Remember When You First Started Smoking?

by hypnotherapist Chris Holmes

This month, the readership of this site has absolutely gone through the roof – and no, it doesn’t have anything to do with Edzard Ernst!  Or at least, not much to do with him.  “Inconsistencies in the Addiction Story” is the page everyone is reading, and despite recent fuss over other pages this remains the most viewed page on the site after the homepage.

Smokers, I hope, are reading this.  Ordinary smokers and particularly those who would really prefer to be non-smokers but they don’t seem to be getting anywhere with willpower (though some do!) or any of the pharmaceutical aids.

Readership of this site has been steadily climbing every month since it was launched in March 2008, but it has suddenly doubled during March 2010, and that’s the post that did it.  The fact is, smokers have been told a load of misleading rubbish about the tobacco habit and far too many of them end up suffering and dying as a result. So a very warm welcome to all the new readers around the globe – read on, you don’t have to buy anything.

Early Smoking Experiences

There is an interesting difference in the way some of the smokers who have no intention of quitting anytime soon describe their early smoking experiences and the way my clients nearly always descibe them.  This shouldn’t surprise us because very few people are thinking positively about tobacco by the time they reach the hypnotherapy stage.

“What made you think of using hypnotherapy to quit?” I ask each new client, which is a way of assessing how many are direct referrals from previous clients, which is most of them.  If not, the usual response is: “Because I’ve tried everything else!”

Naturally, the first time a smoker attempts to quit the habit they are likely to try to do it all by themselves using willpower.  If that doesn’t work they are probably going to have a go with the thing that is most extensively advertised, namely nicotine replacement poisoning (NRT).  If they knew that it had pretty much the same long-term outcome as willpower they probably wouldn’t bother – but most of them do not, because that is a fact the Department of Health were trying to keep to themselves.

Then – once it became obvious NRT had no lasting effect – the smoker might try some of the pills, willpower again, a self-help book with a CD, NRT again in a different form, then eventually find their way to hypnotherapy.  “You’re my last hope!” is an expression hypnotherapists hear every other day.

Sometimes these smokers are beating themselves up about having ‘failed’ so many times.  Not so: they have been given the wrong information, and with the best will in the world thay have been trying to use that information to quit smoking.  It is the method that has failed, not the smoker.  In explaining this point to them, I often compare it to trying to open a combination lock.  If you have been given the wrong information you are going to struggle, and no amount of willpower is going to change that.  If someone suggests that the problem is that you’re just not trying hard enough, or you don’t really want to open the lock, they would be quite wrong.  Equally it might appear to either party as if it were “really difficult” to open a combination lock.  Which it is, if you have the wrong information.

But if you have the right combination, it’s a snap.

Then I explain to these smokers that they are, in fact, typical of the kind of people who successfully quit smoking.  “The ones who do not succeed either keep putting off the attempt – which you never did – only try once or twice and don’t have the heart to go for it again – you evidently don’t lack that – or decide in advance that there’s “no point” trying other methods because the first method didn’t work.  The fact that you’re here proves that you are not that poorly motivated or unimaginative.  In fact,” I conclude, rather to their surprise because they hadn’t really thought of it that way lately, “you are EXACTLY the sort of person who is going to succeed because you clearly won’t settle for anything less!”

That usually perks them up a bit, because right up until that moment they’d been giving themselves a hard time over it.

At some point in the conversation I will ask them to cast their mind back to their earliest smoking experiences, and put the question: “Do you remember why you were doing that, at the time?”  Never once in the ten years I’ve been helping smokers ditch the habit – and we’re talking about thousands of individual smokers here – never once has anyone said: “For the effects of nicotine.”

Next question: “Do you remember how it made you feel when you first learned how to inhale the smoke?”

Now it is not that unusual, if in conversation with a person who isn’t aiming to quit anytime soon, or has an axe to grind about alternative therapy, or is just cheerfully pro-smoking, to hear them declare: “Actually, I really liked it!  Yes, I took to smoking like a duck to water and I didn’t even cough! In fact I love nicotine so much that even during the night I have a couple of patches stuck to my forehead so I can dream that I’m smoking all night long!”

