I quit smoking seventy-two days ago, and for the first time I'm not sure I'm going to make it.
I smoked proudly for fifteen years. I started as an occasional smoker, but over time I needed more and more nicotine (I later learned that most addicts develop dose tolerance to their addictive substances). By the time I quit, I was smoking three packs per day, every day. I smoked during meetings, while walking or driving or eating meals. I woke up in the middle of the night to have a cigarette, and even kept one burning in an ashtray on the toilet tank while I showered, or on the bed stand while making love. I considered myself a smoker's smoker, and couldn't imagine life without cigarettes. Until I met Mary, that is.
Mary was cool, confident, smart and lovely, certainly out of my league, and I immediately fell in love with her. I had to have her. There was one problem with Mary, though -- she was a non-smoker. And not the self-righteous, moralistic type of non-smoker I'd been avoiding for years, either. No, Mary vehemently and absolutely hated tobacco, with a passion I'd never seen. Tobacco had killed her mother, and she held a big-time grudge against it. She made no bones about her refusal to date any smoker, ever.
My self-image hung in the balance. If I entertained any notion at all of hooking up with Mary, I would have to quit smoking. Telling myself that I'd stay quit only long enough to win her heart, and resume smoking sometime after that, I went online to look for quit-smoking info. I registered at a quit-smoking website, picked a quit-smoking date, and announced to everyone that I was quitting -- including Mary, who hugged me at the news!
Being a heavy smoker, I figured I was in for a rough nicotine detox, but decided to quit cold-turkey, anyway. Partially because I wanted to be tough about quitting, but also because it cost $50 for a hundred count of nicotine gum. $50! Never mind that a carton of smokes runs almost twice that; I needed them. Besides, the drama of a severe withdrawal could maybe get me some special attention from Mary... .
Day One wasn't bad at all. I fidgeted a lot, and drummed my fingers madly against things. I kept putting my hands to my mouth, expecting something to be there for me. I sucked on a ton of Lifesavers, but had no overwhelming urge to smoke. Quitting seemed do-able.
Day Two was a little more intense. Mary called to cheer me on and tell me how proud she was of me. My nose started running a bit, and I developed a headache. Felt like I might be coming down with a cold, but suffered only a few severe cravings to smoke. Despite the physical discomfort, and trouble getting to sleep at night, I thought that people were making too big a deal out of quitting smoking.
By Day Three I was a space cadet. I laughed uncontrollably, as if I was stoned on acid. Colors seemed very intense, and my brain raced wildly with bizarre thoughts. (My doctor later said I was experiencing a sustained rush of new oxygen to the brain). My whole body ached, and someone at the quit-smoking website wrote that I'd probably contracted the 'Quit Flu'. I obsessed non-stop about either smoking or not smoking, and became painfully aware of every lit cigarette within sight or smell.
And then a blow to my motivation, on Day Four: Mary left the country with her family, and wouldn't be back for two months! So much for her shoulder to lean on while I quit. A part of me whispered, "You can smoke now and re-quit later, and she'll never know," but I decided to soldier on and have more smoke-free weeks quit under my belt when she returned.
By Day Twenty I was already feeling better. I still wasn't sleeping much (my sleep patterns wouldn't stabilize for another month or two), and I was coughing up a lot of brown goo, but the flu-like symptoms were gone and I was going hours at a time without thinking about a cigarette.
And so it went. I sailed through my quit, noting one surprise benefit of quitting after another. Sleep deprived or not, I felt more alert and like I was really in my body. I took morning walks, and during one of them I suddenly wanted to run. It was exhilarating! I joined the Y, and started lifting weights. I wondered why people seemed to be wearing stronger cologne and perfume lately, until I realized that my sense of smell was returning. When I did have a smoking urge, I logged in to my quit-site and distracted myself. I finally stopped spitting up old lung tar, too, and noted that my wallet always had a lot more cash in it. Why had I never tried quitting before? Doing so had triggered changes in many areas of my life; I even made a couple of new ex-smoking friends, and began thinking of myself as an ex-smoker.
