Why Do Doctors Claim That Smoking Is Addictive?


Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There are has been an increasingly large divide developing in the medical community surrounding the concept that smoking is an addiction. Some doctors and scientists; such as researchers at the University of Tel Aviv, claim that smoking is merely a habit and that tobacco is not in itself addictive. On the other side, many doctors, such as the U.S. Surgeon General, claim that smoking is an addiction to nicotine. So which side is correct? We take the position that smoking is fundamentally a social or stress-relieving habit and that smokers have control over this habit. However, it is always a good idea to understand what the other side is saying-there is often some truth in both sides of an argument. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons some doctors believe and promote smoking as an addiction:

Nicotine is addictive: The United States Surgeon General, the head medical doctor of the U.S. government, concluded that nicotine is an addictive substance in 1988. After this proclamation, many other doctors and researchers followed suit and have been able to prove that nicotine causes chemical and biological changes in the brain. That isn’t the debatable point-the debate revolves around whether or not these changes lead directly to dependency. It is possible that it does, but more likely that it is working in conjunction with a more powerful compulsion or habit in the smoker.

Marketing: Unfortunately, the pharmaceutical industry funds the majority of mainstream medical research. This means that mainstream medical researchers are often looking to solve conditions with a pill rather than personal responsibility. For example, the Nicotine Patch is marketed as a way to cure smoking addiction. So is Nicotine gum. People are told that these will cure their biological addictions to smoking by slowly weaning them off nicotine. However, this approach avoids addressing the underlying reasons people smoke and avoids helping them realize that smoking is a habit that they can control. This is not to say that mainstream medicine falsifies research or has malicious intentions, but it is important to see that there is a link between the approach, conclusions, and funding.

Most doctors and researchers claiming that smoking is an addiction use the concept that nicotine is an addictive substance as their central argument. Whether or not this is true is difficult to discern, but what doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out is that smoking is a habit, something that people choose to do out of their own free will, although often as a way to relieve stress or cave in to social pressures. Approaching smoking as a habit does not have to dispute the fact that nicotine is a harmful or even addictive substance-both concepts can coexist; because what is most important is teaching people to control their habits not give in and give up because they think they are biologically incapable of putting that last cigarette out.

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Who Tells Us Cigarettes and/or Nicotine Are Addictive?

To answer that question you need look no further than the cigarette companies and the government with their advertising and they are supported by the companies that manufacture products such as Nicorette, Nicabate etc and other non effective products marketed as Quit therapies.

Why do you think this is? Even though the government states it wants to see people quit smoking, the fact is their advertising is increasing the use of cigarettes. This is particularly prevalent with the young people who feel they are invincible and can easily stop smoking anytime they want. Of course they don’t realize until it is too late that it isn’t all that easy. In fact for some it is really difficult to quit.

In a way there is some reverse psychology taking place with the advertising. It is almost a challenge for young people to try. For example, in ads on cigarette packets and billboards you will see the words about smoking or nicotine being addictive. For those people who already smoke it just makes it so much harder for them to stop smoking as the word “addictive” has such awful connotations. “Am I really addicted to nicotine or smoking?” they ask themselves. They thought they were just smoking because they enjoyed it, they weren’t aware they were addicted to smoking. So this raises the barrier even higher for them. They may even justify their smoking by saying ‘oh well I am addicted what is the point of trying to stop’.

Have you ever seen a methamphetamine or heroin addicted person coming down from their addiction? Perhaps not in real life, maybe in a movie or TV show. They have quite severe physical reactions don’t they? Do you ever see people who stop smoking having this kind of reaction? The answer of course is no, as people are not physically addicted to Nicotine or smoking. They may get a bit crabby and irritable but certainly not a physical reaction. So what is happening then? Well the answer is simple.

Am I really addicted to smoking or Nicotine?

Most people start smoking during their socialization years of between 10 and 21. Young people are endeavoring to “fit in” with their peers and when they see a group of friends smoking they may feel left out if they are not doing as others do. They may even be taunted to join them with “why don’t you have one? Are you a mummy’s boy or are you a wus?” Now they feel even worse and so they have one and while initially they choke and splutter they feel better and now they fit in. They link up the “feeling better” with a cigarette so when they need to feel happy or raise their spirits, they reach for the cigarettes. And so the habit begins. So yes, the good news is that smoking is a habit but a very powerful habit that people may feel powerless to break.

Solution to stop smoking

There are a number of alternatives on the market such as Nicotine Replacement Therapy with a variety of products available. This has a very low success rate of between 10-16% although recent research shows 8% success rate. While Nicotine patches are being promoted quite heavily there are also considerable concerns for their safety. For example a young man aged 23 was driving home while wearing the patch and suddenly experienced severe heart palpitations, sweating and dizziness. He called his family as he thought he was having a heart attack. Once the patch was removed the symptoms eased and in a short while stopped altogether. In research people say they have cut the patches into quarters as they were too strong and many people said they just made them sick or they didn’t work.

People have stated they have taken Nicorette Microtab to help them to stop smoking and have stopped smoking but cannot stop taking the tablets. So they replaced one habit with another.

Medication

Zyban (bupropion) and Champex (varincelin) are prescribed medication and while there is limited success there is also a dark side of these drugs.

In the UK, more than 7,600 reports of suspected adverse reactions were collected in the first two years after Zyban’s approval by the MHRA as part of the Yellow Card System which monitored side effects. In 2009 the FDA issued a health advisory, which warned that the prescription of Zyban and Champex for smoking cessation has been associated with reports about unusual behaviour changes, agitation and hostility. Some patients have become depressed or have had their depression worsen, have had thoughts about suicide or dying, or have attempted suicide. The MHRA received 60 reports of “suspected adverse reactions to Zyban which had a fatal outcome”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bupropion

Drug regulators are set to bolster the warning requirements of two popular smoking cessation drugs in response to continuing concerns over their serious psychiatric side effects. The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) said it would “strengthen” prescribing and consumer information warnings for Champix (varenicline) and Zyban (bupropion), following a decision earlier in the week by its US counterpart. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will compel manufacturers to include a boxed warning about their drugs’ impact on mental health, including a risk.. (see the PharmacyNews Australian Website).

There is a solution

There are a variety of services available using alternative therapies such as acupuncture, hypnosis, herbal remedies, aromatherapy and cold turkey. These all have some success.

However the combination of Hypnosis, Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) and Reframing has a huge success rate of 95.6%. It is one session of 60 minutes only and the person will stop smoking for life. If the person should relapse and takes up smoking again be it in six months or even 6 years then with their lifetime guarantee they are welcome to come back for another session for free. Maureen Hamilton is an Integrated Neuro-Linguistic Programming Practitioner and a DeMartini Method Facilitator. Maureen has previously worked in many areas of health in Australia as well as overseas. Maureen enjoys helping people improve their lives by facilitating their emotional and physical wellbeing and lasting happiness. A holistic approach is the only way to ensure a person will have a successful outcome from their Quit smoking program. A successful outcome will instill an attitude of positiveness that reverses the mindset of once addicted always addicted.

If you found this article of interest and would like to be notified as more articles become available subscribe on my website www.LifeCoachToQuitSmoking.com.  Also ‘Like’ my Facebook page to get exclusive offers, share your stories and join our community at www.facebook.com/lifecoachtoquitsmoking.