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Facts About Smoking
Most smokers sincerely want to quit. They know cigarettes threaten their health, set a bad example for their children, annoy their acquaintances and cost an inordinate amount of money.

Nobody can force a smoker to quit. It's something each person has to decide for himself/herself, and will require a personal commitment by the smoker. What kind of smoker are you? What do you get out of smoking? What does it do for you? It is important to identify what you use smoking for and what kind of satisfaction you feel that you are getting from smoking.

Many smokers use the cigarette as a kind of crutch in moments of stress or discomfort, and on occasion it may work; the cigarette is sometimes used as a tranquilizer. But the heavy smoker, the person who tries to handle severe personal problems by smoking heavily all day long, is apt to discover that cigarettes do not help him/her deal with his/her problems effectively.

When it comes to quitting, this kind of smoker may find it easy to stop when everything is going well, but may be tempted to start again in a time of crisis. Physical exertion, eating, drinking, or social activity in moderation may serve as useful substitutes for cigarettes, even in times of tension. The choice of a substitute depends on what will achieve the same effects without having any appreciable risk.

Once a smoker understands his/her own smoking behavior, he will be able to cope more successfully and select the best quitting approaches for himself/herself and the type of life-style he leads.

Because smoking is a form of addiction, 80 percent of smoker who quit usually experience some withdrawal symptoms. These may include headache, light-headedness, nausea, diarrhea, and chest pains. Psychological symptoms, such as anxiety, short-term depression, and inability to concentrate, may also appear. The main psychological symptom is increased irritability. People become so irritable, in fact, that they say they feel "like killing somebody." Yet there is no evidence that quitting smoking leads to physical violence.

Some people seem to lose all their energy and drive, wanting only to sleep. Others react in exactly the opposite way, becoming so over energized they can't find enough activity to burn off their excess energy. For instance, one woman said she cleaned out all her closets completely and was ready to go next door to start on her neighbor's. Both these extremes, however, eventually level off. The symptoms may be intense for two or three days, but within 10 to 14 days after quitting, most subside. The truth is that after people quit smoking, they have more energy, they generally will need less sleep, and feel better about themselves.

Quitting smoking not only extends the ex-smoker's life, but adds new happiness and meaning to one's current life. Most smokers state that immediately after they quit smoking, they start noticing dramatic differences in their overall health and vitality.

Quitting is beneficial at any age, no matter how long a person has been smoking. The mortality ratio of ex-smoker decreases after quitting. If the patient quits before a serious disease has developed, his/her body may eventually be able to restore itself almost completely.

About The Author
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Drug Addiction Treatment Centers - A Fresh Start
Half a decade ago, I started working on a hotline to help addicts and their families find drug addiction treatment centers. Thousands of calls later, I still remember the first time I picked up the line.

I could hardly make out what the woman on the other end was saying to me. Shelly (not her real name) was sobbing. She had just arrived at her father's apartment and had found him passed out cold on the couch with a needle still sticking out of his arm. Why she called our line instead of 9-1-1 was a mystery. I called for an ambulance and waited on the phone with her until they arrived. She told me how her father had been a construction worker, though his dream was to play guitar in a band. Shelly said her parents split up when she was thirteen because of her dad's drinking. He moved away to live in another state for a couple of years and they began to lose touch. He would send the occasional card or make a call on her birthday the first couple of years, but that eventually ended. After college, Shelly decided to find her dad. It turned out that he had moved back and was living just a couple of miles from where she grew up.

Somewhere along the way, he had picked up a heroin habit. Shelly tried to talk him into going to treatment, but he always had an excuse for why he couldn't. Shelly said she visited him weekly, helped him keep his apartment up, bought his groceries and kept after him to quit. She said she they had just talked the night before and that he had, for the first time, agreed to try treatment. On my end, I could hear the ambulance approaching and then a knock on the door. Shelly hung up and I never heard from her again.

