Articles on smoking addiction

Kids - Are They Really Affected by Parents' Addiction?

Ms. Raisa Luther, Psychotherapist
In our experience, parents usually think that their addiction has not really impacted their children in any significant way. Also, in our experience, this is not true – actually believing in the lie that the child is not affected by addiction in a family, is part of the addictive denial.Addicts' children are most affectedKids are highly sensitive, their growth process is dependent on it. They feel, taste, absorb and internalize what’s around them, including the toxic soup of addiction. Kids love their parents. Since they sense that the parents are not in control, they begin to take ownership of the problem believing it’s their fault. Shame, blame and guilt rule in addicted households. And addiction is cunning: the desperate and repeated attempts by family members to ‘fix’ the problems are doomed to fail, over and over again.A simple yet powerful exercise we use at Hope Trust’s Family Support Program to help children is we ask them to write a letter to addiction, not to the parent(s). Children share this letter with parents and it’s often the first time parents understand how damaging addiction has been in the lives of their most cherished ones.Children are explained that addiction is a disease and their addicted parent is not bad, but sick. Surprisingly, children accept this fact readily and are on the path to recovery themselves by forgiving the huge ‘betrayals’ by the parent. A rehab is a place to heal, not a punishment – this they can actually see and feel as they visit their parent and also interact with other members. They can sense the sincerity and genuine help being extended by the professional yet friendly counsellors at Hope Trust. They begin to understand that recovery is the gift of freedom, not a label suggesting you’re broken or faulty.And they discover the joy of having their parents back in the family – a truly priceless gift!

What Is the Real Cause of Addiction?

Ms. Raisa Luther, Psychotherapist
Do you sometimes wonder what the actual cause of addiction is?  It’s a unique mix of risk factors and influences — genetic and environmental. It’s uncommon that merely one thing drives an individual to addiction. Instead, it’s a heady mix of nature and nurture. Here’s how these work together to create a potentially devastating condition:Nature (Genetics)1. Dopamine handlingSome people are genetically predisposed to addiction. Such individuals are born with a certain genetic make-up in their dopamine receptors that makes them ‘enjoy’ potentially addictive substances more than ‘normal’ people. This increases the risk for addiction.2. Psychological issues and self-medicationGenetics often influence indirectly. For instance, persons living with other psychiatric disorders associated with genes (such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, etc.) can have a tendency to self-medicate with an addictive substance.  They feel ‘better’ with medication – this may lead to addiction. Over time, escapist self-medication can escalate to addiction. In such cases, it is not a tendency toward addiction but the propensity for an underlying vulnerability that can lead to addiction.Nurture (Environment)Apart from genetics, environmental factors also play an important role.1. Childhood traumaEarly life negative experiences, such as neglect, emotional or physical or sexual abuse, etc., can increase the risk for addictions regardless of genes.According to a study, unresolved early life (prior to 18 years) trauma can lead to later-life problems. Survivors of chronic childhood trauma are: 1.8 times as likely to smoke cigarettes1.9 times as likely to develop obesity2.4 times as likely to experience anxiety3.6 times as likely to be develop depression3.6 times as likely to be promiscuous7.2 times as likely to get into alcoholism11.1 times as likely to become a drug addict2. Early exposure to addictive substances or behaviorEarly exposure to alcohol or drugs can lead to chronic addiction. In today’s world, kids are exposed to drugs such as marijuana and alcohol at a younger age (12 – 14 years) and are vulnerable to addiction in later years. Due to Internet and the massive supply of easily accessible erotic content, children as young as 11 get their first exposure to porn. About 41 percent of existing adult sex addicts were using porn before age 12. Studies indicate that the lower the age of first use, the higher the likelihood of addiction — sexual and otherwise. The cause of addiction isn’t nature or nurture. Both can come together in a person and influence his or her behavior.Treatment is effectiveWhatever the causes, the presenting problem may be an addicted person – abusing alcohol, drugs or indulging in some other damaging behavior. Recovery requires support from professionals. Just as the causes may vary, treatment also needs to be individualized to suit the individual. Addiction therapy also involves helping the addict resolve his childhood issues.  


