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i quit
p.s. i hate you
by joe procopio (@jproco)
6.1.05
pop culture


My hope is that I will never forget April 19th, my own personal Macho Grande.

It was the last day of a legendary trip to Las Vegas. The Hirni and I both lost copious amounts of cash over blackjack tables played way too late into the nights and subsequent next mornings. We slept maybe eight hours over five days.

Of course, to keep pace and all, I smoked two packs a day.

Hirni is cool about my smoking. He's neither preachy nor enabling. And of course, in Vegas, they encourage smoking. So even though I was doing my polite thing - no smoking in the room and at the table only during a shuffle - I still managed to fit in 40 to 50 a day.

Did I mention I was losing big?

April 19th was a Tuesday, and that was the day I decided to quit. You can't smoke on the plane, and it's total misery to try to get through security to smoke outside at the airport, so I'd be half dry by the time I got home anyway, right?

Well, I didn't figure on Dulles, which had massive turbulence coming in and also had us landing at the International terminal.

Yeah, try to take the cigarettes away from the French. They'll hissyfit you back to the stone age.

So there I am, in a tiny glass-encased room which is supposed to have its own ventilation but never has enough, smoking my last two cigarettes in hell, staring into the empty, bloodshot eyes of various different versions of my future decrepit, stinky, wheezy self.

Worked like a charm!

But everything you've heard about quitting is completely off the mark.

First of all, while the physical addiction is a drag, pardon the pun, it's not the cold sweat, itchy, baby-crawling-on-the-ceiling withdrawal that they'd have you believe. Now, I'll go ahead and say maybe it is, because mostly, I couldn't tell.

I'm type A - really type A - and, since I started smoking at about 18 years old, I never really noticed that what smoking was doing was keeping my body, brain, mouth, and personality slowed down, quite smoothly I might add, to a socially acceptable level.

Now that I've quit, I'm just out-and-out aggressive. Not white-knuckles-on-the-steering-wheel aggressive (although earlier this afternoon I did manage to coax a double whammy out of a moron in a blue Reliant), more like I-have-5-things-to-tell-you-all-at-once aggressive.

Did you ever see Real Genius?

Remember Jordan?

Yeah. That.

And the hatred! Oh. Exquisite.

The act of smoking in and of itself managed to quench a great deal of the rage that lives in me. I was consciosuly doing something bad every hour, every day, all the time. And I knew it was bad, but not I-kicked-that-kitten bad, more like but-you-have-a-boyfriend bad.

Once you quit, bad doesn't care from whence it came and all that evil, having been pent up neatly for so long, is now just kind of squeaking through the cracks.

It can be beaten. All of it. Here's how. Take notes.

First of all, ignore everything that everyone tells you about quitting smoking. Because no matter what they tell you, it'll end with, "Oh yeah, by the way what I just told you won't make it any easier."

Jerks.

Next, go out and get every single aid, supplement, replacement, and drug you can get your hands on.

Last - don't be a baby - double everything. Dip a big handful, chew two to three pieces of Nicorette at a time (and, by the way... mint? - would it kill them to make the gum cigarette flavored?). Hell, if your ticker is up for the ride, chew the gum and the smokeless in one big ball of disgusting while puffing on a Cuban with a great big patch in a very special place.

Just don't smoke.

Do this until you don't have to do it anymore.

I can't promise you'll be smoke free forever, but I can promise you this, my method will work better than any of these misguided step programs and all this celebrate-your-quit-day Hallmark crap. See, it all has to do with fighting the beast on its own turf, not sucking on lollipops and hoping it doesn't sneak up on you from behind and crush you.

Come on. You're fully grown. You look like a molester sucking on a lollipop.

Anyway, the point is I understand you. They do not. I'll prove it.

The reason I want to smoke has nothing to do with being cool or fitting in or whatever condescending reason you want to chuck at me. It has everything to do with YOU! In fact, if YOU would just leave me alone and stop raining dichotomies all over me like about how sucking down 37 beers makes me cool but a cigarette makes me a racist nazi homophobe then I probably wouldn't need to smoke.

In fact, here's a swell cessation program. How about YOU let me open hand slap the shit out of you every hour on the hour. Let me lick my palm first. It would definitely stanch that evil impulse and you'd be doing your part too.

Oh. Let me watch one of those Truth commercials first.

Better yet, if I can watch a Truth commercial and then you bring me one of the actors and I get like, 30 seconds unlimited slapping, then I promise I will never smoke, drink, gamble, or swear again.

There. Now. Smokers. Don't smoke for a few hours and then come back and read the last four paragraphs again. Yeah. I know. You smoked. Try it again.

There we go. You agree with everything I just said, right? Only now YOU is not you but YOU is me, right? Of course. So feel free to go out and buy the replacement garbage - smoke first though, or you'll get into an accident - and start my program at any time.

You don't have to thank me, you'll probably end up hating me. And that's OK, because right now I hate you more than I've ever hated anyone in my whole life.

One last very important thing. Don't tell anyone you've quit or they'll start encouraging you - which is a surefire way to start smoking again.

Good luck!


ABOUT JOE PROCOPIO

Joe Procopio trades in pop culture and tech culture, allowing him to poke fun at so many things. He's written for a number of online and offline publications from the late, lamented Smug to the fancy-pants Chicago Tribune and also for television. He's a novelist, a shredder, a joker, and a family man. Scoff at joeprocopio.com or follow on Twitter @jproco.

more about joe procopio

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COMMENTS

juli mccarthy
6.1.05 @ 12:11a

Well, this doesn't bode well at all for me. I'm just like Jordan - and that's WITH smoking a pack a day. Can you even IMAGINE the holy terror of me without the calming influence of nicotine?

Good luck to you, though!

tracey kelley
6.1.05 @ 12:14a

Jeebus, chew some Bazooka, why don't ya? Snapping gum is great stress relief and just as annoying to others.

