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Smoking Cessation Health Center

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Alternatives for Giving Up Cigarettes

Have you tried unconventional approaches to stop smoking?

A Picture's Worth a Thousand Words continued...

"Guided imagery is most helpful in preparing people to quit smoking," says Bresler. It can help them get ready on the inside, clearing away internal conflicts and obstacles that can block the path to quitting.

Bresler notes that many people are attracted to smoking by Madison Avenue's imagery that has convinced them that they can feel cool, macho, or seductive if they smoke. Guided imagery, he says, taps into a person's own imagination and helps them create other images that can counter the purported appeal of smoking, showing instead that it is a toxic poison that you're inhaling. "The key is to break the habit, break the addiction, and recognize that you don't need a cigarette to feel cool," he says.

Part of guided imagery's power is its ability to instill strength and resolve to toss those cigarettes aside. "It is a means of learning to relax, talking to your creative self, and mobilizing and growing your determination and will to make changes that are important to your well-being," says Bresler.

Poking Holes in Smoking

Acupuncture, the ancient Chinese technique, has been used for thousands of years for a variety of ills -- and these days, for some people who have recently gotten the point, it has helped them rise above the cigarette haze for good. In a study at the University of Oslo in Norway, published in the journal Preventive Medicine in 2002, participants who had smoked for an average of 23 years were given acupuncture treatments, with needles inserted at points believed to influence organs associated with smoking (such as the lungs, airways and mouth). Over a five-year period, these participants smoked less and had a decreased desire to smoke, compared with a control group.

"In a clinical setting, you'll meet many people who say they quit smoking by using acupuncture, and they swear by it," says Kiresuk. But taken together, the available clinical studies have not provided persuasive evidence of acupuncture's benefits, with much of research raising doubts about the alternative technique's ability to help kick the habit, he says.

Researchers at the University of Exeter in Exeter, England, conducted an analysis that combined data from all of the existing randomized, controlled trials of acupuncture. Their conclusion: Acupuncture was no better than sham acupuncture techniques in helping people become smoke-free.

Bresler, who has been a practitioner of acupuncture for pain relief and other health problems for more than 30 years, has found that acupuncture can be helpful in managing the physiological nicotine-withdrawal symptoms, probably by stimulating the release of brain chemicals called endorphins. "Acupuncture can help relieve the 'nicotine fits,' the jitters, the cravings, the irritability, and the restlessness that people commonly complain about when they quit," he says.

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