We all know the health risks of smoking, but that doesn’t make it any easier to kick the habit. Whether you’re an occasional teen smoker or a lifetime pack-a-day smoker, quitting can be really tough. So, why quit if it’s so tough? Because quitting smoking is the most important thing you can do to protect your health. Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable disease, disability, and death in the United States. To bring attention to the critical role of cessation as part of a comprehensive tobacco prevention and control approach, the Office on Smoking and Health (OSH) has declared 2019 as the Year of Cessation. Smokers can and do quit smoking. In fact, there are more former smokers than current smokers today. People who stop smoking greatly reduce their risk for disease and early death. Although the health benefits are greater for people who stop at earlier ages, there are benefits at any age. Just know, you are never too old to quit.
Your Personal Quit Plan
Tobacco dependence is a chronic, relapsing disorder that, like other chronic diseases, often requires repeated intervention and long-term support. The majority of people who use tobacco want to quit, but most of the time, it takes multiple tries before you’re successful. It’s not a one and done process; it takes time and dedication. Most people do better with a tailored plan to keep themselves on track. A good quitting plan addresses both the short-term challenge of stopping and the long-term challenge of preventing relapse. Everyone uses tobacco differently, which means your personal quitting plan will be tailored to your specific needs and smoking habits.
Time to Reflect
Take some time to think about what kind of smoker you are, which moments of your life call for a cigarette, and why. This will help you to identify which tips, techniques, or therapies may be most beneficial for you. One of the best things you can do to help yourself is to identify the things that make you want to smoke, like the different situations, activities, feelings, and people and begin to avoid those triggers moving forward.
Get a Support Team
You don’t need to rely solely on willpower to be smoke free. There are some things and some people that can and are helpful tools to get you through your journey. For example, your doctor is available for guidance and assistance, whether you are questioning how to start, need someone to talk to, or if you’re looking to get a checkup during the process to see how you’re doing health-wise. If you’re someone who works better in a team environment, try joining a group and partaking in treatments with more person-to-person contact and more intensity.
Quitting smoking is difficult, there’s no doubt about that. Try not to think of quitting as forever. Take it day by day and the time will soon add up. Your quitting experience might not be perfect, but all that matters is that you don’t relapse. Reward yourself for being smoke free for 24 hours, a month, a year and so on. You deserve it! And if you’re not quite ready to quit today, set a date that makes the most sense for you. It’s okay if you need extra time to prepare.
Some people find it helpful to use behavioral therapies, counseling, or medications like over the counter nicotine patches, gum, or lozenges. But if you need something a little stronger, there are successful prescription non-nicotine medicines available like bupropion SR (Zyban®) and varenicline tartrate (Chantix®). However, counseling and medication are both effective for treating tobacco dependence and using them together is even more effective than using either one alone.
Benefits of Quitting Smoking
There are many health benefits of quitting smoking, and those begin within minutes of smoking your last cigarette. Your body will begin to recover from the damages caused by smoking and will continue to repair itself for years. Your heart rate and blood pressure will drop, the carbon monoxide level in your blood will drop to normal, your circulation improves, and your lung function increases. You will notice reduced respiratory symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. While these symptoms may not disappear, they do not continue to progress at the same rate among people who quit compared with those who continue to smoke. Your excess risk of coronary heart disease will become half to those who still smoke, and your risk of heart attacks will drop dramatically. Your will lower your risk of lung cancer, and for many other types of cancer too like mouth, throat, esophagus and bladder, those risks will cut in half.
Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States, killing more than 480,000 Americans each year. The only proven strategy to protect yourself from harm is to never smoke, and if you do smoke or use tobacco products, to quit. Speak with your primary care doctor about your personal health and to determine which medication(s) or combination of them may be the best for you to try. It’s time you kick the habit for good.
Don’t have a health care provider? We can help with that! Community Care has primary care offices located throughout the Capital Region. For assistance with finding a doctor, please visit our website or call our Concierge Care Coordinator at (518) 782-3800.