Another year ends with the fresh start of a new one on the horizon. Lofty goals of new gym memberships, yoga classes, cleaner eating and more quality time with loved ones are being dreamed up this time of year. For some, taking a two hour drive to visit aunt Gertrude in the puckah’ brush just north of Buckfield takes priority, and yet for others (myself included), being able to do enough downward dogs to finally be able to touch my toes without feeling like my whole spleen if going to burst would be a dream come true. If eating mountains of broccoli and kale in an effort to finally tap into your higher self floats your boat, than by all means go at it, tear your intestines up with all that roughage! There are so many ways to start off the year living a “cleaner” life, starting with taking a break from all those swear words your mother tried to wash out of your mouth as a kid, and ending with occasionally taking a luffa to those hooves you call feet while in the shower. Somewhere on that spectrum of cleanliness falls smoking cessation.
The addiction to smoking and the cornucopia of other chemicals loaded into all those marlboros is no joke. You might be asking yourself, “hey, how could a single acupuncture needle help me stop a habit I have developed over the past 30-50 years?” Well, I do not think it could, but imagine not just one needle but hundreds of needles covering you from head to toe. What do you think about that? Are you starting to feel anxious or stressed? Maybe you are one of those heavily tattooed types and you are scoffing at needles, thinking “I once sat for 9 hours straight getting ‘I LOVE BARBARA’ tattooed across my rib cage, and then when she divorced me, I had it artistically redone for another 5 hours to say ‘I LOVE BORA BORA’”. Rest assured, I do not use hundreds of needles to help you quit smoking, and I am also thoroughly impressed by people who decide to get tattoos in very uncomfortable places, hats off to you!
Here comes the truth bomb, there is no single needle or series of needles that are going to miraculously end your desire to smoke. In fact, your desire might always be there, let’s face it your smoking is a relationship that you will miss, much like those wholesome Campbells soup commercials we used to see around the holiday season twenty years ago. Instead, the proper place for acupuncture along your journey to quit smoking is to help manage the stress and anxiety that you feel when you do not smoke, or that led you to start smoking in the first place. Most of my patients that want to quit smoking have quit in the past but started back up again as a way to cope with some stressor in their life. On rare occasion I have the patient that comes to me and says, “I went to an acupuncturist 30 years ago to quit smoking and after that treatment I did not smoke again until (insert something mildly inconvenient or majorly traumatic) happened 1 year later”. This type of scenario begs the question, “what do you reach for in a time of need?”, or perhaps, “what do you need to feel a sense of inner calm and wholeness?” I think these are good questions to ask when dealing with any addiction.
We all have this back story as to why we started some habit that is less than desirable. Maybe you were really into reading People magazine or Us Weekly and when you stopped into your local convenient store to get your Brad and Jenn fix they had sold out so you grabbed some Menthols instead. Slowly you started caring less about Brad and Jenn and more about the Royal family so you switched tabloids, but you continued to buy the cigarettes. Now its 15 years later and Prince Charles still isn’t King Charles (Long live the Queen!) and you are smoking a pack a day. What happened? You were duped into a new coping strategy that has terrible consequences. You have succumbed not just to addictive nicotine, but in most cases the branches of your support tree have also been pruned away. What do I mean by that? You have reached for a cigarette when you feel depressed, you have reached for a cigarette when you feel anxious, you have reached for a cigarette when you are processing, or deep in thought. You have used cigarettes in place of a therapist, friend, family, exercise or other hobby, in a sense you have relied so heavily on one branch of your “coping tree” for so long that all of the other branches have been neglected and withered away. The list of healthy coping strategies is a long one, often filled with choices that are much more difficult to start. Grabbing a cigarette is relatively easy compared to the vulnerable state one must be in to treat the root of addiction.
Here, at Maine CHI, the patients who receive acupuncture treatment for smoking cessation, or alcohol misuse are not bearing the deepest darkest parts of their addiction during their treatment sessions. Instead, patients are met with compassionate support, an attentive ear to their daily struggles and provided a treatment which settles their nerves. We want you to feel more at home in your body, we want your spirit to be at ease and grounded, and from that space you will feel the strength to walk towards empowered smoking cessation.
Schedule a visit with us to learn more about how MaineCHI can help you quit smoking.