I'd wish you good luck, but you'd probably lick-slap me.

[edited]

tim lockwood
6.1.05 @ 3:20a

Given the rather, erm, excitable nature of this article, I guess now would not be the time to mention the method by which I was able to quit smoking.

I guess I would be safe in mentioning the day, at least, since Joe has mentioned when his big day occurred. Halloween, 1996 - but it had nothing to do with it being Halloween.

At least I don't think it did. But I got to looking up April 19th, and the three most memorable things that have happened in my lifetime on that date are the Branch Davidian fire in Waco in 1993, the Murrah Federal Building bombing in Oklahoma City in 1995, and the election of our current Pope Benedict XVI in Rome this year. I wonder if this date is portentous, somehow.

david damsker
6.1.05 @ 8:48a

I'm impressed, Joe. You're the man.

When your kids don't have asthma, they'll thank you, too.

stephen cook
6.1.05 @ 8:54a

I still suck down a pack like every three days. I am a great example of someone who could drop it in a heartbeat. Why don't I ? Couldn't tell ya really. I like Vodka and it really goes nice with a camel light. So if I quit drinking the smokes will follow right?? By the way Joe, does your Dad still sprinkle Newports on his cereal in the morning??

sandra thompson
6.1.05 @ 9:06a

You're my hero, Joe. I'm gonna try it your way next time I try at all. Don't hold your breath. I know, I know......

david damsker
6.1.05 @ 9:11a

"I still suck down a pack like every three days. I am a great example of someone who could drop it in a heartbeat"

No offense, Stephen, but if I hear one more smoker say that line of BS, I'll puke.

You crave nicotine. Period. Call it what you want.

stephen cook
6.1.05 @ 9:36a

You're right David, but ya gotta be glad I can't smoke two packs a day. Right?

stephen cook
6.1.05 @ 9:38a

Oh great. I just read Smoking Is Retarded!

tracey kelley
6.1.05 @ 9:40a

And the doctor chimes in!

I had to be bound, drugged and pumped full of vitamins to quit years ago. I ate Smarties and jawbreakers like a fiend for about two months afterwards...

...now, I can't imagine ever smoking.

I do, however, chew copious amounts of sugarless gum, so there must be an oral thing going on there.

(no comments from the peanut gallery)

I'm not one of those people who longs for that "glam" life of smoking.

Joe - Al quit during the pregnancy, right? Did she stop completely?

scott hirni
6.1.05 @ 10:28a

Joe,

Good for you...it's about time!

I like lollipop's....do I really look like a molester?

david damsker
6.1.05 @ 10:32a

Tobacco usage is one of the few things in life that pisses me off just thinking about it. (Along with Illegal Immigration, which may be my next piece for the gallery, if I ever get around to writing another one.)

We are so freaking worried that Viagra MAY be linked to some blindness in men who are ALREADY AT SUPER HIGH RISK for blindness (studies have shown there is no increased risk), but the government does little to nothing about smoking? This country is FACOCKTA, as they say in Yiddish.



david damsker
6.1.05 @ 10:33a

By the way, Stephen, I'm not calling you retarded. Just smokers in general!

jeff miller
6.1.05 @ 11:17a

I really like smoking. In particular, I like smoking with my friends while avoiding things like work and sobriety.

Lately, I'd been up to two or three a day. So I recently stopped. Cold turkey agian.

Love the rage here, Joe. Love the anger. So real it made me want to smoke. Thanks a lot.

Saw a new Yorker cartoon recently. The illustration depicts a somewhat snooty-looking couple, whispering to a waiter. The caption reads:

"Could you please tell the people at the next table to stop talking about smoking?"

robert melos
6.1.05 @ 11:43a

I don't smoke, and still hate everyone and everything. When I did smoke it was only for two years. One day I just stopped. I do get an occasional craving to either smoke or choke the living crap out of someone. I don't smoke.

mike julianelle
6.1.05 @ 12:43p

Damsker is exactly the type who inspires Joe's handslap regimen.

adam kraemer
6.1.05 @ 1:34p

Actually, even before his anti-smoking moment, I've wanted to slap David. Mainly since sixth grade.

In NYC, they're actually giving away the patches, if anyone's interested. Just call 311.

jael mchenry
6.1.05 @ 2:50p

I've never seen Real Genius, or at least not in the past 15 years. Can someone explain this character Jordan of which you speak?

mike julianelle
6.1.05 @ 2:55p

I think what Joe means in referencing that character where he does is to link his recent aggressive attitude with hers, as Jordan in the movie is INCREDIBLY annoying and babbly.

If Jordan is indeed the weird brunette who falls for the ugly freak who somehow got the lead role. She talks all breathlessly and annoyingly.

juli mccarthy
6.1.05 @ 2:56p

Jordan is just hyperactive, high-energy and emotionally overwhelming.

joe procopio
6.1.05 @ 4:01p

Her roommate commited suicide, but they couldn't prove it was because of her.

You people are lovely, but I don't feel the hate. I ask you, where is the hate?

juli mccarthy
6.1.05 @ 5:34p

Sorry, no hate here. Not for you, anyway.

russ carr
6.1.05 @ 6:48p

I loved Jordan. Best thing about the movie. The little punk who was Val Kilmer's protege...I ask you: what became of him? WASTELAND, baby.

robert melos
6.2.05 @ 12:48a

Joe, trust me, I FEEL the hate. Many days I am one with the hate.

joe procopio
6.2.05 @ 9:18a

No, Bobby, trust me. You don't know hate until all you want to do is stab some old lady in the back with one of those plastic knives on the counter because she's taking to long to decide if it was pickles or onions that she didn't want on her Whopper Jr. after she already made triple sure the unattentive cashier completely understood that she was entitled to a senior size Coke.

