Smoking is the leading cause of death and illness in the United States. There are highly compelling reasons for the estimated 50 million Americans who smoke to quit, including the risk of heart disease, lung disease, and cancer; the expense of the habit, and its decreased social acceptability. Yet despite being all too familiar with these reasons, millions of smokers fail in their attempts to quit each year, making smoking possibly the most difficult addiction to break.
Smoking cessation is a difficult process due to various withdrawal symptoms that occur when a person decides to quit. Emotional manifestations may include irritability, anxiety, decreased stress threshold, emotional outbursts, and a general sense of being unwell. Physical symptoms vary greatly from increased food cravings, constipation or diarrhea, insomnia, decreased energy, palpitations, night sweats, digestive discomfort, muscle tightness to dryness. These withdrawal symptoms occur as the body attempts to re-adjust itself to the absence of nicotine and various addictive and harmful substances found in cigarettes.
Acupuncture’s ability to decrease the physical cravings for tobacco, lessen the withdrawal symptoms, and provide a generally sedative effect on the nervous system makes it an excellent supporting modality for the smoking cessation process. Though an addiction control ear acupuncture protocol known as NADA is often utilized to facilitate quitting smoking, there is no one set treatment because no one thing can work for every person. To be most effective, acupuncture must be tailored to the person’s specific presentation and circumstances and address their individual needs. The combination of individualized acupuncture treatments with NADA addiction control protocol gives most people the extra help they need to finally end their smoking addiction.
It takes most people at least three weeks to re-establish systemic balance and feel at ease again without cigarettes, even though their bodies will continue to release and expel stored toxic substances for months or years to come. It is the first three weeks that is the most difficult period for smokers and helping them make it through that crucial time is the main focus of the acupuncture support. Once over this major hump, the program requires much less intervention as the withdrawal symptoms lessen and it becomes easier to resist the temptation, but emotional triggers and behavioral rituals often still need to be dealt with to prevent relapses.
Typically, it is recommended to get acupuncture treatments 2 or 3 times during the first two weeks after quitting smoking. After that, an additional follow-up treatment sessions to consolidate the effects are usually necessary during the following few weeks. Research has shown that making it to the six-month mark drastically increases the probability of not starting again. For this reason, in some cases where significant life stressors or complicating circumstances are involved, additional follow-up treatments for up to six months may be necessary to maintain the positive results.
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