Dr. N Praveen Kumar, General Physician
The Framingham study found an 18% increase in coronary events for males and a 31% increase for females for every 10 cigarettes smoked per day. There is more of an association between smoking and myocardial infarction than between smoking and stable angina. Smoking increases the risk of stroke, coronary heart disease, and peripheral vascular disease through a number of mechanisms (Table 1.11). Smoking is a major factor in the increased risk of coronary heart disease for women using oestrogen-containing contraceptive pills.Some effects of smoking1. Increased atherogenesis, probably by toxic injury to endothelial cells2. Hypoxia, resulting in intimal proliferation3. Thrombogenesis4. Reduction in HDL5. Oxidation of lipids6. Increase in fibrinogen levels Smoking cessation is associated with a rapid decline in death rates from coronary disease,probably because of smoking’s thrombogenic effects. Smoking seems less important as a risk factor in populations with low LDL levels.Smoking cessationMany strategies are available to help patients to give up smoking. These should all begin with an explanation of the reasons smoking cessation is worthwhile. Some explanation of the mechanism of its deleterious effects may be helpful. Patients who have recently presented with possible cardiac symptoms may be amenable to the advice of this nature. It is also especially important to give strong advice about smoking to patients with multiple existing coronary risk factors.The rapidity at which benefits begin to occur, and the risks and difficulties involved in further cardiac treatment (e.g. coronary surgery) for smokers, should be emphasised. The postoperative risk is considerably higher for smokers, particularly for serious chest infections. This risk falls quickly (within four weeks) once smoking is stopped.Nicotine replacement patches may be helpful and appear safe even for patients with ischaemic heart disease. The drug bupropion, which is a non-tricyclic antidepressant, is now available for patients who wish to stop smoking. This drug seems safe for patients with cardiac disease, at least for those without unstable symptoms. It does not cause conduction abnormalities increase the risk of ventricular arrhythmias. Patients should be advised to continue smoking when they first start the drug but plan to stop on a particular day after about a week of treatment. The drug is usually continued for at least seven weeks. The starting dose is 150 mg daily and then 150 mg twice a day.It is important to discuss strategies for smoking cessation with the patient and to try to establish a treatment plan that suits the individual Passive smokingEvidence of an increased cardiovascular risk from environmental smoke has been available for some years.20 The legislation is gradually reducing the risk for people in occupations associated with smoking (e.g. serving in bars and restaurants) but patients with existing ischaemic heart disease should be advised to avoid exposure.

Is Smoking Pulling You Down?