And I'm not thinking it, I'm talking myself out of doing it.

dan gonzalez
6.2.05 @ 9:18a

I am a teeming ball of distilled, high-grade hatred!

And number one on my list thanks to Damsker? PROCTOLOGICAL QUACKS WHO USED CLIFFS' NOTES TO GET THROUGH MED-SCHOOL.

You effete snobs, congratulating quitters so you can subsequently diagnose vague mental disorders and get them dependent on Prozac for the drug co. kickbacks.

I thing the real problem is useless people living like walking pharmacies until they're 100. We should congratulate the 1/10 smokers that are actually harmed by it for not overstaying their welcomes.

VIVA LA HATE!

mike julianelle
6.2.05 @ 9:33a

Gonzo sounds like Tom Cruise.

david damsker
6.2.05 @ 10:45a

Dan, I agree that psychiatrists make up a bunch of crap diagnoses. I'm not here to say that amphetamines don't benefit certain people, because they do, but why did we bother with making up something called ADHD? What purpose does it serve? It didn't exist until recently because the shrinks just made it up! Hell, homosexuality was a "mental illness" not too long ago.

If smoking didn't harm anyone else (or force everyone else to inhale/smell the fumes), I wouldn't be opposed to it remaining legal everywhere. However, should smokers pay more for their health insurance? I say absolutely they should.

I don't care what anybody says. Smoking, as it is, should be banned from any public place. It is the only thing that I can do right in front of someone else, including my kids, that has been proven to cause morbidity and mortality in those other people. (Yes, you could argue that by driving my car around, I am poisoning others with my exhaust, but that is different.)

juli mccarthy
6.2.05 @ 11:02a

(Yes, you could argue that by driving my car around, I am poisoning others with my exhaust, but that is different.)

No, actually, it's not different.

One thing I'll say for smokers - they are almost always more polite than preachers.

katie morris
6.2.05 @ 12:42p

Yea, Joe! I wish I had hate for you, but all I have is unabashed support. My mom quit after smoking for 20 years when she had a horrible case of the flu and couldn't smoke for weeks. My dad quit (as an anniversary present to my mom) after smoking 2 packs a day for 40 years, by using hypnosis. My mom said it was the best present he had ever given her. If my stubborn, type A New Yorker dad did it, so can you.

david damsker
6.2.05 @ 3:46p

(One thing I'll say for smokers - they are almost always more polite than preachers.)

Well, Juli, preachers aren't exactly causing cancer and heart disease in other people, either.

And you know what, if it weren't for "preachers", women would still be having back alley abortions and not voting.

[edited]

mike julianelle
6.2.05 @ 4:57p

Yeah, and if it weren't for preachers, how would we know who to judge and hate?

jael mchenry
6.2.05 @ 5:06p

Let's not rush into arguing about religion. Though Joe did ask where the hate was, so I guess it's on topic.

This is an awesome line: "In fact, if YOU would just leave me alone and stop raining dichotomies all over me like about how sucking down 37 beers makes me cool but a cigarette makes me a racist nazi homophobe then I probably wouldn't need to smoke."

So true, alcohol vs. tobacco. And I understand there are differences, but the attitude toward those who participate in one or the other is beyond striking.

joe procopio
6.2.05 @ 5:15p

Ah beer, still the leading factor in the leading cause of death for us young folks.

No, no. Argue about religion all you want - because remember, one of you is right and one is wrong. Somebody's gettin' smote!

On topic - writing this column is the hardest thing I've had to do without smoking... so far.

david damsker
6.2.05 @ 7:34p

I wasn't arguing religion. I'm an athiest. I think Juli was calling me an "impolite preacher" about smoking.

Julianelle, I think everybody knows to hate you already without a preacher involved!

Just kidding. I'm done.

The most important thing is that Joe has quit, and is the MAN.

juli mccarthy
6.2.05 @ 7:45p

Hey, I'm just saying you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar, David. And on this subject, you're a one-man, one-note distillery of acid.

david damsker
6.2.05 @ 8:01p

Just to clear it up, when I talk with patients, I surely don't use this kind of approach (and I agree with you Julie, that yelling this at someone won't work too well). But here on Intrepd, I use the "Walker" technique and just let it all fly!

drew wright
6.3.05 @ 6:06p

Trust me David. If it hadn't been for crap out there to smoke, there would be a whole lot of inventions never invented, writings never written and songs never sung.

In the immortal words of Dennis Leary "I'm pretty sure coffee was invented by smokers who just wanted something to help them stay up late and smoke more cigarettes".

That said, I quit about a month ago also, and anger is now my middle name. Everything sucks, including having to actually work a full 8 hour day. Oh yeah Joe, your article sucks pretty bad too. I hate you Kenny!

david damsker
6.3.05 @ 6:25p

I gave one of my coworkers the Nicotrol inhalers so she could start to quit this week. She sends me an email every 8 minutes to tell me what hell she is in, and asks for moral support. You guys aren't joking. It is hard!

dan gonzalez
6.3.05 @ 10:55p

It is hard, but it's on us. And there's no get out of smoking free cards, you can plead insanity to murder and get off, you can get demerol-laced OJ if you're a smack-fiend, but you get shit from the whole country if you smoke and its totally on you to quit. You can't play the addiction/looney card for this one, and that's fine with me because it's cheap shit to do that anyway.

To let us have some bars where we can smoke and not feel like lepers would be nice because no one is gonna quit just cause its banned, or because some lifestyle-coach or doctor tells you to anyway, remember Prohibition?

Drew is right, nicotine is a great drug that helps with attention, concentration, and problem-solving. It's the carcinogens and carbon monoxide that are bad. If we could actually cure some shit instead of just artificially extending life, things would be better and shit like this would not be an issue.