I’m sure you’ve met someone like that, but it is almost unheard of for that person to book a hypnotherapy session.  Nor should they, they’re obviously quite happy the way they are, being all ‘nicotine friendly’. And why not.

No, I only work with people who have already decided that they want to get rid of the habit, and they only give one of two responses to the question: “I don’t remember” or “It made me feel dizzy and sick”.  There are hardly any exceptions to this apart from the relatively few smokers who first tried tobacco when they already had alcohol in their system.  Some of those people will have experienced the effects of inhaling tobacco smoke much more like a ‘high’ than the rest, who just found it a sickening experience they don’t particularly enjoy recalling, so of course some of them don’t recall it.  This is normal – many people who didn’t have a very nice childhood will report that they don’t remember much about their childhood at all.

The Actual Effects of Nicotine

I ask all smoking clients: “Do you know what nicotine actually does?”  I have yet to encounter a smoker who does know.  The most common guess is: “I think it relaxes me, or something…”  Can we find a parallel in real drug use? A heroin user who doesn’t know what heroin does?  A coke-head that doesn’t know what cocaine does?  No, of course not!

If any future client were to confidently announce: “Why, yes!  Nicotine makes my heart beat faster than it should, reduces blood flow to my extremities which causes the poor circulation that can eventually result in amputation, and the combination of these two changes causes a rise in blood pressure.  It also raises blood fats levels, which is useless and possibly a contributory factor in heart disease, and finally it raises the risk of thrombosis!”

…then I would immediately ask them if they imagined for one moment that they were truly smoking for the effects of nicotine.

Smokers smoke because of cravings, that is true.  But cravings are nothing to do with nicotine or anything else in the smoke.  And we get lots of cravings, they’re not all about tobacco.  They are impulses from the Subconscious mind which prompt you to do what you would usually do at that moment or in that situation, and the factor that has confused everybody about cravings is that they are transmitted via the body and they are real physical experiences that can be mild or very unpleasant indeed, and they will always be interpreted as a ‘need’ or a ‘desire’.

If you respond, the signal will cease which is why it has been misinterpreted as a ‘withdrawal symptom’.  If you don’t respond you get another signal and they will often become more frequent and progressively more uncomfortable and distracting because the purpose of the signal is to distract you from what you are thinking about just long enough to recognise what the circumstances suggest (to the subconscious) you should do, and also to ‘prompt’ you to do something other than what you were already doing.  If you don’t respond the subconscious assumes you didn’t notice that signal so it sends another, more insistent one.

If you have made a conscious decision to stop smoking, the Subconscious doesn’t know, so it (quite innocently) keeps sending the reminders which the poor old conscious mind is now trying to ignore using willpower (conscious effort).  The problem with that is that willpower is an extra effort we don’t normally make, so you can’t keep that up.  You can do it for a while, but it is an effort!  And an effort that you cannot sustain so as soon as you run out of steam – or get distracted by something else – the smoking habit is simply reasserted by the Subconscious mind because those conscious efforts didn’t change anything about it, they were simply a temporary conscious effort to repress the behaviour by force.

If I were wrong about all of this, and it were all about drug dependence, addiction and withdrawal then all of my smoking clients would walk out of my office the same way they walked in.  As would the drinkers, the gamblers, the cocaine-users and the chocoholics… but they don’t.  Cravings and habitual behaviours can be shut down in a hypnotherapy session provided the therapist is a successful specialist in those matters and the client is quite happy to be rid of the problem and has chosen the hypnotherapy route willingly.  True withdrawal symptoms can not be shut down in that way.

In Chapter Ten of Nicotine: The Drug That Never Was I define the Compulsive Habit as distinct from addiction which is the big gap in the medical understanding of these matters, which has got all messed up with theories about dopamine etc. because an understanding of the Subconscious mind is not a part of their training, not is it part of our general education but it should be.  We were all raised and educated in the first place with no mention of a subconscious mind, which leads to the current generalised notion that the conscious mind is the mind and it doesn’t really like the idea that there is another one!  Which is why I repeat the observation in the book a number of times that “the conscious mind doesn’t really believe in the Subconscious mind, except perhaps in theory”.

