Smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke kill nearly half a million people every year in the United States, making tobacco use the nation’s leading cause of preventable death. Smoking is also the primary cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer.
Deciding to quit smoking is half the battle — and your first giant step toward a smoke-free life. As you undertake this major initiative toward better health, our seasoned team at Fivestar Pulmonary Associates in Allen and McKinney, Texas, can offer proven tools, tips, resources, and support to help you achieve lasting success.
Here, Dr. Anthony Nebor, Dr. Asif Najmuddin, and Dr. Deepthi Gandhiraj explore the various levels of help you can expect with our individually tailored smoking cessation program.
Choosing to quit smoking
No one takes their first puff of a cigarette with the intention of developing a powerful addiction to nicotine that’s difficult to break, but all too often, that’s exactly what happens. Most adults who smoke say they want to quit, and more than half of adult smokers have attempted to quit in the past year.
Even so, smoking cessation can be challenging — especially without support and a well-defined plan. This may help explain why fewer than 1 in 10 adult cigarette smokers succeeds in quitting each year.
But smoking cessation is also entirely doable, as evidenced by the fact that more than 3 in 5 adults who have ever smoked cigarettes have also successfully quit. That’s over 60% of adult smokers — or some 55 million men and women — who made the decision to quit and went on to achieve success.
Creating a smoking cessation plan
For many people who want to quit smoking, the biggest hurdle between setting the goal and achieving it is the messy unknown in between. That’s where we come in. Smoking cessation support can make a world of difference in helping you kick the habit for good.
Research has proven that people are most successful at quitting smoking when they have a concrete smoking cessation plan backed by medical treatment and behavioral counseling.
A smoking cessation plan gives you the tools you need to deal with nicotine cravings or smoking urges before they occur, so those cravings and urges don’t wear you down until you cave in. Tailored to your specific needs, your plan may include:
Defining your reasons for quitting — in detail and in writing — can be a great motivator when the urge to smoke starts to overwhelm you. Listen to what that urge says, then talk back at it by listing the reasons you’ve decided to quit smoking. Other motivational strategies include:
- Building your confidence through small successes
- Learning — and growing — from past attempts at quitting
- Remembering that it’s never too late to quit smoking
Reminding yourself that every smoker has the capacity to quit can also help. Everyone is unique, and every attempt is different, but there’s a right combination of tools, medication, and support for you. Above all: keep trying.
Daily behavioral actions
The behavioral actions of your smoking cessation plan start with choosing a quit date that you can put on the calendar and announce to your friends and loved ones. Quitting smoking is easier with support from those you’re closest to. Other helpful behavioral actions include:
- Getting rid of all cigarettes, ashtrays, and lighters
- Washing your clothes so they don’t smell like smoke
- Avoiding shopping in places that sell cigarettes
- Avoiding being exposed to secondhand smoke
- Identifying and avoiding your smoking triggers
- Keeping your mouth occupied with gum or mints
- Keeping your hands occupied with a stress ball
- Getting out of the house or staying physically active
- Having ways to distract yourself during a craving
- Having healthy ways to cope with stress and worry
- Setting up a reward system for quit milestones
Perhaps most importantly, have a support person, group, or even an online app you can turn to when all else fails. You don’t need to rely on willpower alone to be smoke-free. Sometimes, a good conversation with a supportive, positive person is the best way to get through a moment of weakness or temptation.
Prescription nicotine replacement therapy has helped countless smokers overcome nicotine cravings and quit smoking successfully. FDA-approved medications include nicotine patches, gum, lozenges, inhalers, and nasal spray, as well as varenicline and bupropion.
While these medications are safe and highly effective for nicotine withdrawal symptoms, urges, and cravings when used properly, they don’t help with the habit of smoking, or with managing stress or negative emotions. For this reason, medication should be viewed as a support tool for behavioral actions and motivational strategies.
Staying on track to long-term success
When you start a smoking cessation program at Fivestar Pulmonary Associates, we’re with you every step of the way. If some aspect of your quit plan isn’t working well for you, we’ll help you come up with a different, readjusted path forward.
Remember, smoking cessation is a journey, not a single event. Knowing what kind of bumps to expect along the way — and having tools to handle those bumps — is often all it takes to go from smoker to smoke-free.
If you have questions about smoking cessation, we can help. Schedule a visit today by calling our Fivestar Pulmonary Associates location most convenient to you or requesting an appointment online.
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