Well, the medical community has defined a smoking addiction as an uncontrollable dependence on cigarettes to the point where stopping causes emotional distress! These very same proponents are generally advocates of the addiction disease model, which promotes the hypothesis of chemical dependency and the affects of substances on the brain. Let’s examine that hypothesis for a moment! If discontinuing smoking causes emotional distress, is not rational to conclude that the emotional stress was present before the addiction occurred? Furthermore, is it not also rational to believe that the emotional distress is the direct cause of the addiction? In my opinion, absolutely, unequivocally yes!!
The questions are; what is the root cause of this emotional distress, and what role does nicotine play in alleviating that distress? First, let’s examine the affects of nicotine on the body and mind. It is true that nicotine is a psychoactive drug that stimulates electrical activity of the brain. And, it also has a calming effect, especially at times of stress. As with every addiction, smoking merely diverts people from their emotional pain! While everyday stresses can exacerbate the situation they are not the main cause of the emotional pain that needs to be calmed. Generally, underlying emotional trauma caused by family dysfunction is at the root of the addiction. This emotional trauma batters the self-esteem and self-confidence levels which lessens the ability to cope with everyday stresses, whereby causing anxiety. So, in my opinion, liberating oneself from that anxiety is the key to nicotine addiction freedom. Consequently, when you remove the anxiety smoking becomes repulsive!
The medical community’s response is a direct contrast to the underpinning cause of nicotine addiction and has closely followed the disease hypothesis with the introduction of the drug Chantix. Chantix was released by the FDA in the United States (in June 2006.) The drug is believed to block nicotine from reaching receptors in the brain whereby reducing the so called cravings to smoke. In addiction, Chantix is a partial agonist that activates release of 35 to 60% of the dopamine that nicotine would have caused to flow if sitting on the exact same receptors. This release of dopamine is believed to produce the same emotional effect that nicotine delivers without the damaging effects of smoking. Dopamine has many functions in the brain, including important roles in behavior and cognition, motor activity, motivation and reward, sleep, mood, attention, and learning. So, let me get this straight! The solution for overcoming a nicotine addiction is to acknowledge emotional distress as a component, dismiss it, and then trade one psychoactive substance for another!
Sadly, prior to the release of Chantix there was clear evidence that it caused side effects such as nausea, mood alterations, drowsiness, vivid dreams, and allergic rash in up to one-third of patients. But, that isn’t even the half of it! Now, after about 4 million smokers have taken Chantix, about 40 suicides have been reported to the FDA associated with Chantix and about 400 cases of suicidal thinking or behavior from this psychoactive drug. The Food and Drug Administration issued the following warning on February 1, 2008:
FDA ALERT: FDA is issuing this Alert to highlight important revisions to the WARNINGS and PRECAUTIONS sections of the full prescribing information for Chantix regarding serious neuropsychiatric symptoms. Serious neuropsychiatric symptoms have occurred in patients taking Chantix. These symptoms include changes in behavior, agitation, depressed mood, suicidal ideation, and attempted and completed suicide. While some patients may have experienced these types of symptoms and events as a result of nicotine withdrawal, some patients taking Chantix who experienced serious neuropsychiatric symptoms and events had not yet discontinued smoking. In most cases, neuropsychiatric symptoms developed during Chantix treatment, but in others, symptoms developed following withdrawal of Chantix therapy.
Chantix has been promoted as having a 44% success rate at 12 weeks. However, that figure is really rather meaningless since half of Chantix clinical trial users who successfully quit smoking for 12 weeks while using it had relapsed to smoking within a year. Source (whyquit.com)
The Real Reason you Smoke
The key is to realize that nicotine does have a calming effect on the mind. As with all addictions, smoking merely diverts people from their emotional pain or distress. While everyday stress can exacerbate the situation it is not the primary cause of the emotional pain that needs to be calmed. Generally, underlying emotional trauma caused by family dysfunction is at the root of the addiction. This emotional trauma batters the self-esteem and self-confidence levels which lessens the ability to cope with everyday stress or in the case of smoking, anxiety. Therefore the key to overcoming a nicotine addiction is to restore self-esteem by liberating oneself from the dysfunctional patterns that cause anxiety. Plain and simple, when you remove the anxiety and restore self-esteem smoking will become repulsive.
Take a moment to ask yourself a couple of questions; what has caused the anxiety that you need to calm with smoking, and why does smoking make you feel better?
So, if you want to crumple up your last pack and walk away forever, you need to get to the bottom of the emotional pain and anxiety that provokes you to calm it by smoking.
The Addiction Freedom Coach
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