And by extension, doesn’t really believe in hypnotherapy until the results are encountered for real.  It is not a magic trick.  It is not a parlour game. It is not mysterious in any way, it can all be explained and accounted for. It is not remotely dangerous or risky, but stage hypnosis unfortunately makes it look as if it might be which is why that always needs explaining before we start doing any therapy!

Hypnotherapy is often regarded as alternative medicine, which is wrong on two counts. Firstly, it is not alternative because it was officially recognised as a valid therapeutic approach by the BMA and also their American counterparts in the mid-1950s, so it is orthodox and it has been, and is, used in both medicine and dentistry, though nowhere near as often as it would be if it were not for all the misinformation, prejudice, unnecessary fear and ignorant scoffing that we have had to contend with for the last couple of centuries.  Secondly, although it has medical applications hypnotherapy is not medicine, it is 100% communication so it has more in common with educational procedures than medical ones, and the current, almost universal lack of understanding of the Subconscious mind is entirely down to the Subconscious-shaped hole in our traditional models of education.

more about hypnotherapy

The Trials of Edzard Ernst

by hypnotherapist Chris Holmes

Show me a hundred different scientific studies into the efficacy (or lack thereof) of any kind of therapy.  Will they all produce more or less the same findings?  No.  But why not?  If the RCT is the gold standard of assessment, surely it will just come up with truth, will it not?  Isn’t this the reason that Ernst says “Don’t shoot the messenger!” as if he didn’t play any personal role in producing those finding whatsoever, and his followers will point to his publications and say: “The science says…”

Almost as if “the science” just does itself, and Ernst’s role is rather like that of the sorcerer’s apprentice: once he has set it in motion he has no influence over the process or the outcomes…

And indeed this would be the case with all scientists, would it not?  It’s just pure science, and it simply reveals pure truth.  That’s the idea, that’s the suggestion whenever we have one study or another shoved under our noses by the cynics.  So if the cynics were right about CAM therapists – that we’re all just quacks – then all the scientific studies that have already been done (not just Ernst’s activities) would have demonstrated this beyond all doubt, would they not?  What would there be left to say?  Why bother paying him any longer?

Back in the Real World

Of course the cynics are not suggesting that ALL scientific studies are just revealing pure truth!  How could they be, when some of them produce ‘findings’ that seem to confirm their prejudices, and some do not!  Clearly they cannot ALL be right!  So it becomes necessary to find crucial errors in the way some of those studies were designed or conducted, or the interpretation of the results…

“Really?  That can happen in Science?”

“Oh yes, but don’t worry!  Don’t lose your faith in the RCT and the Scientific Way!  If the results aren’t what we want them to be, clearly we need to do the Science differently until we get the results right!”

For how likely is it, really, that the cynic’s PREJUDICES might be wrong in the first place?  Exactly, that couldn’t happen, because a cynic knows everything already and most especially knows for sure that anyone who doesn’t agree with them is wrong. So there is never any need to question The Science That Says The Right Thing (bless the messenger), only the Bad Science That Says The Wrong Thing (denounce the author, attack the methodology, the interpretation… call people nasty names…) yeah that’s way more scientific.  In fact the entire history of Science is full of that sort of abusive slanging match… and that’s just how scientists talk to each other, they have even less regard for people who are prepared to think outside of scientific paradigms.  Those are just Voodoo People, and should probably be burned or something.

Science says Nothing

“The Science” says nothing, mainly because there is no such thing as “The Science”.  This doesn’t make science useless, of course it doesn’t.  But it does mean that with any kind of study you read about in The Daily Rag, if you don’t know who funded it, what they are trying to achieve and whether this is part of a wider programme which hasn’t been mentioned deliberately in the press release or whether there were other trials which the authors of the press release decided not to tell The Daily Rag about because they contradict the trials that Say The Right Thing… then you only know what the press release says.

