The Myth of Nicotine Addiction
April 11, 2012"Governments, pharmaceutical companies,'big tobacco', are all in cahoots to make people think smoking is addictive, and quitting is difficult. Neither is true."
Nicotine addiction is mostly in the mind. After reading Allen Carr's Easy Way to Quit Smoking, Nathan Weidmann was able to quit his 15-year 1-2 pack-a-day habit without difficulty.
"I was utterly sick of stinking and paying for my own demise, like choosing a toll bridge for jumping off."
by Nathan Weidmann
As if smoking doesn't take up enough time at work, some co-workers and I were discussing the effects of smoking and nicotine addiction.
Someone remarked that his doctor had said it could be harder to get off of nicotine than heroin. As a smoker, one could believe this.
However, after being nicotine free for three months now, I no longer agree. Nicotine withdrawal does not induce seizures or vomiting. In fact, in my experience, nicotine withdrawal is barely noticeable, and is easily neutralized.
Of course my co-workers scoffed at me. Even non-smokers believe that nicotine is a little demon ready to catch them if they let their guard down.
I'm only thirty, what did I know? I know that I smoked cigarettes regularly for nearly half of my life. Fifteen years of ever increasing amounts of tobacco and nicotine, I was no amateur. I could smoke with the best of them.
Certainly I knew that smoking was bad but this was full on cognitive dissonance. I would decry the toxic effects of fluoride, or artificial sweeteners, while puffing on a cigarette.
At 14, I would deride my friends for smoking; by 15, I was puffing away alongside them.
I could blame my parents' divorce or Holden Caulfield, but it goes back even further than that. A childhood friend and I would imitate our parents. Passing me his crayon he would say, "wanna 'moke?" I would accept, and we sat around puffing crayolas.
By the time I would successfully quit, I had felt that perhaps I would just choose a different day to quit: "Now is not the right time; what will I do at coffee break?"
I feared that that nicotine urge could never be fully subdued and I would be forever craving a smoke. Then my sister gave me Allen Carr's book, Easy Way to Stop Smoking.
I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to quit. I had made feeble attempts for a day or two other times and had tried the old 'I'll cut down" routine, without success. The best I thought I could hope for was to suddenly and magically be relieved of the urge.
But this time I was really ready, I really wanted to quit. I was smoking at least a pack a day, some days closer to two. I was sick of wheezing and waking up hacking, sick of wishing I could get a deep breath any time I wanted.
I was utterly sick of stinking and paying for my own demise, like choosing a toll bridge for jumping off.
I was in awe when my sister, just as much a nicotine fiend as I, quit with ease. No cravings she said, only disdain at the thought of her former slavish smoking self.
The cravings are all in the mind. It's the trap of thinking that we are giving up something truly enjoyable, that a little piece of us will be missing. Not the case. I regained my freedom, freedom from self imposed slavery.
It sounds hard to believe but I truly have had no cravings. I have had remembrances of smoking, when in situations where I would have smoked, but no desire.
I had a dream that I was chain smoking. In my dream, I was furious at myself for giving in. I was very happy when i woke up. I took a big deep breath, and carried on.
ALLEN CARR'S TEACHING
Allen Carr takes a unique approach: He destroys the myth about nicotine addiction.
He has had enormous success helping people to stop smoking by identifying the real reason for smoking: we are brainwashed to believe it is inherently enjoyable, and brainwashed to believe that it is hard to quit.
First of all, no one actually enjoys smoking. I could have told myself I did till I was blue in the face, but the fact is, no one enjoys the stinking alienation of hanging out in a freezing cold smoking area, nor the residual stench of cigarette.
And contrary to popular belief, the addiction is extremely mild. The nicotine metabolizes so fast that the only reason a smoker has another cigarette is because the nicotine from the last is nearly gone.
A five, ten, or twenty-year smoker is no more or less addicted than a forty -a-year smoker. It comes down to how much tobacco smoke one can tolerate, and the barely discernible effects of the nicotine.
(left, Allen Carr)
A quick rush maybe? If that? Any excuses a smoker or a non smoker may believe about calming, stress-relieving, boredom relieving, post-meal enhancing effects of the cigarette are utterly false.
The cigarette does none of these things. The fact is that governments, pharmaceutical companies,'big tobacco', are all in cahoots to keep people smoking, and keep people believing that quitting is difficult.
This doesn't absolve the media, with their vast consortium of smoking movie cool-guys.
Smoking is very much about image, and most teenage 'rebels', with or without a cause, will be drawn to smoking. I know because I was one.
The government says 'ooh, they're so bad, they'll kill ya!' effective vilification, all the while making tons of money from taxes, then pretending to sue 'big tobacco' to recover health care costs, what a joke.
The Ontario government thinks high taxes are a great deterrent from smoking, or is it the perfect way to keep everyone driving out to the native reserves to get their smokes cheap and tax free?
The pharmaceutical companies offer their help with gums and patches, all the while still feeding that nicotine itch and portraying it as a nearly inescapable little demon. And the pills.
Anti-depressants are disguised as stop smoking aids. They actually admit in the pamphlets that it is not known how the drugs make you quit. I don't doubt that those big pharma wizards know precisely the psychological ill-effects of these potions.
The bottom line is that the well known toxic effects of smoking cigarettes should be enough to make anyone quit.
Many people continue to smoke because they believe it will be extremely difficult or even impossible to quit.
It is not. I implore anyone who wants to quit, or knows someone who does, to find a copy of 'Allen Carr's Easy Way to Stop Smoking.'
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Henry Makow received his Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Toronto in 1982. He welcomes your comments at