Thursday, November 20, 2014

Top 10 Ways to Quit Smoking

 This is a partial repost from my 2011 blog on smoking with some updated content.  It has received many hits, I hope it helps one more person on their journey to quit smoking. It is not easy to quit but it can be done.

Today is the Great American Smokeout Day 2014

If you are not a smoker or have never smoked, this list is not for you unless you can find some sympathy for those that do struggle with addictions.

1. Smoking is a physical and psychological addiction that produces a "chain reaction" in the body. Nicotine is as addictive as heroin and cocaine according to LiveStrong.com. Withdrawal symptoms can include any of the following: dizziness (which may only last 1 to 2 days after quitting) depression, feelings of frustration, impatience, and anger, anxiety, irritability, sleep disturbances, including having trouble falling asleep and staying asleep, and having bad dreams or even nightmares, trouble concentrating, restlessness or boredom, headaches, tiredness, increased appetite, weight gain, constipation and gas, cough, dry mouth, sore throat, and nasal drip, chest tightness, slower heart rate. It doesn’t sound like a lot of fun or offer the comfort a cigarette does.

2. Quit Smoking Aids: There are many but it comes down to one key ingredient and that is "you". Whatever aid or help you enlist, you must be able and willing to follow through. The odds are stacked against you. Mark Twain said “Quitting smoking is easy; I have done it a thousand times”. According to The American Cancer Society, success rates in general, only about 4% to 7% of people are able to quit smoking on any given attempt without medicines or other help. Studies in medical journals have reported that between about 25% and 33% of smokers who use medicines can stay smoke-free for over 6 months. There is also early evidence that combining some medicines, may work better than using them alone. (See the section, "Help with the physical part of addiction: Prescription drugs.") Behavioral and supportive therapies may increase success rates even further, and help the person stay smoke-free. Check the package insert of any product you are using to see if the manufacturer provides free telephone-based counseling. I have read that the patches and gum can create a different addiction of their own. The American Heart Association, American Cancer Society want to help read their websites for suggestion and in some cases free assistance such as smoking cessation classes and other support.

3. Positive reinforcement: Place the exact amount of money you will save from NOT purchasing cigarettes in a glass jar so you can view your progress. The price in Pennsylvania is approximately $7 a pack and the rates vary from state to state. There's more than the monetary reward to consider. Smoking cessation has immediate health benefits. It lowers your blood pressure and reduces your pulse after only 20 minutes. Within a day, the carbon monoxide level in your blood returns to normal. Within two weeks to three months, your risk of a heart attack decreases and your lungs begin to function better. Long-term benefits include a reduced risk for coronary heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, and other cancers. Smoking tobacco really isn’t friendly to any medical condition.

4. Weight Gain: Many worry about gaining weight if they stop smoking and it can happen especially if you replace cigarettes with food, average weight gain of 5 to 10 pounds in the first few months. The seminar I attended said 10-50lbs. That is a nightmare to me, so is getting cancer. I weigh the odds. I have witnessed a family member suffer. Cigarettes can be an appetite suppressant. It is recommended to up your calcium intake the first week, avoid carbs and drink 6-8 glasses of water you should also up your exercise routine and by all means do not become a slacker. Exercise can boost you mental and physical health. Cigarettes also mess with you blood sugar, metabolism, serotonin levels and dopamine.

5. Helpful diversions: Take a deep breath hold it for 5 seconds and release, do this 3 times. Don’t just sit there get up and do something. Drink a glass of water, lemon adds a little flavor, avoid triggers like alcohol and sweets and stressful, painful situations and they should avoid you too. ; - ) The American Cancer Society has a video game you can download and play.  it is a great diversion when you are having a craving. Find  Zombie Smokeout Download - iPhone, iPad & Android Game at this link.

6. A link to Helpful Hints for Friends and Family Do and Don't to Helping a Smoker Quit. I say Number !, "Don't Preach".

7. Behavior Modification: Change the way you deal with certain situations. Boredom, have a cigarette (old behavior), boredom, do something constructive, create and carry a list with you to fill in that idle time. Eat a meal, have a cigarette (old behavior), immediately brush your teeth after a meal or use mouth wash. Head in the opposite direction of where you used to go to smoke. Reward yourself for not being a smoker. Do not punish yourself by being a smoker. You will need to stock up on a whole new set of coping skills for stress. Look out stress knows you quit and comes looking for you. You will be vulnerable at first. You will absolutely sweat the small stuff until you learn to cope. Find that inner strength.


8. Smoking is known as a feel good. Who doesn’t want that instant gratification feel good. It is a challenge and a struggle to quit and most likely you will not get that much support from friends and family. Especially, if they were never a smoker, that do not realize how difficult this addiction is to break. If they are a born again non-smoker they know how difficult it is and rarely have any sympathy for you because they hate the addiction that once trapped them. Yet they can understand your struggle.


9. “They” say day 5 and 7 are the tough ones. I waited with baited breath for day 5 to arrive and it was pretty uneventful so I knew day 7 would be bad. I was constantly looking over my shoulder that day wondering, when it was going to come, yet I survived. Day 10 was the kicker. I woke up normally went into the kitchen a few dirty dishes in the sink so I went to load them up in the dish washer only to discover HE had loaded it incorrectly, the plates were not lining up and immediately I realized after almost 25 years, I had married the wrong man, my children never have and never will listen to me, they have minds of their own and maintaining the small home that I live in is just too overwhelming for me. I emailed my good friend who also quit smoking many years ago by the same method, hypnosis. I went on the postal, nicotine deprived rant and told her just about everything in my life was wrong. Luckily she had lived through the experience and was able to talk me down. Life was back to normal in about 15 minutes.

10. I quit smoking many years ago for over 20 years and I got smacked with a few of life’s unpleasant events, the culmination ranked pretty high on the stress scale and I made a huge mistake. You can find those stress level tests online. I picked up a cigarette again, but I have learned the hard way, I can never do that again. Smoking was something I knew was not comforting me at all. I had heard countless ads and friends remind me how unhealthy it was for me. Yet I was hooked. I  attended a "Quit Smoking" seminar using hypnosis and I have been a non-smoker again for many years.

Two commercials that appeared on national television that I always thought make a profound impact.

Like Father Like Son
Yul Brynner released  this video after his death from cancer.

Every one has stressors in their life. Make better choices on how you deal with yours.  Find the strength to support yourself and seek help when you know you can’t go it alone

Other helpful sources:Talk with Your Doctor, smokefree.gov, smokefreephilly.org and check local hospital websites for "free" smoking cessation classes.

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