Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A Pill to Quit Smoking. Good Idea?

OK, let me fire off a quick disclaimer and then I'll get into my opinion.

Not smoking anymore is the goal.  At the end of my book, How to Stop Smoking Without Killing Anyone, I tell you plainly, "For God's sake, get some help!"  If it's a prescription medication that get's you there, more power to you.

That's my disclaimer.  Now for the nitty, the gritty, one dose of  however and a big but (pun intended).

If you just wind up replacing one addiction for another, why bother?  That's the point.  In a previous blog, I mentioned methadone.  How is that a good idea?  So you're off heroin but hooked on methadone and when you try to get off the methadone, you're back on the heroin.

So out on the market is a drug that is in a class of drugs for smoking cessation.  Wikipedia calls it a smoking cessation aid.  Meaning it's there to help but not do the job.  I'm OK with that part.  Here's where I have a problem:

"Important Safety Information
Some people have had changes in behavior, hostility, agitation, depressed mood, suicidal thoughts or actions while using XYXYXYX to help them quit smoking. Some people had these symptoms when they began taking XYXYXYX, and others developed them after several weeks of treatment or after stopping XYXYXYX. If you, your family, or caregiver notice agitation, hostility, depression, or changes in behavior, thinking, or mood that are not typical for you, or you develop suicidal thoughts or actions, anxiety, panic, aggression, anger, mania, abnormal sensations, hallucinations, paranoia, or confusion, stop taking XYXYXYX and call your doctor right away. Also tell your doctor about any history of depression or other mental health problems before taking XYXYXYX, as these symptoms may worsen while taking XYXYXYX."

Are you kidding me right now?!?!  Is this some kind of joke or SNL sketch?  Coming from someone who's been there and done that, what does a change in behavior with hostility, agitation, and depressed mood sound like to you?  If you've ever gone 9 hours without a cigarette, you know exactly what that sounds like.  WITHDRAWAL!!!

In addition, while taking this I may want to kill myself.  From where I'm standing, I'm trying to quit smoking here people!  I want to stop because I want to live!  Now that I'm not smoking and I'm not speeding up the lung, prostate, throat, mouth cancer, heart disease, emphysema because I finally found a little extra love for myself and want to extend my life... (deep breath) So, why am holding a gun to my head?

Let's get one thing real straight here.  When I went through withdrawals, I was hostile, agitated, depressed, anxious, panicky, overly aggressive, angry, and manic.  I had violent and suicidal thoughts, abnormal sensations (like breathing better) mild hallucinations (I saw cigarettes everywhere!) and paranoia (not Naked Lunch style more like the first five minutes of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) and I was incredibly confused.  So please, someone explain the value of this drug to me?  From where I'm standing, if you go cold turkey, you're gonna get to put up with all this crap anyway?

So to add insult to injury, taking this medication might also result in a rash that can become life threatening.  My face could swell up from an allergic reaction.  So too my mouth and throat may swell in a way that may cut off my air supply.  If I have these symptoms or a rash with peeling or blisters in my mouth, I'm supposed to stop taking it and call my doctor right away.

Really?  Well that's some sound advice!

Personally, I'll take the ashtray breath and periodontal disease over this crap.  But wait, it get's better!  Apparently, the most common side effects are nausea, sleep problems, constipation, gas and or vomiting.  

CO-WORKER 1:  "Hi Bob!  How are you today?"

BOB:  "Well, Cheryl, I'm pretty pissed off for no good reason and this hostility just seems to keep bubbling up inside of me.  I'm getting more and more depressed and can't seem to shake this anxiety.  So much so that I'm thinking about jumping off the roof after I finish those reports for Sam I Am who keeps looking over my shoulder telling me that it's OK my spleen is vibrating, which I think is somehow directly related to the Kennedy assassination, and I'm not talking about Jack or Bobby.  You gotta know Ed was whacked!  But listen Julie, I'm glad you asked me how I was feeling because I think I'm getting a rash on my tongue, but can't seem to see it because I'm so nauseous I'm afraid to open my mouth because I don't want to throw up again.  I'm starting to swell and I'm not sure if the bloating is a reaction or just gas.  You know, the Russians are putting something in the water that will only allow you to have a bowel movement every third Saturday of the month?  I learned that from a dream I had and you know it was Woody Woodpecker who figured it out and trusted me with the data.  But hey!  I haven't had a cigarette in 6 days!  I think I'm gonna go down stairs and take that forklift for a test drive!" 


Look kids, it's like this.  In a nut shell, and I explain it better and deeper in the book, but you can't quit.  It's impossible to quit, so don't even try.  Quitting sucks.  You're going to feel miserable in the beginning and great at the end.  How do you like to take off a band-aid?  Quick, right?  Why prolong the agony?  Don't trade one addiction for the other.  If you have a chemical imbalance in your brain, go see a psychiatrist and get help.  There's nothing to be ashamed of, but keep this in mind too.  If you smoke or ingest nicotine, you're brain and body is physically addicted.  That in itself is a chemical imbalance in your brain.  Your body will have the capacity to repair itself and re-balance.  However, sooner or later, you gotta suffer the pains of withdrawal.  You chose to smoke and most likely are still smoking as a form of self medication.  When you step up and stop, you'll have to, as my buddy Charlie says, "Cowboy up" and as Larry the Cable Guy puts it, "getterdone."  If you can get through it all on your own, you'll be better for it.  Take it from someone who has!  That's the point.  So today's lesson is simple, if you want to stop smoking, Cowboy up and getter done!

P.S.  If you'd like to do a cost/comparison analysis, a pack of 56 of these wonder pills will run you on average 135 bucks.  The recommendation is 12 weeks. That's 3 months.  $405 to get off smoking and be like Bob.  My book How to Stop Smoking Without Killing Anyone is $15.89.  A one time investment for a lifetime of success.

So the peanut gallery is open, what's your take?