One in five adults are addicted to ciagerettes and it's easy to understand why.
"Cigarettes have what are called monomineoxidase inhibitors," says Dr. Sameet Kumar, a psychologist who treats addiction, "And they boost levels of all the neurotransmitters so it can be harder to quit cigarettes than a drug like cocaine or heroin or methamphetamine even."
Because cigarettes are addictive on multiple levels, experts say slapping on a patch or chewing some gum may not be enough to kick the habit. Along with nicotine replacement, health experts recommend supportive counseling, relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation and the oral medications Zyban and Chantix.
"What they're doing is working on the reward centers activating dopamine in small doses, which is usually enough to get by managing small cravings," says Kumar.
Dr. Maritza Paz stimulates nerve centers in the brain without the use of drugs through a practice called Auriculotherapy. "Auriculotherapy, as I use it, is designed to stimulate your brain to produce it's own chemicals, those chemicals that are missing when you're depressed or anxious," explains Paz.
A hand-held device delivers micro-currents to points on the ear which Paz says helps generate feel-good chemicals in the brain. "When you're in a better place you can handle the craving when it comes, you can talk yourself through it," says Paz.
For Ron Everdij, Auriculotherapy succeeded when all else had failed, helping him quit a 30-year habit in 2009. "I haven't touched a cigarette since. It's amazing because I though for sure 'give me a week and I'm going to smoke again," says Everdij.
The average smoker spends more than $2,000 a year on cigarettes. The benefits of quitting start 20 minutes after your last cigarette with a measurable reduction in blood pressure and heart rate.
For more information Dr. Maritza Paz and her quit smoking technique, check out her website.
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