How to Quit Smoking: 5 Actions You Can Take Right Now to Quit Smoking
Cigarettes contain chemicals that can make this addiction particularly insidious.
Despite the uphill battle, the addiction can be overcome. Here are five things you can do to help yourself or a loved one quit smoking and enjoy a healthier life:
1. Focus on how to “stay stop”
The goal should not be to quit smoking; rather, it should be on the way to “stay quitting,” said Dr. Panagis Galiatsatos, director of the tobacco treatment clinic at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland.
He said he had had patients who said they had quit smoking several times, but couldn’t quit permanently.
He recommends that people break their larger goal to quit smoking into smaller goals.
For example, learn about your different triggers that might make you want to smoke. In this way, you can be attentive and find solutions for these actions.
2. Make every time you leave a learning experience
Most people who smoke quit eight to 12 times, due to cigarette addiction, before they are able to quit for good, said Jonathan Bricker, professor in the public health sciences division at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center at the University of Washington in Seattle.
Because relapses are so common, Bricker tells his patients to find a lesson they can learn from each experience.
“People will say things like, ‘I’ve learned how powerful these cravings are, or I’ve learned how much of a trigger seeing my friend smoke was for me, or I’ve learned that the stress in my life is. life was a big trigger, ”Bricker said.
Patients should approach smoking cessation from the perspective that the more they learn from their relapses, the more likely they are to quit permanently, he said.
3. Use phone lines and apps for support
Support groups for people who want to quit smoking are dwindling, which is why Bricker recommended calling a quit smoking helpline for outside help.
Callers are connected with coaches who help smokers create a quit plan and give them advice about quitting and cravings.
Currently, state helplines only reach about 1% of people who smoke, which the CDC attributes in large part to a lack of funding to promote the service.
The app focuses on Acceptance and Engagement Therapy, which encourages people to accept their emotions and thoughts instead of pushing them away. The tool also offers resources to stop and manage food cravings when they arise, Bricker said.
4. Talk to your doctor
People who want to quit smoking can talk to their health care provider to develop a treatment plan with multiple strategies, Galiatsatos said.
Doctors can prescribe drugs to reduce cravings and make them more manageable, he said. It’s a short-term fix to help train your brain not to crave cigarettes as much, Bricker added.
The medications doctors provide will depend on your specific situation, Bricker said. Prescriptions tend to be minimal at first and then escalate depending on the severity of the addiction.
5. Support people addicted to tobacco
Galiatsatos said he has never met a patient who does not already know that smoking is bad, so he recommends avoiding this argument when appealing to a loved one who smokes.
“If you really want to help your loved one quit smoking, you have to approach them as a pro-smoker and anti-tobacco,” he said.
When trying to help someone who smokes, make it clear that you are approaching the situation without stigma or judgment, Galiatsatos said.
Once confidence is established, he recommends that friends and family help smokers find resources on how to quit smoking.
Medical providers should also support their patients who smoke, Galiatsatos said.
If patients feel judged by their doctors for smoking, they might just be lying about it. And that doesn’t help anyone, he says.
Even when patients do not feel motivated to quit that day, it is important to describe the different treatment options so that they have the resources later.
Why is smoking so addicting anyway?
Cigarettes are filled with chemicals like nicotine, which are chemically enhanced to cause this addiction, Galiatsatos said.
Chemically enhanced nicotine closely resembles the common neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which helps control muscle movement and other brain functions.
“I always tell people that this is the most insidious addictive molecule known to man because it doesn’t just overdose you,” said Galiatsatos, who is also a volunteer medical spokesperson for the American Lung Association.
It rewires the smoker’s brain over the years and “the moment someone realizes it’s robbing them of their health, it’s incredibly hard to break that addiction.”
No matter how much effort it takes, never forget that it is possible to overcome this addiction and enjoy better health.