So I know a ton of people, and see lots of patients, that always say “no, I don’t smoke” and I know that they believe it, but when you go out on the weekends, have a few beverages, and bum a cigarette off of someone. There are still health detriments like and increased risk of lung cancer and an increased risk of blood clots for women on birth control!! It’s not a good idea, in general, to smoke at all (obvious advice coming from an HCP) and I wanted to give some ways to quit, medical and homeopathic, and lifestyle changes to ensure that you stay off the hooch!!
Where to begin?
Making the decision to quit is a HUGE step and a major part of the process, so you need to be proud of yourself just for making that decision. In order to stand by your decision, you need to lay some groundwork:
1. Set a quit date and mark it on a calendar
2. Tell your friends, family, coworkers, etc and ask them for their support.
3. Write a list for yourself of how your life will improve, and focus on the positive (i.e. save money, fresher breath, wont smell like smoke, will breathe easier, etc)
4. Look at the monetary benefits that you have to gain: write down how much you spend daily/weekly/monthly/annually on tobacco products and set up a savings account.
5. Set a goal that if you haven’t touched the hooch by your anniversary of your quit date, then clean out your savings account and treat yourself!!!
What can I do to make the process easier??
1. Try to prevent cravings: nicotine gives your body a bit of a sugar rush, so you get headaches from lack of the stimulant rush and the sugar that it is used to, so prepare for the headaches that you will get and drink some coffee/tea/green tea with honey or sugar, and be prepared that you will have a heartier appetite so be ready to treat yourself with comfort foods! (Not often a statement you will hear from me) And be ready with sugar-free gum, mints, and other things to keep your oral cravings satisfied.
- Be ready that after a meal if you normally smoke after meals, prepare with a fruit dessert, gum, etc.
- If you previously smoked when you drink, realize that your cravings will be strong then, so stick to non-smoking bars, friends homes where you can’t smoke, or don’t drink alcohol (gasp!) until the cravings subside
- If you only smoke socially, then make sure that you don’t hang with the friends that you normally smoke with, and let them know why…if they want to hang without tobacco products then keep them around!
-Keep yourself busy, so that you don’t have idle time to crave the nicotine, and change your lifestyle so that you aren’t tempted.
- Drink lots of water to keep your mouth active with a no calorie and healthy alternative!
- Stay active to keep off excess pounds that may pop on and keep your mind active so that you feel better and don’t want to smoke.
-Keep a craving journal so you can read back and see what you were doing when you had a craving and what you did to prevent it
2. Medication therapy: there are nicotine and non-nicotine medications to prevent cravings and to help ease tobacco out of your life and your HCP can help you to decide which is best for you
- Nicotine replacement: gum, inhaled nicotine, the patch, etc. so you get small amounts of constant amounts of nicotine to stave off the physical need for tobacco.
- Non-nicotine medications such as Zyban and Chantix. Bupropion (Zyban) is a drug used as an antidepressant that is taken twice a day (orally) and it helps to reduce the physical and mental cravings for tobacco. Varenicline (Chantix)is a drug that prevents the brain from feeling the pleasant results of nicotine (the stuff the gets you addicted). Some people can become suicidal from this medication and have almost schizophrenic like side effects (hear voices, etc)and you need to call your HCP immediately and stop taking the medication. If you are suicidal call 911 (or emergency services wherever you are).
3. Non-Medication treatments: other therapies that can help to ease the physical and mental cravings of tobacco and nicotine.
- Hypnosis can be used to help you to straighten your need to quit and increase a negative attitude towards nicotine subconsciously.
- Acupuncture can be used to stimulate your natural endorphins and can help to manage your withdrawal symptoms, like easing headaches and irritation that may occur.
- Behavior Therapy helps you to learn a new way of living your life, and doing your normal behaviors without being reliant upon nicotine.
So, you quit….now what??
Well, you have that special anniversary treat to look forward to! Also, you can make a healthy life change like work out more, or pick up a new hobby…something that makes your healthy lifestyle change seem worth it. On average people gain 3-4lbs after they quit, so try to pick up a hobby where you might prevent that. And remember, you are not a failure if you slip up, but toss out the rest of the pack, and realize what your trigger is; empower yourself to not let nicotine guide you, you guide you!
Decide to be healthier and make this change…and I hope that these tips encourage you and help you!! Remember, talk to your HCP about what is the best route for you to take, some people swear by cold turkey, but for those who want to ease out of the grips of nicotine, talk to your HCP!!
Yours in Good Health