to feed my Addiction! No more heavy after shaves to cover up the smell of tobacco at the Company Christmas Party! No more burns in my Winter Coats! 

But you know the most ironic of ALL? LESS STRESS during a stressful time! That's right! Staying Quit is so much less stressful than staying Addicted! 

I have no intention of flipping over this Coin!

Image result for flip the coin gif

Thomas3.20.2010

Seize the Moment!

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Dec 11, 2015

Working in Assisted Living teaches me something every day! The lesson I'm focusing on now is to freeze every moment, to own it, to squeeze it and hold it!

Thursday I shared a beautiful day full of love, laughter and life with the Residents entrusted to my care. One Lady had an especially wonderful time full of smiles and hugs. We chatted at the supper table and shared our good will with all the residents at our table.My Friend told us about her new dentures that she would be getting next week with delight!  Half an hour later this beautiful Lady was unresponsive - in the midst of a huge stroke and hours later had passed away!

In the blink of an eye - gone! Her Son came in the next day and moved out her possessions and I comforted him as best I could reassuring him that his Mother did not suffer - on the contrary, she had an Excellent Day!After he had left I went into the now empty room that only the day before had been brimming with LIFE and I sent her messages of goodbyes and BIG HUGS to say my last farewell!

How quickly things change! I've seen strokes. heart attacks, falls, and simple peaceful passings into the night that all remind me that right here, right now what I am doing is important! When you're in line shopping, in heavy traffic, at a party - whatever you're doing each moment, remember to be fully present! Pay attention to what you say and what you do because our actions do matter and there's no guarantee of tomorrow!

I know that when I am taken I will be taken a FREE MAN not chained to Addiction! I know that every moment up until then I will live LIFE abundantly because we never know how it can change!

Happy Smoke FREE Christmas, Folks!

Seize this very moment!

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Thomas3.20.2010

Are You In Between?

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Dec 11, 2015

If you are a Member who has set a Quit Date but not Quit Smoking yet, you might find some of these suggestions handy.

Begin reading now! Smoke if you want but begin the process of examining your beliefs about Nicotine Addiction, Withdrawal and Recovery.

Some great places to start alongside here are:

The Easy Way by Allen Carr

http://media.wix.com/ugd/74fa87_2010cc5496521431188f905b7234a829.pdf

http://whyquit.com/

http://www.quitsmokingonline.com/

Now that you're doing your homework there are a few things you might want to practice:


(1) Postpone Smoking for a later time even 10 minutes proves you can delay

(2) Smoke half a Sickerette at a time

(3) Smoke very slowly and thoughtfully- pay full attention to the entire process of Smoking

(4) Smoke with your opposite hand, in a different place from your Smoking spot, or with hot tea instead of coffee. Change some aspect of your Smoking habit

(5) Add a Consequence to each Sickerette Smoked like adding a dollar to a savings jar

(6) Decide not to Smoke for just one day

Write a Blog about what you think you like about Smoking and why you want to quit now. Imagine what quitting is like and check in with us to get our feedback.

Remember we were all where you are right now and now we're where you want to be! I remember vividly what it was like to daily wish I could Quit and Smoking anyway! I'll bet most if not all of us do! I also remember that gap between setting a Quit Date and Day One! It was exciting, scary, and confusing all at the same time!


Give yourself a chance to learn a new way to think about Smoking and Quitting and you will Become an EX!

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Quitting Smoking is a lovely Christmas Present for your Family, Friends, and most of all, YOURSELF! 

What could be better than your loved ones reassurance that you value your LIFE enough to take care of your Health?

Wouldn't they love to spend more time with you instead of you slinking off to feed your Addiction? And coming back smelling like a chimney!

Wouldn't you love to have more Green $$$ to go with the Red?

What better way to honor Christ's birth than to respect His Gift of LIFE!

Nothing reflects the Spirit of Christmas more than generously giving more of your very SELF to the people you LOVE!

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God Bless Us Every One!

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New understanding of how nicotine causes addiction has emerged, according to research published in eLife.

Although smoking rates are declining, a consistent portion of the population continues to smoke, making continued research into tobacco addiction important.

One reason people find it hard to quit smoking is that each time they have a cigarette, feelings of craving, irritability and anxiety melt away.

This is known as negative reward and is partly controlled by a region of the brain called the habenula.

The neurotransmitters acetylcholine and glutamate are thought to influence nicotine dependence in the habenula, but the molecular details of this regulation are unclear.

Neurotransmitters are the chemical messengers of the brain. They are packaged into spherical structures at the ends of neurons, called vesicles. On receiving certain signals, neurons release their vesicle contents into the synapse, sending the signal on to the next neuron.

Neurons can recycle neurotransmitters by reabsorbing them through reuptake, a process that allows them to control the exact number of neurotransmitters in the synapse.

Even a small upset in the balance of neurotransmitters can affect behavior. In the case of acetylcholine, it can influence our ability to cope with addiction.