Ms. Raisa Luther, Psychotherapist
10 reasons to quit smoking, beyond the big health threat.If are a smoker, you must have already been urged to stop smoking by family and friends. You most likely know that smoking causes heart disease, stroke, cancer, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and other killerdiseases. You might even know that smoking is the No. 1 cause of preventable death worldwide.But knowing these facts may not have made you quit. When you are young, it is hard to imagine the pain of life-threatening diseases that shall strike decades later.Moreover, quitting is hard. As many as 80% of smokers say they would like to stop. And it takes the average smoker five to 10 attempts before quitting successfully.For some smokers, it's the small things that motivate them to stop. Things like the smell it leaves on you and your clothes, the way people react when they find out you're a smoker, the stain on your fingers and teeth -- everyday irritants that can add up to a tipping point to kick the habit.Here are 10 common daily side effects of smoking that can create the motivation to quit1. The smell of smokeCigarette smell on a person is not pleasant – many don’t react favorably. You may ruin your chances in an interview, meeting or social situation. Smokers are conscious of the foul smell in their mouths, clothes and hair – and this also leads to low self-esteem.2. Dulling of sense of smell and tasteSmoking dulls your smell of smell and taste. Smokers can't appreciate the taste of many foods as well as they did before starting smoking. Actually, but it's the loss of the sense of smell that reduces the ability to taste. Breathing in the fumes of tobacco smoke is toxic to the senses.Some smokers don’t even realize that their sense of taste is affected, since the decline is gradual. However, quitting brings back the senses of taste and smell swiftly. The pleasure of eating can be restored dramatically in a short time after the person stops smoking.3. Premature ageingOne of the main causes of premature ageing of the face is smoking. Leathery skin and deep wrinkles are more likely in case of smokers. According to dermatologists, smoking causes biochemical changes in the body that speeds up the ageing process. For instance, smoking reduces oxygen supply to living skin tissue caused due to constriction of blood vessels caused by smoking. Also, the burning tar in cigarettes causes stains on the hands and skin on face – a common sign of smokers.4. Social pressuresSmokers are increasing feeling marginalized. Offices, malls, airports and even streets forbid smoking. Smokers have to leave their companions and seek smoking zones, which are increasingly getting scarce. Almost all public places are now smoke-free zones. Smokers get impacted socially and emotionally when they have to leave a gathering or place to smoke. It weakens their self-image and social standing.5. Impact on relationshipsIt’s difficult to find and keep a relationship if you are a smoker. People don’t want to date or marry someone who smells like a dirty ashtray. Some people may find mates who are themselves smokers. Then it becomes difficult for any one of the partners to quit, as there are too many relapse triggers around to be able to successfully quit.6. ImpotenceSmoking dramatically increases your chances of impotence. It also affects blood vessel dilation and may lead to erectile dysfunction. This can be a powerful deterrent for young men to start smoking, or quit if they are already smoking.7. Increased infectionsIt’s a fact that smokers are more susceptible to falling ill – they get frequent colds – because they get frequent viral and bacterial infections. Our respiratory tracts have tiny hairs called cilia that are designed to protect us. Cilia are constantly waving and capture bacteria and viruses that get into the trachea and push them up so that we cough them out, or swallow them so that they get destroyed by our stomach acids.The toxic smoke of cigarettes paralyses the cilia, thereby destroying our protection. That’s the reason smokers fall sick so often.8. You're a danger to othersDid you know there are more than 4,500 chemicals in a single puff of tobacco smoke – out of which are over 40 are known carcinogens. It is estimated that second-hand smoke causes 50,000 deaths every year!It takes very little second-hand smoke to trigger a heart attack or stroke in someone who is predisposed to that condition. The ingredients in smoke cause platelets, the material in our blood that helps it clot, become sticky. This increases the risk of heart attacks. There have been a number of studies to show that when a community goes smoke-free the proportion of heart attacks seen at the hospitals goes down by 20% or 30%.9. Impact on physical activitySmokers experience a diminished ability over time to comfortably do things as simple as climbing a set of stairs or enjoying sports activities they once easily took part in such as volleyball or jogging. Even young athletes in otherwise top physical condition don't perform as well if they smoke because, over time, smoking causes the lungs and heart to work harder, thereby putting extra strain on them.10. Smoking costs money – lots of itIt's a fact you can’t ignore - smoking is downright expensive. The price of a pack of cigarettes varies depending on the brand. Let’s look at one of the most popular Indian brands - Gold Flake – it costs Rs. 246 for 20 sticks. That’s a lot of money. Add to that the fact that an average smoker gets 18% less productive and has increased health-related treatment costs. Taken year on year, it adds up to a huge cost.Get help to quitSmoking is a chronic disease, like any other addiction. Though it may be tough to quit, it has been successfully done by many persons.You can take professional help – it increases your chances of success.It’s time to stop smoking. And start living!

