By Laura S. Picciano, DO
Welcome 2015! If smoking cessation is part of your New Year’s resolutions, we support you entirely. Besides the myriad health benefits that smoking cessation provides, it may amaze you that there are important financial benefits as well. Those who continue to engage in smoking may be paying higher insurance premiums! The addictive quality of nicotine has been well documented and cigarette smoking involves both a chemical and behavioral component. It’s best to recognize this in order to achieve the greatest success towards quitting. So let’s talk about becoming a quitter.
Preparing to Quit:
As with most changes in life, an important decision requires a little leg work and taking an emotional inventory. Why exactly do you want to quit? Now write that down in detail! You will need to reflect on that when cravings hit. What sort of benefits will you get by quitting? Now examine your triggers. What makes you want that cigarette? You will need to evaluate most aspects of your life to be successful at this. For example, do certain places or people bring out the smoker in you? Do you automatically reach for a cigarette when you drink a cup of coffee? Let’s not neglect stress. Smoking may be an outlet to deal with a bad day. If stress is a major factor in your decision to smoke, then for sure you must think of a way to deal with that in a more healthy way. My suggestion: try to exercise! Start organizing your support structure: nonsmoking friends/family, support groups (see below) and, yes, a trip to your primary care physician. If you are living alone or with nonsmokers, it would be a great benefit to clean up your living environment to remove the scent of cigarettes from your home. This includes laundering your frequently worn garments.
Pick your quit date! Declare it and make it a priority. It is quite hard to go “cold turkey” which is why you should consider a visit to your doctor. You should strongly consider nicotine replacement systems which can be purchased over-the-counter. In addition, your doctor can suggest medications that, in many cases, would reduce the urge to smoke. Do make a follow up visit to affirm that commitment and chart your progress. And, no matter what, don’t give up. Relapses are common and can be managed.
I hope you find these resources helpful: