Quitting smoking is one of the most important things you will ever do. Here’s why:
– You will live longer and live better.
– Quitting will lower your chances of having a heart attack, stroke, or cancer.
– If you are pregnant, quitting smoking will improve your chances of having a healthy baby.
– The people you live with, especially your children, will be healthier.
– You will have extra money to spend on things other than cigarettes.
A QUICK QUITTING PROGRAM
Studies have shown that these five steps will help you quit, and quit for good, and you have the best chances if you use them together:
1. Get Ready
– Set a quit date.
– Change your environment.
– Get rid of ALL cigarettes and ashtrays in your home, car, and place of work.
– Don’t let people smoke in your home.
– Review your past attempts to quit. Think about what worked and what did not.
– Once you quit, don’t smoke—NOT EVEN A PUFF!
2. Get Support and Encouragement – Studies have shown that you have a better chance of being successful if you have help. You can get support in many ways:
– Tell your family, friends, and coworkers that you are going to quit and want their support. Ask them not to smoke around you or leave cigarettes out.
– Talk to your health care provider (for example, doctor, dentist, nurse, pharmacist, psychologist, or smoking counselor).
– Get individual, group, or telephone counseling. The more counseling you have, the better your chances are of quitting. Programs are given at local hospitals and health centers. Call your local health department for information about programs in your area.
3. Learn New Skills and Behaviors
– Try to distract yourself from urges to smoke. Talk to someone, go for a walk, or get busy with a task.
– When you first try to quit, change your routine. Use a different route to work. Drink tea instead of coffee. Eat breakfast in a different place.
– Do something to reduce your stress. Take a hot bath, exercise, or read a book.
– Plan something enjoyable to do every day.
– Drink a lot of water and other fluids.
4. Get Medication and Use It Correctly – Medication can help you stop smoking and lessen the urge to smoke.
– The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved five medications to help you quit smoking:
1. Bupropion SR—Available by prescription.
2. Nicotine gum—Available over-the-counter.
3. Nicotine inhaler—Available by prescription.
4. Nicotine nasal spray—Available by prescription.
5. Nicotine patch—Available by prescription and over-the-counter.
– Ask your health care provider for advice and carefully read the information on the package.
– All of these medications will more or less double your chances of quitting, and quitting for good.
– Everyone who is trying to quit may benefit from using medication. If you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, nursing, under age 18, smoking fewer than 10 cigarettes per day, or have a medical condition, talk to your doctor or other health care provider before taking medications.
5. Be Prepared for Relapse or Difficult Situations – Most relapses occur within the first three months after quitting. Don’t be discouraged if you start smoking again. Remember, most people try several times before they finally quit. Here are some difficult situations to watch for:
– Alcohol. Avoid drinking alcohol. Drinking lowers your chances of success.
– Other smokers. Being around smoking can make you want to smoke.
– Weight gain. Many smokers will gain weight when they quit, usually less than 10 pounds. Eat a healthy diet and stay active. Don’t let weight gain distract you from your main goal—quitting smoking. Some quit-smoking medications may help delay weight gain.
– Bad mood or depression. There are a lot of ways to improve your mood other than smoking.
If you are having problems with any of these situations, talk to your doctor or other health care provider.
More Information on Nicotine Replacement Therapy’s
Before discussing this possibility is it important to remember: YOU MUST QUIT SMOKING ENTIRELY BEFORE STARTING TO USE ANY NICOTINE REPLACEMENT PRODUCT.
If you feel that you are severely addicted to cigarettes, you may wish to consider using a nicotine substitute product:
– Nicotine gum
– Nicotine patch
– Nicotine nasal spray
– Nicotine inhaler
People usually develop cravings for things that develop immediate satisfaction, such as chocolate or cigarettes. Since nicotine replacement provides nicotine, but not the quick nicotine uptake of cigarettes, it’s easier to give up nicotine replacement than it is to give up cigarettes.
