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Even Obama Uses Nicotine Gum - Is There Any Hope For Natural Quitting in America?

Barack Obama's recent health report stated that he is using Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) to stay off cigarettes. His choice is the nicotine gum. What chance does natural quitting have when even our agent for change is choosing the status quo?

Twenty years ago, the esteemed C. Everett Koop penned the words, "Nicotine is addictive in the same sense as heroin." [Emphasis added.] This provocative statement opened the 1988 Surgeon General's report on the topic of nicotine addiction.

Using the 1988 US Surgeon General's report itself as a reference, only 10 percent of smokers needed medical treatment programs to quit. Today, almost every smoker tries some type of Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) or other pharmaceutical.

What happened since 1988?

My theory is that the medical and pharmaceutical communities have turned Dr. Koop's precise statement, which took hundreds of pages to explain, into a convenient and inappropriate sound bite. Simply, most smokers now believe they are helpless drug addicts in need of medication to quit.

For example, somewhere in America today, a smoker is reading the disempowering and false statement, "It's more difficult to get off nicotine than heroin". Yet, when a person is physically addicted to heroin, sudden physical withdrawal is terrible and includes hallucinations, sweating, vomiting, cramps and a rushing of blood to the internal organs, which results in pale skin and goose bumps (the true meaning of "cold turkey"). Some people can even die from heroin withdrawal.

The 1988 report stated that approximately 70 percent of heroin addicts need medical support to quit. As for nicotine, millions of heavy smokers have stopped instantly without any of these symptoms and, as stated earlier, the same report implied that 90% of smokers quit naturally a few decades ago.

Don't get me wrong, I realize smoking is a devious addiction but are pharmaceuticals truly the answer? As I explain in my book, Stop Smoking for the Last Time, smoking can be primarily an emotional addiction - it's not necessarily nicotine withdrawal that makes it hard to quit. In fact, nicotine withdrawal goes unnoticed by many smokers.

I could understand the billions of dollars spent on smoking cessation pharmaceuticals if they were completely safe and wildly effective, but one study reports that 93 percent of smokers using NRT relapsed after six months (Hughes, Shiffman, et al 2003), and it's safe to say that pharmaceuticals designed for smoking cessation generally fail more than they succeed. In addition to less-than-stellar success rates, side effects of the nicotine patch include rashes and stomach upset; the smoking cessation drug Chantix earned a public warning from the FDA, with side effects that include potential suicide and has been banned by the FAA. Yet smokers turn to these methods in droves, even Obama is not an exception.

Americans are so convinced they are addicted to nicotine that hypnosis is needed more than ever. Many people think hypnosis is brainwashing, but in my opinion, the only brainwashing going on is the media and pharmaceutical companies bombarding smokers with the message that it's so hard to quit naturally. The irony is that smokers now need hypnosis to break this brainwashing and free themselves from the false belief that NRT and pharmaceuticals are needed to quit. The power to quit does lie within, but that power is buried deeper than ever before.

Hypnosis has been shown to be effective (Chockalingam and Schmidt 1992, Law & Tang 1995), and the July 2005 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reported that hypnosis has a scientific basis (see "This is Your Brain Under Hypnosis" by Sandra Blakeslee NY Times 2005/11/22/science). Yet, unfortunately, safe and effective hypnosis is seen as a last resort by many.

Barack Obama, if you fall into the 93% that relapse after NRT, I hope you will try hypnosis...this endorsement would be another welcome change you can make to the wrong direction this country has taken.


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