Smoking: No More Butts about It – It is Time to Quit!

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If you don’t smoke or use tobacco you are excused from this post and I will see you next week. Now, those of you who do smoke or use tobbacco – listen up. I know how hard it is to quit. I was a smoker myself – and not some wussy, Pollyanna type smoker – I was a hard core, two pack a day smoker. From the time my best friend Connie and I got caught smoking in the third grade until I quit at age 23 I was HOOKED! If you smoke, I know you would like to quit. And you can. I want to help, so please read on.

Tobacco is Deadly

Tobacco – in any form – is a poison delivery system. Let me repeat that, a poison delivery system. Forty-eight million American adults are still smoking and one third of them will die prematurely as a result of tobacco abuse.

Aside from the well known danger of lung cancer (which the tobacco industry covered up and lied about for decades – and we believed them), smoking is equally deadly to the blood vessels and contributes significantly to disability and death caused from heart attacks, strokes, and vascular diseases.

Scientists have isolated 4,800 different chemicals in tobacco smoke and, the last time I checked, 69 so far have been proven to cause cancer.

Tobacco is Highly Addictive

It is harder to give up tobacco than it is to get off heroine – it is that addictive. There is medication now available which we have been using in my practice for over two years. I offer it to all my smoking patients and will happily write a prescription for it for those who want it to help them quit smoking.

Patients tell me this medication removes all their cravings and desire for cigarettes. Here’s a link to more information about this medication.

So, if this medication works so great, why don’t 100% of people quit when they take it? Because there is no pill, powder or potion that can break a habit, you have to do that yourself.

Tobacco Use is a Habit

Smokers love their cigarettes. Cigarettes define smokers’ lives in every way. Cigarettes determine how smokers spend their time, who they spend their time with, and what they eat and drink. Smoking becomes a way to manage stress and a way to handle anger and rejection. So when you take that companion away – there’s a lot of discomfort, even if you’ve got the physical addiction to nicotine handled with medication. In spite of that, millions of people quit successfully every year.

When I am counseling patients about how to quit, I always talk about how to deal with the habit. I recommend that smokers start messing with themselves long before their Quit Date. I encourage them to identify their triggers – those times when they light up without thinking. I suggest trying to break up those patterns by postponing the smoke until later. For example:

  • If you always smoke with a cup of coffee, switch to tea instead.
  • If you always light up when you get in the car, take it to the car wash and make smoking in the car off-limits.
  • Avoid places where smokers congregate – like bars.
  • Look at your own routines at home and try to change some of your other habitual behaviors that are tied to smoking.

There’s no getting around the fact that breaking a habit – any habit – is hard. But there is a huge payoff in being successful. Not only will you be rid of a deadly habit, but you will unleash your own personal power and many other possibilities will open up for you.

Quitting Tobacco is a Decision

In my experience working with smokers, understnading that smoking is deadly, handling their addiction (with or without medication) and being willing to wrestle with their own habits is not enough to make most of them successful. The most successful quitters, and I include myself in this group, are successful because they make a decision.

I am talking about a deep down decision – a decision that changes the course of your life. When I decided to quit (over 25 years ago), I knew that I could no longer continue to live as a smoker. There were no medications or nicotine replacement back then. I had only my own desire and a couple of self-help books. And, like most quitters, I failed two or three times before I successfully kicked the habit for good. But even when I failed, I knew I was not going to live my life as a smoker – so my ultimate success was inevitable. As yours will be, too, once you have really, really made up your mind.

The people I have seen who have had the easiest time quitting (and that was not me – I struggled), have been elder smokers. These were people who had smoked for 50 to 60 years and woke up one day and were over it – they made a decision. No medications, no withdrawal, no drama. I’ve talked to scores of people like this over the years. They swear when they finally made up their mind, quitting was a non-event. One day they smoked and the next day they didn’t. That was it. Amazing.

Here are some links:

If you are a smoker you are at risk. I wrote my book specifically for you – so it’s is the first resource I recommend.

I linked you to a medication above about which the FDA has issued this health advisory. Smoking is a deadly behavioral habit, and as long as you know what look for and report to your health provider, I would not be averse to trying it. We have been using this drug in my practice with pretty good success for over two years and have not seen the adverse events the FDA is reporting. I continue to prescribe it for those who want it to help them stop smoking. But I do alert them about this advisory and tell them to call me if they have any of these symptoms.

American Cancer Society

Help-Guide

Surgeon General

CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

I know there are successful quitters out there with tips and stories to tell. And those of you who are struggling, what do you think would help you quit?

This information is offered for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, prescribe or treat. For that please seek direct care from a health professional.

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