Today in America, there are 13 million people in need of alcohol or drug addiction treatment. Fortunately, according the government, there are just over 13,000 drug addiction treatment centers waiting to help these individuals. It may have been too late for Shelly's dad, I don't know, but I do know that it is not too late for anyone who is looking for a drug addiction treatment center today.

Each year millions of people across America, enter treatment centers. For many, this marks a fresh start, a rebirth. It is an opportunity to rebuild broken relationships and broken lives. Those who successfully complete rehab join a recovery community that is already millions strong.

This article, intended to be one in a three part series, is dedicated to addicts and family members of addicts who are searching for answers. Its goal the series is to help those suffering from drug abuse and/or their loved ones to make informed choices when entering drug addiction treatment.

I invite you to join me over the next couple of weeks as these articles explore the different types of treatment settings and then how to find the right treatment center for you or a loved one. In the end, I am confident that combined with careful research of what makes good treatment and by following your own intuition; you or a loved one can begin a new life.

About The Author
David Westbrook is a freelance writer. He has spent several years talking to thousands of addicts and their families who are in search of drug addiction treatment centers. He invites you to visit his websites http://www.addictionsresources.com and http://www.alcoholismresources.com
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Addiction to Thinking
Randall sought my help because he was stuck being miserable and had no idea how to get out of his misery. In his life he had experienced moments of great joy and sense of oneness with all of life, but those moments were infrequent. He wanted more of those moments but had no idea how to bring them about.

Randall is an extremely intelligent man, but in some ways he was using his own intelligence against himself. The problem was that when Randall did have those brief moments of true connection, he immediately went into his mind to try to figure out how it happened. The moment he went into his mind, he lost the connection that he so desperately desired.

The reason Randall went into his mind was that, as much as he wanted the joy of deep spiritual connection, he wanted something even more than that - control over that connection. Randall's ego wounded self believed that he could control the connection with Spirit with his intellect - if only he could figure it out then he could control it. The last thing Randall wanted to do, which is what is necessary to connect with Spirit, is to surrender his thinking. Randall was deeply addicted to thinking as a way to not feel his inner experience. Thinking was his way of controlling his painful feelings, such as his aloneness, loneliness, and helplessness over others and over his spiritual connection.

Many us of are addicted to thinking. We believe if we can just figure things out we can control others and the outcome of things. We want to control how people feel about us and treat us by saying just the right thing - so we have to think about it over and over to discover the right thing to say. This is called "ruminating." Ruminating is obsessively thinking about something over and over in the hopes of finally coming up with the "right" answer, the right thing to say, the right way to be to have control over others and the outcome of things. Ruminating is also a way to have control over our own painful feelings, which is what addictions are all about.

In my work with Randall, he would immediately go into his head and analyze what was happening in the session the minute feelings came up. Over and over I would bring him out of his head and into his body, into his feelings. His feelings were so terrifying to him that he could only stay with his feelings for a few moments before he was back into his head - explaining, figuring out, intellectualizing. He was so terrified of the soul loneliness and aloneness he felt that he had learned to avoid these feelings with his mind. Yet until Randall was willing to feel his painful feelings, which had been there since childhood, he couldn't stay out of his head. As long as his intent was to control his pain rather than learn from it, he would not be able to move into the spiritual connection he so desired.

The purpose of all of our addictions are to avoid pain, especially the deep soul loneliness that we all feel in this society. The problem is that our disconnection from our feelings - which is our Inner Child - creates aloneness as well. Our feeling self, our Inner Child, is left alone inside with no one to attend to the painful feelings. It is only when our desire is to learn about how we may be causing our own painful feelings that we open to our inner experience. Our desire to learn also opens the door to our spiritual connection, which we cannot feel when our intent is to avoid pain with our various addictions.

