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According to Schneider, M. and Schneider, H.S. (2017), cigarette smoking is the leading actual cause of death in the United States; an estimate of 480,000 people die from it annually. In fact, some more recent studies have shown that smoking increases your risk of dying from several other diseases, so this in turn increases the total number of deaths attributable to smoking amounts to approximately 540,000. Here recently, the increase in e-cigarette use, particularly among high school students, has sky rocketed. For many reasons, e-cigarettes shouldn’t really be advertised as “a safer alternative to smoking,” as they cause just as many health issues as plain old cigarettes. The biggest rave right now among high school students are JUULS. Countless amounts of young people, ages ranging from 14-21, are addicted to nicotine. Can you imagine being addicted to nicotine at the age of 14, just so you can be socially accepted by your peers? In fact, one JUUL pod is equivalent to 20 cigarettes worth of nicotine. So, the question remains, how exactly can we get people to stop using tobacco?
Quitting smoking is not a single event that can take place in just one day; it’s said to be more like a journey for some individuals. For someone to quit smoking, they not only need to alter their behavior and cope with the horrible withdrawal symptoms that come along with quitting, but they also must find some way to manage their moods. Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) can help reduce the withdrawal symptoms and cravings that one might experience; those two things are what may hinder your attempt to give up smoking. NRTs have been designed to help wean your body off the use of cigarettes, and in return, supply you with a controlled dose of nicotine; sparing you from exposure of deadly chemicals found in tobacco. Currently, the FDA has approved five types of NRTs, these including: skin patches, chewing gum, lozenges, nasal spray, and an inhaler.
A second alternative that should be considered, when trying to stop using tobacco, is the use of non-nicotine medications. The FDA has approved two non-nicotine-containing drugs to help smokers quit. These are varenicline (Chantix) and bupropion (Zyban). Varenicline interferes with the nicotine receptors located in the brain, which in turn results in reducing the pleasure that one gets from tobacco use, and even decreases withdrawal symptoms. Typically, Varenicline is used for up to 12 weeks, but can be used for additional 12 weeks, so that the chances of relapse don’t occur. As for Bupropion, it acts primarily on chemicals in the brain that play a role in the nicotine cravings. Bupropion is taken in tablet form, but again, used for up to 12 weeks. If the person has successfully quit smoking during that period of time, they can use it for 3-6 more months, to reduce the risk of relapse.
Lastly, in a recent study conducted by Johns Hopkins researchers, incredible results in smoking cessation has been found when psychedelic mushrooms are combined with cognitive behavioral therapy sessions. It was said that the abstinence rate for the participants in the study was 80 percent, after just six months of use. This percentage is much higher than the typical success rates in some of the other smoking cessation trials previously conducted. It’s crazy to think just how misunderstood and misrepresented psychedelic mushrooms have been for so many decades. I think if they have the power to help people quit smoking, then what’s the harm in eating them? After discussing some potential alternatives for use the tobacco, you can see that cessation is completely possible, but at the end of the day, it’s ultimately your decision on how you go about quitting.
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