Many ex-smokers say quitting was the hardest thing they ever did. Do you feel hooked? You’re probably addicted to nicotine. Nicotine is in all tobacco products. It makes you feel calm and satisfied. At the same time, you feel more alert and focused. The more you smoke the more nicotine you need to feel good. Soon, you don’t feel “normal” without nicotine.
It may take more than one try to quit for good. So don’t give up too soon. You will feel good again. Quitting is also hard because smoking is a big part of your life. You enjoy holding cigarettes and puffing on them. You may smoke when you are stressed, bored, or angry. After months and years of lighting up, smoking becomes part of your daily routine. You may light up without even thinking about it.
Smoking goes with other things, too. You may light up when you feel a certain way or do certain things. For example:
You may even feel uncomfortable not smoking at times or in places where you usually have a cigarette. These times and places are called “triggers.” That’s because they trigger, or turn on, cigarette cravings. Breaking these habits is the hardest part of quitting for some smokers. Quitting isn’t easy. Just reading this booklet won’t do it. It may take several tries. But you learn something each time you try. It takes will power and strength to beat your addiction to nicotine. Remember that millions of people have quit smoking for good. You can be one of them!
Even a little second-hand smoke is dangerous. Second-hand smoke can cause cancer in nonsmokers. It can also cause breathing problems and heart disease. People who breathe second-hand smoke get colds and flu more easily. And they often die younger than those who don’t breathe it. Pregnant women who breathe second-hand smoke have many risks:
Children who breathe second-hand smoke have troubles too. They are much more likely to have breathing problems such as asthma. They also get more ear and lung infections.
The journey to becoming tobacco free begins with the first step. Perhaps, the most im-portant thing that you can do at this point is to assess just how much you depend on nicotine and better understanding the things that trigger tobacco use in your life. We’ll examine each of them in the next section.
Knowing how addicted you are to nicotine can help you quit. It can help you decide if you need extra help, such as medicine or support from a program. Take this test to find out how hooked you are. Check the box for every “yes” answer:
How many boxes did you check? ____
The more boxes you checked, the more addicted you are. You’ll have to work hard to quit, even if you checked only one box or no boxes at all. You may be very addicted to nicotine if you checked more than three boxes. Medicine can help you quit. Remember, no matter how hooked you are, you can stop smoking! The key is staying strong and sticking with it.
Modified from Fagerstrom KO, Schneider NG. Measuring nicotine dependence: A review of the Fagerstrom Tolerance Questionnaire. Journal of Behavioral Medicine 1989; 12 (2): 159-182.
Think about when you smoke and why you smoke. Do this for the next few weeks. Keep a record of every cigarette you smoke. Copy the Craving Journal on page 15. You will probably need one copy for every day.
You will find that you light up a lot without thinking about it. And you may be tempted to skip writing down some of the cigarettes you smoke. But keeping this journal is very helpful if you do it right.
You’ll learn about your smoking triggers. And you’ll learn which cigarettes are your favorites. These facts will help you prepare to fight your urge to smoke.
Certain things trigger, or turn on, your need for a cigarette. They can be moods, feelings, places, or things you do. Think about what might tempt you to smoke. Put a check next to things that tempt you to smoke:
Just thinking about quitting may make you anxious. But your chances will be better if you get ready first. Quitting works best when you’re prepared. Before you quit, START by taking these five important steps:
Set a quit date.Tell family, friends, and co-workersAnticipate and plan for the challenges you’ll face while quitting.Remove cigarettes and other tobacco products from your home, car, and work.Talk to your doctor about getting help to quit.
Quitting smoking is easier with the support of others. Tell your family, friends, and co-workers that you plan to quit. Tell them how they can help you.
Some people like to have friends ask how things are going. Others find it nosy. Tell the people you care about exactly how they can help. Here are some ideas:
Expecting challenges is an important part of getting ready to quit. Most people who go back to smoking do it within three months. Your first three months may be hard. You may be more tempted when you are stressed or feeling down. It’s hard to be ready for these times before they happen. But it helps to know when you need a cigarette most.
Common feelings of smoking withdrawal include:
Not everyone has feelings of withdrawal. You may have one or many of these problems. And they may last different amounts of time.
Getting rid of things that remind you of smoking will also help you get ready to quit. Try these ideas:
Quitting “cold turkey” isn’t your only choice. Talk to your doctor about other ways to quit. Most doctors can answer your questions and give advice. They can suggest medicine to help with withdrawal. You can buy some of these medicines on your own. For others, you need a prescription. Your doctor, dentist, or pharmacist can also point you to places to find support or toll-free quit lines. If you cannot see your doctor, you can get some medicines without a prescription that can help you quit smoking. Go to your local pharmacy or grocery store for over the counter medicines like the nicotine patch, nicotine gum, or nicotine lozenge. Read the instructions to see if the medicine is right for you. If you’re not sure, ask a pharmacist.
There are medicines that can help with feelings of withdrawal:
Using these medicines can double your chances of quitting for good. Ask your doctor for advice. But remember: Medicine alone can’t do all the work. It can help with cravings and withdrawal, but quitting will still be hard at times.
When it comes to medication, be sure to check with your healthcare provider before taking it. In addition, if you are an individual with special health concerns and/or you are on other medications, it is even more important to work closely with your healthcare team.
If you are pregnant, nursing, or considering pregnancy, be sure to check with your healthcare provider before beginning any type of treatment.
Finally, it is important to understand that medications change rapidly. The names of medicines in this publication may change without notice. If you have questions be sure to talk with your healthcare provider or visit www.nci.nih.gov.
Nicotine gum, patches, inhalers, sprays, and lozenges are called nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). That’s because they take the place of nicotine from cigarettes. NRT can help with withdrawal and lessen your urge to smoke. You need a prescription to buy the inhaler and nasal spray. But you can buy nicotine gum, nicotine patches, and nicotine lozenges on your own.
Bupropion SR is a medicine that has no nicotine. You need a prescription to get these pills. They seem to help with withdrawal and lessen the urge to smoke. Some people have side effects when using Bupropion SR pills. The side effects include dry mouth and not being able to sleep.
Bottom line: Read the instructions that come with the medicine. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions.
Source: NRT Product User's Guides. GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare, Pittsburgh, PA, 2002.
Remind your family and friends that today is your quit date. Ask them to support you during the first few days and weeks. They can help you through the rough spots. Here are several tips to help you get through this very important day.
When You Really Crave A Cigarette...Remember This—The urge to smoke usually lasts only three to five minutes. Try to wait it out. You can also try these tips:
Remember: Trying something to beat the urge is always better than trying nothing.
Beating an addiction to nicotine takes a lot of will power and determination. You should feel great about yourself for making it so far. Now’s the time to focus on sticking with it.
Your body has changed since you began to smoke. Your brain has learned to crave nicotine. So certain places, people, or events can trigger a strong urge to smoke, even years after quitting. That’s why you should never take a puff again, no matter how long it has been since you quit. At first, you may not be able to do things as well as when you were smoking. Don’t worry. This won’t last long. Your mind and body just need to get used to being without nicotine.
After you’ve quit, the urge to smoke often hits at the same times. For many people, the hardest place to resist the urge is at home. And many urges hit when someone else is smoking nearby. Look at your Craving Journal to see when you might be tempted.
Then use the skills you’ve learned to get through your urges without smoking.
Review the tips in this booklet to help you fight the urge to smoke. These tips are meant to help you stay a non-smoker.
As you go through the first days and weeks without smoking, keep a positive outlook. Don’t blame or punish yourself if you do have a cigarette. Don’t think of smoking as “all or none.” Instead, take it one day at a time. Remember that quitting is a learning process.
Now that you aren’t buying cigarettes, you probably have more spending money. For example, if you used to smoke one pack per day: Think about starting a “money jar” if you haven’t already. Put your cigarette money aside for each day you don’t smoke. Soon you’ll have enough money to buy a reward for yourself.
Don’t be discouraged if you slip up and smoke one or two cigarettes. It’s not a lost cause. One cigarette is better than an entire pack. But that doesn’t mean you can safely smoke every now and then… no matter how long ago you quit. One cigarette may seem harmless, but it can quickly lead back to one or two packs a day.
Many ex-smokers had to try stopping many times before they finally succeeded. When people slip up, it’s usually within the first three months after quitting.
Here’s what you can do if this happens:
“After you quit, the urge to smoke often hits at the same times.”
Your body begins to heal within 20 minutes after your last cigarette. The poison gas and nicotine start to leave your body. Your pulse rate goes back to normal. The oxygen in your blood rises to a normal level.
Within a few days you may notice other things:
The nicotine leaves your body within three days. Your body starts to repair itself. At first, you may feel worse instead of better. Withdrawal feelings can be hard. But they are a sign that your body is healing.
Starting today you may want to create some new habits. Here are some things you might try:
Keep track of each cigarette you smoke and how much you wanted it. Every time you light up, write down:
Rate how strongly you wanted to smoke:
Adapted from One Step At A Time Program — Book 3. Canadian Cancer Society. 1998.
The information in this brochure was drawn from the National Cancer Institute. The in-formation is in the public domain and may be used and reprinted without permission.
For more information please refer to http://www.nci.nih.gov. In addition, information was drawn from Clearing The Air, a publication of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Institutes of Health and National Cancer Institute. Please visit http://smokefree.gov/pubs/clearing_the_air.pdf. The information was accessed in January 2005. This information is not intended to replace the advice of your healthcare provider.
If you have any questions about managing your own health and/or seeking medical care, please contact a medical professional.
Wellness Councils of America9802 Nicholas Street, Suite 315Omaha, NE 68114-2106Phone: (402) 827-3590 Fax: (402) 827-3594 www.welcoa.org
2005 Wellness Councils of America
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