Youth Unemployment and Tobacco Use

(A Trilogy)

A few weeks ago, I was alarmed at discovering the truth about the ten million jobless youth in the U.S. (a number greater than the population of New York city). Regardless of nationality, ethnicity or religion, being jobless is bound to have grave consequences for every youth’s well-being, and/or the life of that person’s family. Read more

Triggers and Practicing Mini-Quits

One of the best things to help a person quit smoking is to begin to understand what the triggers are, that make you want to have a cigarette. It’s a good idea to start a log. Some like to do more of a journal. It’s up to you. When do I smoke? Why? Where? Do you smoke first thing in the morning? After you eat? In the car? At work? Keep a log of these times and why for about two weeks. Your body (brain) is either craving some nicotine or urges come at other times when you are angry, tired, hungry, etc. Get to know when it happens and why. Read more

Teen Smokers

Experts say that the number of teens that have tried an e-cigarette has more than doubled from 2011 to 2012. A sad finding when there was actually a decline in teen smoking after 1997 and now with the introduction of e-cigarettes there is a big increase. E-cigarette smoking with teens has doubled from 3.3% in 2011 to 6.8% in 2012.

The attraction seems to be the flavored cartridges with options from fruit to mint. Called “vaping” by users it is a $5 million market last year and is expected to atleast double that this year. The e-cigarettes is a battery-operated product made to look like a regular cigarette or cigar that can contain varying amounts of nicotine, or none at all. This then turns the nicotine or other chemicals into a vapor that users inhale and keeps them from being exposured to the smoke of regular tobacco burning cigarettes which can release carcinogens into the lungs. It is hard to say whether the e-cigarette is actually safer than the regular cigarettes because no studies have given any conclusions as yet. One recent study found that e-cigarettes can cause increased resistance in the airways, making it harder to breathe, within minutes of inhalation of the vapors, while other studies have suggested the products can help smokers to quit. Read more

Writing Dreams and Quitting Smoking

As a freelance writer, one of the things I do these days involves writing short stories for ShortStoryGuy.com. Everybody’s got a dream and right now the biggest one that I have is to write a full blown novel. Writing short stories is a refreshing start and having someone go over and challenge your work is something I really enjoy. BreathingHappy.com and the rest of the Goodblogs network keeps me afloat as I have five kids that I need to provide for. For that I’m really thankful. I used to think that I won’t be able to quit smoking because I have to write.

The circuitous dilemma that this creates in writing for a website about quitting smoking is not lost on me. What’s worse is that I used to think that I needed cigarettes to bestow upon me that creative capability like it was some sort of magical amulet. The quintessential notion of a haggard looking smoke belching man on a keyboard has made a very strong impression on me. But in reality, smoking has just weakened my mental and creative faculties. Thankfully, e-cigarettes have broken that powerful spell.

As a longtime smoker and I’m pretty sure FireWife86 and the other smokers here could attest to what I’m saying, craving for something helplessly is very much akin to Romeo slobbering and slaving beneath Juliet’s heels. It’s like having that paramour that you’ve been bewitched with. Not that I know how that feels of course. I used to do anything to grab a cigarette. Now the mere acrid and putrid stench of tobacco smoke just peeves me. The triggers have changed. I am slowly but surely having more control over my thoughts and words.

Unlike before when I was compulsive with the things that I write, I’m beginning to see the pristine value of the right word and the ‘right’ sequence of events. Whereas I used to view words as stones that one throws up in the air, I now see them as keys that have the power to unlock something beautiful, something great and something undiscovered. There’s a lot I need to work on and I’m raring for a duel with myself, with words and with the rabid thoughts that are raring to come out.

