My name is Adam Dendauw; I am the respiratory manager here at Mayers Memorial Hospital. I was asked to take some time and write a blog entry on some aspects of respiratory care and respiratory education for the community. My mind immediately went to the easiest advice and education to give, though one that is very difficult for many to adhere to. It is the single most important thing you can do to prevent pulmonary/respiratory illnesses, for both the long and short term. I am talking of course, about giving up smoking, or if you haven’t started yet making sure you never do.
There are two main factors given to those who smoke as a reason to quit, the health of themselves and those around them and the personal cost to keep the habit going. Many know the dangers of smoking, or have been told the impact that cigarettes may have on your health and lifestyle. Smoking can lead to Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases (COPD), heart failure, lung cancer, mouth cancer and can negatively affect those with asthma or reactive airway disease. Smoking is the #1 preventable cause of death in America and the #1 cause of preventable lung dieses as well. All of this caused by the more than 7,000 chemicals now found in today’s average cigarette and all of it is preventable. If the health risks were not scary enough, the financial impact each pack of cigarettes has on your wallet is horrifying, the average pack now cost $6.65 in the U.S.A. This means a one pack a day smoker spends roughly $2,400 a year supporting their habit. It is also worth mentioning the added health care costs smokers pay over their lifetime, roughly 15-20% more than a non-smoker. All of these wasted funds are savable, just as the health risks are preventable.
Many of you have already been told about these dangers, but how many have actually been given good solid advice on how to quit? How many have attempted to quit only to fail and picked up the habit again? It’s ok we are all human, we fall we get back up and try again. Plus it is not easy, if it were there would be no need for this education. I have personally seen someone I love struggle with the addiction, my mother went through four very long, very hard attempts before she finally gave up smoking for good. It is my hope that I can share with you some information that will give you an edge and that you can use this information in quitting once and for all.
One of the main keys to quitting is Awareness! Awareness of your habit is very important, I am often told by patients that they know roughly how much they smoke, but are not 100% sure as they will sometimes light a smoke, finish and begin another one or two before they realize they have gone through so many. Being aware of factors such as when you smoke most often, how many you smoke in a day or at a time and what drives you to smoke is the first step in getting a handle on your habit. You can create a log or time table in order to better track your habit and to get a better grasp on the situation. If you suddenly realize you smoke three cigarettes in the morning every day you can begin to ask yourself why that is, was there real reason or need? You will also become aware of when your cravings are more prominent and can better prepare yourself to make a decision not to smoke, or for starters to really cut back during these times.
Being honest with yourself about wanting to smoke is more helpful than ignoring the cravings, instead acknowledge and take note of when you feel like smoking or having a cigarette and then make a mental note that you are making a commitment to quit. Be prepared and knowing your Triggers and how to deal with them will make for a much smoother transition. Identifying and dealing with the temptations associated with smoking is a very key, but difficult, component to staying smoke free. It is important to have the tools, knowledge and motivation to help overcome these obstacles on a daily basis. Knowing ahead of time about your specific triggers that urge you to smoke and having a plan in place to deal with these urges are some of the best ways to break the habit of smoking permanently.
Quick Ideas for dealing with cravings
Change your routines
Have an alternative activity you enjoy planned
Removing yourself from tempting situations
Use Nicotine replacement therapy
Talk to your support group
Remember the negative effects of smoking
Stress is a very unfortunate part of life; some people think smoking helps deal with stress, but does smoking ever really solve anything when you’re stressed? The problems or factors causing stress will always be there after the cigarette is put out. Knowing and acknowledging your stress factors, much like your temptations and having a plan to help deal with them will help you become successful and stay smoke free. Accepting the fact that your life can and at times will be filled with stress is always the first step, taking a stand and acknowledging that smoking will not help solve the situation is step two. You must preparing yourself daily to deal with the stress without the need or use of smoking, easier said than done. Knowing your stress factor ahead of time and having a plan to handle it without a cigarette is the goal and here are a few techniques that may help.
1. Take a moment away from the situation if possible
2. Practice breathing deeply and calmly
3. Remember the benefits of remaining smoke free
4. Talk about the situation with your support group, friends and family
5. Remember that smoking will not solve the problem at hand
6. Think of all the things about your life that you are thankful for
7. Take each day and situation one at a time
8. Always ask, what benefit will smoking provide during this situation
Setbacks will and can occur; it is very common for almost everyone to fall off the wagon during their quitting journey. Almost everyone falls when learning to walk and almost no one quits smoking without some reoccurrence. The trick is to not throw in the towel and let all your hard work go to waste. Pick yourself back up and continue back down that road to quitting. The best thing you can do is reflect on why you started smoking again, try not to be hard on yourself, think about what factors came into play and why did you feel like you couldn’t resist a cigarette? Remember all the good that quitting will do for you and your family, think of all the extra money you will have, how much healthier everyone will be and how well you have done up until this point. Everyone slips at one time or another, this does not make anyone a bad person, stay motivated, stay healthy, stay strong.
A lot of people have anxiety or fear quitting because they fear the possibility of failing, whether it be due to stress, the side effects of withdrawals from quitting, possible weight gain or simply because of habit. Most everyone is afraid of change, but you must remember that quitting smoking is a very positive change for you and your loved ones and with perseverance and hard work, a positive outlook and acknowledging and accepting that quitting will be difficult you can succeed. Remember breaking an addiction requires dedication, commitment, and hard work -- the same ingredients you need to achieve any goal. Accept that immediately after quitting, hunger may increase. This is part of the process of quitting, but it's temporary. In order to reap the long-term benefits of better health, you've made the choice to endure the temporary stress and discomfort of withdrawal symptoms. Understand that the first two to three weeks will be the toughest. That's when your psychological and physical withdrawal symptoms will be strongest. Remind yourself that this tough time is temporary Stressful situations may increase likelihood for relapse, so anticipate them and come up with a plan to manage your stress. Reward yourself for the progress you've made. Put the money you normally would spend on cigarettes into a jar or bank. Movies, dinners, and nights on the town will motivate you to enjoy your new smoke-free life.
Lastly there are many support outlets available, many are free and give free motivation and support, and there are even a few programs available that give samples of nicotine replacement therapy products if you and your doctor decide they would be beneficial. I hope these tips may help you in becoming smoke free, remember it is you who are in control. If you have any questions or would like additional information do not hesitate to ask, all of us here at Mayers Memorial Hospital are Always caring and Always here.
References & Resources