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.


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