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Over the last few years, the number of people in the U.S. who smoke dropped significantly. In a study conducted back in 2008 by the CDC, only 20 percent of Americans smoked cigarettes – the lowest number since the 1960s.
Still, cigarette smoking remains a serious problem for many people. Quitting cigarettes and shaking the nicotine addiction proves one of the hardest habits to break.
My own father smoked from the time he was around 12 years old. He stopped “cold turkey” one day around 22 years ago. He never went back. He was one of the lucky ones. Only about 4 percent of those who try to quit suddenly actually break their habit. The rest go back to their addiction. For the vast majority of smokers, addiction to tobacco is nearly inescapable.
Why is a nicotine habit so hard to break? According to Dr. Neil Benowitz, a nicotine researcher for the University of California, San Francisco, “From a scientific standpoint, nicotine is just as hard, or harder, to quit than heroin.”
Starting is easy, but quitting can be the hardest thing ever. In my Dad’s case, his desire to quit smoking was driven by two factors: First, the birth of his first grandson and the fear that this little boy might grow up not knowing who his Grandpa was. Secondly, there was a strange growth on his shoulder that his physician warned him could be a sign of lung cancer. Thankfully, it wasn’t, but that fear was strong enough to counteract my dad’s cravings to light up after his evening meal.
For the 96 percent who try to quit smoking and can’t, is there hope? If our willpower is not strong enough to fight off our addiction to nicotine, but we truly want to change? What then?
Many Christians fall to their knees when faced with the reality of an addiction they simply cannot overcome on their own. When all else fails, prayer is often the last resort when actually it should come first. Even according to Nicotine Anonymous (NA), it may be more effective than we sometimes think.
Like Alcoholics Anonymous, NA encourages members to pray the Serenity Prayer as a way of coping with addiction. Hidden in this prayer, they say, is the secret to breaking free. When we pray: “God, grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference,” we’re admitting four key things:
The good news is, this works. NA and AA prove it. These two programs have extremely high success rates among those who take their methods to heart and follow through.
As they say:
“If you continue to use nicotine even though you say this prayer, then say it again, and again, and keep saying it while you reflect what it means to you, a nicotine addict. Eventually it will work. It will not work if you are not sincere, but if all you can do at first is to say the prayer without believing it, then at least do that! Some time may be needed for you to receive the power to live with the discomfort that comes from craving, but eventually it will come. In time, the craving will diminish greatly, and someday, we trust, it will disappear altogether.”
I know quite a few people who have overcome their addictions to alcohol, nicotine, food, and even opioids by daily submitting themselves to God and engaging in accountability groups like AA, Celebrate Recovery, and other support groups in their local churches. Prayer and complete surrender to God work for millions of people around the globe.
Some people receive miraculous healings from addictions. Others exert incredible willpower to stop (like my Dad). But many of us will simply have to work at it. Daily. Cravings strike, and we need other tools God provides to go with prayer and surrender. Nicotine patches, gums, hypnosis, acupuncture, exercise and accountability partners are all tools some use to ease out of addiction and cravings in order to stop altogether. However, these do not always give smokers success in conquering the addiction completely.
One new way to quit smoking may be CBD oil. There is a small but growing amount of research that suggests CBD oil can help people quit smoking cigarettes. We already know that CBD oil, a non-intoxicating chemical compound derived from hemp-based cannabis, helps those who suffer from epilepsy, anxiety, and pain. Now it turns out CBD may help people overcome addictions.
Yasmin Hurd is a neurobiologist in New York who studies addiction at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Her research suggests CBD may the key to unlock the power of addiction. That includes nicotine addiction.
What Hurd learned so far in her research is the following: “the compound (CBD) has decreased cravings and anxiety without producing any psychoactive effects.”
The bottom line is: CBD works, but she’s not sure why and how exactly. Until she know why, she continues to study the biochemistry of the brain to further understand the reasons why CBD helps the brain recover from addiction. Still, Hurd’s research is promising. CBD interacts with human brain chemicals to break the power of addiction. For Christians who want to break the addiction to cigarettes, seek God first. Ask Him to help you be free. Find people around you to hold you accountable. If the cravings are too strong and you can’t do it on your own, explore the tools God provides. Ask Him if CBD oil may be one of those tools.
But the bottom line is: There is hope. You have options. You are not alone in this struggle. Victory is possible, if you pray and take the steps needed to get help.
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