It took Randall many months to be willing to feel his painful feelings, but he discovered that when he finally had the courage to feel them, it was not as bad as he thought. In fact, when he was no longer abandoning his Inner Child by going into his addictive thinking, he no longer felt alone within. Connecting with himself allowed him to connect with Spirit more and more of the time. Rather than getting there through thinking and trying to control it, he was getting there by being present in the moment with his inner experience - surrendering to the moment. Randall found that while he could not control others and the outcome of things, he actually did have control over his misery - by choosing the intent to learn rather than protecting against pain. While he couldn't control Spirit, he did have control his own intent, which eventually led to his being able to connect with Spirit.

About The Author
Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is the best-selling author and co-author of eight books, including "Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By You?" She is the co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding healing process. Learn Inner Bonding now! Visit her web site for a FREE Inner Bonding course: http://www.innerbonding.com or mailto:margaret@innerbonding.com. Phone sessions available. margaret@innerbonding.com
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Pharmaceuticals - The Next Frontier in America's War on Drugs
America's war on drugs, which has been fought in the opium fields of Afghanistan and the cocaine plantations of Columbia, will have to reinvent itself to combat what is set to be America's biggest drug abuse problem, pharmaceuticals. One in five American's, nearly 48 million, have used prescription drugs for non-medical purposes at least once in their lives. The current past month misuse rate among Americans is 6.2 million. According to a recent white paper by Carnevale Associates, this rate of use is already higher than the historical highs of both cocaine and heroin epidemics.

For some, the road to illicit use of prescription medications starts innocently. After a car accident, back injury, or, even, a mental/emotional breakdown a physician prescribes medication for a legitimate use. Over time, tolerance builds up so that more and more of the drug is needed until a state of dependence is reached. At this point, there is no easy way to get off the drug, and stopping can involve painful withdrawal symptoms. Some doctors have been known to become afraid and cut their patients off at this point. Patients have been known to steal prescription pads, or visit numerous doctors to get the drugs they have become addicted to.

However, contrary to popular belief, it is not older adults or any adults who are most likely to abuse pharmaceuticals. In the past decade, abuse of prescription meds among youth has been growing at an alarming first-time use rate of more than fifty percent each year. In 2002, the latest year for which there are statistics, approximately 2.5 million American's misused prescriptions for the first time and 44% of them were under the age of 18.

Unfortunately, as the media fixes its gaze on the methamphetamine problem; and the Office of National Drug Control Policy spends much of its time focusing on Marijuana the opportunity to address the pharmaceutical addiction and abuse is being missed. While certain steps have been taken they have been tentative. The ONDCP has drawn up a strategy for addressing synthetic drugs, but no serious media campaign to educate Americans about the problem has been undertaken. Nor has any pharmaceutical company been brought to heel for manufacturing drugs with high abuse potential even when alternatives may exist.

The next battle in America's war on drugs must draw a bead on pharmaceuticals. The ONDCP must be willing to launch the same type of hard hitting ad campaigns against prescription drug abuse as it has against, marijuana, ecstasy and cocaine. The FDA must not be afraid to sanction drug manufacturers who continue to make unsafe drugs where safe alternatives exist. Pharmaceutical manufactures must become better citizens and spend the research and development dollars to make safe and effective drugs, rather than taking the easy way out.

This new phase of the war on drugs, without easily targeted foreigners to blame for America's drug abuse problems, will take unwavering political resolve, corporate citizenship and ingenuity. Even then it is likely to take years before the trend of increases in prescription medicine abuse and addiction can be reversed.

Common Prescription Drugs of Abuse:

Opioids: these are synthetic versions of opium. Intended for pain management opioids are the most commonly abused prescription drugs. OxyContin (oxycodone), Vicodin (hydrocodone) and Demerol (meperidine) are the most popular for abuse. Short-term side effects can include pain relief, euphoria, and drowsiness. Overdose can lead to death. Long-term use can lead to dependence or addiction.

Depressants: These drugs are commonly prescribed to treat anxiety; panic attacks, and sleep disorders. Nembutal (pentobarbital sodium), Valium (diazepam), and Xanax (alprazolam) are just three of the many drugs in this category. Immediately slow down normal brain functioning and can cause sleepiness Long-term use can lead to physical dependence and addiction.

