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Healing, Practical Advice

Great American Smokeout

The American Cancer Society marks the third Thursday of each November as The Great American Smokeout – a day to kick the smoking habit.   We all know that smoking cigarettes is an unhealthy habit, but many people find it incredibly difficult to quit because of the addictive nature of nicotine, the primary chemical in tobacco. Within 10 to 20 seconds of inhaling on a cigarette, nicotine will reach your brain, causing a huge surge of dopamine to be released. Dopamine is one of several “feel good” chemicals your brain produces to make you feel pleasure. Nicotine is such a potent drug that one drop of pure nicotine can cause you to go into respiratory failure (stop breathing), paralysis and death.

With each inhalation of a cigarette, you breath in over 4,000 chemicals, including but certainly not limited to arsenic, ammonia, acetone, ammonium bromide, benzene, carbon monoxide, cadmium, cyanide, DDT, formaldehyde, lead, mercury, nickel, hydrogen cyanide, and hydrogen sulfide, in addition to at least 50 cancer-causing agents.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, cigarette smoking causes death: nearly 443,000 deaths per year (1 in 5 deaths) to be exact. This is more than HIV, illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicides and murders combined.

So what can you do to help yourself, or loved one, to kick the habit?   Acupuncture has been used successfully for many years to help people to stop smoking by following the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine.  By assessing the addiction from several perpectives, including the physical, mental, and emotional causes of addiction, they use techniques that are proven to work.  For example, may utilize a technique where fine needles are inserted into a set of five acupuncture points on the ear and patients are sent home with small beads placed on the ear using adhesive tape, that when stimulated, can continue to help curb withdrawal symptoms.  Patients return to their acupuncturist several times for the first two weeks to support them through the acute phase of withdrawal.  It’s common for patients to experience a decrease in cravings, changes in their senses of taste and smell, and an increased feelings of serenity.

Now the downside – withdrawal symptoms are not pleasant and may include insomnia, fatigue, feeling jittery, chest tightness and coughing, irritability, depression, anxiety, and dry mouth.  Most acupuncturists are able to treat these symptoms independently and assist patients in this phase of withdrawal.

Some dismiss the possibility that acupuncture might have an effect greater than placebo, but despite the critics,  it’s hard to overlook the thousands of people that have found success with tobacco cessation through the aid of acupuncture treatments.

Ultimately, tobacco addiction is a personal one, as is the journey to kicking the habit. It does not matter what road is taken, but that you reach your final destination of being tobacco-free!!

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