Stop Smoking

 

Quitting smoking is one of the hardest things you can do, but the benefits are so great that it is well worth it. Practically everyone knows that smoking increases your chances of developing lung cancer, but it can also lead to cancer of the mouth, throat, bladder, stomach, cervix, kidney and pancreas, as well as leukaemia. Not only that, but smoking will more than double your risk of developing coronary heart disease, double your risk of a stroke and increase your risk of dying from a heart attack by 70%. It can also cause chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (lung diseases such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis).

 

No matter how young or old you are, or how long you’ve been smoking, it is never too late to quit smoking and never too late to benefit from quitting cigarettes. Not only will you reduce your risk of serious disease but your skin will look better, your clothes will smell better and you’ll have more money in your pocket. After quitting smoking, your body begins to repair itself almost immediately and your risk of illness begins to fall.

 

Nicotine, which is found in cigarettes, is a drug which is physically and psychologically addictive. This explains why people find it so difficult to give up smoking. However, it is not the nicotine that causes the smoking related diseases mentioned above, but rather the 4000 other chemicals found in cigarettes which are the real danger.

 

So what is the best way to quit smoking? There is always the option of going “cold-turkey” which has the advantage that it is free and immediately removes the addictive nicotine from your body. However 60 to 90% of people who quit in this manner will resume smoking within a year. Abrupt quitting also causes withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, nervousness, headache and severe craving for cigarettes.

 

Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), such as Nicorette, delivers nicotine to the body in a controlled manner, which helps to prevent the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, allowing you to concentrate on important things like work, friends and family without getting distracted by ever-present cravings for cigarettes. It won’t eliminate cravings altogether and willpower is still required, but NRT can double your chances of quitting smoking successfully.

 

NRT comes in a number of forms including patches, chewing gum, inhalers and lozenges. Which form you use depends largely on your own preference? Speak to your Burkes pharmacist for more advice about which product is best for you. A range of strengths are also available depending on how many cigarettes you smoke a day.

 

There are also a number of prescription medications which can increase your changes of smoking. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information on these.

 

When you have made the decision to quit, no matter what method you use, it is important to think positively about your decision.

 

  • Think of yourself as a non-smoker, and not a deprived ex-smoker
  • Make a list of the reasons why you want to quit smoking and leave it somewhere you can see it
  • If you are struggling, speak to your pharmacist. Not only will they be able to offer you advice, but talking about your decision to quit can help to strengthen your resolve
  • Remove any sources of temptation. This includes ashtrays, lighters and anything else that will remind you of your time as a smoker
  • Find new ways to relax and deal with stress. This can include deep breathing or light exercise. A few drops of lavender or chamomile in an oil burner can help to calm the mind
  • Reward yourself. Remind yourself of the money you are saving and use it to buy yourself a treat
  • Don’t fall for the temptation of having “just this one”. Even a single cigarette will reignite your cravings for more
  • If you relapse and begin smoking again, think of it as a setback and not a failure. Setbacks can happen and it’s best to think about it as a learning experience so that next time you won’t be tempted again.