Damsker was very sensible up there, despite my attempts to antagonize him toward unreasonability, but I do have to ask: Are you really an atheist? That is an interesting position for a doctor, it raises many questions in my mind.

[edited]

david damsker
6.3.05 @ 11:15p

Dan, unfortunately, nicotine itself isn't all good. It raises blood pressure, constricts your blood vessels, and forces your heart to work harder. It is a major part of smoking that increases the risk of stroke and heart disease.

Yes, I am an atheist. I don't believe that there's a "reason" that good people die young, or that the Pope is any closer to God than anyone else, or that organized religions aren't anything but a way to keep the masses from acting up and/or realizing that their life might suck.

Why can't a doctor be an atheist? I am here to help people, regardless of whether there is a God or not. Does spirituality enter into Medicine? At times, sure it does for some people. What kind of questions do you mean?

Uh, and, on topic, once again, Joe is DA MAN!

david damsker
6.3.05 @ 11:16p

If we could actually cure some shit instead of just artificially extending life, things would be better and shit like this would not be an issue.

I agree. That's why I do preventive medicine. Not ICU medicine.

dan gonzalez
6.4.05 @ 1:41a

I am here to help people, regardless of whether there is a God or not

I respect that, and you, incidentally, for that and other things. And I agree that there is no link between spirituality and medicine other than the Hippocratic oath, which to me seems religious by definition, regardless of whether there's a God or not, or what religion the oath-taker subscribes to.

But the bigger question is why? What's the point? We are born to die. You cannot truly prevent death, only postpone it, agreed? What is so good about life, then, that it should be so thoughtfully preserved. Surely there must be something...

stacy smith
6.4.05 @ 8:48a

I'm not Dan, but I am going to play devil's advocate.

Dan, unfortunately, nicotine itself isn't all good. It raises blood pressure, constricts your blood vessels, and forces your heart to work harder. It is a major part of smoking that increases the risk of stroke and heart disease.

The same can be said for drinking caffiene, eating too much salt and or fat.

I have yet to see people banning junk food, coffee or anything else with caffiene in it.

This country is getting fatter and fatter by the minute, but everybody needs atleast one vice. It can still kill you, but that's okay because their isn't smoke involved. Just smoke screens as to why a person "needs" to eat an entire box of Krispy Creme doughnuts on a daily basis. Perhaps those people need a spit laced slap as well.

Getting back to the topic, good for you Joe! Be bad if you must, and the hell with with all the bleeding hearts that state you must supress your anger.

They really don't care about you anyway. All they care about is their stock holdings for Prozac.

lisa r
6.4.05 @ 10:48a

Ahem. *dons absent-minded science professor look*

David said: Dan, I agree that psychiatrists make up a bunch of crap diagnoses. I'm not here to say that amphetamines don't benefit certain people, because they do, but why did we bother with making up something called ADHD? What purpose does it serve? It didn't exist until recently because the shrinks just made it up!

I HAVE to address this or burst. Hogwash. My colleagues at work have spent many years studying children and adults with learning disabilities and helping to develop therapies for dealing with ADHD in particular. There is ample MRI and functional MRI evidence that demonstrate true differences in brain activity in people with ADHD and so-called "normal" people (as I've pointed out elsewhere, everyone has some sort of learning disability--most don't realize it and automatically develop their own ways of coping). There is also ample documentation of clinical research showing true differences in hippocampal levels of neurotransmitters in both groups which ADHD patients from being able to manage high information influxes into working memory. Because of this they struggle to move working memory to long-term memory. Drugs like Ritalin and Stratera help balance the neurotransmitters and focus on information, and in combination with coping strategies help ADHD sufferers learn to cope with their problems managing working memory.

I won't argue that ADHD has become a handy little excuse for teachers and school administrators to manage their students in classrooms--my second grade teacher told my mom to take me to the pediatrician and get a prescription for Ritalin. To which my pediatrician replied, "tell her teacher to stop telling me how to practice medicine and I won't tell her how to teach." Bottom line was, I wasn't being challenged in class and had too much time on my hands. As a result of this tendency by school officials to take the easy way out and pigeon-hole "troublesome" students as ADHD, the disorder has developed a bum rap. It is a real problem with a neurochemical basis, and it has a significant impact on children's and adults' lives if left undiagnosed and untreated. I see it every day at work.

[edited]

david damsker
6.4.05 @ 11:59a

The same can be said for drinking caffiene, eating too much salt and or fat. I have yet to see people banning junk food, coffee or anything else with caffiene in it.

Ah, Stacy, the big difference here is that there is no second-hand fatness or second-hand hypertension. I work to change people's behaviors and to inform them about proper nutrition and exercise. However, smoking is inherently different from all else because of the second-hand smoke issue. Yes, we still try to help those patients quit, but legislation to ban smoking because it directly affects others (unwillingly) is not the same as banning the eating of Krispy Kremes to save people from becoming a whale.

david damsker
6.4.05 @ 12:07p

Lisa, my argument is that it's not inherently helpful to have the diagnosis. I'll bet that when I was growing up, I would have been diagnosed with ADHD. It's only because I did pretty well in school that nothing came of it. You can still give amphetamines to selected kids without calling them something that, if you look at the DSM IV criteria, fit ALOT of kids.

As I've pointed out elsewhere, everyone has some sort of learning disability--most don't realize it and automatically develop their own ways of coping.

Does that mean they are "learning disabled"? Because they can still cope well? It has really become a catch-all phrase now. Isn't anyone just plain old stupid anymore? Or is everyone brilliant but just has a learning disorder? (I know that was harsh, but I'm just trying to make a point)

[edited]

david damsker
6.4.05 @ 12:09p

And, once again, keep it up Joe. You are neat.

david damsker
6.4.05 @ 12:22p

Dan, I've always wondered why super-religious people even worry about dying or getting sick. If they KNOW they are going to heaven, and are making sure all the things they are doing in their lives will ensure that they get to go, why worry? I mean, come on, if being with Allah, Christ, and/or the Jewish God is so great, dying shouldn't be a big deal, and so stop wasting precious medical resources, and save it for those who think this is the only life we get and want to live longer. I like life because I think that when I'm dead, that's it. No more David. No heaven. Nothing.