Until this morning, that it is. Mary got back from her long family vacation and introduced me to Mark, her new boyfriend. That was bad. Worse, he reeked of cigarettes! Filthy, stinking cigarettes. I was stunned. After a short, awkward silence, I blurted out something like, "Glad to meet you and by the way I'm still not smoking," and beat a hasty retreat. I felt betrayed. What was Mary's problem? Why would she sell out her values for love? How could she do this to me, after I'd changed my smoking life to be with her (though I never did tell her that, truth be told)? My thoughts turned to smoking. "I'll show her," I resolved. "Screw this quit."
So here I am on Day Seventy-two, and my motivation for quitting is gone. I'm at the convenience store, counting out bills for a pack of my old deadly comfort. In walks one of my new ex-smoking friends. She smiles, sees the pack and the wallet in my hands, and looks at me, silent. "They're not for me," I reply to her unasked question. In that moment I get some clarity. Cigarettes really are not for me, not any more. I'm about to punish myself because I'm upset with Mary? How can I blame her for selling out to follow her heart, anyway? Hadn't I sold out my smoking values to follow mine? Hasn't that been working out pretty well for me?
My quit isn't about Mary, and it never was. She may have been my inspiration to change, but it was my decision and my effort that got me to this place. The benefits of my new, healthier lifestyle are mine alone. I've earned them, and I'm not going to throw them away just because I got my expectations dashed.
I hand the cigarettes back to the clerk and buy a roll of Lifesavers, instead. I walk out of the store with my friend, still smoke-free. I didn't get the girl in the end, but I got a lot more than I expected. Seems I'm the fish I've been trying to catch all along (and quitting smoking was the hook).
Alan Q, CTTS-M
A wonderful New Year is upon us. Will your days be smoke-free? This time of year is full of potential relapse triggers, so take some time today to set yourself up for success.
The secret to having stress-free fun is giving yourself permission to do only things that are relaxing and wonderful to you! Commit to saying 'No' to anything that you don't have a heartfelt interest in doing.
Choose your activities wisely. Take some well-deserved time off. Do whatever you feel like doing. You may want to just hang out in your house alone for once. Maybe you're a 'go out and mingle with the crowds' person; here are some smoke-free things you could do:
- See a movie matinee with a friend.
- Enjoy a pedicure or manicure.
- Drive through decorated neighborhoods, stop for dessert on the way home.
- Go to dinner somewhere new.
- Visit someone special.
- Volunteer wherever your heart leads you (hospital, animal shelter, elderly neighbor, local shop).
- Buy yourself new, warm flannel sheets and sleep in!
- Go out to breakfast by yourself.
Plan ahead. Choose how you want to spend your time! Learn to say 'No' to things that pressure or obligate you needlessly. Give yourself the gift of smoke-free happiness, today and throughout the New Year!
Keep going, and KTQ!
Vikki Q CTTS-M; Master Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist
Have a Smoke-Free and Happy New Year at the Q:
No matter how busy you are this holiday season, be sure to keep your quit going strong! Around this time of year, some quitters may find themselves losing momentum. You may be second guessing your reasons for quitting, or feeling overwhelmed by a seemingly endless to-do list. Rest assured, life is not getting in the way of your quit; this is life! Moving forward as a nonsmoker means keeping the quit regardless of what is happening to you or around you.
Reaffirm your commitment to keep your quit going no matter what. Make sure your quit stays your number one priority. Reflect on why being a nonsmoker matters to you, how far you have come and what it took to get here. If you do have a craving or weak moment, address your feelings! What do you really want? Are you seeking comfort, reward, assistance, sleep, enjoyment, social interaction, or a break? Stress free living requires flexibility. There is nothing wrong with giving yourself permission to change plans or take a time out to relax. Celebrate the new habits you have worked so hard to put in place. You have made it this far, so that means you have a successful smoke-free daily routine in place. Acknowledge how awesome you are for quitting smoking. You did it - you actually did it this time! You are amazing, and so is your quit.
