Monday, January 05, 2004
Addicted to Nicorettes
Yesterday's New York Times includes an article (registration required) about the writer Augusten Burroughs (Running With Scissors; Dry: A Memoir). (Yes, Vice Squad now admits to actually paging through the "Sunday Styles" section.) Burroughs had a heavy drinking problem, his tackling of which (with a shove from his then-employer) forms the basis for Dry: A Memoir (so far unread by Vice Squad). Like many heavy drinkers, Burroughs also was addicted to cigarettes. When he decided to quit smoking, he tried using a nicotine patch, but quickly gave up on that. Unlike cigarettes, nicotine patches deliver nicotine continuously, rather than on demand, and many humans enjoy the "spikes." So Mr. Burroughs was a natural candidate for Nicorette, a chewing gum containing nicotine. A box of 168 pieces of Nicorette, according to the article, costs $53, and Burroughs goes through three boxes a week. Though Nicorette is designed for short-term use aimed at smoking cessation, Burroughs has been taking it habitually for 5 years -- and apparently he is not alone. Is this unhealthy? "Studies have yet to demonstrate serious adverse effects to chewing the gum longer than indicated..." (With rules on public smoking tightening up, the demand for Nicorette could get a boost.) The author of the article, David Colman, concludes with some words that might be good advice for many addicts:
"So when it comes to giving up your old bad habits, it's best not to aim for perfection. Just make room for some new not-so-bad habits.
It's what they call progress."
Colman also notes that current wisdom suggests that the best way of improving your chances of successfully quitting smoking is to combine an antidepressant with a source of nicotine replacement and counseling.