How many times have you found yourself saying “I need to quit smoking”?
You have heard all the talk, seen the pictures, read the nasty notices on cigarette packaging, and deep down you know how bad smoking is for you. All the reasons you have for quitting, with the health risks being number one, followed by the money it costs you, and that feeling of being a slave to the cigarette that runs your life. Even with all of this knowledge, you attempt to quit but you still have trouble kicking the habit.
Quitting smoking is not an easy task for anyone to accomplish, although some people are successful much quicker than others. Just think about how long it took for your body to tolerate the effect of smoking. Can you remember what your first few smoking experiences were like? Did you say to yourself “Wow, this sure tastes great”, did your body enjoy that inhaling of the smoke, telling you this is awesome, give me more of that stuff? NO, you probably thought this is horrible stuff. Your lungs coughed and hacked trying to get that poison out of your body. Most likely you turned a little green and got nauseous as your body tried to protect you from all of those toxins you were pumping into your body. Tell me if I am wrong! You battled through it all and worked hard to become a smoker.
As you continued to smoke, your bodily reactions slowly became less and less noticeable as your brain finally gave up on trying to stop you from ingesting that smoke. I’m sure it said “OK, I give up, obviously this smoke is going to keep on coming so I guess I just need to go with it and find another way to deal with it”.
Now, over time your body kicked in many protective mechanisms to protect itself, one major one is how it impaired your ability to taste. If you can’t taste as well, you could tolerate the ongoing ingestion of the smoke. Anyone who has quit smoking for a period of time will tell you how much better food, how much better everything tastes since they quit smoking.
I firmly believe, and I am sure that you can relate to this, people are always more successful at accomplishing anything if they can understand the how’s and why’s. Before I explain my process and why it is so successful, I feel it is extremely important to give you a proper understanding of the how’s and why’s of the smoking cycle. You already understand how the body shuts down taste buds as one protective mechanism.
Now, here is the dry part of the explanation! As not to bore you with a detailed chemistry lesson guaranteed to put everyone to sleep, I will keep it fairly basic. What happens to the body when the nicotine, and 4000 other chemicals in cigarette smoke that are inhaled when you smoke? Let’s talk about nicotine. First off, nicotine is referred to as highly addictive substance. The actual addiction to nicotine however can be overcome in about 5-7 days. Think of it this way, have you tried to quit smoking in the past with nicotine alternatives such as the patch or gum or other options? Have you ever become addicted to those? NO, as a matter of fact, although I have heard of it, I have never had one person ask me about treatment for a nicotine patch or gum addiction. Nicotine is kind of like a double edged sword and things change when it is combined with cigarette tobacco. When you smoke, the nicotine creates a release of endorphins, chemicals that are loosely classified as feel-good / pain relieving chemicals. The neurochemical dopamine, which is an integral part of the brain’s reward system, is also released. As time goes on, even just the thought of a cigarette will begin to cause the brain to release dopamine. Not something that you may even feel, but it will significantly begin to affect your behavior, a major factor in the addiction process. The release of dopamine kicks in the body’s automatic reward process, even before you light up your smoke. When you do smoke, to counteract the inhaled poisons in cigarette smoke, the nicotine causes your brain to release endorphins and you subsequently feel better. Now, the other side of nicotine. When nicotine is combined with the tobacco and other chemicals, smoking causes the body to have many protective reactions. Blood vessels constrict, stress chemicals are released, breathing becomes shallower, chest muscles tighten and other similar responses occur. This is not very noticeable while smoking because the release of endorphins mask those reactions by making you feel better and decreasing pain. However, the endorphins wear off quicker than the protective responses do, leaving slight withdrawal symptoms such as a feeling of constriction in the chest, restricted blood flow, elevated stress level etc. Your feelings of well being are pushed below normal levels of a typical non-smoker. Now your brain tells you “You know, smoking a cigarette will make you feel better”. Just the thought of smoking causes the dopamine reward system to kick in and the cycle continues. It is these subsequent lows that cause the perceived “need” or “withdrawal symptoms” for the next cigarette. Can you see how adding the daily stress of life to the mix can make this cycle even worse? Not to mention all the habitual components of smoking as well. It can be a bit of a complicated addiction.
Does it make sense now, why this nicotine / tobacco addiction cycle can be difficult to break? How being successful at quitting smoking requires the right comprehensive approach including a good understanding of the smoking addiction cycle? No wonder cold turkey does not work well for most people!!
Now this was a simplified explanation but I am sure it gave you a good understanding of the smoking addiction cycle in a way you probably haven’t looked at before. I do not believe that my stop smoking acupuncture system, or any other smoking cessation program will work for everyone. It is important though to have a system that breaks the smoking addiction cycle on as many different levels as possible. Addressing the chemical addiction, re-balancing the brain chemistry and providing solutions to address the habitual and psycho-social aspects as well are crucial for long term success.