Reviewing your quit progress and celebrating your accomplishments ensures your continued success during stressful times. Staying motivated will help prevent relapse. Remember that at this very moment, you are quit; Congratulations! Cherish your quit and commit to spending the holiday season as a nonsmoker this year. As a nonsmoker, you continue to gain:
- Healthier lungs
- A reduced risk of cancer
- Increased longevity
- More energy to enjoy life
- A healthier smile and fresh breath
- Better immunity to fight off colds and flu
- More money to spend on things you need or want
- More time to spend doing things that matter to you
- More time with the people you care about
- Freedom from guilt or pressure about smoking; you're finally free!
- Increased self confidence
- Fresh air around you, your home and your vehicle
- Prettier skin
- Improved mood
- Decreased stress
Those are a lot of gifts to appreciate. Keep giving yourself the best gift of all; a smoke-free life! Keep up the good work, keep going, and KTQ:)
Vikki CTTS-M Master Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist
Friends don't let friends Quit alone:
The time of the year from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day is loaded with triggers to smoke. A successful quit depends on your ability to remain focused on your goal of a smoke-free life. This is no easy task, especially for the newly quit. The holiday distractions and being with people in places where you used to smoke can lure you back into old habits and lifestyle. Be prepared and get your game plan in place before the festivities begin.
Keep Your Stress Levels In Check
Holiday travel, traffic, shopping, finances, and family issues can pile on the stress and trigger strong cravings to smoke. Do your holiday shopping early and stay within your budget to prevent debt-incurred stress. Homemade gifts or planning a family draw for a gift exchange will keep the costs down but still express the sentiment. Plan your trips, give yourself plenty of time, and avoid travel during busy traffic hours. Exercise is one of the best stress reducers, so get moving daily to boost your mood, relieve tension and any urges to smoke.
Family members grow, move away, pass away, and sometimes hold grievances against one another. Try to be accepting and understanding. If you find yourself getting stressed at a holiday gathering, just step aside and take a breather by going for a walk and getting fresh air. Or simply take in a few deep breaths, hold, and slowly release. Make sure you take some alone time if the holiday cooking, cleaning, and entertaining are getting to you. A hot relaxing bath or listening to soothing music may be all you need to quiet your mind, focus inward, and calm down.
Don't Overindulge In Food Or Drink
Food often seems to play the biggest role in holiday celebrations. Tables are laden with family members' favorite recipes. Expect the temptations to be looking you square in the eye and make the decision beforehand to enjoy in moderation. If you let yourself go hog wild, it may be easier to give in to other temptations or find yourself craving a cigarette to squelch the over-stuffed feeling in your stomach.
Stay away from or limit drinking alcohol. Your resolve not to smoke dissolves the more you drink, making it easier to slip back to smoking without thinking. Alcohol is a smoking trigger for many, so stick to juices, club soda with a splash of cranberry juice, apple cider or water with lemon. Have a plan in place on how you will navigate your way around the table and bar. Promise yourself a reward for getting through the holiday event smoke-free. By not overindulging in food and alcohol you will remain in control, able to make wise decisions and stay strong in your quit.
Seek Out Support
Going to gatherings or parties where others are smoking can be challenging when you are quitting. It's beneficial to let your friends and family know ahead of time you have quit smoking and ask for their support by not smoking around you. Keep your distance. Watching others smoke can trigger strong cravings to light up. Move away from smoking situations and socialize with nonsmokers. Go outside for fresh air at times when there's no avoiding the smoke. If possible bring a nonsmoking friend or support buddy with you to the holiday event. There's no need to quit alone; with a Smartphone you can always find online quit smoking support in our QuitNet forums or chat rooms. Getting through the holiday season with your quit intact is absolutely do-able with careful planning and support!
Happy Holidays, and KTQ!
