Tahlequah Daily Press


October 23, 2013

Kicking habit challenging, but there’s help

TAHLEQUAH — For the past few decades, public and private organizations, agencies and action groups have worked to reduce the consumption of tobacco in the U.S.

The efforts have produced results. In 2010, it was reported that in the U.S., there are more ex-smokers than smokers – 47 million to 46 million. But that means a lot of people are still smoking, and many who want to quit to reduce health risks such as lung cancer.

Kenneth Gibson, an osteopathic doctor with the NeoHealth clinic in Hulbert and a specialist in addiction and pain management, said dopamine surges within the brain can fuel a dependency.

“About 10 percent of us have brains that are very reward-sensitive,” Gibson said. “That percentage is very susceptible to addiction, and it can be very difficult for them to quit.”

However, many – perhaps most – people would admit an addiction to something, be it adrenaline, sugar, television or nicotine.

“Addiction is also a spectrum,” Gibson said. “It can range from mild to severe. A person may smoke four cigarettes a day or four packs a day, and in either case find quitting difficult.”

Along with the mental dependency, some of the biggest hurdles to quitting smoking are the well-documented symptoms of nicotine withdrawal and their duration.

After quitting, the craving for nicotine can last a couple of months. Quitters also report dizzy spells in the first few days of withdrawal. Headaches, insomnia, constipation and chest pain are common symptoms during the first couple of weeks. The two most reported symptoms, fatigue and irritability, can last a month.

Longer-term effects are poor mental focus, cough and runny nose. An increase in appetite can last many weeks. Many who quit smoking report a weight gain of 8-12 pounds after a year of tobacco abstinence.

But also well-documented are the health benefits. For many years, the American Cancer Society has listed the benefits of cessation over time.

Going 20 minutes without smoking lowers heart rate and blood pressure. Carbon monoxide levels return to normal in the bloodstream after 12 hours, and the senses of smell, taste and touch begin to recover after 48 hours.

Blood circulation and lung function improve in about three months. Lung capacity improves and coughing decreases after nine months. After a year, the risk of coronary heart disease is halved. The risk of many associated cancers is greatly diminished and the risk of stroke returns to “normal” - that of a non-smoker - after five years of cessation.

Smoking does the most immediate and greatest damage to the lungs, but after 10 years off tobacco, the risk of lung cancer is reduced by half. After 15 years, the risk of heart disease is the same as a non-smoker, and the risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is reduced.

Cessation methods are numerous. Gibson said the most scientifically vetted methods involve nicotine replacement.

“Patches, gums, lozenges probably do the most to enhance the chances of quitting,” he said. “There are also a number of medications like Chantix, which can be prescribed to reduce the symptoms of withdrawal.”

Studies have suggested that assistance from doctors or clinicians also increases the chances of long-term cessation. However, many ex-smokers report quitting without assistance, either by going “cold turkey” – ceasing all smoking immediately – or gradually decreasing their consumption.

An increasingly popular alternative to arise recently is the e-cigarette, which administers nicotine with vapor instead of smoke.

Gibson said there are no studies or medical literature suggesting that e-cigarettes are safe or an effective aid toward cessation.

“They don’t damage the lungs like smoke, but the person is still taking nicotine,” he said. “I don’t have any trouble recommending them, but only if a patient finds them helpful as an adjunct to quitting.”

When a person is trying to quit, Gibson said, persistence is key.

“The average number of attempts to quit is seven for a long-term ex-smoker,” he said. “It is most important that you don’t give up.”


Text Only
  • Dream, Brewdog’s to host music festivals

    One sign of spring’s arrival is the scheduling of music festivals, and 10 bands will visit a Tahlequah venue May 24, the Saturday before Memorial Day.