Think of your addiction to cigarettes this way. Yes, addiction. First off, you need to realize that you are not kicking the habit, you don’t just have a smoking addiction, you have a drug addiction to nicotine. You need to understand that it is not a social activity, a habit, activity that you do, IT IS A DRUG ADDICTION, PERIOD. The interesting thing is that you are not really addicted to smoking cigarettes, you are addicted to your body’s chemical response to smoking cigarettes. Dopamine and endorphins are naturally occurring chemicals that always exist in your brain. What would your stop smoking success level be if you could release these chemicals with a healthy alternative so you can feel good in those lows without needing to smoke cigarettes or rely on another drug? Probably tenfold. One technique that is proven to decrease heart rate, lower blood pressure, release endorphins, reduce levels of stress hormones and calm down the autonomic nervous system is box breathing. This technique is excellent for smokers who are trying to quit because it is almost the exact same breathing pattern that smoking is. Try this for yourself and see what I mean. Sit somewhere as comfortable if possible. Take a full, deep breath into the belly and lungs for three seconds, hold it in for three seconds, exhale fully for three seconds and hold for three seconds. It works fantastic. Patients have told me that after using the box breathing technique for a while, they seem to get that dopamine release firing up their reward system when they think about the box breathing like they did when they thought about smoking.
The first step in accomplishing anything, whether it is quitting smoking or reaching any other goal, is the determination and desire to change. To be totally blunt, without that determination and desire to change, you won’t. You need to want to quit smoking. Nothing will make you quit. I find that the most common question I get is “Will your stop smoking acupuncture MAKE me quit smoking”. And the answer is always “No, it is very successful in helping you to stop smoking but you have to want to quit”. It is surprising how many people call me because quitting smoking is something that their spouse wants them to do.
Let me tell you a story about a lady I treated a few years back. Her smoking addiction was a pack a day for over 40 years. She started smoking when she was 13 years old and was up to a pack a day by the time she was 16. She had talked to me many times about the effectiveness of acupuncture and my stop smoking program. We would talk about the things I talk to every stop smoking acupuncture patient about. The benefits to quitting smoking, her previous attempt to quit (or as she put it “kicking the habit”), the reasons she continues to smoke, the #1 reason she wants to stop smoking and it always came down to the same thing in the end. She still really enjoyed smoking, she knew she SHOULD quit but still really enjoyed smoking. For about 18 months I told her the same thing “I do not think you are ready to quit, do you?” I honestly turn away more people than I treat as I have found that some people truly are not ready to quit. They know the effect of smoking on their health, the dangers of secondhand smoke and all of that. One day we were talking about things that were going on in her life and I could tell she had changed. She had shifted from I should quit to I really want to quit smoking. Finally, she found that desire and determination to become a non-smoker for reasons that were important to her. Even though she was trying on her own, she was having trouble even cutting back. She did however, genuinely want to be done with smoking. We set up a time to start her acupuncture to quit smoking treatment. Because she had been such a long term smoker, to be successful, she received a total of 5 sessions. That was over 4 years ago and she still to this day has not touched another cigarette.
Now here is a little about my acupuncture smoking cessation program. If you have tried a stop smoking acupuncture program before, or maybe a prescription, nicotine patch, cold laser, gizmo or app, were you given any tools and techniques to address the other components of the addiction? Fully explaining and providing techniques to address the smoking addiction cycle mentioned earlier, the dopamine / endorphin release, the stress of quitting, added with the stress of daily life? Maybe you have tried counselling, hypnosis or your Doctor gave you the little speech when he gave you your nicotine patch prescription. All of these can be successful with some people but tend to only address one, and if you are lucky two of the components. I have found that if a person can understand the smoking cycle, you address all four major parts of the addiction – chemical addiction, brain chemistry, habitual and psycho-social aspects- in conjunction with having the determination and desire to quit, success rates skyrocket. My stop smoking acupuncture program addresses all of those and that is why it is so successful.
Are you ready to stop smoking? Does this make sense to you? Maybe my acupuncture to quit smoking program, that contains many proven tools and techniques to address all of the addiction components, is exactly what you need to finally be successful, accomplish your goal, stop smoking and become a true non-smoker. My successful smoking cessation program has helped many Regina and Regina area smokers finally become non-smokers. Call for a free phone consultation 306-525-0007.
UPDATE: the Saskatchewan Health Authority is requiring masking and Covid-19 screening to remain in effect for their facilities. The following measures will remain in effect at HealthWorks:
We look forward to seeing you soon. If you have any questions or concerns, please call us at 306-525-0007.
Your HealthWorks healthcare team.