Quitting smoking is among the top New Year’s resolutions for 2023, but as statistics show, most people have trouble keeping their resolutions beyond a few weeks.
The CDC is encouraging people to drop addictive habits with its “Resolve to be Smokefree in ’23” initiative, outlining tips on how to be successful when hitting the reset button for this year.
Shedding light on why this habit is so hard to shake is Dr. Colleen Hanlon of BrainsWay, who spoke to DocWire News about the addiction space, the complications of smoking addiction, and how our brains are working against us to kick the habit.
DocWire News: Can you provide us with some background on yourself?
Dr. Colleen Hanlon: So my name is Colleen Hanlon. I’m the Vice President of Medical Affairs at BrainsWay. But for the last 17 years I’ve been, before joining BrainsWay, I was a scientist. I worked at Wake Forest University and Medical University of South Carolina. I’ve really devoted my career to studying the brain mechanisms involved in addiction with an emphasis on smoking, as well as stimulants and alcohol use. I use a lot of neuroimaging tools to look at patterns of brain that are active when people are using cigarettes and drinking alcohol as well as patterns that predict good outcomes in treatment programs.
I sort of became, my love of brain stimulation came after I was looking at a lot of brain images, and I could see that my friends that were in preclinical science lab were able to use really fancy technological ways to stimulate certain brain regions and cause animals to stop self-administering drugs. And then a technique called TMS, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, came along and was FDA-cleared as a treatment for depression. So TMS is a non-invasive way of stimulating neural circuits.
And so really in 2020, 1 of the best things that happened in my opinion is that TMS became FDA-cleared as a treatment tool for smoking cessation. So it was a first TMS indication in the addiction space. And so that makes people like me really excited because we have a new evidence-based tool to help people quit smoking. So that’s really great for people out there that are struggling.
Talk to us about smoking addiction – approximately, how many people are addicted to cigarette smoking, and why is the habit so hard to shake?
Yeah, it’s actually an astounding 34 million adults are regular smokers and so that’s a lot of people out there. But about 68% of those adults say that they want to quit. That’s about 23 million people. But if you’re a smoker out there you know very well that it’s actually incredibly hard. In fact, of all of the substances used, smoking appears to …….