    April 17, 2014

  • rf-Zoe-thing.jpg Conference attendees get words of encouragement

    Words of encouragement and door prizes were bountiful Saturday morning at the annual Zoë Institute’s Women’s Conference.
    Ten women shared words of wisdom in areas from happiness to health, and 100 gifts were given out, including the grand prize of gasoline for a year.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • sp-symposium-art-panel.jpg Panelists discuss impact of Southeastern art

    Until recently, most people had a certain expectation of American Indian art – and it didn’t include images familiar to people in and around Cherokee County.
    “A lot of times, when people think about Native art, they immediately think of Plains art or Southwestern art,” said Roy Boney (Cherokee), Tahlequah artist and moderator of the panel discussion “Southeastern Indian Art: Building Community and Raising Awareness,” held Friday, April 11, at the NSU Symposium on the American Indian.
    Boney and the other panelists are frustrated by the divide between mainstream expectations of Native American art and their need for genuine self-expression.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • rf-Teacher.jpg Dickerson believes in putting the student first

    As a child growing up in Elk City, Cherokee Elementary teacher Debra Dickerson lined up the neighborhood children and animals to play school.
    “I’ve been a teacher ever since I could talk. My mother always said she knew where I was because she could hear me bossing everyone,” she said.
    The classroom then was a blanket tossed over limbs of her big cherry tree on Eisenhower Street. Recess was spent tree-climbing, running, riding in the bus (her red wagon) and being creative.
    “Those were the days before video games and TV,” she said.
    Dickerson, 2013-’14 Cherokee Elementary Teacher of the Year, believes a classroom should be a safe haven for children, because school is often the best part of their day.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • kh-trash-pickup.jpg Cleaning things up

    Lowrey was part of the Cherokee Nation’s Career Service Center contingency of 11 volunteers. Other volunteers cleaned up trash along the roadway from the Cherokee Casino to the NSU campus.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • SR-NinthAmendment.jpg Right to privacy leans partly on Article 9

    While the other articles of the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights are straightforward – at least, enough for Americans to bicker over in court – the Ninth Amendment might cause a bit of confusion.
    It reads: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”
    There are no rights enumerated, and it might be difficult to argue one’s Ninth Amendment rights in court, though it has been done successfully.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • stickball-2.jpg Stickball

    The American Indian Science and Engineering Society and Native American Student Associationat Northeastern State University hosted a traditional stickball game as part of closing cultural activities during the 42nd annual Symposium on the American Indian Friday. Participants included, from left: Nathan Wolf, Disosdi Elk and Chris Smith.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • green-bldng.jpg City council to discuss ‘green building’

    Tahlequah City Council will hold a special meeting Friday, April 11, at 5:30 p.m. to discuss, among other items, applying grant money to renovate the city’s “green building” at the corner of Water and Morgan, near Norris Park.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • alcohol-info.jpg Alcohol screening can be critical

    It has been decades since Prohibition brought Americans gangsters, flappers and speakeasies, but statistics for alcohol addiction are staggering.
    Millions of Americans suffer from alcohol addiction and abuse, which affects families and friends.
    Today, April 10, is the annual National Alcohol Screening Day, and raising awareness through education, outreach and screening programs is the goal, according to the website at www.mentalhealthscreening.org.

    April 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • jn-CCSO-2.jpg Law enforcement agencies to get new facility

    Area law enforcement agencies will soon have a new training facility in Cherokee County.
    The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office is building the new training room near its gun range, located north of the detention center. Sheriff Norman Fisher said tax dollars were not used for the building.
    “This is something we’ve been trying to work on, and it was built with no money from the taxpayers,” said Fisher. “It was paid for with drug forfeitures and gun sales.”

    April 9, 2014 2 Photos


What to you think of a state Legislature proposal to forbid cities from raising the minimum wage? Choose the closest to your opinion.

The federal government should set the minimum wage across the board.
States should be allowed to raise their minimum wages, but not cities.
Both states and cities should be allowed to raise their minimum wages.
Cities should be allowed to raise their mimum wages, but not states.
There should be no minimum wage at all.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest