Tobacco has many bad health effects, particularly for people with diabetes. No matter how long you've smoked, your health will improve after you quit.
Nicotine, the drug in tobacco, is one of the most addictive substances known. Besides the physical addiction, many smokers also become psychologically hooked on cigarettes. So kicking the habit is hard - but worth the work. There are many methods you can try to help you quit and stay away from smoking for good.
Smoking Hurts Your Health
Why Quitting Is So Hard
Second, many people become psychologically tied to smoking. It is part of their daily ritual. It helps them wake up in the morning, comforts them when they are upset, and rewards them for a job well done. Smoking also has pleasurable physical effects. It relaxes people and perks them up.
These factors make it easy to smoke and hard to quit. The pleasures of smoking start within seconds of lighting up; the bad effects can take years to make themselves known. On the other hand, when you try to quit, your first experience is the bad feeling of withdrawal. Only later do you begin to enjoy the benefits of quitting, such as having more energy.
Preparing to Quit
Once you have an idea of when and why you smoke, you can look for replacements for smoking. For example, smoking may relax you. If so, learn and practice another way to relax, such as deep breathing and relaxation exercises. If smoking gives you energy, try standing and stretching or taking a walk when you start to feel the urge to smoke. Exercise can make you more alert.
Perhaps you enjoy the feeling of holding the cigarette, lighting it, gesturing with it, and tapping off the ashes. To keep your hands busy without a cigarette, try a strand of beads, a polished stone, or a pen.
Before you quit, it's also a good idea to plan rewards for sticking to your goal. For example, you might go to a movie to reward yourself for each week you don't smoke. Or you might put your cigarette money into a jar and use it to buy books or CDs or clothes - or save it for a trip.
Also, set up a cheerleading squad - family or friends who will give you support. Former smokers understand what you're going through and may be especially supportive. The more people you tell you are quitting, the more your pride will help you resist lighting up.
Finally, set a date to quit. Choose a time when you expect your life to be fairly calm. That way, stress won't tempt you to smoke. And if you do have withdrawal symptoms, they won't interfere with your life as much.
Be a Quitter
If smoking is merely a habit for you, something that you can take or leave, cold turkey may work best for you. But if you are very dependent on cigarettes, gradually weaning yourself from cigarettes may work best.
One method that helps you quit gradually is nicotine replacement. When you wear a nicotine patch or chew nicotine gum, some of the nicotine enters your blood. The patch and gum let you taper off from the physical addiction slowly. They blunt your craving for cigarettes and reduce withdrawal symptoms.
You do not wear the patch forever. Instead, you use a series of patches with decreasing nicotine doses. After a few weeks, you've been weaned totally from nicotine.
Nicotine replacement is especially good for people who are physically addicted to nicotine. These are people who smoke more than 20 cigarettes a day, who have their first cigarette within 30 minutes of waking up, and who have had strong withdrawal symptoms when they tried to quit before. Research shows that a smoker who uses a patch is twice as likely to quit successfully as someone who doesn't use a patch.
Patches aren't perfect. They raise blood sugar levels in some people with diabetes. And you must not smoke while wearing the patch.
If you think you would find it easier to quit with a group of people, think about joining a class. Your company, health plan, or a local hospital may sponsor such courses. If not, organizations such as the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, the American Lung Association, and the American Cancer Society may run free or low-cost classes in your town. (The American Heart Association and the American Lung Association also have self-help materials.) Check your phone book for the number of the local affiliates in your area, and look in the Yellow Pages under Smokers Information & Treatment Centers. Ask what the focus of the class is. Some classes target getting you ready to quit, and others try to help you stay off cigarettes.
Hypnosis helps some people stop smoking. It is most useful for helping you avoid the things that trigger you to smoke. If you are interested in hypnosis, choose a hypnotist with a clinical degree (for example, a physician or psychologist).
Another method is acupuncture. In acupuncture, fine needles are placed in various parts of your body. For some people, acupuncture stops the craving to smoke. If it's going to work for you, it probably will do so in seven treatments or fewer.
However you decide to quit, there are several ways to help yourself keep at it. Throw away your cigarettes, lighters, and ashtrays at work and at home to make it hard to give into the urge to smoke. At first, avoid situations in which you enjoy smoking. Give yourself the rewards you planned. When you are tempted to smoke, make a list of reasons for not smoking. For example, your breath and hair smell fresher, you are saving lots of money, you are setting an example for loved ones, you aren't coughing like you used to, or food tastes better.
Once You've Quit
It often takes just one cigarette to put you back on the smoking treadmill. Have some ideas up your sleeve to fight temptation. For example, plan to take a bath, chew sugarless gum, sip some water, find something to do with your hands, or step outside for some fresh air when the urge to smoke hits you.
If you know you are going to be around smokers, be prepared. Practice an answer for when you're offered a cigarette. Seek out nonsmokers in the group. Don't apologize for not smoking.
If you do smoke a cigarette, then you need to renew your decision to quit. Focus on learning from your slip, not on berating yourself for it. Figure out why you slipped up and how you might avoid doing so again.
Once your body's metabolism returns to normal, you may put on a little weight. The average is about 7 pounds. If you are worried about gaining weight, talk to your dietitian about changing your meal and exercise plans.
You also need to stay in touch with your health care provider after you quit. Your diabetes control will probably improve. If so, your health care provider may want to change your insulin dose or diabetes pill schedule. Similarly, if you are being treated for high blood pressure or high cholesterol levels, your condition may improve so much that your health care provider may want to change your treatment.
Remember - quitting smoking is probably the most important thing you can do for your health and for those around you.
Top 10 Reasons to Quit Smoking
Develop a Plan of Action
Step 1: Get ready to quit
I've set a target date to quit. I picked next Saturday, because it's a less stressful day than during the week. I wrote down on a piece of paper "I will quit smoking next Saturday," and I asked my son to sign it with me. I know he'll support me. Finally, I've decided to reward myself with some new music or books for every week that I'm not smoking.
Step 2: Survive "Day One!"
I'm going to throw out all of my cigarettes, ashtrays, and matches. On the big day, next Saturday, I promised my son Glen that I would take him to a movie and then buy us both something at the mall.
Step 3: Figure out what makes me want to smoke
I know that I have to find out my smoking "triggers" — what makes me want to smoke. I think my worst times are while I'm on the phone or after dinner.
Step 4: Find new habits
I know that I tend to smoke when I get stressed, so I've decided to try some new deep breathing exercises instead.
Step 5: Keep busy
I've already started a new walking club at work, so I'm all set to not smoke on my lunch break. I can take a walk instead. I've also cut up some carrot sticks and bought a huge pack of gum to help keep my mouth distracted.
Step 6: Know what to expect
Unfortunately, I know that I might experience headaches, irritability, tiredness, constipation, or trouble concentrating. I know that this might be unpleasant, but I'll keep reminding myself that these are signs that my body is recovering from smoking. The good news is that most symptoms end within 4 weeks.
Step 7: Ask for help
I'll check with my doctor about nicotine gum or a nicotine patch. These might be options to help me.
|Last updated on 06/07/2008|