Graphic Images and Smoking

smokingSmoking rates have dropped dramatically over the last several decades. Every adult knows that cigarettes carry inherent risks to one’s health. It seems like with each year that passes, researchers add to the list of conditions and cancers linked to tobacco use. While health officials and lawmakers have made it more difficult for tobacco companies to market and sell their products, millions of Americans continue to smoke despite these risks.

In recent years there has been a lot of talk about placing graphic images on cigarette packaging, pictures that show smokers what can happen. Public health experts believe that it would be a deterrent that may stop people from picking up the habit and may influence current smokers to quit. Naturally, tobacco lobbyist have put up stiff resistance to the implementation of such warnings, which is why we still have only the Surgeon General’s warning. Interestingly, new research suggests that graphic warnings may not have the desired result and may produce a boomerang effect, Science Daily reports. The findings were published online by the journal Communication Research.

A Threat to Freedom

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois found that graphic images may be viewed by smokers as a threat to their freedom, choice or autonomy. When some people are told what to do, or have the feeling that they are being told what to, they will often do the opposite.

“What we found is that most people don’t like these warning labels, whether they are smokers or nonsmokers,” said Nicole LaVoie, a doctoral student in communication and the lead author of the study. “It makes them angry, it makes them express negative thoughts about the packaging, that they’re being manipulated,” LaVoie said. “Ultimately, it also makes them think that the source — the government in this case, mandating these labels — is being overly domineering, is being too much in their business.”

Smoking in Recovery

If you are working a program of recovery and also smoke cigarettes, you may want to seriously consider breaking the habit. Cigarettes are extremely difficult to quit and are also bad for you, but new research suggest that people in recovery who smoke are at much greater risk of relapse. In recent years, a significant number of people working a program have turned to e-cigarettes as healthier alternative; however, some e-juices that smokers vaporize actually contain a small amount of alcohol which could potentially trigger a relapse.

Monitoring the Future 2015

monitoring-the-futureEvery year, researchers at the University of Michigan conduct the Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey, funded by research grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The MTF is a long term epidemiological study that that looks at legal and illicit drug use and perceived risk of use among American adolescents and adults. The research has been ongoing since 1975. The MTF, among other things, provides experts with a window into people’s beliefs regarding drugs and alcohol use, allowing them to make informed decisions in the development of intervention techniques.

Monitoring the Future 2015

As the year comes to a close, we have a chance to see the progress we have made and the setbacks we have experienced as a nation. This year’s survey shows that overall; teens are reducing their use of:

  • Cigarettes
  • Alcohol (including binge drinking)
  • Prescription Opioids
  • Synthetic Marijuana

“These are some of the lowest numbers we have ever seen,” NIDA Director Dr. Nora D. Volkow told CBS News. “Notable is cigarette smoking — it is lower than we’ve ever seen it. Heroin is at the lowest it’s ever been. For prescription opiates, it’s the lowest we have ever seen. Overall this is very good news.”

Less Fire, More Smoke

While the aforementioned findings are promising, there is still work to be done – especially when it comes to marijuana. The researchers found that marijuana use has not declined among teenagers, CBS News reports. In fact, for the first time more high school seniors smoke marijuana than regular cigarettes on a daily basis.

In recent years, the nation has seen a growing tolerance for marijuana. Currently, there are 23 states and DC with medical marijuana programs, and four of the states have passed recreational use legalization for adults. The perceived dangers of marijuana use are fairly low among teenagers and young adults.

The researchers found that teens view marijuana as less risky this year, compared to last year, according to the report. Last year, 36.1 percent of 12th graders said that regular marijuana use could be harmful, compared to 31.9 percent this year.

Developing Brains

While marijuana use may not be as bad for the mind and body as, let’s say alcohol or heroin, marijuana use has been found to have negative effects on the brain – especially the developing brains of teenagers and young adults.

“Among teens, several studies provide evidence showing marijuana’s effects are deleterious,” said Volkow.

Smoking May Be Bad for Your Recovery

recoveryLiving a life of recovery is not easy, but it is certainly worth it. After living in addiction for many years, learning to navigate the waters of life, coping with the daily trials and tribulations free from drugs and alcohol takes vigilance. It is often said that one’s addiction is right outside the door doing pushups, waiting for you to be off guard.

Whatever one can do to minimize the chance of relapse is crucial. Active members in recovery will avoid dangerous situations like the plague, keeping away from old friends and out of places that can jeopardize one’s sobriety.

Smokey Speed Bumps On The Road To Recovery

New research suggests that people in recovery who smoke cigarettes are at a greater risk of relapse, HealthDay reports. The study found that people in recovery who smoke are twice as likely to start drinking again with three years, compared to nonsmokers.

Researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health used data from 35,000 adults with a past alcohol use disorder. The findings held even after accounting for:

  • Mood
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Illicit Drug Use
  • Nicotine Dependence

Something to Consider

“Quitting smoking will improve anyone’s health. But our study shows that giving up cigarettes is even more important for adults in recovery from alcohol since it will help them stay sober,” said lead author Renee Goodwin. Goodwin is an associate professor of epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in New York City.

The findings were published in Alcoholism: Experimental and Clinical Research.

If you or a loved one is entering treatment for a substance use disorder, it is important to discuss smoking cessation options. Smoking is harmful to one’s health, and for those in recovery – quitting may increase the chances of success after treatment.
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Please contact Next Step Intervention if you are struggling with addiction. We can assist you in finding the right treatment which will help you start your journey of recovery.