November is Diabetes Awareness month and a fitting time to speak of the harmful consequences of smoking cigarettes with diabetes. Awareness is also needed regarding the associated link between smoking and type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes is a group of diseases which are on the rise, including more than 29 million Americans and 380 million people worldwide. The most familiar types of diabetes are: type 1 -- formerly known as juvenile-onset or insulin dependent diabetes, and the more common type 2 -- formerly called adult-onset or non insulin-dependent diabetes. People who have diabetes have blood sugar levels that are abnormally high because their body doesn't make enough insulin to process the sugar, or can't use it properly.
Over time, diabetes can be wearing on the body and is associated with serious health complications. Presently diabetes cannot be cured, but it can be managed, and complications reduced. Quitting smoking is especially important in not only the management and reduction of health complications for those with diabetes, but also in reducing a person's risk of getting the disease.
The Negative Impact of Smoking with Diabetes
- Smokers with diabetes tend to have more difficulty with insulin dosing and poorer control over blood sugar levels than non smokers, making management of their disease more difficult.
- Those with diabetes are 2 to 4 times more likely to get heart disease, and the chances of having a stroke are doubled. Smoking worsens and speeds up the growth of plaque build up on the walls of the arteries, causing narrowing and reducing the oxygen and blood supply to the affected areas in the body. Smoking also raises bad cholesterol levels and blood pressure. It's plain to see how smoking with diabetes multiplies the risk for heart disease and stroke.
- Diabetes presents a risk for developing long-term complications affecting the eyes (diabetic retinopathy), kidneys (diabetic nephropathy), and nerves (diabetic neuropathy). Smoking will aggravate these conditions and could lead to more serious symptoms and require much more treatment.
Smoking Increases the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
If you are still smoking, here’s another great reason to quit. A smoker’s odds of developing diabetes are 30 to 40 % higher than a nonsmoker's. The longer you smoke, the higher your risk. Smoking raises blood sugar levels. The nicotine and other chemicals in smoke can impair your body's response to insulin and lead to insulin resistance, a precursor for the disease. To prevent diabetes it's necessary to quit smoking, stay physically active, and lose weight if you are overweight or obese.
The Benefits of Quitting Smoking Now
- Better management of blood sugar levels.
- Improvements in insulin sensitivity.
- Reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke, which are already a risk factor for those with diabetes.
- Reduces aggravating diabetic complications involving the eyes, kidneys, nerves and vascular system.
- Decreases the chances of premature death.
Diabetes and smoking is a harmful mix. If you smoke, it’s especially important that you stop now to prevent serious health complications. There’s no need to quit alone; you can always find online non-smoking support, or find ex-smokers in your family or circle of friends. If you don’t smoke, continue to keep up the good work and stay that way. Quitting smoking now will benefit your health immediately, whether you have diabetes or not. It's the best thing you can do for your wellbeing!
Keep Going and Keep the Quit!
Have you ever found yourself smoking a cigarette 'out of nowhere' when you had a good stretch of success behind you? If so, welcome to the autopilot zone! You can end up on autopilot when quitting smoking, stopping drinking, or working through other lifelong addictive behavioral patterns.
This experience can create a sense of fear and lack of control. How will you ever quit if you end up back at square one without knowing when, how or why it happened? Great question! Autopilot can take you places you don't want to go. Let's look at the process, so you can move from that all too familiar space of 'What happened?' and back into the driver's seat.
A Red Flag
Be alert as your subconscious begins playing old smoking tapes in the background! You may have a passing thought of smoking when you see an ashtray or an old smoking buddy. You may start reminiscing about smoking; even think you smell or taste it. You may not even register you are having these thoughts, or you may wonder where that thought came from and go about your day.
- TIP: This is the first red flag that smoking has entered your radar. It is not a bad thing, and random thoughts of smoking are quite common long after a person quits. Reaffirm your quit. Acknowledge these thoughts! "I am aware I have had smoking thoughts, and I no longer smoke and have no interest in ever smoking again."
Justification begins! This is where those ignored random thoughts grow into self talk about smoking. Examples:"It has been so long I can have just one...No one cares if I quit, what difference does it make? ...I deserve a reward for ___________." And so on until you start subconsciously planning to smoke.
