Quitting Smoking




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More About Quitting Smoking

So you’ve resolved to quit smoking this year? You’re not alone. January 2000 is a popular time for people to try to quit, but it’s difficult to do. There are many techniques for quitting and each program should be individualized. The first step to quitting is deciding to quit and creating a plan for doing so. An assessment of how, when, and why you smoke can help you decide which approach is best for you. There are definitely things you can do to make your attempt more successful.

Decide when to stop. While many people like to cut back slowly, this takes more willpower than stopping completely at once. When you still have a pack of cigarettes, you may plan to smoke only 3 cigarettes but at the end of the day find the whole pack is gone. It is important to set a quit date and stick to it. You can taper down until that date, but you should stop completely on that day. For some people a good time to quit is during an illness when they can’t smoke, such as a hospitalization or during a bout of bronchitis. When you’re better, don’t start back.

Look at your pattern of smoking and try to change it. If you smoke heavily or smoke the first thing in the morning, you are most likely highly addicted to nicotine and will probably need medication or professional help to quit. If you smoke less than a half pack per day then determination and some simple behavior changes may be all you need. For instance, if you tend to smoke only when you go out to bars, try staying away from bars for a while. If you tend to smoke in your car, have the car cleaned out, remove the ashtray, and leave something else in the car to occupy you when you’re driving. Gum, straws, or carrot sticks are good to keep your mouth busy without causing weight gain. If you tend to smoke after meals, try taking a walk instead. When you feel a strong urge to smoke, try deep breathing, relaxation exercises, or talk to a friend.

Establish a support system to help you stop smoking. Let your friends and coworkers know you are quitting. Tell them your quit date so that they can help remind you to stick to your plan. If your spouse or a close friend smokes, try to quit together. You can support each other that way. Reward yourself frequently for not smoking. Buy yourself something with the money you save on cigarettes.

You may want to consider professional help for quitting smoking, either from a physician, a psychologist or counselor, or smoking cessation classes. The American Lung Association and the American Cancer Society are great resources for information or classes. Also many hospitals offer classes. These approaches do increase your chances of quitting. For instance, seeking advice from your doctor can double your chances. These programs do cost some money, but if they help you quit smoking, you will save on cigarette and health care costs.

There are also medications that may help you stop smoking. There are nicotine patches, gum, and inhalers. It is important to read the instructions on these products. You cannot smoke while using them. Zyban is a prescription medication that you can get from your physician. It is an antidepressant that decreases your urge to smoke. It does not contain nicotine, and therefore it can be used with nicotine products. These products are more useful for people who are heavily addicted to nicotine. None of them will make you stop smoking. You still have to try hard to quit. They work best when integrated with other techniques.

Stopping smoking is a difficult undertaking, but you can succeed. It requires determination, thoughtful planning, support from others, and often professional help or medications. If you need help, get it. Your health is well worth the energy and expense. If you fail, examine why you started back and use that information to help you on the next attempt. Do not get discouraged. Most people try to quit several times before they succeed. Good luck.


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