Friday, April 08, 2005

Smoking and ADHD

It is now day 14 of no smoking and I'm finally noticing the benefits. It is easier to concentrate on tasks that have lots of disparate aspects and easier to recall things from my short term memory. This is evidenced by the fact that I'm posting on my blog instead of thinking about it and then forgetting to do it.

I am a videoconference coordinator for a Hospital in Boston and today I attended a psychology conference. One of the items mentioned was that children who are diagnosed with ADHD are predisposed to be smokers and also to abuse drugs or alcohol. This comes from a study to be released later this week in the NEJM (New England Journal of Medicine). It is due to the fact that the ADHD brain makes pleasure pathways easier than regular brains. It just makes me wonder if giving children with this disorder a drug that can be easily abused makes a lot of sense.

I have recently gotten this urge to approach other smokers and tell them to quit. I would never do this however, because it's obnoxious and if anyone ever did it to me while I was smoking they would get laughed at or called crazy. Quitting after 15 + years of smoking is easier than I thought it would be and that's all I would say to current smokers. Smokers are a defensive bunch and they have their reasons to continue smoking. None of those reasons are logical however and smokers consider the personality trait of smoking to be a comfort, similar to having a friend with you all the time. This friend gets you outside rain or shine and helps you relax. What is not visible to smokers, is that this friend is taking your money, harming you physically and making you look like an idiot.

Having said all that, any time I see someone smoking on television or on the street I desperately want a cigarette. It doesn't make sense - I don't want to smoke, in fact that's the last thing I want to do, but my pleasure pathways in my brain want me to. There are two or three times a day when I feel like mugging the next smoker I see on the street and running off with their cigarettes. It would be like taking candy from a baby - it's not like they could catch me.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Quitting Smoking Sucks

I have smoked since I was 12 or 13 and I'm now 29. I have tried to quit a handfull of times before, but each time I would either go for a drink, remove the patch and be smoking again or just sneak a drag here and there. This would cause me to start smoking again and rather more heavily than before I tried to quit. This time I want to quit rather than feeling like I should quit. There are plenty of withdrawal symptoms even when you are on the nicotine patch. I get the shakes and my body temperature changes randomly. The patch gives you a constant level of nicotine through the day and night which, by raising your blood pressure gives you a 'speedy' feeling, like you can't relax because your heart is racing. It's not necessarily a bad thing. At night, if you choose to leave the patch on you have what can only be described as vivid dreams. A few nights ago I was a secret agent, which was great fun, but you wake up not feeling quite rested.

I have a tendency to experience both sides of an inner argument at once. This is certainly true when thinking about quitting smoking; for every positive aspect there is an accompanying negative. For instance; my sense of smell is returning, but the world tends to smell pretty bad. I have the stamina I used to have ten years ago, however I have few outlets for this energy(my apartment is always clean now). I no longer have a reason to go outside for quick breaks through the day, but now I must sit in an office with no windows for most of the day. I can breathe a lot better than I could last week, but I am constantly bringing up dark-colored sputum as my lungs heal. (I work in a hospital now so I use doctory words like borborygmi and ataxic, e.g. I was concerned that a loud borborygmus combined with my general ataxia could cause acute shitty-pants)

I thought I'd be saving money not smoking, but the patches cost slightly less per week than buying cigarettes. I am glad I don't go to bed wheezing and wake up gasping anymore - that shit is scary.