 

 

Creative Commons Image via Flickr

Children Experiencing Divorce & Increased Risk of Smoking

Divorce is very stressful on all involved. Kids suffer in many ways when their parents divorce, even though there may be some things about their lives that improve from having parents separate who are not getting along. Unfortunately, a new study shows some additional negative outcomes for children going through these trying times. A study from the University of Toronto found a strong correlation between people whose parents divorced when they were children, and smoking. Read more

Nicotine Addiction

Beyond a habit for most smokers, smoking it is an addiction. Nicotine changes the functioning and structure of the brain. Over the years, the amount of nicotine put in cigarettes has increased. Some cigarettes now contain up to thirty-five times more free-base nicotine than other cigarettes. This type of nicotine is obsorbed quicker by the lungs and brains than the nicotine that's in the average cigarette. It has even been referred to as "crack nicotine" because of how quickly it reaches its destination, much like heroin or cocaine.

If you've used these specific cigarettes, it's likely a true addiction has been born. And if you go to quit, you must be ready for the powerful mood swings and temporary anxiety you will typically feel. To sucessfully recover from this addiction, you must have the patience to let your mind adjust to functioning normally. You will feel heavy cravings, and it is normal to think that this is because you want a cigarette, but actually your brain wants nicotine.

After several puffs of a cigarette, the smoker begins to relax and feel more alert. We have another puff and another because it makes us feel good. Nicotine reachs the brain in about ten seconds, and a chemical named Dopamine is released, which gives the smoker a feeling of pleasure. Heroin and "crack" effect us in much the same way. When you cut down or go cold turkey on smoking, your boby will begin to experience withdrawal. The most common symptoms of withdrawal are: restlessness, increased appetite, weight gain, depressed mood, insomnia, anxiety, frustration, irritablity, decreased heart rate, and, of course, the urge to smoke. These feelings will lessen over time.

About half of the body's nicotine reserves decline every two hours. For the smoker who wants to quit, this is the time when the brain begins being bathed in a nicotine-free blood serum. This is when the true quitting begins. It can take up to 72 hours for the blood serum to become free of nicotine. Anxieties associated with the readjustment your body is going through, normally peak in intensity now and begin to gradually decline. Now, if you have one more puff and put nicotine into your system now, you will have to face this 72 hour detox anxiety again. But this is just a chemical, and we can have power overcome it if we really want to.

Just like other addictions, once you have quit you must stay away from them for good. For a while, stay away from others who smoke, the smells associate with smoking, and your known triggers. All of these can make the urge  too much to bare. Just one puff and you could be right back smoking again. Some 'social smokers' are able to stop and leave it alone, but most cannot. Experts feel this may have something to do with genetics.

A nicotine addiction is much harder to quit than most may think. With about thirteen million smokers each year trying to quit cold turkey, only less than 5% will be smoke free in six to twelve months. Be sure to keep in communication with your doctor or smoke coach, as these symptoms come on. Each one can and should be addressed as it comes up.

Weaning yourself off of cigarettes by using gums, enhalers, or pills is giving yourself a six month relapse rate 93% of the time. And almost 100% of second time nicotine patch users relapse in six onths. Some smokers even become nicotine gum addicts. On average, a smoker may try at least five times to quit. But, if you learn from each past trial, soon it will become second nature, and you will be able to stop once and for all.

Getting Off the Hook: 10 Tips to Help You Quit

As we all know, so many smokers are addicted to the habit, which is why it is so hard for them to quit. It is worth remembering however, that when you stop smoking, the physically addictive part only lasts for a couple of days after your last cigarette. Anything after that is a psychological craving. These types of cravings are Read more

When Quitting Becomes All Fun and Games

Anti-smoking games are self-medication. We actually have access to various types of games that can impactfully benefit us. But, do we use them? From an apparent stand point, take video games.  No, seriously. Playing a video game of some kind can help distract you from the craving, as video games tend to take our minds elsewhere during play. From a scientific standpoint, engaging in different activities can be just as as comforting, such as having enjoyable non-smoking company over. This is important, because emotional isolation is ranked as high a risk factor for mortality in smokers.

