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!

 

Quitters’ Update Thursday: Week 5

Hi again everyone. Naomi back again. Did you miss us?! Well, we’ve decided that we’re going to take a little break from our Quitters’ Blog. We’ve asked a lot from our volunteers so far so we reckon they deserve some respite to enjoy life as non-smokers! We’re going to be back in a few weeks with some new faces we hope, as Lent sparks some new life into our efforts.
For me, I want to start concentrating on other ways to get healthy. While I’m of course delighted to be writing to you now as a non-smoker, I have put on a few pounds and the awful weather has made it unappealing to get outside and get fit. I can’t help but feel a little bit cheated, deflated and unmotivated when I think about having to work again at losing weight…

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However, having said that… this picture of me was taken exactly a year ago and it helps to look at it as I’m still over a stone lighter now than I was then.  So, I’m still so much better off than I was a year ago and I need to keep remembering this as I continue to strive to forget about cigarettes for good.

Keep focusing on the positives.  This is the time when complacency starts to creep in.  If you’ve been working on becoming a non-smoker, don’t give up now.  Think of how far you’ve come and how much better off you will be in so many ways a year from now.

For now, David and Lyndsey have been kind enough to give us their final updates.

 

David, Teacher, aged 33

Still Smoke-Free?  Yes!

dave‘Hi again everyone. So here I am at the end of the blog. Is it the end of my time off cigarettes? Now that people aren’t watching will it seem ok to revert back to smoking? No way! I am loving staying off cigarettes and all the benefits that have come with it.

For a start, whilst I didn’t count up exactly how much money I’ve saved, I’ve been able to put the odd tenner or twenty away. Rather than throwing away nine Euro every few two or three days I saved it in a box and am putting it towards a night or two away with my girlfriend. So there’s my financial reward immediately.

On the health side, I guess that it is more gradual. So far this winter I’ve not gotten any coughs, colds or sore-throats. Also I definitely notice how much easier it is to catch my breath when doing exercise.

The biggest test was always going to be during nights out and whilst I have folded once or twice during nights out I have also gotten through just as many without sparking up. This was always going to be a huge challenge and at least now I know I can do it. Also as I previously wrote, most of my social circle don’t smoke anymore so there are less bad influences out there.

Hopefully I’ll be able to keep it up. I’ve a feeling that I will this time.

Best of luck to all the other bloggers and readers, I hope they enjoy being a quitter as much as I do.

David.’

 

Lyndsey, Manager LloydsPharmacy Blanchardstown, Aged 27

Still Smoke-Free?  YES!!

lyn‘Hey everyone,

This is me with my kids, Ben and Zoey.

I don’t think I really ever thought of the impact of my kids seeing me smoking or known I smoked until we took this picture as Ben turned around and said “Mammy you really are Smoke Free now,  I’m very Proud of you”. It was a real ‘ahhh’ moment. (pure mammy’s boy haha!)

So I can’t believe I’m still off the smokes. This is officially the longest I’ve been off them by choice. (Whooo)  I’ve given them up before but was only during pregnancy.

I’m going to keep going strong with the patches and hopefully reduce the strength bit by bit.

Have to say I’ve really enjoyed the blog. Loved reading how everyone is getting on.

It’s mad to think the impact smokes had on our lives and what we’ve gone through to kick the habit.

It’s not been easy but I’m enjoying my Smoke-free life.

Talk to you all soon,

Lyndsey xxxx’

Thanks guys! We will check in with you in a few weeks to see how you’re getting on x

And thanks too to our other volunteers who were so kind to share their journeys with us.  We’ve been overwhelmed at the positive feedback we’ve been getting from our readers and all the support we’ve had from our colleagues.  It really has helped.    In fact I doubt very much I myself would have been this successful without this blog.  Having all eyes on me in the office every day meant I wouldn’t have gotten away with failing, even if I had wanted to!

So long for now.  We’ll be back soon with more stories and helpful advice (we hope!).  Remember that support is always available from your pharmacist.

Chat soon,

Naomi…

Quitters’ Update Thursday: Week 1

naoim Hi everyone.  Naomi here again, Health Strategy Manager at LloydsPharmacy, and I’m delighted to welcome you to our second Quitters’ Blog post.  We’ve had a great response so far, with lots of our readers finding it both refreshing and encouraging learning about real people’s experiences quitting smoking.  Thanks to everyone who gave us feedback so far – keep it coming!

