Are you sick of being handcuffed to nicotine?
Believe it or not, there is never a bad time to kick nicotine out of your life. I’ve successfully worked with people who quit during a relatively peaceful phase in their life, and with people who were going through some of their most stressed times. It all comes down to whether you are ready and willing.
And when you are, acupuncture can help.
Let me start right off the bat with the 3 most important things I want you to know when considering acupuncture for quitting nicotine…
[note: I’m going to refer to smoking and cigarettes for simplicity, but the same protocol applies to chewing, vaping, and using other forms of nicotine.]
1. You can’t be forced into this – it has to be something you choose to do. If you are only coming in because your spouse, your family, or your doctor is telling you that you have to quit, but you know in your heart you don’t want to, then you are probably not ready yet and I don’t want you to waste your time and money. If this is something YOU want and are ready for, then read on.
2. You have to be willing to work on ways to avoid exposure and triggers (e.g. getting rid of all secret stashes, avoiding situations that trigger the craving). Acupuncture is really great for what it can do, but it can’t do all the work for you.
3. I strongly recommend that you choose to stop completely. Have your last cigarette a minimum of 8 hours before your treatment (or ideally the night before) so that you are in withdrawal at the first appointment. When people choose to try cutting down, rarely do they commit to a stop date, so it drags out their discomfort of constant mini-withdrawals and is often unsuccessful.
How acupuncture helps:
Acupuncture first helps the physical symptoms – reduces cravings, relieves tension, and reduces withdrawal symptoms like jitteriness and irritability. Active nicotine is out of your system about 72 hours after the last cigarette – then it’s a matter of changing behavior. In this phase, acupuncture will help with the stress of no longer having your go-to relief of choice; but to remain successful, it will take some behavior/habit changes which we’ll talk about at your first visit.
My recommended protocol:
My patients who have been successful quitting nicotine have followed this process:
- Reduce your intake by half during the week before your first visit.
- Have your last cigarette the night before your first treatment so that you have started withdrawal by the time you arrive. Get rid of everything before you come in – destroy all your stashes – house, purse, car/truck, garage, work.
- We will schedule 3 acupuncture treatments:
- Your first two visits will help through the early withdrawal and should be scheduled 24 to 48 hours apart.
- Your third treatment will be one week later to help with the stress of the habit change.
- You may or may not need additional support after the 3rd treatment but you and I can decide that together based on how the first 3 visits go.
Preparing for your first visit:
Think about these questions before your first treatment:
* How much do you smoke now? How long have you smoked?
* Where and when do you smoke? During which activities?
* What do you like about smoking?
* What do you dislike about smoking?
* What are some things to do that might help distract you during a craving?
* What is your motivation to stop now? Is anyone pushing you into it?
* What have you tried in the past? Have you been successful before? What was your motivation then?
Increase your chances:
It is very common to have made several attempts over the years to quit. That’s okay – try again. It can take a few tries before it finally sticks. Here are some tips that will greatly help you:
- Be honest. If you slip, tell me. There is no judgment on my part – my only job is to help you. Keeping secrets triggers addictive behavior; owning up to your slips and moving on from them will help your success.
- Drink more water. Most people are under-hydrated to begin with, and your body will need the extra water to flush the nicotine toxins out of your tissues. Good hydration will also decrease cravings.
- Pick substitutes that keep your hands/mouth busy that are not sugar- or gum-related. Sugar will increase cravings. Gum can cause digestive upset and jaw tension. Some ideas are chewing straws or toothpicks, twirling a pen or fidget-spinner, starting a new hobby like crochet or doodling.
- Read Allen Carr’s book Allen Carr’s Easy Way To Stop Smoking. He is very straightforward and describes all the different tricks that try to trip you up while quitting.
“Not one puff”:
Don’t give in to the belief that “I can have just one puff.” There is a biological reason why it’s so easy to revert back to smoking. The cells in your body have little doors on them called receptors, and nicotine acts like a key that unlocks the door and changes the behavior of the cell. When you are actively smoking, there are lots of these receptors and they are all full with nicotine. As you cut down, not all the receptors are getting their nicotine fix, which is part of the cause of cravings.
The longer you are away from your very last cigarette, these receptors start to close their doors and quiet down.
However [this is the important part!] one receptor stays open as the lookout, watching for any nicotine to enter your system. If you take just one puff, the nicotine finds its way to that receptor, then the lookout receptor lets all the others know it’s back in action and BOOM! all the doors open again and your body is screaming for more. It happens that fast.
My success rate:
I often get asked for my success rate in treating nicotine cessation. I intentionally do not track a success rate because one person’s success or lack of success in curbing an addiction has no bearing on another person’s addiction. It’s a very individual process. I find it has more to do with the readiness of the person than the treatment method that they choose, as well as their willingness to meet me halfway. All that matters is whether or not this will work for you.
If my approach resonates with you, then let’s work together to get you off of nicotine. In the words of Art Williams, “I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy, I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.”
When you’re ready to get started, click Book Now and choose the NADA Acupuncture option.