By Darren Main • January 2001
Q: I am 25 and have been smoking since I was 13. I just watched my father die of lung cancer last year, and I want to quit. I watched my father die a slow and awful death that devastated my family, and yet I still can’t seem to kick the habit. I don’t want to use a patch or gum because that is just a substitute and would mean I’m weak. Do you know of any natural things that might help?
A: First, I am sorry about your father. Countless people like your father die each year. Unfortunately we still have a Congress and president who won’t take more of a stand against an industry that is contributing to so much suffering, disease and death. Its economic, emotional and psychological toll on this country is impossible to estimate.
I also applaud your decision to quit. You may not have kicked the habit yet, but giving it the serious consideration that you have is certainly a prerequisite to quitting. Now, you just need to dig in your heels and stay committed. Even with a strong commitment, you will need all the help you can get, so here are a few tips.
1. Use the patch. I can understand your resistance to using nicotine to kick a nicotine habit, but the patch really does help. Nicotine is more addictive than heroin and getting rid of it without the patch is going to be unnecessarily hard. Even with the patch, you are going to need commitment and determination. The patch is not a sign of weakness, but rather a sign that your convictions and commitment to your health are stronger than ever.
2. Quit caffeine first. There is some evidence that caffeine and nicotine work together to make your addiction to both drugs more severe than they would be on their own. Caffeine is an easier habit to kick for most people, so take a few weeks to wean yourself off coffee, colas and other caffeine sources. This will make the eventual task of quitting cigarettes much easier.
3. Try bodywork. On the first few days of your new smoke-free life, you might want to book a massage or bodywork session. Letting go of nicotine can make you feel as if your entire nervous system is shorting out. Massage is very effective in soothing the nervous system. Foot reflexology is particularly useful.
4. Eat sunflower seeds. I have never seen any hard studies on this, but it is believed that sunflower seeds have a similar effect on the nervous system as nicotine. Before the days of Nicorette gum, many people used these seeds as an aid to help quit. If nothing else, it will help replace the oral craving associated with smoking, and you can look cool like The X-Files‘ Fox Mulder.
5. Pick up some good habits. Reward yourself and start some good habits to replace the old one. Maybe start a new exercise program or stock your pantry with some healthy food. Keep reminding yourself that you deserve to be healthy.
For more information, visit The American Lung Association Web site.
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