With the patch, the nicotine level in your body stays relatively constant day after day. There is no immediate satisfaction, so there is less craving for a patch. As a result, “quitting” nicotine replacement after you’re securely off cigarettes is generally pretty easy.
Nicotine patches, gums, inhalers, and nasal sprays are expensive. But during the first year alone, a pack-a-day smoker who successfully quits smoking will more than pay for the medication with the money saved from not buying cigarettes.
Here are some important things that you should know about nicotine replacement products:
– Nicotine patches and nicotine gum are available over-the-counter. The nicotine nasal spray and nicotine inhaler are currently available only by prescription from a doctor.
– These products provide a small amount of nicotine that will help relieve many of the withdrawal symptoms that a smoker may feel when quitting.
– The goal is to be free of both cigarettes and the nicotine substitute within three to six months.As mentioned in the beginning of this section, you must quit smoking completely before you use any nicotine replacement.
– This means that you must not smoke while using these products. If you do, you may develop serious side effects caused by an overdose of nicotine.
– Nicotine replacement must not be used by pregnant or nursing women. With any nicotine substitute, it’s always wise to check with your doctor to see if there are medical reasons you should not use these products.
This is a drug in gum form, with enough nicotine to reduce your urge to smoke. The gum releases small amounts of nicotine, which is absorbed into the body through the mucous membranes of the mouth. This cuts down on withdrawal symptoms and makes it easier to break the smoking addiction. It tastes very different from regular gum, because it is a medicine.
You can buy nicotine gum from drug stores, mass merchandisers, and supermarkets. Package instructions explain how the gum is used. Most smokers chew 10 to 15 pieces of gum a day. However, you can have up to 30 pieces. It’s important to use as many you need to feel comfortable without cigarettes.
Use only one piece of gum at a time. Chew it slowly very slowly until you feel a tingle in your mouth. When the peppery taste is present, shift the gum between your cheek and gum. When the tingle is gone, chew a few more times to get it back. Then shift the gum to different parts of your mouth. Repeat this procedure for about 30 minutes to release most of the nicotine. The majority of the time, the gum should be just sitting in your mouth. Do not chew continuously and swallow the saliva as you would with regular gum. The nicotine from the gum must be absorbed through the mouth – it is ineffective if swallowed. The nicotine does not reach the bloodstream if it goes to the stomach, and it can cause heartburn or hiccups.
Another important point is: Do not use nicotine gum while you are drinking. This will wash the nicotine down to the stomach. Wait several minutes after drinking liquid before chewing the gum. This is particularly important if you have been, or will be, drinking acidic beverages such as orange or grapefruit juice, since the acidic quality of these drinks changes the “environment” of the mouth and interferes with the amount of nicotine that’s absorbed.
Begin using the gum after you quit smoking, and use it every day for at least two or three months after quitting. The first three months are when relapse is most likely to happen. Remember that you must not chew the gum and smoke cigarettes.
As your urges to smoke decrease, you will gradually reduce your use of the gum. However, there are two cautions:
1) It’s better to use the gum a little longer than to risk a relapse by tapering off the gum too early and too quickly.
2) Even after you stop using the gum, continue to carry some with you just in case. Better to relapse to the gum than to cigarettes.
The nicotine patch is applied to your skin. Over a prolonged period of time, the nicotine dissolves right through the skin and enters the body. Nicotine from the patch replaces some of the nicotine you were getting from cigarettes. This can relieve some of the physical symptoms associated with quitting smoking, so you can concentrate on your behavioral and psychological addiction to cigarettes.
You can buy the patch without a prescription – but as always, it’s best to check with your doctor to see if the patch is right for you. You may not be able to use the patch if:
– You are taking certain prescription medicines, or
– You have cardiovascular disease or certain other health conditions.
