As the end of the year approaches, many of us are thinking of resolutions and ways we’d like to improve ourselves and our lives in the new year. It’s no surprise that smoking, and quitting the habit, comes to mind frequently. However, millions of people have tried to quit smoking, an incredibly addictive habit, many times without success. Can ibogaine help them quit smoking?
Why are Cigarettes so Addictive?
There are many reasons why cigarettes are addictive, but let’s start with the physical ones. Cigarettes contain nicotine, and it’s very tough to tackle physical addiction to nicotine. Nicotine is a highly addictive substance that occurs naturally in tobacco. When you smoke a cigarette, nicotine travels to your brain quickly, producing a temporary but blissful feeling of relaxation and relieving stress. Nicotine can also raise your heart rate and elevate your mood—and it does all of this within eight seconds of inhaling.
Unfortunately, all of these sensations are fleeting—which is just how the tobacco industry likes it. After your body metabolizes the nicotine, you immediately feel the signs of craving another cigarette. It’s a perfect addiction machine. In fact, right after you finish each cigarette, your body starts to produce those withdrawal symptoms, and that’s why the cravings start. You remember that nicotine buzz, too, which makes the cravings even harder to bear, and since the buzz has faded, you feel tired—less able to fight cravings or anything else that is difficult.
So you light up. But every time you do, you build up a little more tolerance to nicotine. That means you smoke more and more to get those same good feelings and get away from those terrible symptoms of withdrawal. This is a classic up and down cycle that characterizes addiction. Breaking the nicotine addiction is more difficult for some people than it is for others, just like any kind of addiction. Many people have to try more than once in order to quit for good.
This cycle is what keeps people using, no matter how much they want to stop—and it’s even harder when the thing you’re using is relatively affordable, legal, and accessible everywhere, like cigarettes. Tobacco companies know that nicotine addiction is the primary force that sells their products. How can we be so sure of this? Because modern cigarettes deliver more nicotine faster than ever before. Tobacco companies also make their products even more addictive using additives and chemicals.
Make no mistake: this is a deliberate move, and it works.
Psychological and Social Withdrawal
Because nicotine has an actual effect on how you experience feelings of stress, quitting smoking can make you feel high levels of anxiety. It can feel challenging to find new tactics for managing your stress. This is especially true if you’ve gotten into the habit of reaching for a cigarette whenever you feel anxious, sad, or stressed.
However, stress, whatever the source, is a part of life. Whether it’s coming from your relationships, job, burdens at home, or just your lifestyle, whatever it is, stress can motivate you to look for an easy way out. For many, smoking is one aspect of that escape. Once it’s gone, those same old problems feel a lot worse, even if they’re no different.
There are also intense social rituals that become part of a smoker’s life. Many smokers associate the various rituals of getting, holding, lighting, and smoking cigarettes with the physical pleasure nicotine provides, and this conflation of social rituals and physical feelings can make cravings for cigarettes feel so much more intense.
This is particularly true since so many people start smoking when they’re very young. In fact, the National Institute on Drug Abuse says that almost 60 percent of new smokers are kids, not even 18 years old, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that 90 percent of smokers had their first cigarette before age 18. This means a huge number of smokers have literally been smokers for all of their adult lives. Many teenagers begin smoking to assert their independence, sometimes in bad situations, or to bow to peer pressure in negative social situations. Either way, the dangerous physical addiction becomes bound together with this web of complex social and psychological issues, making quitting that much harder—because unpacking all of those issues becomes part of quitting.
How Ibogaine Works with Nicotine Addiction
Ibogaine is a plant-based, fast-acting, naturally-occurring substance which painlessly interrupts the active addiction process, “resetting” the brain and returning patients to a pre-addicted state. Treatment with ibogaine is a kind of interruption therapy, inducing dream-like visions although the patient is awake. Patients can re-experience key life events in instructive ways during their visions, and explore how they and other factors fueled their own addictions.
Research, such as that conducted by Clear Sky‘s experts, demonstrates that ibogaine interrupts active addiction in substance abuse disorders in a completely unique manner, effectively “resetting” the brain to a pre-addicted state. Ibogaine is extremely effective at eradicating nicotine dependence and resetting tolerance. Of course, this means that ibogaine is offering a chance, not a cure. This reset will only work for highly motivated patients with a solid recovery plan in place—patients who are committed to never smoking again. While cigarette smoking is not an addiction that has anywhere near the immediate consequences of hardcore opioid or stimulant abuse, and the damage smoking causes to your health often takes decades to manifest itself, the reality is over 480,000 people die each year, from diseases which can be directly attributed to smoking. This is roughly 1,300 deaths each day.
If you’ve tried to stop smoking and failed repeatedly, ibogaine may be the catalyst you need to quit smoking for good.