All the questions I raised about Ernst, and how on Earth he ever came to occupy that position are perfectly valid, but I know we’ll never get answers that haven’t just come from a fawning interview with an adoring hack or some dodgy press release that came from the Ernst camp anyway.  And I really can’t be bothered to exchange another pointless word with the cynics who don’t even understand the difference between skepticism and cynicism.  It is impossible to communicate in any useful way with any person who has convinced themselves before the conversation even starts that you must be a fraud, a fantasist or an idiot because you don’t already agree with them.

So I thought I’d do one last post about the boring old duffer but every time I considered it, it just seemed like a chore.  Somewhere along the line I realised that although I found it very annoying at first that he said things about hypnotherapy that were totally wrong, he’s really just another dull academic who knows nothing about it.   The fact that someone decided he could have a title that makes it sound like he’s knowledgeable is irrelevant, he remains a nobody in the field of complementary therapy, his own university don’t even seem to like him, just about everything he says is negative and no ordinary member of the public I’ve ever mentioned him to has heard of him at all, so although he’s beloved by a few hacks and a small platoon of cynics, the rest of the world could not give a toss.

Therefore: neither do I.

practice website

The Drug That Never Was 

Just in case you thought it was just me…

…when I suggested that the Department of Health KNEW THEY WERE LYING when they made all those claims for the supposed ‘effectiveness’ of nicotine replacement poisoning:

http://blogs.bmj.com/bmj/2010/03/17/patrick-basham-the-doh-is-wrong-about-cessation/

Now: the plot thickens, as we hear rumours that the ELECTRONIC CIGARETTE is very likely to be BANNED in the U.K. towards the end of June – the only competition for nicotine replacement products made by drug companies. Then this message has come in from across the pond:

 Subject: J & J merger with Pfizer Consumer Health gives J & J a monopoly in the pharmaceutical nicotine marketplace

What precautions have been taken by the EU to prevent this monopolistic business practice?  
Additionally, since Johnson & Johnson’s (J & J) partner Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) has been funding groups ($446+ million) like the American Lung Assoc., CTFK, ASH, etc. to lobby in favor of smoking bans around the world, they are unfairly manipulating the marketplace in order to increase sales to their monopoly stranglehold, pharmaceutical nicotine, commonly referred to as rent seeking legislation.
So all you Lab Rats over on the Bad Science blog, all you Ben Goldacre + Edzard Ersnt groupies who scoff at any mention of Big Pharma being up to no good, conspiracies involving government departments and evil global interests using misinformation disguised as ‘science’ to manipulate smokers’ choices simply to sell them a useless poison posing as a medication…
…wake up and smell the corruption.
Of course, there is a way around all of this. Find a good hypnotherapist and ditch the lot.  And before anyone suggests that’s just ME trying to make money out of smokers, here’s the difference: the vast majority of my smoking clients will be saving £1,800 every year they live after that, which will be likely to be a lot more years than if they listen to those liars at the Department of Stealth.

safer alternative

Please Don’t Bother the Over-Prescriber!

In The Times this week, doctors were beseeching patients with only ordinary ailments like coughs and colds to stop bothering the general practitioner for antibiotics that won’t help anyway – or that they just don’t need, really – and  let nature take its course, or in other words have a bit of faith in your immune system.

Very good advice.  Mind you, it’s not so very long ago that it was GPs themselves who were being blasted for prescribing antibiotics for these very conditions, when they knew perfectly well that cold and flu viruses are not affected by them anyway and that the overprescribing of antibiotics leads to resistant strains of bacteria like the superbugs that have plagued hospitals in recent years.  Not really the patients’ fault, considering that the GP is supposed to be the one with the specialist medical knowledge. 

“GPs Hand Out Needless Pills” was the frontpage headline in the Daily Mail only a year ago (04.03.09) when Professor Michael Oliver, emeritus professor of cardiology at the University of Edinburgh warned that millions of healthy people were being ‘preventatively’ prescribed pills to control blood pressure, lower cholesterol or prevent diabetes when there was actually nothing wrong with them.  He blamed a “tick-box culture” and also Health Service guidelines for encouraging the widespread use of such drugs.