- TIP: Recognize when you begin justifying smoking, as this puts you on the doorstep of relapse! Prepare an index card with statements and facts that counter your personal justifications, and read it out loud when you start slipping towards smoking. Doing so can keep you on track. Examples: "Have I ever had 'just one'? How has that worked out for me in the past? I love my quit, I am going to honor it How will I feel if I do something else instead right now?" You can also use self talk to tell your addicted mind "I am not falling for this, I know the truth!" or whatever works for you.
At this point, autopilot is engaged. You have lost all conscious awareness of your quit, how long you have been quit, how far you have come, what your quit means to you or how you will feel after you smoke. You have entered the autopilot zone, and your hand is moving towards the cigarette. There may be an actually physical sensation of mental disconnect, a "What the hell, I am going for it" as another part of you is saying "What are you doing?!"
- TIP: Recognize you are entering the zone. Stop Everything. Break autopilot by staring at your hand, as in really stare at it. It is reaching for a cigarette! YOU are reaching for a cigarette! You know on some level you do not want to relapse. Find that place by asking your self "What am I feeling right now? In what ways am I justifying this action is alright? What is the truth about that? What else can I do right at this very minute to get away from here?"
This is your wake up call. You are now actively choosing what to do next. You physically cannot relapse if your hand does not make contact with a cigarette! What are you going to do? Accepting that whatever comes next is your choice builds the foundation for your forever quit! Before you do anything, write down three reasons for your actions.
If you choose not to smoke:
- You successfully recognized your personal signs of relapse, and are navigating them.
- You successfully broke autopilot by learning to stay in the moment, and recognize danger signs
- You made a conscious choice. By choosing not to smoke, you have reaffirmed your commitment to your quit, and this new habit is settling firmly into place. Congrats!
- You identified three awesome motivations to help keep your quit going strong.
If you choose to smoke anyway:
- You successfully recognized your personal signs of relapse, and need to continue practicing the above tips to help you navigate your quit process.
- You successfully broke autopilot by learning to stay in the moment, and recognize danger signs.
- You made a conscious choice. By choosing to smoke, you can now choose Not to smoke; your awareness is growing.
- You identified three justifications or triggers you need to plan ahead for.
This is when a new, conscious tape begins playing in the foreground. By recognizing the signs, you can hear those old tapes start to play, and know it is time to gear up and take charge. You will be able to navigate justifications and steer your thoughts away from the critical stage. As a result, you gain confidence, control and the power of choice!
These steps help train your mind to stay in the moment and choose behaviors you prefer, keep those behaviors going long term, and replace your old habits once and for all with all the healthy new ones you desire.
Stay focused, and KTQ!
Master Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist
Join the Q for free support & encouragement:
It’s common knowledge that smoking poses serious health risks. No wonder, as tobacco smoke is made up of at least 7000 active chemicals, most of them toxic, including 70 that are known to cause cancer. Let’s face it -- smoking harms every organ in the body. So, what comes to mind when you think about the health effects of smoking tobacco? Heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and emphysema are familiar health risks to most people. Smoking increases the risks for developing eye disorders. Here are some of the visual consequences of smoking.
For Your Eyes Only – More Reasons To Quit Smoking
Cataracts - When a cataract occurs the eye lens becomes cloudy, causing vision problems. Cataracts are common as we age. Smoking reduces the supply of antioxidants in the eyes and increases the risk of getting a cataract. The more you smoke the greater the risk and severity of the cataract. If you smoke a pack or more a day you double your chance of getting a cataract. If you quit smoking you can lower your risk level to almost that of a person who never smoked!
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) – AMD involves degenerative changes in the macula, the area of the retina that is responsible for detailed central vision. Vision with AMD may appear distorted, blurred or dark in the center. The central vision loss with AMD can interfere with everyday activities we may take for granted, like reading, driving or seeing faces. Smoking reduces blood flow in the eye and can cause damage to the retina. Studies show smoking triples the risk factor of developing AMD. The risk is increased the more you smoke, and the longer you have smoked. Smoking also affects the nonsmokers who live with smokers by increasing their risk for AMD. Quitting smoking will not only reduce your risk of developing this eye disease, but also keep those you care about safe.
