You’re a clock watcher. But you’re not counting down the minutes until your shift ends. No, your concern is how long you’ll have to hang on until the next smoke break. You’re addicted to nicotine, and the wait for your next cigarette can seem interminable.
It’s no wonder that you and so many others like you want to quit smoking. The problem is that wanting to stop is only a start, and going through the process of becoming tobacco-free can turn into quite a battle.
But it will be worth the effort. Estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show smoking increases the following risks:
- Coronary heart disease by 2 to 4 times
- Stroke by 2 to 4 times
- Men developing lung cancer by 25 times
- Women developing lung cancer by 25.7 times
Knowing where to begin the journey to becoming smoke-free is essential. Here are a few suggestions to help you quit smoking, regain your good health, and take your mind off the next smoke break:
Get ready to quit
Quitting is not a one-day event. It’s a journey that requires some preparation if it’s going to be successful. Some people quit “cold turkey,” meaning they smoke their last cigarette and throw away the rest of the pack. Others quit gradually by reducing the number of cigarettes they smoke each day until it gets to zero.
Neither of these methods has shown superior results over the other, so choose the one that suits you. Here are a few tips to help you get ready for the day you smoke your last butt:
- Toss out all cigarettes and ashtrays
- If you’re going to join a stop-smoking group, sign up now
- Stock up on oral substitutes, such as straws, toothpicks, hard candy, chewing gum, and carrot sticks
- Set up a support system, such as a family member or friend who has already quit
- Ask friends who smoke not to do it around you
Try using Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)
Many people go cold turkey without the help of NRT, medication or therapy. Unfortunately, this method has a meager rate of success. NRTs are designed to help you fight the withdrawal systems of quitting by gradually weaning your body off cigarettes and replacing them with small doses of nicotine without the other harmful chemicals found in tobacco.
The U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved five types of NRT:
- Skin patches
- Nicotine gum
- Nicotine lozenges
- Nasal spray ( by prescription only)
- Inhalers (by prescription only)
Talk to your doctor about the dosage of the NRT you choose before you stop smoking.
Consider some alternatives
There are two prescription drugs on the market – bupropion (Zyban) and varenicline (Chantix)—that contain no nicotine and have FDA approval. Keep in mind that most prescription drugs come with possible side effects, so discuss them with your doctor.
Aside from drugs, counseling and support services can also help you to get through the withdrawal period. And there are other alternatives – such as e-cigarettes, meditation, hypnosis, and acupuncture—that have not yet withstood the scrutiny of scientific research.
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