People say, well, I know I'm going to heaven, but I still love my family and will miss them if I die, so keep me alive. OK, well don't worry, cause eternity is a long time and you'll have plenty of time to be annoyed by them again in heaven.

The concept of hell is even sillier than heaven to me. Can't anyone see through the facade to keep the masses down and keep the $$$ flowing to the church?

Anyhow, I'll shut up now before I get stoned and go to Hell.

Smoking is hard to quit.

[edited]

stacy smith
6.4.05 @ 1:08p

Ah, Stacy, the big difference here is that there is no second-hand fatness or second-hand hypertension. I work to change people's behaviors and to inform them about proper nutrition and exercise. However, smoking is inherently different from all else because of the second-hand smoke issue. Yes, we still try to help those patients quit, but legislation to ban smoking because it directly affects others (unwillingly) is not the same as banning the eating of Krispy Kremes to save people from becoming a whale.

Excellent point. But seeing how people can make excuses for anything from nail biting to murder, I'm almost willing to bet a grilled chicken breast that somebody at some point will try to use the second-hand fattness as a way justify such a condition. It's just a matter of time.



lisa r
6.4.05 @ 1:40p

David,

You would be surprised for how many people that it IS helpful to have the diagnosis. It's very difficult for parents and children to fight the battles with learning and behavior that come with undiagnosed ADHD. The problem is not the people who actually have the disorder being identified by the label, it's the habit of teachers, guidance counselors, principals, etc. deciding that the characteristic behavior exhibited by many ADHD children means that any child which shows that type of behavior is automatically ADHD, and sending the child's parents running to the doctor for a prescription of Ritalin will solve the discipline problems in the classroom. Why make the effort to maintain class order if the kids can pop a pill and take care of class management for you?

"Learning Disabled" as a label is worthless because it inherently does nothing useful in identifying what the problem might be. We live in an OCD society when it comes to labels. Maybe it's the computer age and the ability to place files and folders in other folders on computers that we seem to spend more and more time trying to find a classification for someone who is evenly remotely different from ourselves.

I would think that it would be intuitive to say that if someone has a learning disability but has learned to cope with it and be successful they are not "disabled". Having a disability and being disabled are two conditions that should not necessarily be joined at the hip. I am near-sighted. Technically, that could be defined as being visually impaired. However, it is mild and I can easily see with corrective lenses. I have a disability, but I am not disabled by it. Inconvenienced by it, sure, but not disabled. The same can be said of many mild and undiagnosed learning disabilities--inconvenient but not disabling. A person is only learning disabled if the problem is severe enough that the person is unable to develop coping mechanisms on their own.

tim lockwood
6.6.05 @ 11:24a

Lisa said: There is ample MRI and functional MRI evidence that demonstrate true differences in brain activity in people with ADHD and so-called "normal" people (as I've pointed out elsewhere, everyone has some sort of learning disability--most don't realize it and automatically develop their own ways of coping).

Okay, so given this point, then why the hell do we give psychiatrists and other snake-oil pushers license to make these diagnoses without benefit of an MRI examination?

As you also mentioned, there are plenty of outward signs and/or behaviors that cause laypeople to "armchair diagnose" ADHD when it could easily be something else, or nothing at all; by inference, I imagine such signs could lead even the best-trained and best-intentioned doctors astray.

Just as an outsider looking in, it seems to me we could slow down or stop the over-medicating with a visit to an MRI machine. And given the research that shows kids on Ritalin are umpteen times more likely to abuse cocaine later on in life, I would think it behooves any doctor, legal or professional requirements aside, to run the test.

BTW, Joe? Hang in there, buddy. Speaking as an ex-smoker for almost nine years now, it does get better, but watch out for the sneak attacks from your nicotine cravings.

tracey kelley
6.6.05 @ 1:39p

Lisa and David = The Science vs. Science Smackdown!! I love it!

I strongly believe ADD/ADHD exists, but it is extremely overdiagnosed as a control mechanism.

Juli, you know I love you much, but your constant "Smokers are much nicer people/bigger tippers/better in bed/stronger and faster than the average human" generalizing position is driving me apey.

Smoking is a habit, a habit derived from an addictive and slightly obsessive personality. It does not make anyone less than or better than. "Smokers" are not more polite than preachers any more than preachers are more polite than German Shepards.

Like any habit, it can be broken, but only if the individual really wants to do it. Nothing else will instigate that kind of change.

My former Little Sister, Aly, told me three weeks ago that her grandmother, a long-time smoker, was diagnosed with lung cancer. So she's on a feeding tube, and going through chemo...

...and still smoking. That's stupidity at work, people.

juli mccarthy
6.6.05 @ 2:13p

My "smokers are nicer" comment was only to make the point that it's rare for smokers to get as belligerant as anti-smokers - and David DEFINITELY implies that smokers are "less than" pretty much anyone else.

Yes, smoking is a habit, and it's an addiction and it's not one I would recommend to others. It's not exactly something I'm proud of - but the anti-smoking camp goes way overboard in their condemnation. Alcoholics get more understanding and acceptance.

I am not less of a human being, and I do not deserve more contempt than anyone else.

david damsker
6.6.05 @ 4:32p

Juli, what don't you get about this? There is no second-hand alcohol. You can stand there right next to me all day long and drink and I will not suffer any health effects. (other than maybe some drunken verbal insults after our arguments here)

I am not saying you are a an evil person because you smoke as opposed to you being a drinker. However, one action hurts others directly and infringes on their rights while the other doesn't. Plain and simple.