Diabetic retinopathy - Smoking can double your risk of getting diabetes. Diabetic retinopathy is an eye complication related to diabetes that can harm vision. In this eye disease the blood vessels that supply the retina become damaged. Smoking increases blood pressure, reduces the amount of oxygen in the blood and raises blood sugar if you have diabetes, making it clear that smoking is not only a risk factor for developing the eye disease, but also aggravates the condition by damaging the blood vessels. The best way to avoid the complications of diabetes is to stop smoking, or never start.
Thyroid eye disease (TED) – Graves’ disease is caused by an overactive thyroid gland. A complication of Graves’ is thyroid eye disease. This condition may cause protruding eyes, eye irritation, and vision problems that could lead to blindness. People with Graves’ who smoke not only increase their chances of TED by four times, but also increase the severity of the problem. Graves’ is an immune system disorder and the chemicals in tobacco smoke impair the body’s protective abilities. Giving up the smokes for good is imperative to protect your eyes.
Eye Irritation - Tobacco smoke can aggravate conditions such as dry eye syndrome, which is caused by a chronic lack of sufficient tears on the surface of the eye, with smokers being twice as likely to get it. Tobacco smoke irritates the eyes and can cause a feeling of burning, scratching and dryness, especially in those who don’t smoke.
As you can see, exposure to tobacco smoke, either as the smoker or passively, increases the risk for eye disorders. Smoking is a major preventable risk factor. Protect your eyes and those around you by never starting to smoke, quitting now if you do smoke, and staying quit for good.
Keep Going and Keep the Quit!
The path to a successful quit is not carved in stone. What works for one person may not be effective for you. To succeed, you need to get involved in the quit process, and your life! Put effort into discovering what inspires you, entertains you, rewards you, and matters to you. Be willing to try lots of different things until you find things that work for you.
Healthy lifestyle choices can help anyone feel better. Feeling better means less cravings and stress, as well as more motivation to keep your quit going strong. Here are some ways to incorporate healthier habits into your daily routine:
- Put half the serving sizes on your plate compared to normal. If you are still hungry, add second servings of protein and vegetables.
- Use smaller plates and bowls.
- Do not put serving dishes on the table. Keep extra food on the stove,counter or in refrigerator.
- Cut out one fat (ex: butter, ranch dressing, bacon) and one sugar (candy bar, jam, donut, soda, cookie) that you would normally have eaten today.
- Eat 2 extra servings of fresh fruits or vegetables today.
- Today, drink one large glass of water more than you usually do.
- Say 'no' to a snack food today, and eat something healthy & low cal instead.
- Replace a food you normally eat with a lower fat or lower sugar version.
- Stretch your body before getting out of bed today.
- Go for a brisk 15 minute walk after lunch, work break, dinner.
- Park far enough away to get a good walk to and from your car.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Take your dog or family out for a walk instead of watching TV.
- Join a gym, fitness center, studio or group that interests you (bike/ski/swim/walk/dance/skate/mall walking/bowling); pick something new and give it a try!
- Buddy up. Exercise is more likely to occur when you have someone to go with you, encourage you, and count on you.
- You don't have to run a marathon! Simply strive to get moving on more days of the week than you do now, and you will enjoy a more active lifestyle!
- Enjoy something every day! Pick what you plan to enjoy today!
- Wear your favorite shirt or outfit.
- Break out the 'good' whatever- cologne, perfume, candles, dishes, blanket, sheets, towels. Enjoy!
- Stop by your favorite market, cafe or coffee shop.
- Do something 'just for you' today.
- Take time for a friend or loved one. You can go to lunch, the movies, meet for coffee, sit on a park bench, walk the beach or neighborhood, go window shopping, or have an uninterrupted phone call.
- Make a new ritual. Friday night pizza, Tuesday lunch at the park, Saturday morning at the coffee shop; having something to look forward to that you enjoy adds fun to your week.