Causes of Addiction in Teenagers

Ms. Raisa Luther, Psychotherapist
It is estimated that 27.2% of high school students use illicit drugs on a regular basis. This is a very disturbing statistic considering the fact that the teenage years are formative in the development of a person’s career, personality and overall success. Adolescence is a very confusing time involving raging hormones, pressure to fit in at school and academic stress. Teenagers abuse and become addicted to drugs and alcohol for many reasons, and it is essential to understand them in order to treat patients successfully in a rehab.Addiction may start youngMany teenagers experiment with drugs and alcohol but don’t get addicted to them. While peer pressure may drive an adolescent to consume drugs or alcohol at parties or other events, other factors are responsible for the mental state of addiction. Trying drugs or alcohol at a party can, however, trigger the path towards addiction. For example, if a teenager has a genetic predisposition to alcoholism and is going through problems because of stress at school, she is likely to crave the relaxing effect of alcohol after she drinks for the first time. With repeated use of alcohol, she will need more of it to feel the same calming effect. This will eventually take her down the path of addiction until she is admitted into a rehabilitation center, and undergoes detox and other therapies.Teenagers may abuse prescription drugsMany teenagers abuse prescription drugs. A popular example of this is stimulant drugs used to treat ADHD (attention deficit hyperactive disorder). These drugs are known to increase focus, thereby enhancing academic performance. This unfortunate phenomenon is aided by the accessibility of such drugs – it is very common for patients of ADHD to sell their prescription medications to other students in their schools. Many rehabilitation centers also report that teenage addicts are aided in their addiction because of the widespread availability of drugs in the form of school supplies – many students sniff glue or whitener.Teenagers are more susceptible to mental illness than any other age category. If a teenager already suffers from a condition like depression or anxiety, a tryst with drugs or alcohol at a party could cause lead them down the path to addiction. Teenage brains are very different from adult brains from a biological perspective as well, which makes them more likely for them to abuse drugs or alcohol.Ignorance is main causeBullying is very common among teenagers, and there are many such stresses relating to school and friends that trigger emotional responses that drugs can help escape from. Disappointingly, the main cause of a drug addiction in teenagers is ignorance. They believe that marijuana is not addictive; they don’t know the effect of alcohol on the body – teenagers have a lot to learn, and proper education is essential in reducing the rate of teenage drug and alcohol addiction.Apart from offering recovery options – residential, outpatient and online – most good rehab wouldd conduct sensitization programs in schools all over the country. This is its attempt at preventing alcoholism and drug abuse among teenagers.

Reasons for Your Sugar Addiction

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Your sugar addiction might be psychological, and if that is the case, then it might be harder to overcome. Whenever you feel bored, lonely, depressed or nervous, you may get addicted to sugar. And when you try to avoid sugar during such an addiction, it might lead to temporary headaches, fatigue, lethargy, etc.Causes of Sugar Addiction: Sugar stimulates the production of dopamine and serotonin and these hormones make us feel happy and calm. You may develop a higher dependency on the effects of sugar with time: the more sugar you eat, the more it will comfort you. And then there comes a time when you can’t control your sugar cravings any more.Following are the reasons for your sugar cravings and solutions to overcome those:1] You might be consuming artificial sweeteners: When artificial sweeteners are consumed, the brain keeps on waiting for more sugar to enter the system; which causes a drop in blood sugar levels, triggering hunger and craving for more sugar. Artificial sweeteners are also know to rapidly stimulate the release of insulin and Leptin hormones, which are involved with satiety and fat storage, thus leading to weight gain.Solution: So, next time think twice before reaching for an artificial sweetener. Instead, eat the real thing but moderate the quantity. Instead of two teaspoons of sugar in your tea, try one.2] You might be feeling tired or bored: If you are bored or haven’t slept well, you crave for sugar for an immediate burst of energy, especially if it is easily accessible. It also provides a pleasurable distraction while you are waiting.Solution:Try to divert your mind by doing some household work or some other activity, or eat a fruit. Also, refrain from keeping sugar loaded processed foods at home.3] You might be feeling depressed: Sugar helps lift your mood. It gives you pleasure and makes you feel better when you are depressed, disappointed or angry.Solution: Instead of eating sugary foods, opt for a food high in fiber and good fats - fruit, nuts, chickpeas, etc.4] You might be bingeing on sugar: You might have a sweet tooth, because of which you can’t control your cravings for sugar. But sugar addiction may deteriorate your body and health.Solution: Instead of bingeing on sugar loaded foods, try eating sprouts, fruits, plain roasted chickpeas or peanuts. Or try to divert your attention to some other activity, to avoid cravings.5] You might be starving: Waiting too long between your meals or starving might lead to consumption of sugary foods for instant satisfaction.Solution: Don’t starve yourself. Have 3 major meals with mid-meal snacks. Having a healthy balanced diet with fixed meal and snack timings helps control sugar cravings.

