2012: Pocket guide to being a former smoker

Quitting smoking may be one of the hardest things for a smoker to do. Whether you’re a half-a-pack a day smoker or a three pack a day smoker and your thinking about quitting, American Cancer Society has guidelines to help you succeed.

Mark Twain said, “Quitting smoking is easy. I’ve done it a thousand times.” Why is quitting and staying quit hard for so many people? The answer is nicotine. Nicotine is a drug found naturally occurring in tobacco. It is addictive, as addictive as cocaine or heroin.

Help is available

Remember, tobacco addiction has both a psychological and a physical component. For most people, the best way to quit will be some combination of medicine, a method to change personal habits, and emotional support. With the wide range of counseling services, self-help materials, and medicines available today, smokers have more tools than ever to help them quit successfully.

Will you use nicotine replacement therapy (the patch or gum)? Will you attend a smoking cessation class?

Help With Psychological Addiction -- both formal and informal.

Telephone-based Help to Stop Smoking

Support of Family, Friends, and Quit Programs

What to Look for in a Stop Smoking Program

One-on-one or group counseling, intensity of counseling and the success rate.

Help With Physical Addiction: Nicotine Replacement Therapy and Other Medicines

Which Type of Nicotine Replacement May Be Right for You?

Success rates

The truth is, quit smoking programs, like other programs that treat addictions, often have a fairly low success rate. But that does not mean they are not worthwhile or that you should be discouraged. Your own success in quitting is what really counts, and that is under your control.

About 5 percent to 16 percent of people are able to quit smoking for at least six months without any medicine to help with withdrawal.

How to quit

Smokers often say, “Don’t tell me why to quit, tell me how.” There is no one right way to quit, but there are some key elements in quitting with success. These four factors are key:

• Making the decision to quit 

• Setting a quit date and choosing a quit plan 

• Dealing with withdrawal 

• Staying quit (maintenance)

Dealing with withdrawal

Withdrawal from nicotine has two parts -- the physical and the psychological. The physical symptoms, while annoying, are not life-threatening. Nicotine replacement can help reduce many of these physical symptoms. But most smokers find that the bigger challenge is the mental part of quitting.

Staying quit (maintenance)

Remember the quotation by Mark Twain? Maybe you, too, have quit many times before. So you know that staying quit is the final, and most important, stage of the process. You can use the same methods to stay quit as you did to help you through withdrawal. Think ahead to those times when you may be tempted to smoke, and plan on how you will use alternatives and activities to cope with these situations.

The Health Belief Model says that you will be more likely to stop smoking if you:

• Believe that you could get a smoking-related disease and this worries you.

• Believe that you can make an honest attempt at quitting smoking.

• Believe that the benefits of quitting outweigh the benefits of continuing to smoke.

• Know of someone who has had health problems as a result of their smoking.

Here are some steps to help you prepare for your quit day:

• Pick the date and mark it on your calendar.

• Tell friends and family of your quit date.

• Stock up on sugarless gum, cinnamon sticks, carrot sticks, hard candy.

• Practice saying, “No thank you, I don’t smoke.”

• Set up a support system. This could be a group plan, Nicotine Anonymous, or a friend who has successfully quit and is willing to help you.

On your quit day follow these suggestions:

• Do not smoke.

• Get rid of all cigarettes, ashtrays, etc.

• Keep active– try walking, exercising or doing other activities or hobbies.

• Drink lots of water or juice.

• Begin using the patch or gum if that is your choice.

• Attend stop smoking class or follow a self-help plan.

• Avoid high-risk situations where the urge to smoke is strong.

• Reduce or avoid alcohol.

For information on the classes or just to get some help quitting, call (928) 634-6858 in the Verde Valley area, or (928) 442-5572.

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