Nearly one-quarter of Ohioans smoke. Here’s how to kick the habit for good
If you’re planning to quit smoking, it’s likely not your first time. Estimates from a 2016 study suggest it will take most smokers between six and 30 tries to quit.
Does this mean you should give up before you start? Of course not!
Many people are successful, and we’re here to assist you as you quit smoking. Doug Clark, RRT, CTTS, a smoking cessation expert at OhioHealth, shares some of his best insights for quitting. You will find these facts surprising and helpful as you take this big step toward a healthier life.
1. You Need More Than One Tactic
If you are using just one strategy for quitting, this may be your downfall. “The best method for long-term success in quitting tobacco is to combine the use of medications or nicotine replacement with counseling,” Clark says.
Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for smokers to go it alone when they quit. They might buy nicotine patches with the intention to never touch a cigarette again, but find that perhaps the patches don’t meet all their needs.
Smoking is not just a physical addiction; there is a psychological component as well. Without counseling to help identify your smoking triggers — events that cause you to smoke — you are likely to fall short of your goal.
2. Stopping Treatment Too Soon Can Lead to Relapse
You’ve decided to quit smoking, you’ve bought your nicotine replacement medication, and you’ve gone six weeks without a cigarette. Good for you!
You’re ready to move on from nicotine replacement, right? Clark says this is not the case. “Nicotine replacement or medications should be used for at least 10 to 12 weeks to help the person deal with nicotine withdrawal,” he says. “Often the person gets overconfident and stops using nicotine replacement too soon and relapses when confronted with a difficult situation.”
Using nicotine replacement is just like taking antibiotics. Even if you start feeling better, you still need to take the full course of medication.
3. Focus Should Be on Quitting, Not on Weight Gain
Many people are concerned about gaining weight when they quit smoking. Clark says this concern tends to affect women in particular. As a result, many people will begin smoking again when they see the scale start to tip in the wrong direction.
However, this contradicts the reason most people quit in the first place — to live a healthier life. Clark says, “A weight gain of 5 to 7 pounds is typical, but it takes a 100-pound weight gain to equal the health risk of smoking one pack of cigarettes each day.”
So don’t let the scale scare you! A small amount of weight gain is nothing compared to the damage caused by smoking.
That said, if weight gain is a major concern for you, we are always here to help. One aspect of the OhioHealth Tobacco Cessation Program is that it doesn’t use high-calorie snacks as a cigarette replacement. This will help you quit smoking while also reducing the likelihood of weight gain.
4. Nicotine Is Just as Addictive as Heroin or Cocaine
It may be hard to believe, but nicotine’s grip is just as strong as heroin and cocaine. Many people, including your family members and friends, will perceive smoking as nothing more than a nasty habit you can give up at any time.
This is simply not true.
Instead, it is a chronic medical condition that requires expert treatment; that’s why you need help to deal with the withdrawal. Fortunately, the amount of nicotine in nicotine replacement is minimal, but it is still powerful enough to help you resist the urge to smoke.
5. It Is Never Too Late to Quit Smoking
In the first 12 hours after quitting, “the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal,” Clark says. He underlines the importance of this by stating carbon monoxide from smoking “is one of the leading contributors of cardiovascular disease.”
This clearly illustrates that it is never too late to quit. There are immediate benefits to quitting that are only accompanied by other benefits over time.
If you are ready to quit smoking and want the best chance of success, get in contact with us! The easiest way is to contact the OhioHealth Cancer Center at 1-800-752-9119 to find the cessation program nearest you. You can also contact the Ohio Department of Health at 800-QUIT-NOW to receive phone counseling, or you can work directly with your primary care physician.