- Read a good book, rent a movie, take a long bath, journal, sing, dance, ride, play music; do something you enjoy doing every single day!
- Go to bed close to the same time every night. This helps you fall asleep easier.
- Aim for the amount of sleep you function best on. Some people feel great on 7 hours, others need 9. If you need more sleep than you are getting now, commit to going to bed a half hour earlier tonight.
- Keep your sleeping room dark, cool and quiet.
- Turn off the television, computer, phone and other electronics when you go to bed.
- Get up at the same time in the morning, even on weekends. Sleeping in an hour is fine, but sleeping until noon on Sunday followed by a 5:00am alarm on Monday is a sure way to feel tried. Feeling tired adds to stress, mood swings, and cravings for both cigarettes and food.
- Avoid exercise a few hours before bed. Exercise revs up your metabolism, making it harder to fall asleep.
- Avoid a large meal before bed. It is harder to digest food when lying down, and acid reflux, heartburn and overall discomfort can keep you awake and is unhealthy.
- Add one new thing to your before bed routine that helps you relax. You could get things ready for the next day to help quiet your mind, read a book for a half hour, drink herbal tea or perhaps write in a journal.
Which of the above lifestyle changes are you willing to commit to? Select several items that appeal to you, and get started on them today. Taking just a few new actions daily can make a huge difference in your overall health, without feeling overwhelming. A healthy and smoke-free lifestyle is within your reach. Just take a few steps a day, and you will succeed!
Keep going, and KTQ :)
Master Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist
You don't have to quit alone:
It’s a known fact that smoking is no good for you. Cigarette smoking causes many types of cancer, increases the risk of stroke, heart and lung disease and many other health problems. Smoking is also expensive and may cause financial hardship for some. Even armed with this knowledge, most of us find quitting smoking a major struggle, but for those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD ) it may be even more difficult to stay on track with their quit.
ADHD is a neurological condition that effects focus and concentration and presents as restlessness in adults. ADHD is not actually a deficit of attention, but more of a problem with controlling one’s attention span. Individuals with ADHD will find it difficult to focus on tasks that bore them, but have the ability to hyper focus on activities that interest them. They may become completely absorbed in an art project for hours, while the paperwork at the office is piling up.
Smoking is much more prevalent in folks with ADHD than in the general population, (41% ADHD to 26% general population). This group of smokers begins at an earlier age and is apt to be more nicotine dependent. Nicotine temporarily changes brain chemistry with the increase of dopamine and norepinephrine, and may improve attention and performance in people with this disorder. This reduction in ADHD symptoms may be one of the reasons tobacco can easily become the drug of choice for teenagers with this diagnosis. Teens with ADHD are more easily influenced by their friends and the need to be liked and fit in. So, smoking that starts off as peer pressure may end up being a way to self-medicate the ADHD.
For those of you with ADHD, know that quitting smoking is a doable goal. It will take a bit more persistence, work and energy than other quitters may have to exert, but you are resourceful and those are strengths you possess. After all, you have had lots of experience learning to overcome the ADHD obstacles in your life. Here are some tips for staying on track with quitting smoking.
● Seek out support and encouragement. Let your family and friends know your quitting plans and how you feel they may be helpful. Reach out for social support and create quit friends here on the Q!
● Talk to your doctor about the options with stop smoking medications to help reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings when quitting smoking. Nicotine dependence and withdrawal symptoms are likely to be more severe when folks with ADHD stop smoking, so a quit medication may be helpful. Nicotine replacement therapy appears to work the same in people with ADHD as those without the condition.
● Identify your triggers to smoke and create ways to avoid them. Have a plan in place for high risk situations. Your trigger may be boredom or idle time. Come up with ways to beat the boredom. Go for a walk, read a book, hop online and visit your friends on the Q! A high risk situation may be socializing with friends who smoke. A solution is going to a smoke-free restaurant or bar, where the smoking won’t be in your presence.
