withdrawal symptoms

  1. Addicted to addiction med

    As much as I can't stomach the Big Pharma marketing machine, I will say this: It's brutally effective.

    Who else could get doctors across the nation to prescribe a med for an off-label use, despite evidence that it's completely ineffective – and then get the media to write a positive story about it?

    Yet that's exactly what you'll find on the Web site of Time magazine, which recently featured a glowing report about a muscle spasm med, with some nasty side effects of its own, being used to treat alcoholics, smokers and drug addicts.

    The article begins with several hundred words of uninterrupted praise before it gets to the kicker: There is no scientific evidence that this drug works for addicts.

    No one can even say why people are taking this drug for addiction, beyond anecdotal evidence and a book someone wrote about how this drug helped him.

    The closest they can come to real evidence is a study where smokers taking this drug were able to cut down from 20.5 cigarettes per day to 8, while the placebo group was only able to cut back to 12.

    Call me unimpressed.

    You don't treat addiction with a pill or gimmick. You treat addiction by treating the addict, and the specific conditions in his or her body (or life) that have led to the addiction.

    Sure, it can be hard – it wouldn't be an addiction if you could break away from it easily. But addictions can be overcome naturally, safely and effectively, and doctors should work with their patients to make sure they do it right, not under the influence of a med with dangers of its own.

    In fact, this drug has side effects that include drowsiness, dizziness, weakness, vomiting, headaches, nausea, constipation and impaired thinking.

    Can you think of anything else that can cause those reactions?

    And when people stop taking this drug, they face withdrawal symptoms including hallucinations and seizures.

    In other words, this med is just about as bad as many of the substances that cause addiction.

    Not only that, but this replacement addiction becomes a permanent one – the Time article suggests that addicts who have had success using this off-label med to control their cravings have to keep taking it, forever, or the urges return.

    Let's stop fooling around with this stuff. Big Pharma wants us to have a med for every condition, but replacing one addiction with another is not the right move.

    Instead, treat yourself naturally and safely – and you'll avoid a lifetime of addiction and a lifetime of meds, too.

  2. Quit smoking the right way

    It's natural to look for a little help when it comes to life's biggest challenges – but sometimes, that help is not all it's cracked up to be.

    Smokers who have turned to some prescription meds to help them quit may be getting a lot more than they bargained for. As a result, the FDA is requiring those drugs to carry their strongest warning – the infamous "black box" – because of a possible link to serious mental health problems such as depression and suicidal thoughts.

    I know quitting is hard. I've seen many of my friends and patients suffer as they fought the urge to light up. But I've also seen how quickly they come out the other side, feeling better than they have in years. Your body begins to repair itself almost immediately when you stop smoking – within 12 hours of your last cigarette.

    That's pretty remarkable when you consider that smoking is one of the worst things you can do to yourself, and not just because of the risk for conditions such as lung cancer and emphysema.

    Cigarette smoke damages the inner lining of your arteries. The carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke causes red blood cells to multiply, increasing your risk for blood clots. And if you smoke and have high blood pressure, you may find that quitting can get those levels back under control.

    You'll also lose that smoker's cough, breathe better, smell better and have some extra spending money.

    So there's your motivation. But I know plenty of smokers who understand all that and more and still can't quite crush that final butt under their boot heel.

    And that's because nicotine withdrawal alone can have side effects as bad as any med: sleeplessness, depression, irritability, anxiety and, of course, that feeling that you're missing something from your life.

    Plenty of people also keep smoking because they're under the mistaken impression that nicotine is helping them in some way. Many people say cigarettes help keep them calm, and of course it does when you compare it to those immediate withdrawal symptoms I just mentioned.

    The fact is, if you're in genuine need of something to help calm your nerves, there are natural ways to do it. And if you're just stuck in a smoker's rut and need some non-drug help quitting, there are options for you too.

    A number of completely natural treatments and therapies have shown promise, including acupuncture, hypnosis and some herbal formulas.

    Anything worth doing is worth doing right – even if it is a little harder. In the end, it will be better for you and better for your body when you find yourself smoke-free without the help of any drugs and their side effects.

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