[edited]

david damsker
6.6.05 @ 5:06p

it's rare for smokers to get as belligerant as anti-smokers

Maybe that's cause the smokers can't smell the nasty-assed, gosh-darned smoke!

juli mccarthy
6.6.05 @ 5:11p

What I don't get, David, is why it's necessary to be a jerk on the subject. If you want to convince someone of your argument, it might be helpful if they could think of a good reason NOT to poison you.

I know the argument. I know the facts. I do my best to keep my bad habit from interfering with others. It would be nice if you'd extend me the same courtesy.

david damsker
6.6.05 @ 6:09p

Look, to try and put an end to this: smoking is currently legal, for a variety of political and financial reasons. Juli, you are welcome to smoke wherever it is legal to, whether or not you directly affect others' health or not. That point is not up for debate. You are not committing any crime.

However, because as long as people are stupid enough to start smoking and because the super-addictive nicotine will continue to grab a chunk of these stupid people for life, we need to fight in other ways, like gaining legislation making it illegal to smoke in public places, since education surely isn't working too well.

I'll bet you are so upset at me for my comments that you need to go out and have a smoke!

[edited]

dan gonzalez
6.6.05 @ 6:16p

There is no second-hand alcohol.

Please provide proven scientific numbers on people actually harmed by seconhand smoke.

Next, please explain why people who worry about such miniscule numbers can't avoid going to a bar or club that permits smoking.

If you can do both of those things, you can justtify an outright ban. Otherwise, the ban is just blindly ignorant authoritarianism.

david damsker
6.6.05 @ 9:16p

I don't have time to give the whole argument about second-hand smoke. If you want to believe that I am part of a nazi regime out to kill every one's rights so the government can rule everything, go ahead.

There is plenty of science out there about the dangers of smoking, and second-hand smoke. Read these from the EPA website: link and link and from NIH link and the ACS link.

These organizations are all with me in my attempt to control the world.

By the way, I am completely against any junk-food taxes, but that's cause we like a big, fat, bloated government.

Bars and clubs do NOT suffer any business loss from going non-smoking in the "workplace." link How about this study showing that stopping workplace smoking doubles quit rates? link.

stacy smith
6.6.05 @ 9:43p

See what you did Joe! You caused an uprise amongst the natives. Is it still feeling too mushy on here for ya?

Okay, so given this point, then why the hell do we give psychiatrists and other snake-oil pushers license to make these diagnoses without benefit of an MRI examination?

As you also mentioned, there are plenty of outward signs and/or behaviors that cause laypeople to "armchair diagnose" ADHD when it could easily be something else, or nothing at all; by inference, I imagine such signs could lead even the best-trained and best-intentioned doctors astray.

Just as an outsider looking in, it seems to me we could slow down or stop the over-medicating with a visit to an MRI machine. And given the research that shows kids on Ritalin are umpteen times more likely to abuse cocaine later on in life, I would think it behooves any doctor, legal or professional requirements aside, to run the test.


I'm all for that.

And fat taxes are stupid. It's even more stupid that Ted Kennedy was pushing so hard for one. Of all people, he shouldn't be flapping his gums about good health...

[edited]

joe procopio
6.6.05 @ 9:45p

Viva la hate!

Doesn't it bother anyone that the only reason smoking is still legal is for the tax revenue it generates?

Everyone's a hypocrite!

Continue.

david damsker
6.6.05 @ 10:01p

Doesn't it bother anyone that the only reason smoking is still legal is for the tax revenue it generates?

You could not be more right, O' great one who hath freed himself from the bondage that is nicotine.

dan gonzalez
6.6.05 @ 10:07p

No, I don't think you're trying to control the world Damsker, but the EPA, I think, is well-known for tanking scientific fact in lieu of its political agendas.

In this case, all they mention is that there are known carcinogens in secondhand smoke, which is obvious, and that there is a 'link' between passive smoke inhalation and 'an increased risk of Cancer' which is uselessly vague.

The ACS link, which was the only useful one, mentions 3000 non-smoking deaths from lung cancer which are attributed to secondhand smoke, but nowhere do they say how it was attributed, or what the causal reasoning was.

That's good enough to provide for smoke-free workplaces, and smoke-free restaurants and night-clubs, which anyone concerned is entitled to, but it's nowhere good enough to justify an outright ban, especially when people can freely opt to not work at or patronize a smoking establishment.

david damsker
6.6.05 @ 10:26p

EPA, I think, is well-known for tanking scientific fact in lieu of its political agendas.

What, may I ask, Dan, is the EPA's agenda on the smoking thing? I mean, come on, if Congress had really wanted to make smoking illegal, it would have done so long ago, and certainly doesn't need the EPA's approval.

I am for an outright ban in all public places. Smoke in your house (and give your kids asthma if you want to). If a cop sees you smoking in a public area, boom, $100 fine. It would help with the tax revenue shortfall that would occur when people all quit.

I'm also for doubling the health insurance rates of anyone who smokes.

And something that would never happen (but would be fun to watch), how about not allowing anyone who turns 65 to have Medicare if they smoke. I'll bet they'll find a way to quit at 64 and 3/4 years.

I still don't know how people can smoke at home in front of their babies. THAT disgusts me.

dan gonzalez
6.6.05 @ 11:17p

Whoa there, Nutty, calm down! I don't do anything close to that, but please save your disgust and try to polish up your math!

You would double health insurance for all smokers even though only 1/10 smokers are harmed by it? Huh, that doesn't sound like an agenda at all.

And as I understand it, 75% of medicare costs are nursing homes, where most of the people don't smoke, so you wouldn't save anything, just force people to be even more miserable during the most miseable time in, their last few years here!

