Nicotine is a powerful addiction. To overcome it, one feels as though they are going through the trials of hell. And when one falls off of the wagon, utter shame is felt, which then leads to more smoking. It is a nightmarish merry-go-round that you just can’t seem to get off.
But know this: you are not alone. There are 42.1 million smokers in the US alone. Nearly 70% of these smokers want to quit. So when you are standing in the smoker’s balcony, 7 out of 10 of them are smoking with you, wishing that they could escape the hellish grasp that nicotine has on them. But if the desire to quit is there, why can’t we quit?
One of the reasons is motivation. As selfish as human beings can be, we are still social animals. So when we tell ourselves that we want to quit for our own health, it doesn’t motivate us enough to quit. But when we change our motivation away from ourselves and place it upon someone else, say a loved one, like a daughter or son, the motivation is stronger.
Another reason is because of habit. It takes only a week for nicotine to be fully metabolized out of the body but because of habit, even after a week, you still feel the need to reach for a cigarette. Does the following sound familiar? You wake up and the first thing you do is go outside to light up a cigarette to have with your morning coffee. Or whenever there is massive traffic, you light up, to either pass the time or “relieve” the stress of traffic. Or you light up after every meal because you feel as though it helps with your digestion or relieves your constipation. There are many more examples, but as you can see, smoking takes up a lot of your time and energy throughout the entire day. How do you go from having it in such a huge part of your life and then go without it?
And the very main reason, of course, is addiction. All over the body, there are nicotinic receptors. Receptors act like locks or doors and when the right key (in this case, nicotine) is placed in these locks, the receptors unload the pleasurable side effects of nicotine. The addiction begins when regular use of cigarettes introduces more than enough nicotine than the nicotinic receptors have use for, which then leads to the disappearance (downgrading) of the receptors. What use are more receptors when the body gets enough nicotine through one “door”? Because of this, the use of cigarettes increases because the effects of nicotine wear off more quickly. When you then quit, the receptors that disappeared increase to more than there were before you started smoking because they are trying to grab as much nicotine as they can. That’s when the insatiable cravings for smoking pounds at you, leaving you with horrible side effects. This leads us to nicotine withdrawal side effects.
Here are the side effects of nicotine withdrawal (information from Webmd.com):
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Fatigue, drowsiness, and insomnia
- Difficulty concentrating
- Depressed mood
- Increased hunger and caloric intake
- Increased desire for the taste of sweets
- Tobacco cravings
These are difficult side effects to have to go through. And because it’s difficult, it’s easier to convince yourself to start smoking again. And that is where acupuncture comes in.
Acupuncture allows your body to detox nicotine out of your system more efficiently. It also reduces the withdrawal side effects so that staying smoke free is an easier decision to make.
What you can expect from a smoking cessation acupuncture treatment:
-About a week of acupuncture treatments
-Includes an initial overall assessment of the patient so that each smoking cessation is customized to each individual
-During the treatment, one may experience sweating and a bitter taste in the mouth (don’t worry, this is the nicotine coming out of your system)
-Ear seeds (a sticker with seeds on it that provides acupressure to the ears) will be given so that the patient may massage them between acupuncture sessions
-Herbs may also be given to alleviate (which will be an additional cost to the program)
-Nicotine supplements (nicotine gum, e-cig, vape, nicotine patches) will not be allowed as it contradicts the purpose of the treatment, which is to detox the body of toxins
What you can do during and after the smoking cessation acupuncture program:
- Regular exercise (walking 30 minutes at a brisk pace every day)
- Eating more fruits and vegetables
- Writing down your reasons for quitting
- Writing down why smoking will benefit you
- Meditation (stress tends to be an easy trigger for cravings)
It is also highly recommended to come back at least once a month for a treatment to keep the nicotine cravings at bay.
If you want to quit smoking, look for an acupuncturist near you and ask about their smoking cessation program.