Even if you have been told not to sue the patch because of a medical condition, you may want to check back with your doctor from time to time, to see if your condition, or the medical advisories have changed. For example, physicians were initially concerned that nicotine patch use might be dangerous for cigarette smokers who have coronary artery disease. However, a recent study found that the patch is a safe way for such people to quit smoking, and may improve blood and oxygen flow to the heart. Some research has suggested that the patch is safe and effective for teenage smokers, but patch use is currently not advised for people under 18 years of age.
The nicotine patch is safe but (as with any medication) it must be used with caution. Most important, you should never smoke while using the patch.
Some side effects from normal use of the patch can include headaches, dizziness, upset stomach, diarrhea, weakness, or blurred vision. Vivid dreams also may result from an interrupted sleep pattern when you quit smoking.
Some people report a mild itching or burning on the skin where the patch is applied, which usually goes away in about an hour. If the irritation continues you can try moving the patch to a different spot. If it persists, remove the patch and contact your doctor.
Some patches contain more nicotine than others. Some smokers start with the strongest patch. Then after several weeks, you can switch to a medium-strength patch for a few weeks, and possibly a lower-strength patch for the last few weeks. On the other hand, some people prefer the simplicity of a single-strength patch.
If you do use the nicotine patch, each morning you will apply a new nicotine patch to a clean, dry, nonhairy part of your upper body or arm. Don’t apply creams on the skin where you will put the patch. Press the patch firmly on your skin. It should stick to the skin well, allowing you to do all of your usual activities, including bathing.
One brand of the nicotine patch is removed at night, lowering the level of nicotine in the bloodstream, to give the body a rest. Other brands are worn at night as well as during the daytime, and are changed once every 24 hours. When you remove the patch, put a fresh patch on a new area of your upper body. Do not reuse a skin area for at least one week.
The nicotine patch isn’t magic. It can’t automatically wipe out all your cravings for nicotine. Cravings are diminished and may not last with the patch, but don’t expect them to disappear immediately. Even if you still crave cigarettes sometimes while wearing the patch, you are less likely to suffer from several of the major smoking withdrawal symptoms, such as tension, irritability, feeling sleepy, and having a hard time concentrating.
Nicotine replacement therapy can also be administered via a nasal spray, or by the newest method, an oral inhaler, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1997.
These products are available only by prescription. Contact your doctor to see if the nicotine spray or inhaler is right for you.
As with all nicotine replacement products, you cannot start using the nasal spray and the inhaler until you have completely stopped smoking. If you do use nicotine spray or a nicotine inhaler, you must not smoke any cigarettes, or use any other form of tobacco, such as cigars, pipes, or chewing tobacco.
The spray delivers nicotine through the nose. The inhaler delivers nicotine into the mouth, which produces a sensation in the back of the throat similar to that produced by tobacco smoke. However, both devices provide nicotine at a lower level than cigarettes, and they do not contain any of the cancer-causing tars and toxins found in tobacco products. For example, ten puffs on the inhaler provides about the same amount of nicotine as one puff on an average cigarette.
With the nicotine spray and inhaler, dosage is flexible and can be individualized according to your personal withdrawal symptoms. Both devices deliver nicotine to the blood-stream in a matter of minutes. This fast onset of action reduces nicotine cravings quickly.
Unlike the nicotine patch, gum, and nasal spray, the nicotine inhaler has the advantage of satisfying the “hand-to-mouth” ritual smokers miss when they quit. The inhaler consists of a mouthpiece connected to a cartridge containing nicotine. When a smoker puffs on the mouthpiece, the inhaled air becomes saturated with nicotine, which is absorbed through the mucous membranes of the mouth and throat, as happens with nicotine gum.
This route of absorption isn’t the same as that of cigarettes. A majority of the nicotine from a cigarette is absorbed directly into the lungs, which causes a “nicotine spike” that smokers feel almost instantly. It’s this spike a smoke gets when taking a puff or a drag that contributes to the high addictive properties of tobacco