Freedom from Nicotine - The Journey Home


Chapter 3: Quitting "You"

Topics:  Recovery | Infected | Breathing | Senses | Meals

Forgotten Sensitivities

Where is the real neuro-chemical you? Is it normal to administer a stimulant that makes the heart pound 17 beats per minute faster when trying to relax?

Is it normal to use an external chemical to induce a dopamine "aaah" wanting relief sensation upon hearing that a friend has been hurt or a loved one has died?

Our dependency robs us of our emotional self-identity and sensitivities. The millions of extra acetylcholine receptors it grew inside our brain not only created a barrier to feeling nicotine's full effects but an insensitivity to life itself.

It isn't that the basic person and personality underlying nicotine dependency is significantly different. It's that their addiction has disrupted their sensitivities, and has the wrong chemicals flowing at the wrong times.

Aside from dopamine, nicotine has command and control of serotonin, our stress busting neurotransmitter, with ties to mood, impulse control, anger and depression.[100]

Included among the estimated 200 neuro-chemicals that nicotine controls, mediates or regulates are acetylcholine, arginine vasopressin,[101] GABA,[102] glucose,[103] glutamate,[104] neuropeptide S,[105] anti-apoptotic XIAP,[106] epinephrine and nor-epinephrine.

What is it like to navigate nicotine dependency recovery, arrive home and for the first time in a long time allow life, not nicotine, to decide which neuro-chemicals your awareness will sense?

Forgotten Senses

Some nicotine users claim to smoke, chew, dip or vape for the flavor or aroma. If you haven't heard others say it, you've certainly seen tobacco industry marketing suggest it. Truth is, powerful tobacco toxins rob users of the ability to accurately smell and taste.

I used to barely get through the bank door to make the daily deposit when one cashier, without looking up, would say, "Hi John!"

One day I made the mistake of asking how she knew it was me. "When the door closes behind you," she said, "a rush of air that smells like smoke announces your arrival." It hurt. I didn't know whether to change banks or brands.

Sensory nerve endings in the mouth and nasal passages begin healing within three days of ending tobacco use. Will everything smell and taste better? No. As Joel puts it, you smell and taste everything more accurately, but that does not necessarily mean better.

As Joel notes, that first spring will bring the aroma of flowers that will likely be far more intense than you perceived while smoking. But wait until you drive by a garbage dump or sewage treatment plant.

The same is true of taste. With an accurate sense of taste, there may be flavors you thought you liked that no longer appeal to you, or foods you were convinced were horrible that suddenly become wonderful.

What is it like to smell coffee brewing more than a hundred feet away? Imagine being able to identify every smoker you meet by the thousands of chemicals that coat their hair, skin and clothing.

Flour isn't just white and rain just wet. They both offer subtle yet distinct aroma experiences.

Think about having missed out on the natural smell of those you love, the scent of a new baby, the aromas that tease as we walk past a bakery, or feeling compelled to stop and smell every flower, as if planted just for you.

What is it like to live with healed senses? "Come to where the flavor is." Come home to you!

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100. Rausch JL et al, Effect of nicotine on human blood platelet serotonin uptake and effluxm, Progress in Neuropsychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry, 1989, Volume 13(6), Pages 907-916.
101. Yu G, et al, Nicotine self-administration differentially regulates hypothalamic corticotropin-releasing factor and arginine vasopressin mRNAs and facilitates stress-induced neuronal activation, Journal of Neuroscience, March 12, 2008, Volume 28(11), Pages 2773-2782.
102. Zhu PJ, et al, Nicotinic receptors mediate increased GABA release in brain through a tetrodotoxin-insensitive mechanism during prolonged exposure to nicotine, Neuroscience, 2002, Volume 115(1), Pages 137-144.
103. Morgan TM, et al, Acute effects of nicotine on serum glucose insulin growth hormone and cortisol in healthy smokers, Metabolism, May 2004, Volume 53(5), Pages 578-582.
104. Liechti ME, Role of the glutamatergic system in nicotine dependence, CNS Drugs, 2008, Volume 22(9), Pages 705-724.
105. Lage R, et al, Nicotine treatment regulates neuropeptide S system expression in the rat brain, Neurotoxicology, November 2007, Volume 28(6), Pages 1129-1135.
106. Zhang J, et al, Nicotine Induces Resistance to Chemotherapy by Modulating Mitochondrial Signaling in Lung Cancer, American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology, August 1,2008, [Epub ahead of print].

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Page created June 16, 2015 and last updated June 16, 2015 by John R. Polito