How to Quit Smoking

Dr. Himani Sanwaria, Dentist
It’s a well known fact that smoking is injurious for health, most importantly for your mouth, teeth and gums. And it is not only cancer that you have to think of. Smoking is the cause of many oral problems such as mouth sores, gum disease and tooth decay. That is why it is imperative for everyone to quit smoking.Yes, it is hard and most of the time impossible to just quit smoking. But, “if there is a will there is always a way”... that is why the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research came up with few things that you can do to help you quit smoking today and they are as follows:Make up your mind to quit smoking. Develop a mental attitude that says you are ready, you are willing to quit, you are ready to do anything to quit, and most of all, you really really really want to quit.The best way to convince yourself 100% of this fact is to write the reasons why you want to quit. Whether it is a  health reason, hygiene reason, protection of your near and dears or for self improvement, it doesn’t matter what as long as this list will be able to motivate you to quit.Set a target date for  quitting . Don’t rush yourself and make this day today. You can choose to quit tomorrow or next week or at most next month. Make it an important day, something for which you have to prepare for. And while you are waiting for the arrival of this big day, cut your nicotine intake. If you smoke one pack a day, aim to reduce it until you only smoke one cigarette in a day.Remember, be sure not to stress yourself out for this quitting date.Don’t be alone on this. You will need to support yourself with people who support you on this decision.  These people can be your significant other, family or friends. And if you know someone wants to quit smoking, you can quit with him or her too. Your dentist can also help you with this decision.Substitute is a good idea. If you find yourself craving for a cigarette you can substitute it for something else, like nuts or grams. Go and ask your dentist or doctor about patches and nicotine gums to help ease the process of quitting smoking.If you feel you want to smoke, call a friend, do some exercise or deep breath and wait till the craving goes off. In this way you can divert  your mind from smoking.Make sure you do not substitute food for a cigarette. Try to avoid fatty and junk  foods, if you have to, then choose healthy options.Know your triggering factor. You have to discover what triggers you most to smoke. Find the patterns when and how you smoke so that you can prevent yourself from doing it. Develop a reward system for yourself. When you have already stopped smoking, you can pat yourself on the shoulder and treat yourself for the job well done. Stay active and create a new habit or change your daily routine. Exercise will do miracles for you.Take notice and enjoy the benefits you experience from not smoking like the cleanliness of your clothes, freshness of your room, the freshness of your breath and of course, the savings you add up to your account. And finally, you have to maintain proper oral hygiene with brushing and flossing, and regular dental visits with your dentist.Schedule an appointment with your dentist to get your teeth cleaned professionally to remove all the stains that have built up from smoking. If desired, you can even get a teeth whitening done to have that beautiful million dollar white smile.