The article also listed nasty side effects widely reported for such medications, and only a few months later (25.09.09) the Daily Express had “New Fears Over Heart Pill Taken By Millions” as its lead story as scientists at Nottingham university were given a quarter of a million pounds to investigate statin drugs that are prescribed to lower cholesterol.  However, the dopey notion that Doc has a pill that will fix everything was reinforced by the very same newspaper when it had “Wonder Pill To Fight The Flab – new slimming drug works faster” splashed all over its front page (23.10.08).

Now before half of you go rushing off to look that one up so you can badger your GP about it, do bear in mind that statins were also hailed as ‘wonder’ drugs, a standard practice also known as ‘marketing’.  Now they are under investigation for nasty side effects and according to Dr Malcolm Kendrick’s book The Great Cholesterol Con (John Blake Publishing 2007) they don’t prevent heart attacks anyway because cholesterol is not the real cause. Champix (Chantix) was hailed as a wonder drug too, but now it is under investigation for horrific side effects and it doesn’t work for at least 80% of smokers anyway in the long run, a far cry from the 44% success rate claimed for it in the short-term trials by Pfizer.

The Rise and Rise of ‘Preventative’ Medicine

As drug companies came to realise that there is far more return on investment if you put most of your research and development budget into ‘treatments’ for long-term ‘conditions’ rather than medicines that cure diseases, we have also seen new marketing strategies that create spectres of doom like the avian flu global catastrophe that never really happened, and of course the swine flu that killed far fewer people than seasonal flu strains in reality, but “worst-case scenario” stories of 165,000 dead in the U.K. alone had governments frantically ordering vast stockpiles of vaccines at enormous expense… was it a deliberate scam?

Then there are the side effects.  Tamiflu has been associated with suicides and concerns were also raised about the cervical cancer vaccines by Dr Diane Harper who was involved in the clinical trials herself and stated in October 2009 that the jab was being “over-marketed” and could even be riskier and more deadly than the cancer it is designed to prevent, having been linked to 32 deaths in the USA even before it was made available to all teenage girls in the U.K. – once again, at enormous expense.  Dr Harper is quoted in the Sunday Express as saying: “All this jab will do is prevent girls getting some abnormalities associated with cervical cancer which can be treated. It willl not decrease cervical cancer rates at all.”

It is clear that drug companies are successfully manipulating and maximising general fears of conditions or illnesses that people DO NOT HAVE to sell them – en masse – the drug equivalent of an amulet to ward off the fear.  This amulet may not protect them anyway – it is impossible to test its future effectiveness, so this certainly is not “evidence-based” medicine – and some people who were perfectly healthy in the first place will inevitably be adversely affected by bad reactions.

It is becoming increasingly apparent that where you stand on the whole subject of the new ‘preventative’ business model of drug companies comes down to how you feel about drug companies.  Two ‘Schools of Skepticism’ have emerged: the New Simple Scientism of Uncle Edzard Ernst which scoffs at the alternative field (where harm to the public is pretty rare really, but they can always find an exception or two with which to frighten people) but turns a blind eye to the enormous damage done by pharmaceutical drugs the world over… and the Pharma-Skeptics (such as myself) who find this recent shift of emphasis from treating real illnesses to warding off suggested possible future illnesses particularly creepy.

What About Nutritional Supplements, then?

Vitamins, minerals and plant extracts in pill form or similarly presented as if they are a form of ‘medication’ to prevent or treat one thing or another may also be regarded as suspect in this respect, and I have concerns about that too because of the extent to which the imagination can be driving the motivation to purchase things like that.  If any are proven to be hazardous then they are withdrawn from sale however, which is very different from what happens with pharmaceutical drugs.  All kinds of mayhem is required for a drug to be withdrawn from the market – instead it is ‘investigated’ but doctors carry on prescribing it!  Prozac was eventually revealed to be no more effective than the placebo in the trial data, some of which was witheld from the FDA to get it passed as if it was genuinely effective.  That is obviously fraudulent, yet it officially remains an “evidence-based” medicine (Ha, ha, ha, Professor Ernst!  Somewhat undermines your posturing about CAM therapies, doesn’t it?  Why don’t you write an article about that for a change? After all, you used to be actively engaged in the approval of medications when you were a member of the MHRA, it’s not as if you wouldn’t have an opinion!)  And the biggest difference of all is that nutritional supplements are just available for general sale, the public are not being told by scientists and medical authorities that they should take them, nor are they being provided to the public en masse at the taxpayers’ expense.  CAM therapies aren’t either: hardly any of that is funded by the taxpayer and medical authorities tend to ignore it completely.  People are free to choose that or not choose it, those treatments certainly aren’t pressed on the general public by doctors.  But increasingly, the ‘preventative’ drugs and vaccines are, and that is a whole New Order Of Medicine which for the drug companies is clearly the road to heaven, but where is it leading the rest of us?  Are we all to be medicated from cradle to grave?    