● Use relaxation exercises. The quitting process is stressful and added stress may increase your ADHD symptoms, so practice some coping strategies such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga or tai chi to reduce tension.
● Think positive. Use your ability to hyper focus on all the benefits you will reap by remaining smoke-free.
● Include some exercise into your day. It will help burn off the restlessness and release those feel-good hormones in the brain.
● Keep a sense of humor. It will boost your mood, reduce stress and create a happier life.
Quitting smoking is a process that takes time and practice before you get it right, so just take it one day at a time. Stay on track and you will get there!
Keep Going and Keep the Quit!
Are you ready to quit, but don't know where to start? Let's take a look at some suggestions to help put you on the path to success!
You may already know that nicotine from smoking clears your system in 72 hours. Or, that cigarettes contain over 4000 chemicals, tar and gases. Detox involves more than just nicotine leaving your system, so it usually takes a few weeks before you get to the 'feeling better' phase of your quit. However, detox is only part of your quit process! Two thirds of quitting successfully involves actively addressing the emotional, habitual, and behavioral attachment to the act of smoking.
The Quit Formula
Using a quit medication such as Chantix, Zyban or NRT to take the edge off cravings + having clear motivations for what you will gain as a nonsmoker + having support from friends, quit buddies and family + learning from your past relapse triggers + staying busy while addressing those personal triggers effectively = a successful Quit!
You can quit with or without NRT or quit medications. The choice is yours, and many people do quit successfully cold turkey. You may have stronger initial cravings and withdrawal symptoms, but the overall quit process will remain the same.
The purpose of NRT (patch/lozenge/gum) is to take the edge off cravings so you can focus on breaking your attachments to the act of smoking. NRT keeps a slow, low, steady dose of nicotine in your system so you avoid the addictive 'rush/crash/crave' cycle that makes quitting tobacco so difficult. By removing some of the intensity of physical withdrawals, it may be easier for you to 'do the work' of practicing new nonsmoking behaviors and coping tools that support your new, smoke-free lifestyle.
NRT and quit medications are advised to be used for at least 8 weeks, and tapered off as directed by the product/medication manufacturer. Stepping down as directed ensures minimal cravings and maximum quit support. Why 8 weeks? Research shows it takes a good 8 weeks of practicing new behaviors, habits and coping tools to 'learn' a new habit. Doing so with overwhelming physical cravings often leads to relapse before any of the 'learning new behaviors' or 'habit breaking' part ever takes place. Reduced craving ensure you will stick with your quit long enough to succeed. In fact, using a support product can double your chances of a successful quit!
Work Your Quit
Long term quit success comes from having 8 weeks of practice and actively practicing new behaviors and coping tools, not from simply having support. The key factor here is the Quitter must actively work their quit process daily in order for support products or a cold turkey quit to be effective. How do you work your quit? You can start with some reflection and planning. Take a look at your biggest tobacco triggers. That is where you will want to put your time, energy and focus during the next few months!
- If you have quit for even a day; you have had success! What worked?
- What are your top three triggers?
- How have you dealt with these triggers during previous quits?
- What are a few more things you will commit to doing this time?
- How will you cope with stress, boredom, anger, and other smokers?
- Who will support your quit efforts? Reach out!
Become A Nonsmoker
Own your quit by coming up with new behaviors and trigger coping solutions that could work for you. For example, if coffee is a trigger, then drink your morning coffee at a smoke-free coffee shop, or make tea or hot cider at home instead. If driving is a trigger, drink water with a straw, sing along to a new CD, or repeat your motivations for quitting as you drive. Practice getting through cravings, triggers, disappointments and day to day life situations without using tobacco. No amount of NRT or medications can do this particular part of the quit for you, which is a good thing! It forces the newly quit to identify new coping tools and start thinking about living their day to day lives without a cigarette.
Quitting smoking is the best thing you can do for your health. Get started right away! Let your support method of choice do its job, while you do your job ~ actively work your quit process! You will learn lots of new ways to enjoy your healthy, nonsmoking lifestyle.
Keep going, and KTQ!
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