Monday, December 30, 2013

How to Quit Smoking for Good

Making the decision to quit smoking can have a profound affect on your life. You’ll live longer, save money and keep your family and pets healthy. Not only that, but you’ll feel more confident as the physical effects of smoking begin to fade: the smell of cigarette smoke and the yellowing of hands and teeth, for example.

You’ve probably heard these reasons before, and you may have tried to quit in the past, without success.

Don’t give up yet! With the right resources, you can quit smoking for good.

Read below to find out how.

1. Call the New York State Smoker’s Quitline.

Karen Hamp, a registered nurse at Kenmore Mercy Hospital, taught a smoking cessation program at Catholic Health for 16 years. In her experience, the most successful people did two things: they used nicotine replacement therapy, such as nicotine patches, and they had support in their efforts to quit.

You can obtain both through the New York State Smoker’s Quitline.

The quitline can provide a starter kit of patches or gum that can double your chances of quitting and reduce your symptoms of withdrawal. Their counselors and coaches will speak to you about quitting and will check in with you on a regular basis to find out how you’re doing and keep you motivated.

What is Nicotine Replacement Therapy?

Nicotine replacement therapy gives you a small amount of nicotine to help you to reduce the symptoms of withdrawal. It can take the form of patches, gum, a nicotine inhaler and lozenges.

“For nicotine replacement therapy, my personal preference is the patch,” said Hamp.

“The problem with the gum is that every time you are having a craving, you are supposed to take a piece of gum, chew it and then park it inside your mouth. Then you bring it out and chew it again. It is actually feeding the craving.”

Laser therapy and hypnosis have been marketed as other solutions for smokers, but their success rates are lower than with nicotine replacement therapy. “I know people who had laser therapy and never smoked again. But that number is low,” said Hamp.

However, Hamp doesn’t discourage people from trying laser therapy or hypnosis. “If you are ready to quit, you're going to have the motivation to do it and eventually will be successful.”

2. Speak to your doctor about your plan to quit smoking.

Your doctor may prescribe Zyban or Chantix to help you curb your urge to smoke. Both are anti-depressants.

“Zyban or Chantix can be very effective in helping people to maintain more positivity about the whole process,” said Hamp.

“It can be an overwhelming and a frustrating to quit smoking. A lot of people feel like they are losing their best friend. There are so many activities that they associate with smoking that when they quit, it's like a part of their life is gone.”

Zyban or Chantix, available by prescription only, can help you to maintain a positive outlook.

3. Reach for celery sticks or a straw.

After quitting, you might feel the need to have something in your mouth, where the cigarette used to be.

Hamp recommends sugar-free hard candy or pre-cut celery sticks or carrot sticks.

“If you’re having a craving and you want something to satisfy the oral gratification, you're not going to stop and cut something up. If you have them already cut up, you can grab those.”

Some people find licorice root helpful. They’re like cinnamon sticks – you can suck on them and chew on them, but you don’t eat them. “People find them very helpful, but you have to be careful. It's like black licorice. It will deplete your body of potassium. Eat bananas, orange juice, and broccoli.”

Hamp also recommends cutting a straw into the length of a cigarette, which provides a feeling that is similar to a cigarette, in terms of shape and size.

4. Treat yourself with a gift.

To recognize your hard work and keep up your motivation, use the money that you’ve been saving and buy yourself a reward. Plan a trip or buy something that you’ve been wanting.

“It's important to reward yourself periodically, maybe every couple of months,” said Hamp.

5. Don’t worry about weight gain.

Weight gain is a common concern among those who want to quit smoking, but for some, it’s unfounded.

“Not everyone gains weight when they quit smoking,” said Registered Dietitian Deborah Richter, who provides nutritional counseling at Sisters of Charity Hospital, St. Joesph Campus.

“On average, people who quit smoking only gain 10 pounds,” said Richter.

Those most likely to gain weight are people who have smoked for 10 to 20 years, more than one pack per day.

“A person would need to gain 100 to 150 pounds after quitting to make the health risk as high as with continuing to smoke!” said Richter.

Registered Nurse Karen Hamp recommends that you focus on quitting first, without worrying too much about weight gain. “It is difficult to deny yourself two things at the same time. Tackle one first, then the other.”

Quitting smoking is one of the most beneficial things that you can do for yourself and your family. If your efforts in the past have failed, make sure that you have both a support system and nicotine replacement therapy. Call the New York State Smoker’s Quitline to put yourself on the path to success. Speak to your doctor about your plan, and don’t forget to reward yourself for a job well done.

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