Professor Michael Oliver was right: lifelong health should be about a healthy lifestyle, not lifelong medication!  If it ain’t broke don’t fix it Doc.  The vast majority of us are born with an immune system already installed, a working pair of lungs and a suckling instinct.  We are not born with a cannula sticking out of our little arms, are we?  And unless there is some dire and pressing need, shouldn’t have one shoved in there either.

Central Hypnotherapy

The Trials of Edzard Ernst

Show me a hundred different scientific studies into the efficacy (or lack thereof) of any kind of therapy.  Will they all produce more or less the same findings?  No.  But why not?  If the RCT is the gold standard of assessment, surely it will just come up with truth, will it not?  Isn’t this the reason that Ernst says “Don’t shoot the messenger!” as if he didn’t play any personal role in producing those findings whatsoever, and his followers will point to his publications and say: “The science says…”

Almost as if “the science” just does itself, and Ernst’s role is rather like that of the sorcerer’s apprentice: once he has set it in motion he has no influence over the process or the outcomes…

And indeed this would be the case with all scientists, would it not?  It’s just pure science, and it simply reveals pure truth.  That’s the idea, that’s the suggestion whenever we have one study or another shoved under our noses by the cynics.  So if the cynics were right about CAM therapists – that we’re all just quacks – then all the scientific studies that have already been done (not just Ernst’s activities) would have demonstrated this beyond all doubt, would they not?  What would there be left to say?  Why bother paying him any longer? 

Back in the Real World

Of course the cynics are not suggesting that ALL scientific studies are just revealing pure truth!  How could they be, when some of them produce ‘findings’ that seem to confirm their prejudices, and some do not!  Clearly they cannot ALL be right!  So it becomes necessary to find crucial errors in the way some of those studies were designed or conducted, or the interpretation of the results…

“Really?  That can happen in Science?”

“Oh yes, but don’t worry!  Don’t lose your faith in the RCT and the Scientific Way!  If the results aren’t what we want them to be, clearly we need to do the Science differently until we get the results right!”  

For how likely is it, really, that the cynic’s PREJUDICES might be wrong in the first place?  Exactly, that couldn’t happen, because a cynic knows everything already and most especially knows for sure that anyone who doesn’t agree with them is wrong. So there is never any need to question The Science That Says The Right Thing (bless the messenger), only the Bad Science That Says The Wrong Thing (denounce the author, attack the methodology, the interpretation… call people nasty names…) yeah that’s way more scientific.  In fact the entire history of Science is full of that sort of abusive slanging match… and that’s just how scientists talk to each other, they have even less regard for people who are prepared to think outside of scientific paradigms.  Those are just Voodoo People, and should probably be burned or something.

Science says Nothing

“The Science” says nothing, mainly because there is no such thing as “The Science”.  This doesn’t make science useless, of course it doesn’t.  But it does mean that with any kind of study you read about in The Daily Rag, if you don’t know who funded it, what they are trying to achieve and whether this is part of a wider programme which hasn’t been mentioned deliberately in the press release or whether there were other trials which the authors of the press release decided not to tell The Daily Rag about because they contradict the trials that Say The Right Thing… then you only know what the press release says.

All the questions I raised about Ernst, and how on Earth he ever came to occupy that position are perfectly valid, but I know we’ll never get answers that haven’t just come from a fawning interview with an adoring hack or some dodgy press release that came from the Ernst camp anyway.  And I really can’t be bothered to exchange another pointless word with the cynics who don’t even understand the difference between skepticism and cynicism.  It is impossible to communicate in any useful way with any person who has convinced themselves before the conversation even starts that you must be a fraud, a fantasist or an idiot because you don’t already agree with them.