Ines Ibanez-Tallon, and colleagues from Rockefeller University in New York, knew that acetylcholine and glutamate played important roles in the neurons in the habenula - but not how they might interact to reinforce addiction.

Acetylcholine controls glutamate release

The researchers created a mouse model where a key gene involved in acetylcholine processing was missing; this prevented acetylcholine production in habenular neurons.

The elimination of acetylcholine affected glutamate in the habenula in two ways. First, the amount of glutamate released by neurons was reduced; second, the reuptake of glutamate back into vesicles was impaired.

Both of these mechanisms disrupt normal signaling, thus affecting the excitability of neurons.

Based on these findings, the researchers suggest that acetylcholine regulates how much glutamate is released into the synapse, and at what frequency. It also facilitates the packaging of glutamate into vesicles.

Studies using electron microscopy confirmed that the neurotransmitters are in the same place at the same time and are able to affect one another.

Removing acetylcholine decreases sense of reward

When the researchers removed acetylcholine from the habenula of the mice, the mice became insensitive to the rewards of nicotine. They did not develop a tolerance to continued nicotine exposure, nor did they experience withdrawal symptoms, such as body shakes and scratching.

The findings suggest that without acetylcholine, nicotine addiction would not occur.

They also reveal new clues about the brain circuitry involved in nicotine dependence, which is relevant to opioid and cannabinoid addiction.

In future, the researchers hope to examine how the interaction between acetylcholine and glutamate might work in other areas of the brain.

They say:

"Because most nerve cells that release acetylcholine also release glutamate at the same time, the next challenge is to investigate whether the synergy between these two neurotransmitters is important for other functions that involve acetylcholine, such as memory and cognition."

 

Written by Yvette Brazier

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/303512.php


 

Thomas3.20.2010

Nerd Time!

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Dec 7, 2015

New understanding of how nicotine causes addiction has emerged, according to research published in eLife.

Although smoking rates are declining, a consistent portion of the population continues to smoke, making continued research into tobacco addiction important.

One reason people find it hard to quit smoking is that each time they have a cigarette, feelings of craving, irritability and anxiety melt away.

This is known as negative reward and is partly controlled by a region of the brain called the habenula.

The neurotransmitters acetylcholine and glutamate are thought to influence nicotine dependence in the habenula, but the molecular details of this regulation are unclear.

Neurotransmitters are the chemical messengers of the brain. They are packaged into spherical structures at the ends of neurons, called vesicles. On receiving certain signals, neurons release their vesicle contents into the synapse, sending the signal on to the next neuron.

Neurons can recycle neurotransmitters by reabsorbing them through reuptake, a process that allows them to control the exact number of neurotransmitters in the synapse.

Even a small upset in the balance of neurotransmitters can affect behavior. In the case of acetylcholine, it can influence our ability to cope with addiction.

Ines Ibanez-Tallon, and colleagues from Rockefeller University in New York, knew that acetylcholine and glutamate played important roles in the neurons in the habenula - but not how they might interact to reinforce addiction.

Acetylcholine controls glutamate release

The researchers created a mouse model where a key gene involved in acetylcholine processing was missing; this prevented acetylcholine production in habenular neurons.

The elimination of acetylcholine affected glutamate in the habenula in two ways. First, the amount of glutamate released by neurons was reduced; second, the reuptake of glutamate back into vesicles was impaired.

Both of these mechanisms disrupt normal signaling, thus affecting the excitability of neurons.

Based on these findings, the researchers suggest that acetylcholine regulates how much glutamate is released into the synapse, and at what frequency. It also facilitates the packaging of glutamate into vesicles.

Studies using electron microscopy confirmed that the neurotransmitters are in the same place at the same time and are able to affect one another.

Removing acetylcholine decreases sense of reward

When the researchers removed acetylcholine from the habenula of the mice, the mice became insensitive to the rewards of nicotine. They did not develop a tolerance to continued nicotine exposure, nor did they experience withdrawal symptoms, such as body shakes and scratching.

The findings suggest that without acetylcholine, nicotine addiction would not occur.

They also reveal new clues about the brain circuitry involved in nicotine dependence, which is relevant to opioid and cannabinoid addiction.

In future, the researchers hope to examine how the interaction between acetylcholine and glutamate might work in other areas of the brain.

They say:

"Because most nerve cells that release acetylcholine also release glutamate at the same time, the next challenge is to investigate whether the synergy between these two neurotransmitters is important for other functions that involve acetylcholine, such as memory and cognition."

 

Written by Yvette Brazier


 

Thomas3.20.2010

Staying Focused

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Dec 7, 2015

When starting any new lifestyle change a BIG challenge is staying focused. An easy way to do that is to post constant reminders of your BIG goal and of the little goals that will help you achieve that!

My BIG goal is to not smoke for LIFE! Way too big to wrap my head around when I'm first starting out! BUT I assure you that it is doable, It takes a lot of little goals to get there.

