Whether you are an occasional social smoker or have smoked a pack a day for decades, quitting smoking can be a daunting task. While there is no easy way to quit smoking, there are products and strategies that can increase your chances of success.
Why Is It Important to Get Help to Stop Smoking?
Despite knowing the numerous health risks, even occasional smokers can find it extremely difficult to kick the smoking habit. This is because smoking is both physically addictive and a psychological habit. Nicotine is a powerful drug that acts on the “feel good” center of the brain, which can lead to withdrawal symptoms, such as depression, irritability, anxiousness, and difficulty concentrating when the nicotine is withdrawn.
Smoking is also a psychological habit. Lighting up becomes an automatic response in certain situations, such as when finishing a meal or socializing with friends, and can serve as a coping mechanism when faced with unpleasant feelings, such as boredom, depression, or anxiety. A smoking cessation program that addresses both of these issues can help you cope with the short-term withdrawal symptoms and reduce the risk of relapse.
What Is the Best Way to Quit Smoking?
Every smoker is different, so there is no one best way to quit smoking. The following tips from FastMed can increase your chances of success:
- Pick a quit date. It is important to tell your friends, family, and co-workers about your decision so they can support you and help hold you accountable.
- Make a list of your reasons to quit that you can refer to when you experience cravings.
- Decide on your quit strategy. For example, some smokers prefer to gradually taper their tobacco use up until their quit date while others prefer to go “cold turkey” on the date itself.
- Prepare your home by throwing away all ashtrays and cigarettes.
- Start keeping a smoking journal a week or two before your quit date, which will help you identify smoking triggers that you will need to avoid.
- Stock up on hard candy, sugarless gum, straws, or other oral substitutes.
- Schedule an appointment with your provider to discuss nicotine replacement therapy and other smoking cessation options.
- Enroll in a stop-smoking support group.
You will likely experience cravings on your quit day; however, these feelings often pass within a few minutes. Drinking extra water, distracting yourself with an activity, or even deep breathing for a few minutes can help you cope with these urges. Some smokers find that alternative therapies, such as yoga, meditation, and acupuncture, help them cope with the physical and emotional effects of quitting smoking. In the end, the best way to quit smoking is the method that allows you to stop for good.
Can Quit-Smoking Products Increase My Chances of Success?
Over-the-counter quit-smoking products, such as nicotine patches, gums, and lozenges, are touted as an easy way to quit smoking. It is true that nicotine replacement therapy can help to minimize cravings and withdrawal symptoms when you first quit. While smokers who use these products correctly do typically have greater success with quitting for good, these products are not right for everyone and can come with a substantial cost and side effects, so you should talk with your healthcare provider before using any nicotine replacement product. It is also important to remember that these products are meant to be used on a short-term basis and are not intended to serve as a permanent replacement for tobacco.
Can a Smoking Cessation Program Increase My Chances of Success?
Combining smoking cessation medication with behavioral support increases the chances of quitting smoking long-term by up to 25%. Behavioral support services range from self-help materials and support groups, such as Nicotine Anonymous, to individual counseling and free services offered by the National Cancer Institute and other organizations.
Should I See a Primary Care Provider for Help to Stop Smoking?
If you are finding it difficult to quit, it may be time to visit your primary care provider. There are prescription medications available to help smokers quit. One example would be Bupropion sustained release (Zyban), which reduces cravings and withdrawal symptoms by acting on the chemicals in the brain that trigger cravings. Another medication would be Varenicline (Chantix), which helps block the nicotine receptors in the brain so that you do not get as much pleasure out of tobacco use. These medications are not right for everyone, so talk to your Primary Care Provider about what treatments would be best for you.
Smoking cessation is one of the many services available at our FastMed Family Medicine locations in North Carolina. For a list of our clinics that offer Family Medicine, click here.
FastMed Urgent Care has more than 100 convenient locations throughout Texas, Arizona, and North Carolina. We offer online check-in and e-registration so getting the health care that you need is fast and easy. We’re open seven days a week, and we always accept walk-ins.
FastMed Urgent Care owns and operates nearly 200 centers in North Carolina, Arizona and Texas that provide a broad range of acute/episodic and preventive healthcare services 365 days a year. FastMed also provides workers’ compensation and other occupational health services at all its centers, and family and sports medicine services at select locations. FastMed has successfully treated more than six million patients and is the only independent urgent care operator in North Carolina, Arizona and Texas to be awarded The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval® for quality, safety and infection control in ambulatory healthcare. For more information about locations, services, hours of operation, insurance and prices, visit www.fastmed.com.