Denial in Addiction - Why Its There and How to Manage

Ms. Raisa Luther, Psychotherapist
If you don’t have a problem, why would you accept a solution?Denial is part of the problem in addiction. The alcoholic or addict fails to see the prevalence and extent of his addiction, therefore resists or avoids treatment.Denial can be frustrating for those close to the addict.They can clearly see how he is messing up his life, but he or she doesn’t seem to accept the facts.Denial needs to be broken for recoveryIt is important that denial is broken, before any meaningful recovery can occur. Denial management is a science, very often it is an 'art.' Addiction counselling, unlike other types of counselling, involves talking to an individual who is not ready to accept the basic problem and will employ subtle means to divert or deflect the therapy.Sometimes, the addict may be openly defiant and pointedly dishonest. He or she will try every method under the sun to accept the reality.Understanding denial and its management are critical for initial treatment of alcoholism or drug addiction.Denial is humanDenial is part of human nature... It is a self-defense mechanism, helping us deal with significant pain. Denial makes us human. It helps us cope with pain. It may be triggered during particularly painful situations, such as loss of a loved one or end of a relationship. Individuals use denial to cope with ongoing stresses in life.An addict or alcoholic would like to minimize the pain associated with his addictive behavior – avoiding to feel the embarrassment, shame and guilt caused by his poor or unlucky choices. He or should would try and dissociate oneself from such situations by minimizing, blaming or justifying his or her role in the situations.An addict would not be comfortable with the labels – “addict”/ “alcoholic”/ “boozer”/ “junkie” and so on. Therefore he or she would try and project a non-addictive personality.The only way an addict can continue his or her use of substances is to rigorously apply denial. In the addict’s perception, use of alcohol and drugs is critical for continued well-being. Thus, an addict will employ a wide range of denial forms to hide and defend is addiction. He or she may absolutely any abuse of substances whatsoever. When this becomes difficult, he or she will minimize the severity of the problem; they will hide, lie about, cheat or cover up their addictive behavior. Soon they begin to actually believe their own lies and slip into strong denial.Admitting the problem is first step in recoveryTherefore, for an addict or alcoholic to just admit (and accept) that they might have a problem is a huge first step toward recovery.  But this is just the beginning of recovery.The only way that people suffering from substance abuse or alcohol problems can continue to actively use is through the rigorous application of denial, which is the true face of this condition. Everything about the disease of addiction is fraught with denial: addicts and alcoholics hide the existence of their problem, lie about the severity of it, steal, cheat and lie to cover it all up and lie to themselves about what the problem is really doing to their life. This is why admitting there is a significant problem and taking the first steps to get help is such a colossal achievement, but this is only the very beginning of denial management. Denial management is an ‘art’Addiction therapists employ a range of strategies for denial management. This may include individual counselling, group therapies and family interventions. The effectiveness of denial management is critical for ongoing addiction treatment and forms the basis for relapse prevention planning.False projections can be immensely stressful. Acceptance of one’s real situation is rewarded by huge relief of stress. It can be achieved with the help of skillful counselors who have learnt through to experience how to gently, yet effectively, penetrate the barriers of denial an addict builds around himself.At Hope Trust rehab (est. 2002), denial management has been fine tuned to an ‘art’. The strategies involve family education and interventions. Individual counselling helps the addict separate the denial from reality. The therapists are skilled and experienced in denial management. This is done in residential, outpatient or online settings. Once an addict or alcoholic accepts their problem, he or she is ready to take the solution!

Smoking and Infertility

Dr. Sonu Balhara Ahlawat, Gynecologist/Obstetrician
•Available data indicate that up to 13% of infertility may be attributable to cigarette smoking.•Smoking appears to accelerate the loss of reproductive function and may advance the time of menopause by 1 to 4 years.•Evidence indicates that semen parameters and results of sperm function tests are 22% poorer in smokers than in nonsmokers and the effects are dose-dependent, but smoking has not yet been conclusively shown to reduce male fertility.•Smoking is associated with increased risks of spontaneous abortion and ectopic pregnancy.•Gamete mutagenesis is one possible mechanism whereby smoking may adversely affect fecundity and reproductive performance.•Smokers require nearly twice the number of IVF attempts to conceive as nonsmokers.•Nonsmokers with excessive exposure to tobacco smoke may have reproductive consequences as great as those observed in smokers.•Cessation of smoking can be facilitated by providing education, monitoring, and consistent individualized support.                                                                                                                                                                        Source -