More than 44 million people in the U.S. smoke cigarettes every day. If you’re one of them, and you’ve already tried to quit at least once, then you know what a bear breaking a nicotine addiction is. But you also know how important it is for your health.
I’m sure you’ve read and heard every bad thing about what smoking does to your health…but as a doctor I wouldn’t feel helpful if I didn’t remind you again. As doctors, all we can hope for is that somewhere along the line…something clicks.
Most of my patients think that smoking is only related to lung disease. But that’s just the “tip of the iceberg”. Cigarette and cigar smoking can also damage your arteries, dramatically increasing your risk of heart disease.
Chemicals in cigarettes can cause inflammatory responses all over your body. Inflammation can then trigger a reaction in the artery walls that eventually leads to a harder, less flexible wall and plaque build-ups.
To make matters worse, cigarettes also increase your levels of fibrinogen, a clotting agent that increases your heart attack risk.
These same factors that put you at risk for heart disease and heart attack also increase your risk of a stroke. The arteries that carry blood to your brain can become hardened. If a clot forms in one of these arteries, it can block off blood to your brain, causing damage, paralysis, or even death.
Now here’s something else you probably never considered. Smoking also affects other cancers like bladder cancer and colon cancer. And it can also make it harder for you to overcome cancer. For example, men who smoke don’t respond as well to prostate cancer treatments.
And then there are the affects that smoking has on your physical appearance. Your teeth turn yellow, your breath is bad, and your skin becomes leathery and rough.
There’s no doubt that the reasons to quit smoking are nearly endless. If only it were that easy…
When it Comes to Quitting Keep Trying Until You Get it Right!
I once heard a patient who had successfully quit smoking say it only took 90 seconds. I was puzzled. She told me she’d tried to quit several times, but every time she found herself smoking again.
One day, when she wanted a cigarette, she realized she was out and had forgotten to buy her next pack. On her way to the store, she noticed the craving had passed. When the next craving struck, she timed it. It lasted 90 seconds.
From there, she realized if she could resist every intense craving for just 90 seconds she’d be all right. This change in thinking worked for her, but it took her several tries to come up with the right way for her to quit smoking.
It’s up to you to keep trying new methods until you find the right way for you to quit smoking. Here are some suggestions:
Find Support: For some people, a support group is key. It helps to be around people who are in the same place as you, trying hard to quit. And it helps to be around people who have successfully quit. Support does make a difference. According to the Mayo Clinic, people who seek support when they quit are more likely to remain cigarette-free.
Hypnotherapy: If you’re ready to quit smoking and committed to following through, then hypnotherapy might prove helpful. It doesn’t work for everyone, but for some people it makes the difference. Remember, this is about trying different strategies until you find the one that helps you quit successfully.
Nicotine replacement: Both nicotine gum and the nicotine patch can help you satisfy your nicotine cravings without lighting up. You can use them to slowly wean yourself of the addiction rather than quitting cold turkey, which can be exceptionally difficult.
Herbal assistance: There are many herbal smoking cessation programs available online or through your local health food store. For some people, these herbal remedies really work. You won’t know unless you try. I recommend that you choose one that is guaranteed or you get your money back. That way you know the company stands behind its product, and you won’t be out a bunch of cash if you still wake up with unbeatable cigarette cravings each morning.
Prescriptions: While prescriptions always carry the risk of side effects, if no other method of quitting is working for you, then a prescription for Zyban might be worth considering. Zyban works to balance the chemicals in your brain thought to be responsible for smoking cravings. It’s not the first option I recommend, but when you’ve tried several things with no luck, it might be time for a medical solution.
The key to success when it comes to quitting is to not give up until you find a strategy that works for you. There’s no easy way out when it comes to smoking, but you do have options and success is possible… you just have to keep at it.
Mark Rosenberg, M.D.
Photo Credit: thenyfrenchhypnosiscenter.com/