But screw it, just make smokers pay for everything, since no one can prevent or cure anything anyway. Yeah, since no one knows what the hell causes asthma, blame that on parents who smoke, even if they don't smoke around their kids, call it some kind of secondhand mental-mojo smoke to hide the fact that we JUST CANT figure out that whole complex asthma thing. Hell, maybe we might as well start denying smokers flu vaccines, so that avian flu virus you can't cure will take them all out. No wait, we won't have anyone to blame for asthma then!

Bah, enough horseshit. Can we please just bring some science/logic back to our politics instead of scaring the blind fuck-all out of everybody to compensate for remedies whose effectives is hosed from the get-go due to ambient unreasonability?

ETA: Holy crap this barely makes sense! The joy of typing way too fast...

[edited]

tracey kelley
6.6.05 @ 11:34p

Doesn't it bother anyone that the only reason smoking is still legal is for the tax revenue it generates?

Joey wins the prize! For the same reason why alcohol was legalized after Prohibition: the government figured if the Mafia and pre-NASCAR moonshine runners were going to suck up all the profit, they needed to do something about that little loophole right quick.

Poof! The birth of A.T.F!

So maybe all of us belligerent non- and -former smokers should actually thank smokers for consuming a viable taxable product and keeping our general income tax from going any higher.

david damsker
6.7.05 @ 7:41a

You would double health insurance for all smokers even though only 1/10 smokers are harmed by it?

My point is that, yes, absolutely, smokers should pay higher insurance. Whether it's double or not, let the actuaries decide. On average, smokers use more healthcare resources than non-smokers. Just like life insurance companies who raise you rates when you smoke. They have exactly the right idea.

since no one can prevent or cure anything anyway

I agree with this somewhat....I mean, yes, we are all gonna die. And yes, some people smoke their whole lives without getting lung cancer. However, I'll bet that most of their deaths are caused/hastened by smoking, even if it's a heart attack when they are 75 years old. Maybe they had wanted to live to 90 to see their great-grand kids?


Now, undertand what I say here: Smoking is the simplest and most effective risk factor to change to improve your overall health. I'm in no way saying it is easy to quit. I'm just saying that it's not as complicated as changing risk factors like losing weight, which does rely somewhat on someone's metabolism and ability to exercise, and the fact that you still must eat food, or hypertension or diabetes, which can be very difficult to treat, even amongst the most compliant patients.

dan gonzalez
6.7.05 @ 8:15a

I gotcha, but you did say 'disgust' which implied some moral outrage, and is where I think the hypocrisy is here. How does it further the anti-smoking movement to continually villify smokers while at the same time giving out hugs and free drugs to dirty needle using, unsafe sex having slobs?

And Tracey, you should thank us for the sin taxes, helpless fish in the IRS's barrel, as well as for exiting society earlier which even saves more money!

david damsker
6.7.05 @ 8:25a

while at the same time giving out hugs and free drugs to dirty needle using, unsafe sex having slobs?

Oh, I totally agree with the fact that there is some hypocrisy out there. The way we treat HIV as a "different" disease from everything else is killing us big time. We need to treat it like other communicable diseases (i.e. measles, mumps, pertussis), strictly enforce conrol measures, and stop being so PC about it. Being pansies about it has only made it worse.

To me, giving free needles to druggies is almost like the government giving a free nicotine patch to smokers: it may not solve the user problem, but it helps stop the spread of negative things to others. (HIV/HEP C vs. second-hand smoke)

david damsker
6.7.05 @ 8:28a

as well as for exiting society earlier which even saves more money

Smokers consume more resources because they sicker when they are alive.

but you did say 'disgust' which implied some moral outrage

When I see a parent standing there smoking in front of their helpless infant, it does disgust me. Especially as a physician knowing what it is doing to this kid who is powerless to stop it.

stacy smith
6.7.05 @ 9:37a

To me, giving free needles to druggies is almost like the government giving a free nicotine patch to smokers: it may not solve the user problem, but it helps stop the spread of negative things to others. (HIV/HEP C vs. second-hand smoke)

Those needles are not free. Tax payers pay for those needles just the like condoms that are handed out in schools.

People just as easily get addicted to the nicotine patch as they do the actual cigarette.

So what you are saying that is long as a "habit" is not in your face, it's okay to feed by other means? I'm not asking this to be nasty, just trying to wrap my brain around what you said.

If that is the case, what about about drunk drivers? They are everywhere and kill lots of perfectly innocent people year after year but yet the courts insists on slapping these people on the wrists. Then they put them in rehab only to have the same cycle start all over again.

I'm not against people that drink, but I do have issues with people that impose their reckless driving habits on me. If they want to get shitfaced, that's fine. But they should also be responsible enough to either stay home or call a cab.

While we are at it, let's slap a some hefty taxes on alcohol across the board just because the mentality seems to be that if something is taxed to death, people will stop doing it.

With that mentality in mind, then I think everybody should just stay home and stuff their faces with doughnuts all day as we're all being taxed to death or so it seems. And just where exactly does this money go? Here is a really sad, off topic example. http://www.townonline.com/blogs/bostonMommy/index.bg?mode=viewid&post_id=68

Makes me wonder just how many fat cats in the local and federal goverment are perverts or enjoy kiddy porn... Yet another problem.



[edited]

[edited]

david damsker
6.7.05 @ 9:56a

So what you are saying that is long as a "habit" is not in your face, it's okay to feed with by other means? I'm not asking this to be nasty, just trying to wrap my brain around what you said.

No, I'm not saying that the government should feed addicts' drug problems (heroin or otherwise). Just trying to give a reason why the programs exist...the government is trying to stop the spread of certain diseases. I don't think the feds believe it's OK to be a heroin addict, but it is the job of the government to help stop the spread of communicable diseases.

