Quitting Smoking (Tobacco)
Tobacco smoking has been, and still is, a major cause for disease and death among human beings. It is responsible for every fifth death in America. The number of deaths caused collectively by drugs, HIV, motor vehicles accidents, alcohol, and firearm accidents, all combined, are still less as compared to the number of deaths due to tobacco smoking. No human organ is immune to the adverse impacts of tobacco smoke. It is indeed shocking that the menace of tobacco smoking is on the rise. According to 2012 data, nearly one billion people were daily smokers as against just 721million in 1980. Nearly 6 million deaths due to tobacco smoking are reported every year and this figure is rising every year. It is estimated that in the next 15 years tobacco smoking related deaths could touch the 8 million mark.
It makes sense to quit tobacco smoking. Smoking cessation not only offers health benefits, but it also means monetary savings and improved self confidence.
Despite being an addictive behavior, still anyone can quit smoking irrespective of one’s age, gender, and the duration. Since 2002, the number of former smokers in the USA has exceeded the number of current smokers. It is a good sign and an indicator that it indeed is possible to stop smoking and stay that way.
The key components of a smoking cessation plan are:
- Coping withdrawal period
- Staying in quit mode
A substantial number of smokers have successfully given up smoking using mere determination. This underlines the significance of determination in smoking cessation. The first step towards smoking cessation should be to outline one’s reasons for smoking cessation. These could be in terms of health benefits, improvement in financial position, elimination of irritant odors from home/car/office, and greater self-confidence. Whenever possible, ask your healthcare provider to tell you why and how you should go about smoking cessation. Other helpful inputs can be had from telephonic counseling depending upon availability of the service and meeting and eliciting views of former smokers.
Once an individual is sufficiently motivated to go ahead with smoking cessation, a date should be chosen to put the plan into action, preferably within a couple of weeks, and strategize dealing with cravings during critical period of withdrawal. As far as possible, the person should let family and friends know about quit date. On the selected date, one must throw away anything that reminds one of smoking like matches, lighters, leftover cigarettes, ashtrays, etc.
The withdrawal begins almost as soon as you start following your quit plan. Withdrawal means that your body got used to certain level of chemical called nicotine being present in your blood in order to function normally. Cravings are the urges that you get to smoke and get a dose of nicotine. Those who are well prepared to handle this phase are most likely to succeed at smoking cessation. Cravings are transitory and most frequent between the first two weeks of staying away from smoking. One might consider using medicines or nicotine replacement therapy, either separately or together. The best strategy to combat urges is to use a combination of counseling along with either nicotine replacement or prescription medication. One must be aware that this is the most critical phase which tends to get weak with passage of time. Whenever a craving occurs, immediately stop doing the work at hand; breathe deeply for 10 times. If this does not help, repeat the process till you feel relaxed. Some people find that saying a prayer or getting engrossed in another work is effective in quenching the craving. Seeking help from your support system is another effective way to stay balanced at this moment. At this moment remind yourself that millions of former smokers have dealt with cravings successfully and you too can do it.
Some successful quitters have reported that prescription medicines or nicotine replacement treatment worked well for them. You might go for such measures as it is indeed true that using prescription medicines can boost one’s chances of success at smoking cessation. Ask your doctor about advice on prescription medicines since everyone is not a suitable candidate for such treatments. Pregnancy is one of the conditions in which certain prescription medicines should not be used. Remember that medication does help but it does not do all the work. Ask your doctor‚ dentist‚ or pharmacist if nicotine gum‚ the patch‚ or some other kind of NRT is right for you. Always remember to
- Use NRT correctly
- Not to mix tobacco and NRT
- To use less and less medicine in a gradual manner
Tobacco products should not be used even if they have a low the nicotine content. All such products are harmful.
Please remember that whatever measures you take to control cravings; it is going to work in conjunction with your own willpower. Every time you handle a craving successfully, reward yourself. Let your loved ones know of your triumphs. You might celebrate your victories with a favorite meal, going to movie, or a simple prayer of gratitude. It is highly advisable that you choose your company and social circle carefully, be a support to others as well as seek help from them, and request them to encourage you while you are on your way to quit smoking. Spend your time with no-smokers or former smokers.
You will never regret the decision to quit smoking.
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Dr Vinay Kumar
Senior Consultant Dermatologist
+91-93 199 299 00
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