Thursday, July 16, 2009

Pay Attention

In a 2008 letter to the editor of the medical journal, Schizophrenia Research, Yale University researchers Sacco, Creeden, Reuteunauer, and George stated, “We have found that cigarette smoking abstinence impairs and smoking reinstatement enhances spatial working memory and sustained attention.”

In a 2009 article in the journal Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, researchers from Southern Illinois University said that nicotine replacement enhances spatial working memory and that this improvement is greatest in individuals with higher levels of depressive symptoms.

In a presentation at the Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting in 2003, Alexandra Potter of the University of Vermont commented on the fact that youngsters with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) take up smoking at twice the rate noted that kids with ADHD take up smoking at twice the rate of other adolescents. "If these findings are substantiated," Dr. Potter said, "these cognitive improvements may explain the high rates of smoking initiation and maintenance in ADHD."

The bottom line is that for some smokers, there are only two ways they are able to maintain their brain’s abilities to sustain attention and remember what they have just seen moments before: Continue smoking or obtain adequate replacement of nicotine from other sources.

The patch, gum, and lozenges deliver nicotine at a much lower level than smoking. Many smokers have not been able to completely eliminate smoking using one of these Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) products. The Central Sydney Area Health Service has achieved a 60% 3-month abstinence rate by combining products to replace more nicotine and provide more withdrawal relief. Other researchers have found combined therapies to be similarly more effective that one method of NRT.

Some people have—in many cases undiagnosed—chronic conditions for which nicotine is an effective treatment, and safer than many prescription medications. Yet, there seems to be a persistent antipathy toward using NRT on a long-term basis. The conditions are permanent. The treatment needs to be permanent.

The choice should not have to be between being a smoker or living in a permanent state of “brain fog.”

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