Understanding and Coping With Nicotine Withdrawal

By Deepak Chopra, MD, Alexander Tsiaras, and the VisualMD.com

Nicotine WithdrawalEach year, nearly 450,000 Americans die from smoking related illnesses. That’s more than all deaths from HIV/AIDS, illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicides and murders combined. So why do smokers continue to light up when statistics like these make it clear that they should quit? Nicotine addiction is powerful, which makes quitting difficult–but it is possible. There are now 45 million smokers, but 47 million successful quitters. By understanding nicotine addiction and withdrawal, you can be better prepared to crush out this destructive habit for good.

Understanding the Addiction

When you smoke, nicotine speeds to receptors that trigger the release of dopamine, your body’s feel-good chemical. Nicotine causes dopamine to be released in several parts of the brain: the mesolimbic pathway, the corpus striatum, the nucleus accumbens and the frontal cortex (highlighted above). Over time, the receptors where nicotine can connect become desensitized. This means that they lose some of their ability to send signals that result in the release of dopamine, and other neurotransmitters. As a result, more nicotine receptor sites are created. The overall effect is that smokers who have developed additional receptors need more nicotine to avoid having withdrawal symptoms.

Full story at Huffington Post

To Cut the Debt, Time to End Drug Companies’ Blank Check

By Gary Shapiro

federal health care spending

With the newly created “super committee” gearing up to trim government spending, it seems wise to focus on one of the biggest multipliers to our growing debt. Not surprisingly, Medicaid and Medicare together consume 20 percent of 2011 federal spending and are projected to consume $1.38 trillion or 24 percent of federal spending by 2021, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

It’s true that rising health care costs are multi-faceted: improved technology, new drugs, rising costs of hospital care, malpractice and over testing, all contribute to growing costs. Yet few politicians focus on how to bring costs down. The new health care law (aka “Obamacare”) assumes a 15 member panel will cut $500 billion from Medicare spending, giving Congress little time to override any of the panel’s decisions. Surprisingly, this huge power received scant attention during the bill’s debate, yet was the major cost saver relied on to provide government health care to an additional 16 million Americans.

Full story at Huffington Post

The Addictive Personality

By Therese Borchard

addictive personality, craig nakken

In his insightful book, “The Addictive Personality: Understanding the Addictive Process and Compulsive Behavior,” author Craig Nakken explains why, even after an addict has given up the bottle or the weed, she will never be done with recovery:

“Addiction is a process of buying into false and empty promises: the false promise of relief, the false promise of emotional security, the false sense of fulfillment, and the false sense of intimacy with the world … Like any other major illness, addiction is an experience that changes people in permanent ways. That is why it’s so important that people in recovery attend Twelve Step and other self-help meetings on a regular basis; the addictive logic remains deep inside of them and looks for an opportunity to reassert itself in the same or in a different form.”

Full story at Huffington Post

Questions Children Ask About Cancer

By Hollye Harrington Jacobs

Since the time of my diagnosis of FBC (F-bomb breast cancer), we have talked openly with our five-year-old daughter about both the disease and its treatment.

While the personal nature of this circumstance made the conversations emotionally challenging, my professional experience as an adult and pediatric hospice nurse and social worker gave me both the tools and confidence to ensure that we gave her the developmentally appropriate answers.

Since our original conversation with her, we have encouraged her to ask questions. Over the course of my treatment, she has revisited a lot of her original questions as well as asked new ones. For example, the other day while driving her to camp, she asked, “Do you think that your cancer will come back?” GULP.

Full story at Huffington Post

Early Morning Smokers Get Wake-Up Call on Cancer

By Remy Melina

For some smokers, having a cigarette is an early morning ritual, but this habit may be even more harmful than smoking later in the day.

Smoking soon after waking up increases the risk of developing lung, head and neck cancers, two new studies show.

“These smokers have higher levels of nicotine and possibly other tobacco toxins in their body, and they may be more addicted than smokers who refrain from smoking for a half hour or more,” study researcher Joshua Muscat of the Penn State College of Medicine, said in a statement.

In an effort to determine why only some smokers get cancer, researchers investigated whether how soon a person has his or her first cigarette after waking up affects their risk of lung, head and neck cancers — independent of how often they smoke and for how long they’ve had the habit.

Full story at Live Science