Some little goals that can help me include:

- visit BecomeanEX every morning when I wake up and every evening just before I go to bed

- stay away from second hand smoke 

- hang out with non-smoking friends

- don't beg, borrow, steal, or buy any Sickerettes

- post 3 affirmations around my house that motivate me. 

- keep a gratitude list and add to it daily

- exercise at least 20 minutes a day

- eat fresh fruit and veggies 5 times a day

- make a list of why I want to quit and stay quit

- sleep 7 to 8 hours a night

- use visualization and guided relaxation to cope with stress

- meditate 10 minutes a day

- drink at least 2 liters of water a day

This is my list. You can make your own list and you don't have to do them all at once. You can incorporate one or 2 of these ideas even before you quit. Then you can add 1 or 2 per week as you work your way through your Quit Journey. The point is that Giant Goals are achieved with baby steps so focus on the baby steps! Saturate your environment with healthy habits that remind you that your body is important and that you don't "have to smoke!" 

You deserve FREEDOM! Stay Focused!

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Thomas3.20.2010

What is Recovery?

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Dec 6, 2015

I see Nicotine Addiction as a Social Issue that has disastrous medical consequences.

The rationale that Addicts have a disease has a lot of weight, especially because it's backed up by a lot of high-level bodies, like NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse). NIDA funds about 90 percent of addiction research in the world. It is a self-perpetuating system. The problem with this model as an Addict is you relinquish responsibility for your actions: "Nico-Demon made me do it!" 

A lot of addiction experts feel that self-motivation, self-empowerment,  self-directed activities, self-designed goals for addicts' own progress are critical steps on the road of overcoming Addiction. The medical model says you're a patient and you have to do what the doctor tells you.

Our brains have been hyjacked by a chemical called Nicotine. The very structure of our brains has changed. BUT we still do have within us an Executive Control that can override our thought processes and set us FREE eventually allowing new healthy thoughts about Nicotine and Smoking to develop. It's Executive Control that brought you and me here to this website in spite of our Addiction. Executive Control knows that what we're doing is not a good choice and it has the ability to choose differently!

I can tell you what motivated me but you have to find what motivates YOU and remind yourself very often in order to maintain that momentum that will get you through those first challenging days!

You also have to empower yourself with new sets of coping skills that will help you endure and relieve stress, anger, frustration - all those emotional upsets that send you running to your Sickerettes! What can you do instead?

You will need to stage your LIFE differently with activities that you choose to fill the hour and a half to two hours a day that you were accustomed to waste smoking. Boredom is a trigger so how will you not get bored? Plan for it! What will you do instead?

You must set goals for yourself, some very short term and others long term. Know how to get through the next 5 minutes without smoking and learn how to get to your first Month, first 100 days, through No Man's Land, onward to your First Year, your First 1000 days and yes, even beyond! 

We can show you how we did it. We can give you lists and lists of motivations, game plans, maps for the future but your Recovery belongs to YOU! Only you can direct yourself on the Journey of Recovery! 

Make that Executive Control in your Brain in charge! Set aside your Addictive Thoughts - refuse to pay attention to them! Make the decision to earn your FREEDOM and then READ, READ, READ! Learn about your endless options of what to do instead and relearn how to live Smoke FREE!

YOU CAN DO IT! More people have quit than those who smoke! There's no reason you can't Become an EX!

For more information about these ideas you can refer to Dr. Marc Lewis a Neuroscientist,University of Toronto Professor Emeritus, current faculty member at Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands and author of The Biology of Desire: Why Addiction Is Not a Disease

Thomas3.20.2010

Unplugged

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Dec 4, 2015

OK So maybe I have been over - reacting to the mass shootings this time of Year - 

OR maybe not!

Once the Colorado Springs event went by I shut down my computer and unplugged all of my electronic devices including my television. I just didn't want to know. Well, even then I wasn't sheltered from the San Bernardino massacre but it provided me some distance for awhile. 

And I needed that!

So I apologize to those who have worried about me or waited for me to check in. I haven't been smoking. I don't do that anymore! 

I have been examining my beliefs and amazing as it sounds,the Lord has brought me another step closer to Him! Give a guy with trust issues more reason to distrust the world we live in and he finds that all there is to trust is GOD! People let us down but He is steadfast! 

When I was a smoker I put a barrier between myself and my Creator. I abused His Gift of LIFE! As with all sin that makes it harder to draw nearer to Him. Now that I'm clean from Addictive substances, I am more FREE to relate to the Almighty as an open book. Guilt and Shame don't stand in my way!

God gives us endless opportunities to get to know Him but it's up to us to meet those opportunities which more often than not look like challenges in our Lives. One such opportunity/challenge is to Quit Smoking and come Clean! In EXchange we receive ever so many Blessings of Mind, Body and Spirit! It's very difficult but it is doable and it is worth it!

So what have I learned by this Techcation? Although we think we're in control of our Lives - only God holds the reins the whole time! By acknowledging that I can relax into His Trust and let go of trying to make things work. 

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Living Smoke FREE brings us closer to the TRUTH! 

God Bless Us ALL! Pray for the victims of human stupidity!