Everyone knows that smoking is bad for your health. It has been banned in public places in New York for years, and some people even think it should be outlawed. Why? Because smoking is associated with very serious and avoidable health problems. The Surgeon General warning on a packet of cigarettes states: “Smoking Causes Lung Cancer, Emphysema, Heart Disease and May Complicate Pregnancy.” This is but a brief summary of the scary side effects; smoking can also lead to chronic bronchitis and other respiratory diseases, cardiovascular disease including stroke, and it can increase infertility, autoimmune diseases, other cancers and mortality. Here are two shocking statistics on smoking from the CDC website:
*Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States
*Smoking causes more deaths each year than all of these combined:4
• Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
• Illegal drug use
• Alcohol use
• Motor vehicle injuries
• Firearm-related incidents
Second hand smoke is also harmful, so smokers adversely affect people around them as well. The habit can impact quality of life tremendously- for instance, it can inhibit the senses of taste and smell, it can contribute to impotence, it ages the skin, it is very expensive, and it raises the cost of healthcare.
The case for quitting smoking is obvious, but it remains extremely difficult to quit due to the highly addictive nature of tobacco. Smoking is both physically and psychologically addictive and both aspects of the addiction must be addressed for a successful result. Withdrawal symptoms usually include irritability, appetite changes, fatigue, restlessness, anxiety, and perhaps residual cough. Acupuncture, hypnosis, psychotherapy/counseling, and prescription drugs are often used to assist the process. In my opinion, any combination of therapies that can help a person quit should be utilized, as quitting can extend a person’s life and curtail disease, even if that person was a lifelong smoker. It is never too late to quit!
Acupuncture has been utilized as a method for helping people quit smoking for many decades. Primarily, it helps by diminishing withdrawal effects and curbing cravings. But it can also reduce inflammation in the body and facilitate healing, and the lungs of a smoker certainly need some tlc! Points used to help the process along are generally on the lung, large intestine, stomach, and liver channels. Depending on other coinciding symptoms and the state of the patient’s health, other points might be employed as a supplement. Ear points are an essential part of any withdrawal treatment. The protocol developed here at Lincoln Hospital for drug detox is imperative for smokers. It is known as the NADA (National Acupuncture Detoxification Association) protocol and involves 5 points in the ears to stop cravings and to bring about a sense of calm.
In my practice, many people call me up and ask if I can help them stop smoking. I tell them I can only assist in the process to make quitting easier. I advise people to make the commitment to quit by having a target date and begin treatments on or just before that date. If they have made a firm decision to stop buying cigarettes, they take it seriously and commence with treatment and from there the success rate is high. But if a person isn’t committed and has not made the conscious decision to stop, I ask them to contact me when they are ready in the future.