by Tracee Sioux
My own unscientific opinion about how Chantix works is that smoking during the first week clues in the brain that this is the addiction that needs to be turned off. I am not a doctor so I can't get more scientific than that. But, I think there has been ample evidence to suggest that when a person becomes addicted to something whether it's a drug, alcohol or cigarettes there is a brain receptor which becomes "miswired" if you will and tells your brain "you must have this to lead a happy life."
In addiction recovery, they call it addict thinking or stinking thinking. In recovery one of the things you might learn is how to will yourself into a different thought process. While your brain continues to say, "You need a cigarette," you try to change the thinking to "cigarettes are bad for me" through repetition. It's effective, but it's a painful and tiresome process. It could take literally years of determinedly praying and willing for this method to really be effective. Those years, to my recollection of being dependent on prescription anti-anxiety medication, are painful ones. In no way do they not suck. This pill, Chantix, took 2 months to change the actual thought process about my smoking addiction.
I feel completely cured of my 20 year addiction to cigarettes. I took this twice-daily pill for two months and I have no more need for cigarettes. I even went to visit my whole family for an entire week with a baby in a mini-van, usually a major trigger for me, and didn't even think about smoking. At no time did I want to kill any one of my relatives and no one wanted to kill me, at least not because I was jonesing for a smoke. Before, every time I tried to quit smoking my husband would stash one around the house to toss at me when he felt he couldn't take anymore crap without considering murder or divorce. (Total enabler.)
Considering my previous obsession and/or addiction to smoking my liberation from the habit is a miracle. Not a minor one either. The misery, crankiness, irritability of "trying to quit" for several years was terrible. Simply the fact that I couldn't stop thinking about them as something I needed, (even after quitting for nine months at a time during pregnancies) is a testament to how addicted I was. After taking Chantix for an easy two months it is as though the addiction has been turned off. Also, I noticed that my desire for other addictive substances is being effected. For instance, my desire for drinking a beer or having a glass of wine has also been greatly reduced.
The relevant piece of information for the non-smoking general public here is that an addiction might be "cured" through medication. Think of the freedom this would provide for millions of people in America and around the world. If Chantix can do this for smokers, what might a similar drug do for the alcoholic? What about the crystal-meth addict? What about people in chronic pain from illness or injuries who avoid taking addictive medications they might safely use if there were a cure for addiction?
Who doesn't know an addict? Who doesn't love an addict? Who prays that their own addict might overcome their addiction? Think of all the people who wouldn't be in prison if they had freedom from their addictions? We could save millions of tax-payer dollars by curing people of their addictions with medication like Chantix. In 2007 alone the President's Drug Control Budget called for $12.9 billion to continue the war on drugs. Think of all the families that might be saved, divorces that might be avoided, children who wouldn't be abandoned, financial ruin that might be skirted if there was a cure for other addictions. Addicts might once again become productive citizens as opposed to the criminals addictions make them become.
I'm someone who has walked the path of being addicted and using substances to pacify feelings until becoming dependent on them. I can speak from a place where I know that addictions can be overcome through Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, therapy, faith, prayer, changes in lifestyle, stress management, rehab and just plain holding on to your ass through recovery, but it's not as easy as it looks. Some people just don't have it in them to do it without medication. Many die, many go to prison, many lose their children, many lose themselves, many stay shackled to their addictions even through sobriety, all are at-risk for relapse.
Medications like Chantix could prove to be a break-through in one of the most destructive health epidemics ever experienced - addiction.
I'm not the only one who thinks so either.
"The biggest thrill is that this drug, which has already proved safe for people trying to stop smoking, is now a potential drug to fight alcohol dependence," said Selena Bartlett, a neuroscientist with the Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center at the University of California, San Francisco who led the study. Details appear this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Read the whole story here.
Originally published on So Sioux Me.