Monday, October 8, 2007

Rewire Your Brain

Kas stopped by BlogFabulous to share some of her concerns about taking Chantix to quit smoking. Although Ive been smoke free from this for 2 1/2 months, I wish I had never taken it. I took it for 1 month and 1 week. Go on some other discussion sites and look at the side effects that people are still having a year after quitting. I quit taking it the day I ran a red light and came to a screeching halt 6 inches from a police car. And sleepwalking outside, waking up with my house clean and not remembering it. No wonder I felt tired after sleeping for 8 hours. Not being able to put a logical sentence together. I have more shortness of breath now than I ever did as a smoker. . . . My opinion- it should never have been approved. Im waiting for the class action suit- and there will be one- I know there will.

Kas, It sounds like you're having a difficult time. If you are sleepwalking and finding it difficult to concentrate to this degree I would think a visit to your doctor is highly in order.

I don't want to make light of your concerns. I too feel more distracted and disoriented.

I think your concerns are valid. But, I think your blame is misplaced. I propose the more likely culprit for disorientation and distraction is addiction not Chantix.

Your brain missing it's usual coping strategy. If you always smoked when you drove and now you don't, your brain is miswired and you don't have anything to replace it.

Disclaimer: I'm not a doctor by any means, so don't hold me liable for my advice which is as a fellow non-smoker with some knowledge about addiction. It sounds like you're ready to sue someone - and I'd like for it to not be me.

I'm just suggesting that maybe it's not the medication - which you stopped taking 1-2 months ago. Consider that it's the lack of smoking which you did for long enough to rewire your brain. If your brain needed it to function and now it doesn't have it that could be why you're so distracted.

I started smoking when I was 13, my brain was still developing. How long did you smoke? Brains continue to make connections with habits and addictions. Being addicted to smoking - or alcohol or crystal meth or Xanex or pain killers or any substance - REWIRES the brain. That's what addiction is. The brain becomes dependent on the smoking to function. You trained your brain to need smoking to complete it's assigned tasks. You even associated deep breaths with smoking, which could be making it difficult for your body to perform even that function without smoking.

It becomes rewired like this: When we drive we smoke. When we transition from task to task we smoke. Before we sleep we smoke. When we wake up we smoke. To relax we smoke. To think we smoke. To work out a problem we smoke.

Your brain connected smoking to helping you think. So of course you're having trouble thinking without it.

The great and wonderful news is that this isn't permanent. This is a side effect of addiction recovery. It happens to every single addict. It's not an issue unique to Chantix use. You have to retrain your brain to do all the things you do without the smoking. It's hard and uncomfortable and will take a while, but it's not a permanent disorientation.

You can try to learn something new to rebuild your brain cells. You can retrain your brain in a learning activity like Kundalini Yoga for Beginners & Beyond or knitting or Seduko or Radica Brain Games or working puzzles like Shape By Shape. If you're worried about driving you might try learning a language from audio tapes like French 101 (Learn to Speak French with The Travel Linguist) while you drive to engage your brain and keep it focused.

This is going to take a while. Lowering our expectations about recovery time is necessary. You quit smoking 2 months ago. That's a very short period of time in terms of addiction recovery. A more reasonable amount of time to adjust to not smoking is one to two years. Your brain will begin to function properly again. You can help it along. Time will work wonders too.

Hang in there Kas. The good news is that you're a non-smoker and if you never go back to smoking, you only have to live through this once.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey you are so right Chantix may have some side effects but more than 95% is from quitting the 4000k chemicals in cig smoke.Just think what each of those chemicals giving withdrawals at the same can cause havoc in the brain.yeah 1 year is a resonable time for the brain to start working without them.