So I thought I’d do one last post about the boring old duffer but every time I considered it, it just seemed like a chore.  Somewhere along the line I realised that although I found it very annoying at first that he said things about hypnotherapy that were totally wrong, he’s really just another dull academic who knows nothing about it.   The fact that someone decided he could have a title that makes it sound like he’s knowledgable is irrelevant, he remains a nobody in the field of complementary therapy, his own university don’t even seem to like him, just about everything he says is negative and no ordinary member of the public I’ve ever mentioned him to has heard of him at all, so although he’s beloved by a few hacks and a small platoon of cynics, the rest of the world could not give a toss.

Therefore: neither do I.

Chantix Champix 6

Chantix Champix Reviews: How long does the suffering have to go on?

*Update: If you or a loved one has suffered a bad reaction to Champix and you are based in the U.K., you can report it to the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) here. The more people do that the clearer the true picture will become. Protect others! Report it.*

**Update 2, 4th November 2011:

The American Food & Drug Administration (FDA) were reported in the Business section of the Washington Post as reassuring smokers that Chantix (known as Champix everywhere outside the USA) does not increase psychiatric problems, according to two small studies involving 26,000 smokers.  Since this flies in the face of everything else they know about Chantix already, it is surely irresponsible to say such a thing at this time, because the caveats added to the story further down do not carry anything like the weight of the inevitable headline.  Meanwhile, this article in the Daily Mail reports a study which states exactly the opposite.

Why?  Because the Daily Mail is not bending over backward to assist the pharmaceutical industry – even at the expense of smokers’ lives, if that’s what it takes – whereas the FDA very clearly is.  The testing and approvals system is corrupt as hell, using every possible means of dragging their feet so that Chantix/Champix stays on the market and remains ‘approved’ regardless of how many individual smokers’ lives are ruined by the drug.

The Truth Will Out Campaign has been trying to alert smokers (and doctors) to the dangers of this drug since Autumn of 2008, but just imagine the frustration of this commentator on the new Daily Mail report:

“Oh now they make this a huge statement. My mom used it in mid 2007. She ended up in a mental hospital. Thanks Champix. This stuff shouldn’t even be on the market!!! I still can’t understand why it is, with all these accounts of suicide! I read horror story’s back then after this happened to my mom about people killing themselves or having illness such as bi-polar disorder activated in them. My rule with all drugs is, if it hasn’t been on the market for more then 10 years…DO NOT take it. You never want to be the guinea pig. Sorry for all those who ended their lives because they were manipulated this drug.

– Danielle, USA,
3/11/2011 6:08″**

 

Chantix Champix 6

by hypnotherapist Chris Holmes

*Update: If you or a loved one has suffered a bad reaction to Champix and you are based in the U.K., you can report it to the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) here. The more people do that the clearer the true picture will become. Protect others! Report it.*

Recently a couple of contributors to this blog – who have started to take Champix or Chantix themselves and feel fine on it – have commented that the page they are reading here “seems very negative”.

This is my sixth blog post on Champix/Chantix. I check all comments that come in, and with the obvious exception of spam each comment is added to the site, which means that what you read here is exactly what I have received. If I suspect a comment is bogus I will still add it to the site, and then say why I think it is bogus. Even when it seems I’m mistaken about that, I leave the whole exchange up there for everyone to read, I don’t cover it up. Sometimes it is hard to tell what is genuine and what is not.

So if someone suggests that it seems too negative, I suggest that they read all the comments that follow all six blog posts, the majority of which follow the original post entitled “Champix/Chantix” and the fourth one “Champix/Chantix 4: Enough Already”.

Now look at this:

Review Centre

You might reasonably ask the question “Why do these reviews mostly seem very positive when the ones on some other blogs like Truth Will Out mostly seem pretty negative, often alarmingly so?”

The answer seems to lie in the fact that many of these ‘rave’ reviews are posted very early on in the Champix users experience.  The fact that they feel no urge to smoke at that stage makes a very big impression, and if side effects are minimal at that point it is not surprising that the review they post is bordering on ecstatic.

