Smokeout raises awareness
Licensed acupuncturist Tom Williams inserted five 2-inch needles in each of senior Donovan Long’s ears. Long, who is 30 and has been smoking for 17 years, is hoping the procedure will curb his desire to smoke so that he can quit for good.
Long and eight other students participated in the acupuncture session offered by the University Health Center on Thursday. The session was held in conjunction with the American Cancer Society’s 25th Great American Smokeout, a day to raise awareness about the dangers of smoking and encourage people to quit.
Long started smoking when he was 13, he said. He said his parents smoked, and he saw people smoking on TV.
“Smoking was the adult thing to do,” he said.
Throughout his life, he has also had many friends who smoke, and two years ago he decided he wanted to quit.
“After a while I kind of accepted the statistics. If you smoke, the odds are against you,” he said. “Emphysema doesn’t seem like a fun thing.”
He said he tried gum and patches to stop smoking, but he hasn’t been successful. He saw a flier about the acupuncture treatment and decided to try it.
After laying down with the needles in his ears for 45 minutes, Long said the experience was relaxing.
“It pinched a bit at first, but there wasn’t any physical pain,” he said. “I almost fell asleep.”
Williams, who has practiced acupuncture for 15 years, said when people first start smoking, their bodies let them know it is unhealthy. Coughing, nausea and light-headedness are all symptoms, but after smoking for a few years, this natural feedback disappears, he said.
Acupuncture is a method of simulating points on the body’s surface that connect to organs, he said. The process normalizes the corresponding organs, such as the liver and lungs, that naturally respond to smoking.
“Acupuncture turns that burglar alarm back on, retriggering the body’s innate intelligence that nicotine is toxic,” he said.
He added that after an acupuncture treatment, it is rare that cravings will immediately go away. And acupuncture does not necessarily work better than other methods used for smoking cessation, he said.
Peer health educator Annie Dochnahl agreed that acupuncture, like any other tools for smoking cessation, won’t end cravings.
“There is no magic wand to end your addiction,” she said to the group. “This is just one tool to make the process manageable.”
According to the American Cancer Society, tobacco use is responsible for approximately one in five deaths. Smoking accounts for at least 30 percent of all cancer deaths and is the major cause of heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
Dochnahl said the health center offers a variety of other aids for smoking cessation. The pharmacy sells Nicorette gum and Zyban, and the health center offers a smoking cessation workshop each term, she said.
For more information about acupuncture treatments, contact Williams at Turning Point Natural Health Center at 686-9658.
Diane Huber is a student activities reporter for the Oregon Daily Emerald. She can be reached at [email protected].
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