So you might be wondering what I’m doing in this picture.  I don’t need much encouragement to pose for a picture at my desk!  Well, this is the Nicorette Inhaler and, honestly, I’m finding it to be so helpful this week.  A lot of my smoking was based around habit; in the morning with a cup of tea, after a tough meeting, before my annual review with my boss (what a week I chose to quit smoking!). These events would all have normally seen me reaching for a cigarette, almost automatically.  I’ve been reaching for my inhaler instead and it really is giving me relief.

sdWhat I’ve also been reaching for is our Smoking Control Customer Leaflet, particularly the section on Managing Withdrawal Symptoms. My fellow quitter housemate and I have been proper little hypochondriacs these past few days, checking every little symptom to see if it’s related to quitting!  Our leaflet gives a great summary of commonly experienced symptoms, explains why they’re occurring and some advice on relieving them.  Drinking lots of water has been especially helpful for me this week in relieving cravings for chocolate!  Pick up a leaflet in store or check out our website http://www.lloydspharmacy.ie/content/Smoking-Control/1453 for more information.

Anyway, it’s not officially my turn to update you so let me hand you over. You learned about all of our volunteers on Monday last. Today, we have Ciara and David telling you how they’ve been getting on this week:

 

Ciara, Sales Assistant LloydsPharmacy Raheny, Age 25

Still Smoke Free?  Yes!

ciara‘Hi everyone!

So I’ve been of the smokes since last Saturday evening and I haven’t had one since.  I’m delighted! I’m using the nicotine inhaler I’m finding it ok.

Since I gave up smoking, my body is beginning to really crave.  I have heard this is normal behaviour due to the lack of nicotine in my system so it’s actually a good sign.  I find that my love for chocolate and other sweet tastings things has increased a lot. To tackle that, I’m going out on walks in the evening to take my mind off wanting cigarettes.

My family and friends are delighted I have decided to quit.  My mam is of them two weeks as well so we are helping each other. This has definitely made things easier.

I haven’t been out with my friends on a girly night out since I gave up smoking  and I know when that time comes It will be very hard to say no if one is offered to me.  But I’m determined to keep up with my progress of giving them up.

So until next week, wish me luck!! :))’

Thanks again to one of our customers who is also sharing his journey with us. 

David, Teacher, Aged 33

Still Smoke Free?  Yes!

dave‘How long will this last?! This must be the 20th occasion that I have scrunched up that last pack of cigarettes, flung them in the trash and smugly patted myself on the back for kicking the habit. So I guess that I’m a great quitter. Only trouble is that I have a tendency to quit quitting. This time around though I’m feeling older and wiser and am in it for the long run.  At the age of 33 I’ve been smoking regularly for about 20 years. I had my first cigarette when I was 11. How I wish I’d never touched it.

So what were the positive actions that helped me to quit previously? I know for a fact that Nicorette patches work well for me. Some people find that they are rough on the skin but this doesn’t seem to affect me, so I have been back on them for the past two days. They are great for overcoming the grouchiness that comes with quitting.

Work helps me stay off the smokes too. My job as a teacher requires a great deal of patience; therefore it is crucial that I am not a raging and unreasonable monster to the kids… as well as my colleagues. As I have used Nicorette previously I know that they work and help me overcome the moodiness. Breaking the habit has been fine as I never smoke in work. None of my 30 colleagues smoke either, so there’s no one asking me to head out the back door for a quick one or being a bad influence.

Another key element to quitting has been having a definite goal and having a definite time frame. What has worked in the past for me has been signing up and training for sports events like a half-marathon or triathlon as these are things that make you breath hard. When I train the thoughts of having a cig fill me with disgust so I’ve been living in the gym for the past two nights and signed myself up for a charity Hell and Back run. This also helps counteract the inevitable appetite gain that goes hand in hand with quitting!

So two days in and I feel optimistic, am making the most of the positive actions that helped me in the past and am actually enjoying the experience of quitting. The weekend is going to be the real struggle; hopefully I’ll be this upbeat next week; wish me luck!’

Thanks Bloggers!

We really hope you find sharing in our experience helpful.  We’ll be back on Saturday with updates from more of our bloggers.  Feel free to give us any advice you have or share your stories!  Further advice and information is available by visiting http://www.lloydspharmacy.ie/content/Smoking-Control/1453 or www.quit.ie