Stimulants: Doctors may prescribe these to treat the sleeping disorder narcolepsy or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, ADHD. Ritalin (methylphenidate) and Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine) are two commonly prescribed stimulants. These drugs enhance brain activity and increase alertness and energy in much the same way as cocaine or methamphetamine. They increase blood pressure; speed up heart rate, and respiration. Very high doses can lead to irregular heartbeat and hyperthermia.

© 2008, David Westbrook

About The Author
Dave Westbrook has worked in the field of crisis intervention and addictions for several years. For more information on prescription med abuse and other addiction related topics visit www.addictionsresources.com. recoveryresources @ gmail.com
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Addiction To Worry
Carole started counseling with me because she was depressed. She had been ill with chronic fatigue syndrome for a long time and believed her depression was due to this. In the course of our work together, she became aware that her depression was actually coming from her negative thinking - Carole was a constant worrier. Many words out of her mouth centered around her concerns that something bad might happen. "What if I never get well?" "What if my husband gets sick?" "What if I run out of money?" (Carole and her husband ran a very successful business and there was no indication that it would not go on being successful). "What if my son gets into drugs?" "What if my kids don't get into good colleges?" "What if someone breaks into the house?"

Her worry was not only causing her depression, but was also contributing to her illness, if not actually causing it. Her worry caused so much stress in her body that her immune system could not do its job of keeping her well. Yet even the awareness that her worry was causing her depression and possibly even her illness did not stop Carole from worrying. She was addicted to it. She was unconsciously addicted to the sense of control that worry gave her.

I understood this well because I come from a long line of worriers. My grandmother's whole life was about worrying. She lived with us as I was growing up and I don't remember ever seeing her without a look of worry on her face. Same with my mother - constant worry. Of course, I picked up on it and also became a worrier. However, unlike my mother and grandmother, who worried daily until the day they died, I decided I didn't want to live that way. The turning point came for me the day my husband and I were going to the beach and I started to worry that the house would burn down and my children would die. I became so upset from the worry that we had to turn around and come home. I knew then that I had to do something about it.

As I started to examine the cause of worry, I realized that worriers believe that worry will stop bad things from happening. My mother worried her whole life and none of the bad things she worried about ever happened. She concluded that nothing bad happened because she worried! She really believed that she could control things with her worry. My father, however, never worried about anything, and nothing bad ever happened to him either. My mother believed that nothing bad happened to my father because of her worry! She really believed until the day she died (from heart problems that may have been due to her constant worry) that if she stopped worrying, everything would fall apart. My father is still alive at 92, even without her worrying about him!

It is not easy to stop worrying when you have been practicing worrying for most of your life. In order for me to stop worrying, I needed to recognize that the belief that worry has control over outcomes is a complete illusion. I needed to see that, not only is worry a waste of time, but that it can have grave negative consequences on health and well-being. Once I understood this, I was able to notice the stomach clenching that occurred whenever I worried and stop the thought that was causing the stress.

Carole is in the process of learning this. She sees that her worry makes her feel very anxious and depressed. She sees that when she doesn't worry, she is not nearly as fatigued as when she allows her addiction to worry to take over. She sees that when she stays in the moment rather than projecting into the future, she feels much better. The key for Carole in stopping worrying is in accepting that worry does not give her control.

Giving up the illusion of control that worry gives us not easy for anyone who worries. Yet there is an interesting paradox regarding worry. I have found that when I am in the present moment, I have a much better chance of making choices that support my highest good than when I'm stuck thinking about the future. Rather than giving us control, worry prevents us from being present enough to make loving choices for ourselves and others. Worrying actually ends up giving us less control rather than more!

About The Author
Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is the best-selling author and co-author of eight books, including "Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By You?" She is the co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding healing process. Learn Inner Bonding now! Visit her web site for a FREE Inner Bonding course: http://www.innerbonding.com or mailto:margaret@innerbonding.com. Phone sessions available. margaret@innerbonding.com
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