The government (medicaid/care) and insurance companies pay for the nicotine patch because it is supposed to help get people to stop smoking to eventually lower healthcare costs, not to stop second-hand smoke. I just made up that needle/patch analogy (note I said "it is almost like") to explain why the government gives free needles to drug addicts and free condoms to kids.

While we are at it, let's slap a some hefty taxes on alcohol across the board just because the mentality seems to be that if something is taxed to death, people will stop doing it.

Actually, research does show that one of the most (if not THE most) effective ways to stop smoking is definitely to increase the cost. I'm sure it would work with alcohol, but not to the same extent.

How many fat cats in the local and federal goverment[are] perverts or enjoy kiddy porn

I'm sure a lot of them do illegal/unsavory things. In the old days, before the media was so intrusive, they probably did TONS of bad stuff.

dan gonzalez
6.7.05 @ 5:48p

FREE CABS FOR DRUNKARDS!

I foundly found a lobby group to start.

As for patches/gum provided by gov/insurance, neither are free, they result in higher taxes and higher premiums respectively.

And, of course, the fact is that middle-class smokers have to pay for them out of their pocket anyway, while nonetheless paying higher taxes and premiums like everybody else.

In any case, you're fighting a ghost here. Smoking just isn't the biggest problem we have. If everybody quit smoking tomorrow, we'd still have massive healthcare problems. Medicare, Medicaid, and SS disability programs would barely notice the difference.

drew wright
6.7.05 @ 7:15p

Dont you think that it was probably a whole lot easier to live in a world where medicine sucked and we all just died at like 45. Back then you drank, ate, and smoked whatever you grew in the field. You ate 25 ounces of steak 4 times a week from your daughter's once best friend Bessy. The only jibber jabber you heard during the day probably came from your neighbor, who lived 5 miles away, about how "old man Moffitt's horse ran into the creak and broke his leg".

Then one day, your sitting around driving the ox-cart, plowing the fields and you just up and die. Your loved ones bury you and don't really care what you died of, it just kind of happened.

Nowadays, we keep people alive who have no chance of ever living. And Im not talking about the laying in bed forever, listening to my dad tell me 50000 times that he loves me kind of living. Im talking going out with friends, traveling to Europe, watching the Mariners suck kind of living.

It used to be "Oh he died working hard on the fields, or he died in his sleep"

Now a death conversation goes something like this

Sam: "How did he die?"
Dave: "He died from a massive coranary, brought on by a weeks worth of second hand smoke, a three twinkee a day diet and the constant pressure of working a 35 hour a week job, oh and I also heard he used to smoke weed back in his Sophmore year in college"
Sam: "oh that must of been what did it"

I mean for Christ sake. If we all spent as much time living life, as we spent bitching about it, we would probably all be happy drinking, smoking, and eating to the ripe old age of 45 and then just call it quits.

stacy smith
6.7.05 @ 7:29p

I'll support the FREE CABS FOR DUNKARDS lobby as long as it isn't full of bullshit and lies, and the funds in which it collects are put back into more cabs to get people from Point A to Point B.

Lastly, please don't use bubble gum, sweet/sugary make me want to vomit all over myself advertising just to please the masses.

Once all that is done and things are going well, we'll talk about adding containers of plastic forks to each and every cab.

What are the forks for? For all the smokers that quit of course. Whether they eat with them or poke people with them, doesn't matter. Not only is smoking an oral habit, but it's also a physical thing, so why not give them something to do while in transport.

Gum would work, but who wants to listen to what sounds like cows grazing on the way home. The fork idea is much more fun with endless possibilites.

lisa r
6.7.05 @ 8:40p

Okay, so given this point, then why the hell do we give psychiatrists and other snake-oil pushers license to make these diagnoses without benefit of an MRI examination?


It took me so long to scroll down and read that I forgot who wrote that.

Simple--fMRI (functional MRI) is a relatively new development, and more importantly--using it for studying and diagnosing learning disabilities is even newer.

It is very common in science that researchers often have many research ideas that are just waiting for technology to catch up so that people can test various things. This was one of those developments.

Also, any learning disability resulting from an imbalance in neurotransmitters can often be accompanied by, and even masked by, other neurological problems. There are a limited amount of neurotransmitters and each plays multiple roles in an organ that has no internal boundaries. High-stimulus ADHD, for example, is often accompanied by clinical depression. Put the two together and the patient may actually be misdiagnosed as bipolar.

Psychiatrists get a bum rap. Yes, there are some whose solution is to medicate everyone who comes in regardless of whether it is appropriate or not. Like any other profession, however, the majority of mental health professionals are doing the best job they can for their patients. Our clinic takes referrals from and works with psychiatrists to determine the precise nature of the patient's problem.

As for the question of whether second-hand smoke really is dangerous: Unequivocally yes. In some cases, it's actually more dangerous to be a passive smoker than an active one, because the active smoker most likely is smoking a filtered product. Passive smokers get the smoke full strength.

Here are a few numbers from the American Cancer Society:

35-40,000 deaths a year from heart disease in non-smokers directly attributable to environmental (secondhand) smoke

3000 lung cancer deaths

150,000 to 300,000 lower respiratory tract infections in infants

Let's not forget the individuals who have absolutely no possibility of escaping secondhand smoke--children and fetuses of smokers. I can personally attest to the problems, being one of those offspring.

I was born with a ventricular septal defect. I had more ear infections than children of non-smokers growing up, more respiratory disorders and sinus infections, and to this day I suffer from sinus problems as a result of scarring from those earlier problems.

Here are a few other tobacco facts for you: tobacco contains over 4000 different chemicals--and that's just the ones tobacco comes with before being processed. It doesn't include the additives incorporated by the tobacco companies. Over 60 of those chemicals are known carcinogens, including benzene and formaldehyde.

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