The Daily Pitchfork now has the story of the free pack of stick-on cigarettes provided by the NHS. As usual, they have hyped it to ridiculous levels and set off some choice nutters in the comments.
A couple of questions for those convinced they are addicted. First, a line from the article:
The week's worth of patches give smokers a gradual release of nicotine through the skin enabling them to get their 'fix' without the cancer-causing substances such as tar and carbon monoxide found in cigarettes.
As people become less addicted, they gradually use less stronger patches until they don't need to wear any at all.
(The spelling and grammar is all the Mail's. I'm not paid to proofread their semi-literate gabblings.)
Right. So you think you're addicted to nicotine because you have to have a 'fix' from a cigarette at intervals. Then you stick on a patch that delivers that 'fix' not intermittently, like a cigarette, but continuously. How, in that case, can you become 'less addicted' to the substance you're addicted to, if it's no longer an intermittent fix but a permanent high?
That's like trying to wean someone off heroin by providing them with a permanent supply via a drip. Will that work? Surely, if you give a nicotine addict a permanent nicotine fix, the next stage is not to apply a weaker patch but to start applying two patches. That is what an addict would do. Have you ever known a 'nicotine addict' do that?
Second, a comment from Deranged of Tonbridge Wells. Oh no, wait, it's from -
annie, devon, 28/12/2010 16:00
Patches worked for me - I thought they were brilliant - I tried will power, cold turkey, acupuncture, hypnosis. Went from 60 a day to none in a matter of weeks. Going cold turkey made me weep, scream etc etc - it was horrendous.
There is a myth I'd like to try and dispel about stopping smoking however - we are made to believe - consciously and sub-consciously by the cigarette manufacturers - that it is a really really difficult thing to do - trust me - once the nicotine leaves your body, which it does in a few days, it's not that bad.... it really isn't. Go for it...
So the patches worked for Annie because they kept her from gibbering until the nicotine left her body. Didn't she read what the patches do? They provide a continuous supply of nicotine to the body. It never left! Yet the patches 'cured her addiction to nicotine'. They did this by keeping her nicotine levels at chain-smoker constancy. Does that make sense?
Oh and Annie, should you happen by, think hard about who is telling you it's really really difficult to stop smoking. Think for a moment. It's not the tobacco companies who are calling you an addict, is it? No, it's the ones selling you the bloody patches. Please try to make the connection.
Annie didn't break an addiction. She broke a habit using a placebo. She believed she was addicted to nicotine so she displayed, on command, all the symptoms she was told to expect when she tried to stop. Then she believed that the patches cured her nicotine addiction because while she was wearing them and not smoking, the nicotine left her body even though the patches kept pumping it in faster than she could have smoked it. This is a level of doublethink that would make Big Brother proud.
Everyone who believes themselves addicted and who tries to just stop experiences the same symptoms. The same ones listed on the stop-smoking literature. Always the same.
Here's the missing sentence from the middle of Annie's comment:
Good for you, all you smugos, who are so righteous about people's lack of will power - when will you ever realise that everyone is different!!
Everyone is different, and yet everyone reacts in the same way to nicotine withdrawal. Everyone follows the instructions.
Is that addiction? Or is that just really clever marketing?
Oh, and what happened to all that 'nicotine residues are deadly' research? Why does that not apply to the patches?
You know what will be cruelly amusing? Someone turning up for a job interview, announcing that they are not a smoker, then getting a cotinine test and being called a liar. Because they believe, like Annie, that patches let the nicotine leave the body.
The addiction is a lie. If you want to stop, just stop. There are no withdrawal symptoms. You'll miss the habit for a while but if you're stopping because you aren't enjoying it, that won't last long at all.
First you have to believe that you are not addicted. Then those psychosomatic symptoms just vanish.
Break the conditioning. That's the hard part.