But we know from the trials that at least half of those smokers will start again when they come off the medication, so this kind of early assessment is premature.  We also know from the comments that have come in to truth Will Out that although nasty side effects can kick in quite quickly, it is more common for them to happen with prolonged use beyond the six-week or eight-week point.

Now read the latest comment to pop up in my mailbox:

Sheanin wrote:

“I’m so glad I found this website – I only wish I had found it a little sooner.

You have confirmed what I had started to suspect myself as a user of Champix. Although I had only smoked on and off for about 6 years, I was prescribed the drug to help me quit a few weeks ago. As I was desperate to quit once and for all, I went for it. I soon wished I hadn’t.

Last week, I had to admit to myself that I was quickly becoming ill on so many fronts that I had to see my doctor again – and fast. I was told to stop taking Champix immediately. I had spent just over a week feeling as though I had been locked into a tiny little cocoon somewhere in the furthest corners of my mind while a robot took me over.

Sure, I got little waves of euphoria here and there each time I reached a milestone – but with each milestone that euphoria would crash to an even deeper low. In addition, my body was going to pieces; I was constantly nauseated, constantly wishing I could curl up and sleep, suffering from aches and pains absolutely everywhere – it was never ending. As a single mum to two small children, one of whom is disabled, I knew – even from the depths of that little cocoon – that I couldn’t let things continue.

I grew up around depression and mental illness and I had always sworn to myself that my children would never be exposed to those things. So, upon seeing the doctor, I was told to come off the drug immediately, which I did four days ago. And even now, I am suffering the consequences. Since that day, I have gone through what I now know to be terrible withdrawal; every side effect suffered during those few weeks has returned with a vengeance. I have been almost permanently locked in my bathroom, unable to eat, unable to look after my children, permanently in pain. At one point, I felt like I was dying.

All I can say is that I am so relieved to have come off this drug, even if I am still suffering now. I’m sure this sickness will pass and I’m positive that I need no crutches whatsoever to stop me from smoking at this stage, I haven’t had a smoke in almost a month and now associate cigarettes with the sheer torture I’ve gone through during the last few days. If I’d never started smoking in the first place, I’d never have been introduced to the absolute terror that is Champix and I wouldn’t be sitting here now clutching my abdomen with tears in my eyes. This drug should be banned completely; the government slaps scary pictures on cigarette packets but continues to sell them – while nobody gets thoroughly warned about Champix and what it’s highly likely to do to your body.

I’d sooner spend the rest of my life licking tar from the footpath.”

Not Worth The Risk

My point about Champix is really very simple: why risk a hideous experience like that if you have not already tried all the methods that CANNOT POSSIBLY do that to you?  Especially when hypnotherapy, the Allen Carr method and acupuncture all produce better results anyway! (See Evidence section.)

To save money?

And to all those sweet innocents who have suggested brightly that if they feel a bit funny they’ll simply stop taking it, over to Sheanin:

“I was told to come off the drug immediately, which I did four days ago. And even now, I am suffering the consequences. Since that day, I have gone through what I now know to be terrible withdrawal; every side effect suffered during those few weeks has returned with a vengeance. I have been almost permanently locked in my bathroom, unable to eat, unable to look after my children, permanently in pain. At one point, I felt like I was dying.”

And some people have.  Take risks if you want, people, but don’t kid yourself this could never happen to you.  I mean even with Russian Roulette, if there’s six chambers and only one bullet, the odds are very much in your favour that you won’t die the first time you pull that trigger.  Wanna play?

Nicotine: The Drug That Never Was

safer alternative

Related posts:

The truth about why this drug is misconceived anyway, like NRT

Two weeks on Champix

Champix Chantix murders and suicide

Champix Chantix suicide

Champix Chantix seizures and epilepsy

44% success rate? No, 86% failure rate for Champix Chantix

More smokers’ comments follow this post

More smokers’ reviews of Champix Chantix

My original post on Champix Chantix April 2008, and almost 300 comments that followed

Article: Why willpower is irrelevant!

The Truth Will Out, Pfizer!