Huberman’s Guide to Quit Smoking

If you’re one of the many longing for a smoke-free existence or know someone grappling with nicotine’s grip, this blog offers scientific insights and practical tools that could light the path to a healthier life.

How to Quit Smoking, Nicotine Cravings & Withdrawal

70% of smokers are clawing to break free from this habit. But their brains are telling a different story. The chemistry of addiction hooks them.

Dopamine pathways, acetylcholine, and epinephrine—all make nicotine a potent enhancer. It’s got an iron grip on people’s minds, sometimes even boosting how they think and move.

Take baseball players, for instance. Huberman cited a study where players got a slight edge chewing nicotine gum. They could hit a ball with precision. It’s a rare win in a sea of loss.

But make no mistake—nicotine is a health nightmare. Smoking, vaping, dipping, snuffing—you name it, it’s bad news. No one escapes its fallout, young or old, pregnant or not.

Withdrawal is more than just a craving. It hits hard and fast. In just four hours without a fix, people get edgy. They ache. They feel sick. It’s their brain’s panic button, craving another hit to feel just ‘okay.’

Tool: Quitting Smoking & Clinical Hypnosis, Reveri

Huberman explains that vaping’s grip is insidious. It’s tightly linked to dopamine – that feel-good chemical. 

By controlling inhalations, users dictate their dopamine highs, training their brains to crave the routine. Thus, vaping becomes tougher to quit than cigarettes.

The odds of quitting smoking cold turkey are slim – only a 5% success rate. Even then, 65% fall back within a year. Despite knowing the health hazards – skin woes, hormonal issues, low libido – many can’t seem to break free. 

Yet, Huberman shines a beam of optimism with behavioral science. He spotlights clinical hypnosis, a method far removed from its stage counterpart. It’s a self-directed journey to change the brain, focusing here on smoking cessation.

Enter Dr. David Spiegel of Stanford, a giant in hypnosis. Back in ’93, his study showed startling results: a single hypnosis session could make a smoker quit, with a 23% success rate. 

This approach has since gone digital with the Reveri app.

Reveri opens doors to Dr. Spiegel’s techniques. It’s there for sleep betterment, sharper focus, and of course, quitting smoking. Some offerings are gratis, while others have a price tag.

For the 70% of smokers desperate to quit, Reveri and hypnosis could be a beacon of hope. It’s beyond willpower; it’s science at your fingertips. Curious? 

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Bupropion (Wellbutrin) & Quitting Smoking

Huberman referred to a 2020 review, “Pharmacologic Approach to Smoking Cessation.” The review offers a deep dive into options for those longing to quit. 

Smoking rates may be down in areas like the U.S., Canada, and Northern Europe, but it’s still a global health crisis. Smoking-related diseases claim over 700,000 lives each year.

One startling statistic from the review: a 75% relapse rate within the first week of quitting. This showcases the tight grip nicotine addiction has on individuals. 

It’s not just the nicotine’s chemical impact but also the habitual rituals, like the hand-to-mouth action.

Huberman then directed the conversation towards nicotine replacement therapies and other medications. He zoomed in on bupropion, known as Wellbutrin. Initially an antidepressant, it’s now used to help quit smoking.

Bupropion is typically given in 300 mg daily doses. It targets the dopamine system in the brain, potentially easing withdrawal symptoms and mood drops during cessation. 

But Huberman didn’t shy away from discussing its risks: notably, a higher seizure risk. He underscored the need for medical supervision, particularly for those with specific health issues or those taking certain medications.

When prescribed responsibly, bupropion can significantly boost cessation success rates. Without aids, the rate sits around 5%; with bupropion, it can climb to about 20%.

Huberman also compared bupropion to clinical hypnosis, which has a surprising success rate of 23%, almost rivaling pharmacological aids.

He wrapped up the podcast by underlining the importance of a personalized approach to quitting smoking. Whether individuals opt for medication like bupropion or techniques such as hypnosis, the strategy should be customized to their health and preferences.

Tool: A Nicotine Replacement Schedule to Quit Smoking, Nicotine Patch/Gum

Quitting is all about brain chemicals—dopamine and norepinephrine. They’re the key players when you stop smoking or vaping. 

Nicotine replacement helps by giving your brain controlled nicotine hits. It can even slowly dial down the amount to wean your body off gradually.

Huberman suggests mixing it up for the best results. Start with patches, move to gum, and maybe finish with nasal spray. 

Changing it up each week is the game plan. This throws your body a curveball, mixing up how nicotine gets to your brain.

The idea is simple: keep your dopamine levels steady. Patches are great for this. Smokers crave a hit when they wake up—withdrawal symptoms are kicking in. 

Patches can cut down those morning cravings. They give a constant, low-level dose of nicotine to keep dopamine in check.

Huberman says this treatment works like the buzz of a slot machine—random yet addictive. Switching nicotine sources means the body can’t predict when the next dopamine high will come. This breaks the cycle of looking forward to that next nicotine fix.

It’s about smart chemistry for beating addiction. Juggle those dopamine levels with different nicotine sources. 

It means you’re less tied to any one method. It’s a journey to being smoke-free. Remember, if you’re thinking of trying this, talk to a doctor to tailor a plan just for you.

Tool: Biological Homeostasis & Nicotine Withdrawal, The “First Week” Strategy

Balance is key to our inner workings. Our bodies consistently work to stay even-keeled, regulating heart rate and mood like a tightrope walker. 

Nicotine throws in a curveball. It gives smokers a boost in alertness and mood. But here’s the catch: our bodies adapt, toning down our natural highs to counteract nicotine’s effects. It’s this pursuit of balance that makes the withdrawal so jarring when we stop.

Quitting flips the system on its head. The once elevated mood now crashes. The heightened alertness dims. 

It’s no surprise that the first week without nicotine hits hard, often leading to relapse as the body craves its old ‘normal.’

Dr. Huberman hits us with a stark number: a 95% failure rate in quitting attempts within that first rough week. 

But he doesn’t leave us there. Instead, he introduces a gleam of hope, outlining “healthy methods” to bridge the dopamine deficit left by nicotine. Think cold showers, exercise, or connecting with friends. These are nature’s mood boosters, helping to smooth out the bumpy road of withdrawal.

There’s more to the story. Tools like hypnosis and medication, bupropion for instance, can come to the rescue. While their exact workings in the brain are a bit of a mystery, they aid in the fight against the urge to smoke.

With clarity, Dr. Huberman acknowledges that nicotine isn’t the villain behind cancer—it’s how it’s delivered. 

He stresses the necessity of understanding both the biological mechanics and psychological strategies to quit for good.

Post-quit strategies are crucial. Hypnosis, for example, can reinforce the brain’s resistance to nicotine. Another tip: be wary of alcohol. It can unmask cravings and pry open the door to relapse.

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