Quitting smoking is the best thing you can do
The single best thing that you can do for your health and lifestyle is to quit smoking, smokeless tobacco and other nicotine delivery products. Everyone now knows the dangers of smoking, but many people are still misled by smokeless tobacco products. There is no safe tobacco.
Cessation from nicotine is not easy for most people. Very few can put their tobacco down permanently. Quitting can become more “do-able” by having a strategy that addresses the habit, psychology (triggers) and addiction of using tobacco. Planning healthy lifestyle changes can help you get through the discomfort of withdrawal. Finding healthier ways to comfort and reward yourself will help you cope with life without tobacco. Most importantly, having the desire to free yourself from a substance that controls your time, finances and decisions will help motivate you. Having a strategy and forming relapse prevention plans can see you through the long term.
Quitting cold turkey is not the best method for everyone. Many people benefit from using medications for cessation. There are non-nicotine and FDA-approved nicotine medications on the market. Using them properly is an important part of your plan. Not every medication is ideal for every person, but there probably is something that will work for you. Nicotine is a poison that changes the brain in a long lasting way, much like heroin. Many people fear that using a nicotine replacement medication is counter productive to cessation efforts. Nicotine replacement products are safer than tobacco and other nicotine sources. These products provide you with enough comfort to give you time to quit. You learn new behaviors while using them and then come off of the nicotine slowly.
There is help available for your cessation efforts. Cessation classes, such as Freedom from Smoking, are taught in many areas. There are online resources such as Quitnet.com, Quitsmokeless.org and Nicotine Anonymous, providing national meetings over the phone. There is a national hotline, 1800-QUIT-NOW, as well as the American Lung Association’s 1-866-QUIT-YES. Western North Carolina residents may also find help at Mission Hospital’s Nicotine Dependence Program, 213-5527.
Fern Webb is a tobacco addiction specialist at Mission Hospital.