Is it Time to Quit Smoking?Smoking increases your risk of heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and certain eye diseases. It affects your respiratory health, it’s expensive and it smells bad. So why is it so difficult to quit smoking? Cigarettes contain nicotine, which is highly addictive. Nicotine alters the balance of two chemicals in your brain, dopamine and noradrenaline.
When you inhale nicotine, it goes to your brain, producing feelings of pleasure and reducing stress. However, your brain becomes used to the effect, so you need to smoke more to get the same pleasurable effect.
That’s why quitting smoking can be a huge challenge, whether you’ve smoked for one year or 20. Smoking is both a physical and a psychological addiction, and many people use it to cope with stress, depression or anger.
Your Smoking Cessation Plan
Whatever your reasons for quitting smoking, you don’t have to do it alone. While some people’s smoking cessation plan is quitting cold turkey, it doesn’t work for many people.
When you remove the nicotine fix, your body begins to experience withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
Try to remember that these nicotine withdrawal symptoms are temporary, and that there are smoking cessation aids to help you, including:
- Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products. These are non-prescription medications that contain nicotine to reduce withdrawal symptoms. Examples include nicotine gum and patches.
- Prescription drugs. These medications help you manage cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
Many people who quit smoking gain weight. Smoking is an appetite suppressant, so it’s important to be mindful of your eating habits while you’re quitting smoking. Watch portion sizes and choose healthy snacks.
People also often associate smoking with another activity. Maybe every morning you smoke a cigarette with your coffee, or on Saturday nights you and your friends have cigarettes with beers. It’s important to identify the situations, activities and feelings that make you want to smoke and modify your behaviours as much as possible.
Speak with your primary care provider for more information on quitting smoking.