Want to finally quit smoking? Get some helpful tips from the experts…

Laura Dowling

Laura, Supervising Pharmacist Manager, Stillorgan

Deciding to quit smoking is the single best thing that you can do for your health. Congratulations! You are on the road to a healthier, happier you. Like any bad habit quitting smoking is not easy. Nicotine is a highly addictive drug and your brain and body crave it. You also associate smoking with daily rituals known as trigger factors, which is why it can be so hard to break the cycle of smoking. The good news is that there are many products, both over the counter (OTC) and on prescription available in your pharmacy that can help you on the road to a smoke free life. Your Pharmacist or Doctor can help to advise you on what products are best suited to you, depending on how you smoke and how many cigarettes that you smoke.  They can also provide you with general advice on how to keep that willpower going!

smoking 2

Deciding to quit is the first step below are a few helpful hints and tips on how to keep going:

  1. List your trigger factors and try to avoid or change those situations for at least the first month of quitting. This will increase your chances of success.

Common trigger factors would be:

  • First thing in the morning
  • With tea/coffee
  • In the car
  • Breaks at work
  • With a social drink
  • After a meal
  1. Be kind to yourself
  • Accept that it is extremely hard to quit and take each day at a time. I often tell my patients to not tell themselves that they will never smoke again but rather to tell themselves that they will not smoke today. This will help you not to panic at the thought of never having another cigarette. It is after all a habit that you enjoy, so the thought of never smoking again can be enough to make you fall off the wagon!
  • Reward yourself when you take a positive step forward, such as being cigarette free for a day, a week, two weeks. But do not punish yourself for slipping up. Just get back on the wagon.
  1. Declare your intentions to family and friends so that they can help to support you. Also clearing ashtrays from your home, washing clothes that smell of cigarettes and cleaning the car can help to remove reminders of smoking from your immediate environment.
  2. Prepare healthy snacks. Oranges are particularly good in this instance as peeling them keeps your hands busy and the strong flavour will help to distract from the cravings.
  3. Distract yourself when you are overcome with a craving by fully immersing yourself in an activity. Even brushing your teeth can be a distraction and leaves your mouth feeling fresh and not smoky!                        smoking 3It can also be helpful to remember that the health benefits to quitting smoking are immediate. They are a reminder to you about how far you have come.Health benefits timeline:

    After 20 mins: Your heart rate returns to normal.

    After 8 hours: Oxygen levels return to normal.

    After 48 hours: Your body is cleared of carbon monoxide. Lungs begin to rid themselves of mucus and other debris. Smell and taste improves.

    2-12 weeks: Circulation and breathing improves. Walking is easier and skin is more radiant.

    >12 weeks: Lung function increases by up to 10%. Coughs, wheezing and breathing problems reduce.

    After 1 year: Risk of heart disease is halved compared to someone who is still smoking.

    After 10 years: Your chance of getting lung cancer is half of that of a current smoker.

    After 15 years: Your risk of a heart attack or stroke is the same as that of someone who has never smoked.

     

    Good luck and remember that your Pharmacist is always here to help in any way that they can!

 

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Quitters’ Update 13th March 2014

namHi again everyone. Naomi, Health Strategy Manager here at LloydsPharmacy, back with you again for the second week of Lent. I’m finally starting to feel really, really healthy.  The recent sunshine has of course helped me with that but it’s also down to being able to catch a breath while exerting myself in any way whatsoever!

Here is me with a bike.  Yes, a bike.  And I realise I’m merely standing beside it in this picture but I promise you I also cycle it nowadays.  Last Sunday, my boyfriend and I cycled from Donnybrook to Sandycove and back.  He’s really, really fit so I was nervous I would be a panting, sweaty mess before I made it up the first hill but I wasn’t; I kept up with him.  What’s more, I actually enjoyed it! Anyone who knows me will tell you that me enjoying physical activity outdoors is quite the shocker.  It’s such a change for me to be feeling healthy and fit and I actually WANT to get out there and be active.  This would not have been how the smoker version of Naomi behaved, I assure you.

People have been constantly asking how I’m getting on throughout the course of this blog.  And I’ve been saying since the beginning how it gets easier every week.  And it truly does.  But I’ll be honest; it’s only these last two weeks that I’m genuinely certain this is it for me.  It was really hard not to revert to normal behaviour.  My skin went through a huge change, with acne and dryness, and I have put on a good bit of weight – I am ALWAYS hungry!  (I think that’s because I can finally taste properly though!)  It seemed at times to be so unfair that something so good for my health was making me feel and look so much worse.  But that just shows you what effect smoking has on your body.  The changes I’ve been going through have made me realise that I was harming myself in so many different ways.  Now, I’m more determined than ever to stay smoke-free and to get fit and healthy and to enjoy this coming summer.

It’s not going to be easy, be under no illusions.  And you’ll feel like it’s not worth the enormous effort.  But I promise you that coming out the other end IS worth it.  I have more energy than ever, I’m sleeping better, and I’m in a much better mood!  Don’t delay…

That’s enough from me.  Let’s check in with one of our past bloggers…

David, Teacher, Aged 33

Quit Date: 13th January

Still Smoke-Free: YES!

Last Despatch!

daveHello again folks,

January is long gone and most of those earnest New Year’s Resolutions are distant memories. The long weekend is on the way and for a lot of people – hopefully me included – a trip to the pub with friends and family is on the cards. Will I be with the crowds heading outside to smoke and chat?

No way! Not all resolutions have been kept, but getting off cigarettes is one that I’m delighted to have stuck with. My reasons for staying off them are still the same. It’s expensive, causes both short-term and long-term illnesses, affects fitness and has been a part of my life for too long. These are all reasons that continue to motivate me.

On top of this I am finding that smokers are rapidly gaining pariah status so it is the norm for people not to smoke. This means there’s less temptation. All of my friends and family have been totally supportive and have given loads of encouragement. This is a huge help and not one that I had considered when I decided to quit. My girlfriend has also quit (and done much better than I have!) and now is disgusted by the smell of them so would know if I had a sneaky smoke.

I haven’t had one since I slipped up in January and smoked a few cigarettes one night whilst having wine with friends. The Nicorette Inhaler is great when out in a pub as you’ve something to keep your hands busy. The taste is a little sour so it’s not something you want to be attacking all evening and pretty soon you forget about wanting a cigarette and stop fiddling with it. The patches are absolutely great for everyday situations.

Being open about it is a good idea as everyone knows that you’re supposed to be off them. They’ll be very quick to tell you off if you appear with a cigarette. I’m loving quitting smoking and can’t see myself ever taking up the habit again.

Thanks everyone!

David.’

Thanks David! Great to hear you’re still doing so well.  Congratulations 🙂

David referred to support in his update and that’s something that’s come up time and time again while we’ve been working on this blog.  Your friends and family HAVE to be behind you in your efforts to quit.  There’s no point codding yourself into thinking that living with a smoker will make this any easier, or keeping ashtrays around or going out with a gang of smoker friends.  You can’t do this on your own.  And remember, you are 4 times more likely to be successful with 1-2-1 coaching and support. Visit http://www.lloydspharmacy.ie/content/Smoking-Control/1453 or www.quit.ie for more information and advice.

We’ll be back next week with hopefully more good news about how amazing it is to be a non-smoker!

Chat soon,

Naomi…