Sunday, December 12, 2010

Anxiety Makes Quitting Smoking Harder

I recently stumbled upon this article:

Sometimes, the blog finds you...

This article covers a study by the Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention where 1500 smokers were analyzed.

What grabbed me most was this, "To understand the relations among anxiety disorders and tobacco dependence, withdrawal symptoms, response to smoking cessation pharmacotherapy and ability to quit smoking."

Pharmacothera...  what?

Pharmacotherapy:  the treatment of disease through the administration of drugs.

OH!  That!  When you see big words like that, feel free to get a little anxious.  I know I always do.  In fact, I'm thinking about reaching for a smoke right now I'm so anxious!

But I digress, really.  Here's the deal, some folks went out to answer the question, "If you suffer from anxiety AND smoke cigarettes, will it be harder to quit?"

Their findings:  "Anxiety diagnoses were common among treatment-seeking smokers and were related to increased motivation to smoke, elevated withdrawal, lack of response to pharmacotherapy and impaired ability to quit smoking. These findings could guide treatment assignment algorithms and treatment development for smokers with anxiety diagnoses."

This leaves me with one major question:  Who in the #%&* funded this?  Are you serious?  Is this some kind of joke?  Can you say no brainer?  I can.  If I was 11 years old the phrase "no-duh" would be ringing out load and proud!

So, just so we're clear here, not only is smoking getting put into the disease category instead of the disease CAUSING category, it is now official that if you've been anxious for a while and you smoke, then quitting is going to be a bitch.

Dude, quitting is already a bitch!  As if I wasn't anxious enough, now you're telling me withdrawals will be elevated, no motivation, and what's all this pharmaco-whatever talk? 

Look, I won't hide it, I've suffered from anxiety my whole life.  Why do you think I started smoking?  At least the real reason.  The subtext of it all...  suddenly that nicotine relaxed me.  Evened out my brain chemistry or at least covered up the feelings.  Why do people become alcoholics?  Drug Addicts?  Self-Medication is a prime factor.  Even if the soon to be addict isn't aware of it.  It's quite simple really.  The knots and butterflies, the nausea, the tight chest and diaphragm, the sensation that I might crap myself, all that stuff suddenly goes away when I have a cigarette and I can think clearer.  These thoughts process faster than a light going on so it never has time to fully register, but there it is.  Smoke this, feel better.  Self medication.
The article wraps up with this amazing insight:  "The results of this study demonstrate that habitual smoking may be caused by more factors than nicotine addiction."
Speaking of being 11 years old again and excuse the language, but a "no shit Sherlock!" is the only appropriate comment here.

Look folks, especially the ones still making the decision to continue smoking, smoking is a decision you make every time you light up.  In my book, How To Stop Smoking Without Killing Anyone, I contend that for most people, especially if you, like me, suffer from anxiety disorder, it is impossible to quit.  So don't bother trying.  It is however, VERY possible to stop smoking.

After all that is the name of this blog...  stop, don't quit.  For more on that, you'll have to read the book.  Yes, I am in this for the money!  Not really, I'm kidding...  sort of.  What I am in it for, more than anything,  is to help people make the decision to stop smoking and to give themselves the permission they need to love themselves just enough to finally knock this passive aggressive from of suicide off once and for all.

I find it disturbing that someone needed "scientific evidence" to establish a "treatment algorithm" for smokers with anxiety disorder.  I don't think a word like that should be anywhere near a discussion about treatment for individuals.  It's too sterile for me.  Then again, I'm not a scientist.  I'm too left brain for any of that.

Anyway, there's my 2 cents on that.  This blog was intended to seriously analyze the study and the article but as I kept reading the article and the study I found it near impossible to take it seriously and while smoking cessation is serious and should not be taken lightly, this article to me, gives too much power to nicotine and cigarettes and diminishes the human spirit and human potential to overcome a condition.  Especially a condition (nicotine addiction) one imposed on them self.