10 Ways To Kick Your Smoking Habit
Once you get hooked on smoking, it’s difficult to quit. Nicotine is an addictive drug that affects the chemistry of the brain and central nervous system. But the good news is that when you put out that final cigarette, your health will improve in just 20 minutes. When it comes to enjoying better health, the sooner you quit, the sooner you start.
Here are some tips and techniques to help you quit smoking:
- Motivate yourself by making a list of all the reasons why you want to stop smoking and improve your health.
- Start taking other steps to improve your health and well-being, such as getting adequate sleep, drinking plenty of fluids and exercising. Some research has shown that regular exercise can reduce the craving for cigarettes and increase the likelihood of success in quitting.
- Know what to expect. When trying to stop smoking, a person can suffer both physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms, including irritability, difficulty concentrating, headaches, problems sleeping and an intense desire for tobacco. Understand withdrawal symptoms and the potential for relapses and prepare strategies for dealing with them.
- Talk to family members and friends about your plan to stop smoking and enlist their help and support.
- Set a target date to quit – maybe a birthday or anniversary, or the first day of a month and honor your own deadline.
- Try a nicotine replacement product, such as nicotine gum, skin patches, or nasal sprays, which releases nicotine into the body to stave off withdrawal symptoms. These products give your body the nicotine it’s accustomed to but without the toxins found in cigarette smoke. After a few weeks, you start gradually reducing the dosage of nicotine before weaning yourself entirely from the drug. Nicotine replacement has been shown to double the rate of success of stop-smoking efforts by reducing the cravings smokers experience when they don’t smoke.
- Another treatment option, available only with a prescription from your doctor, is a non-nicotine pill called Zyban. This drug, which was originally used as an antidepressant, works on the chemicals in the brain that affect nicotine addiction.
- Avoid situations where you will feel tempted to smoke. For example, get up from the table immediately after meals and dine at restaurants that prohibit smoking. Make smoking inconvenient.
- Experiment with relaxation techniques such as visualization, meditation or breathing exercises to get past your craving for a cigarette.
- Make a list of activities or distractions to use when your cravings start to get the upper hand. Take a walk around the block instead of lighting up, do a few chores around the house or call a friend.
Smoking is the most preventable cause of death in the United States. Tobacco causes more than 400,000 deaths every year including an estimated 180,000 deaths from cardiovascular disease.
Gwinnett Medical Center would like to help in your efforts to quit smoking. We offer a four-class program, Freshstart Smoking Cessation, which provides the information and guidance needed to create a personal plan for quitting, while in a supportive group environment. For dates and registration, call HealthLine at 678-312-5000 or visit gwinnettmedicalcenter.org/classes.