Ask any former smoker about their experience in kicking the habit, and they’ll tell you it wasn’t easy. In fact, studies show that more than 70% of smokers actually want to quit. Unfortunately, nicotine is a highly addictive substance, hence the difficulty for most people in breaking the dependency. Luckily, there are a lot of resources and methods available to those attempting to quit. If you’re a smoker and you’d like to stop, or know someone in that situation, hopefully this info is helpful.
What You Gotta Know First
As a smoker, you may experience certain “triggers” when trying to quit. These are things that sort of ignite the urge to smoke, so to speak (no pun intended!). Certain places, moods, feelings or things that you do on a normal basis may cause you to want to turn to a cigarette (i.e. boredom, being around people who are smoking, coffee or tea). Be aware of your triggers and try different things to avoid them, or if avoidance is impossible, try a healthy substitute or distraction.
Many would argue that just suddenly throwing out your cigarettes isn’t the way to go, but it does work for some and can be worth a try. What makes it especially tough is the addictive nature of nicotine. Withdrawing from a substance your body has become dependent on can be physically, mentally and even emotionally difficult. Symptoms, other than the most obvious one of craving a cigarette, include:
I know, after hearing all that, you may prefer to keep smoking, but remember all the downsides to smoking and why you need to quit. Because of nicotine withdrawal, some people decide to try nicotine replacements instead. Most of us have heard of nicotine patches, lozenges and even gum. The intent is to slowly wean a person off nicotine by delivering low doses of it at a time until they no longer have the desire for (or dependence on) it. These can be purchased over the counter at most local drug stores.
Electronic cigarettes are small battery-powered devices that resemble cigarettes in terms of shape and length. The appeal is that they deliver nicotine to the user without actually being lit. The publicity on them is growing and even celebrities are getting in on the endorsements of various brands. As early as 2011, a study was done and subsequent article written in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine discussing their benefits. Although they work similarly to nicotine replacements and can be helpful when quitting, some argue that E-Cigarettes may not be the best method to smoking cessation.
Harvard Medical School’s Harvard Health Publication shares that e-Cigarettes deliver a variety of chemicals, some of which can be highly toxic and carcinogenic. The amounts are much less significant than what we are exposed to through the smoking of actual cigarettes, but they’re still there. Another argument posed against the use of e-cigarettes is that they can be a trigger for those who are trying to quit.
There are quite a few different medications used to help people quit smoking. Some were created for that purpose and some are used off-label (medications created for a different purpose but healthcare professionals noticed that one of the side effects was the loss of the urge to light up). Medications like Chantix, Zyban and Wellbutrin are often used, but all require prescriptions. If you’re interested in this method, talk to your healthcare professional about it.
Some may read this and laugh, but everyone works differently. Even with the use of other methods to help you quit smoking, you may still need a little more help. Smokers attempting to quit may also encourage counseling and support groups. You aren’t alone in the battle to quit. There are so many others out there who are trying to stop (and have tried for some time). Don’t get discouraged! Don’t believe the lie that you are on your own!
As always, if you have any questions or concerns, run it by your healthcare provider, and see what they s/he has to say. They are familiar with you and your medical history, and can provide great advice as to how to take the best possible care of your body.
Shari Grant is a Registered Nurse in South Florida, where she was raised in a (very!) Jamaican home. Some of the loves of her life are words (both reading and writing them) and missions work. She enjoys spending time with friends and family while living for a good laugh - one that makes her belly ache and her eyes water. Her bottom line goal in life is to make the Lord smile and maybe even serve Him up a chuckle from time to time, too.