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