Mindfulness Meditation to Quit Smoking

mindfulness-meditationIt often takes several years for people to successfully quit cigarettes for good. Nicotine is highly addictive and tobacco products are in people’s line of sight practically everywhere. With the rise of e-cigarettes there is a new generation of nicotine addicts, people who will one day need to consider quitting. While there are smoking cessation products and therapies that have proven to be effective, the rate of nicotine relapse is still extremely high.

In recent years there has been a lot of discussion about cognitive behavioral therapies (CBT) with regard to nicotine cessation, and in some cases CBT techniques have shown great promise. A review of past research suggests that mindfulness meditation (becoming self-aware of one’s experience), a form behavioral training, may help people (even those who have no urge to quit) exercise self-control when it comes to quitting, Medical News Today reports.

“Early evidence suggests that exercises aimed at increasing self-control, such as mindfulness meditation, can decrease the unconscious influences that motivate a person to smoke,” say the experts, including senior study author Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the US National Institute on Drug Abuse.

A Will to Quit is Not Required

One study reviewed by researchers was conducted by researchers at Texas Tech University and University of Oregon to determine if improvements in self-control could disrupt cravings, according to the article. A novel aspect of the study is that participants were under the opinion that they were learning about meditation and relaxation methods for stress reduction and cognitive enhancement, rather than techniques for quitting smoking.

The research involved 60 undergraduate students, 27 of which smoked cigarettes. Mindfulness meditation training was taught to one half, while the other half received a relaxation technique, the article reports. Before and after the two weeks of sessions, the participants were asked questions and their smoking was objectively measured with carbon monoxide testing.

Interestingly, the participants that were smokers reported having smoked the same amount as usual before and after. However, the group that received mindfulness meditation training were found to have a 60% reduction in smoking. The findings were based off carbon monoxide tests in the 2 weeks after the study.

“The students changed their smoking behavior but were not aware of it. When we showed the data to a participant who said they had smoked 20 cigarettes, this person checked their pocket immediately and was shocked to find 10 left,” said lead author Yi-Yuan Tang, a professor of psychological sciences at Texas Tech.

Mindfulness Meditation May Not Be For Everyone

“Mindfulness meditation, as well as other strategies that are aimed at strengthening self-control, are likely to be useful for the management of addiction, but not necessarily for everybody,” said Dr. Volkow. “However, understanding how our brain works when we do interventions that strengthen self-control can also have multiple implications that relate to behaviors that are necessary for health and wellbeing.”

The findings were published in the journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences.
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If you are or loved one is suffering from addiction, please contact Next Step Intervention. We can assist you in finding the right treatment which will help you start your journey of recovery.

E-Cigarettes: A Form of Harm Reduction?

harm-reductionThe battle of e-cigarettes continues as medical experts discuss the concept of “harm reduction.” While making claims that e-cigarettes are a form of harm reduction – when compared to traditional cigarettes, the reality is that nicotine is still highly addictive and digital cigarettes are more popular among younger age groups than any other source of nicotine. A new investigation probes the theory of harm reduction with regard to e-cigarettes, ScienceDaily reports.

Big Tobacco’s Point of View

With declining tobacco sales, it was only a matter of time before the tobacco industry dove head first into the business of ‘vaping.’ The industry claims that e-cigarettes are a form of harm reduction and there are a number of people who support this view. Deborah Arnott, chief executive of the UK charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), says there is nothing to support the idea that e-cigarettes are a gateway into smoking for young people, according to the article.

“The risk is that smokers who could potentially use these as an alternative to smoking are being discouraged, and that’s not a good thing,” argues Arnott.

Health Experts Are Wary

A number of health experts believe that the tobacco industry’s use of the words harm reduction is dangerous. The idea that big tobacco is now a friend of the health care is a slippery slope; it wasn’t that long ago when doctors went on record claiming that Camel cigarettes were a wise decision. Simon Capewell, professor of public health and policy at Liverpool University’s Institute of Psychology, Health and Society says that e-cigarettes are being used by tobacco companies “as a trojan horse to get inside ministries of health. They are saying ‘This is all about harm minimisation, we’re part of the solution, we’re no longer the problem.'”

Capewell is not alone, others argue that after years of plummeting tobacco sales, e-cigarettes work against anti-smoking efforts – glamorizing and renormalizing smoking.

The World Health Organization (WHO)

There is not a whole lot of research to support or condemn e-cigarettes and the division among experts isn’t making it easier. Nicotine science and public health policy specialists wrote to WHO director general, Margaret Chan, insisting that supporting the concept of harm reduction was “part of the solution, not part of the problem.” The counter argument came quickly, 129 opposing experts warned WHO and other public bodies not to “buy into the tobacco industry’s well-documented strategy of presenting itself as a partner.”

“I’m no apologist for or friend of the tobacco industry,” said epidemiologist John Britton, head of the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, Britton told BMJ, if alternative methods of delivering nicotine are developed, then “it’s inconceivable that tobacco companies will not get involved and seek to exploit it, and that’s a risk that has to be managed.”

The investigation was published in BMJ.

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If you are struggling with nicotine addiction, please do not hesitate to contact Next Step Intervention. We can assist you in finding the right treatment which will help you be free from addiction.

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