As it turns out, combine loneliness and a smoking addiction, and you are increasing your risk. So, stay productive. An assistant professor of communication at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (Hayeon Song) developed a video game relevant to our current physical habits, showing students what they might look like after twenty years of smoking tobacco. Results of the game led to increasing risk perceptions of health. Awareness can be the seed for change.

Some therapeutic elements of games, are they can keep your eye on a specific goal at all times, and help to mediate urges. Anti-smoking games range from “Hang Tabacco Man", using tobacco prevention vocabulary words, to online shooting games  such as “quit smoking”, where you can destroy cigarettes with e-cigarettes. You can also create for yourself an organic dose of education about the dangers of smoking with:

  • Math (calculating costs for the habit ) 
  • Science (demonstrations on the decaying effects of smoking ) 
  • Geography (exploring countries and their cigarette use per capita ) 
  • Reading Bar graphs (visual aid for statistics )

How will you educate yourself or involve yourself in some type of intervention or activity to break free?

 

 

*Image courtesy Flickr creative commons

Quitting – The Journey Back To Health

When you're trying to quit, everyone keeps telling you how much better you'll feel and the benefits of being smoke-free are extolled endlessly. But what can you expect to experience as time elapses during the process of kicking the habit? What are the timescales? Read on to find out …

20 minutes in

Believe it or not, you'll feel the benefits of quitting in as little as 20 minutes as your heart rate begins to drop back down toward normal levels.

2 hours in

Although your heart rate and blood pressure level will have returned to almost normal levels, nicotine withdrawal symptoms now begin to appear. You may experience severe cravings, increased appetite, stress or insomnia. On the plus side, there may be an improvement in your peripheral circulation.

12 hours in

When tobacco burns it releases toxic carbon monoxide which you inhale into your lungs. Carbon monoxide prevents oxygen from bonding effectively with red blood cells and this can cause serious cardiovascular issues. Only 12 hours after quitting, carbon monoxide levels reduce to much lower levels and your blood oxygen returns to normal.

24 hours in

A landmark! And you've already reduced your risk of heart attack considerably. Keep it up, you're doing great!

48 hours in

After 48 hours without a cigarette, your previously reduced sensory capacity, especially smell and taste, will begin to improve as your nerve endings begin to recover and regrow.

Three days in

After three days cigarette free your body will be completely free of nicotine. Whilst this is a great milestone, it also means that your withdrawal symptoms will peak now. These could include such nasties as headaches, cramps and nausea in addition to the psychological symptoms already mentioned. Now's the time to treat yourself to a much-needed pick me up using the money you've saved by not smoking.

Two to three weeks in

By this time you should find that you're able to exercise without experiencing feelings of nausea giddiness. Why? Well, because your lung function has improved along with your circulation so you can breathe much more easily. And another thing; your withdrawal symptoms will by now have virtually disappeared – result!

One to nine months in

A month or so after quitting, your lungs will begin to repair the damage smoking has done to them. This means that you now have a greatly reduced risk of chest infections and even the heaviest former smokers will find that their withdrawal symptoms have gone completely.

One year in

This is a major landmark – congratulations! You have now reduced your risk of heart disease by half.

Five years in

Many of the substances you inhale from burning tobacco cause narrowing of the arteries. This places you at risk from suffering a stroke. Luckily, from five years onward after quitting your risk of stroke is just the same as a non-smoker.

Ten years in

Everyone knows that smoking increases your risk of cancer; lung cancer unsurprisingly being the most likely and smoking accounts for 90% of deaths from that disease. After 10 years of being smoke free your risk of dying from lung cancer will reduce by half and your risk of contracting other forms of smoking related cancers also decreases.

15 years in

So, here you are 15 years down the non-smoking road and guess what? You are no longer a high risk category for heart attack and disease!

If you haven't already worked it out, the long-term benefits of quitting are truly amazing. Non-smokers (including those who smoked for years and then quit) live 14 years longer than smokers. And you'll feel much healthier, want to be more active and get a whole lot more enjoyment out of the extra life you've bought yourself.

So what are you waiting for?