Welcome to the this week's installment of QMember Stories, which features Kallikak - who celebrates a nearly 7-year quit!
"I smoked 35 years total, interrupted by several earlier quits. I’m not sure that any of us keep track of the number of attempts, once it gets beyond “several”.
"The worst thing about my smoking was that I had no control over my addiction, and that I knew it was killing me. No one in my family, or my extended family, smokes. I was the only addict. They were very tactful about it, but it was clear that they all wanted me to quit. The final straw was an angina attack in July 2006. I instantly became a quitter at that moment.
"I'd first found QuitNet the year before, in January of 2005, after an off-hand remark from someone (probably one of those relatives above) that there probably would be resources online to help with quitting. I did a Google search, and the rest is history.
"I quit on January 1st of that year, and the Q became my lifeline, a lifesaver. A couple dozen of us formed a club in January 2005, and we called it something really clever, like 'Jan2005 Quitters'. We shared a monumental goal, and we all started at the same time. I’ve never seen support like that, but I’m guessing that many clubs here have that magic about them. I’ll never forget the first time a new quitter responded to one of my posts that I had been an inspiration. Whoa, talk about a rush!
"I had 10 months on my quitmeter when I was laid off from a long-time job. That triggered my addiction. I began smoking again, and didn’t stop until the angina attack in July 2006. I've been smoke-free since then.
"In my 2005 semi-final quit, I used the patches, and they worked very well. This final time, I quit cold turkey when I had the angina attack. That served as a clue that I am mortal; that I will not escape the consequences of smoking if I don’t quit. In the early days, my inspiration came most strongly from the Q; it was like being in an intensive care unit.
"I have two outstanding suggestions for anyone thinking about quitting smoking: First, make a list of what smoking was doing to your life, and the reasons you quit; and second, take your quit 'one crave at a time'. Just take care of the next one, and don’t worry about the one after that.
"If you come on to the Q, you can call me Bill. My username is Kallikak - a tribute to a family that was the subject of a study by H.H. Goddard, an early 20th century psychologist who thought he could tell if you were feeble minded just by looking at you; he also gave us the word `moron`!"
Keep coming back, and KTQ,
Last week we talked about stress; this week we will talk about detox! QuitNet Q'sters often ask if there is anything they can do to help their body detox after so many years of smoking cigarettes. Quitting smoking is the best detox plan of all. However, the answer to the question is yes! Here are some options that may help support your body as you keep the quit:
Free radicals cause damage to your cells and can be formed by smoking, pesticides, pollution and daily metabolic processes. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals and as a result, can help protect your cells from damage. You will find antioxidants in many fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, vitamins, minerals and herbs.
By eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables, you can help your system heal, detox and flourish. Eating fresh foods high in cysteine, beta-carotene, vitamin B2, vitamin C and vitamin E will increase your antioxidant intake. Zinc and selenium will help stregthen your immune system.
Fruits and vegtables are very nutrient dense, high fiber, low calorie and as an added benefit - reduce both food and nicotine cravings. The majority of fruits and vegtables are alkaline which helps restore your system from it's highly acidic state brought on by smoking. Here are some food chioces that are very high in antioxidants:
- red, black, kidney and pinto beans
- blueberries, cranberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries,
- cherries, plums, prunes, apples
- russet potato
There are endless benefits to loading up your grocery basket with a wide variety of these colorful, wholesome, fresh foods!
Herbal remedies are not FDA approved and may interact with certain medications or medical conditions. Always ask your doctor before taking herbal remedies. Keep in mind that supplements 'add to' a healthy diet and do not work alone. Your healthy diet is the foundation, and herbal supplementation builds upon that foundation.
Many herbal teas, seasonings and medicinal herbs contain antioxidants. Aloe vera, bilburry, green tea, garlic, turmeric, ginkgo, ginger root, grape seed and milk thistle may help your body fight free radicals. Herbal teas are an easy way to support the detox process. Tea is also relaxing to prepare, steep and sip as you celebrate your quit! Here are just a few of the many herbs that may help support different areas of the body:
- Liver: Burdock, Milk Thistle, Artichoke, Dandelion, Licorice Root
- Lungs: Ginger Root, Garlic, Thyme Leaf
- Skin: Fennel, Aloe Vera, Ginger Root, Licorice Root
- Circulation: Ginger, Black Pepper, and Long Pepper
- Digestion: Anise Seed, Licorice, Fennel, Peppermint Leaf
Adding an herbal detox remedy in powder, pill or tea form may help your system detox. If herbal supplementation appeals to you (and your doctor has no objections), give it a try!
The human body is about 60% water! Drinking plenty of water will help you detox by increasing the amount of nutrients you absorb in food and eliminating waste from your body. Water also helps you feel full, reduces cravings and can have an alkalizing effect on your system. Smoking can be dehydrating and acidifying, so your entire system will thank you if you get in the habit of drinking plenty of fresh water.
By adding some nutritional support to your system, you can help your body detox and repair after many years of smoking. Today is a great day to move forward as a healthy nonsmoker!
Be healthy, and KTQ!
Vikki Q CTTS-M
Master Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist
Stress is a common relapse trigger. Stress happens to all of us, and stressors range from mild to overwhelming. Since stress can build to a breaking point, a good stress management plan is crucial for a successful quit.
The minute you find yourself feeling stressed, stop. Stop everything you are doing and take a good deep breath. Pause, and feel the air fill your lungs. Exhale slowly. Repeat 5 times. Trust that everything is going to work out as it is meant to be, that you are capable of handling the situation and that your best is always good enough. All you can do is all you can do - then let go. Focus on the task at hand, only own what is yours to own, and let the rest go.
Many of us live days filled with an endless list of tasks, appointments, chores, responsibilities, obligations and work. Take some time out of every day to do a few things for you! It is your life and one worth living in joy, not stress.. The rest is just 'stuff'. What do you enjoy? Do it! Play music, take a long hot bath, take a walk, go to a movie, spend time alone, read, journal, fix a quiet & healthy meal, take a short drive, go window shopping or to your favorite restaurant. Give yourself permission to put you at the top of your list! Let someone else make dinner. Leave the floors or paperwork for later. Take a day off - ENJOY! You deserve a break, and nothing is worth more than enjoying the journey of our lives.
TALK WITH A FRIEND
A problem shared is trouble spared! Good friends offer you feedback, a space for you to be heard, a venue for you to process your thoughts (and often, your own solutions), a shoulder to cry on, a cheerleader, a confidant, shared joy, encouragement or comfort in times of need. Reach out! Be a good friend, and appreciate the good friends you have. Your life will be improved many times over.
COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS
It is easy to get caught up in the swirl of worry and everything that is not working (car, dishwasher, conflicting personalities) when in fact, the majority of our lives ARE working! The washer may be broken, but how is your heart? Your health? Do you have somewhere to live? Have you laughed lately? Focus on what you do have, what you love, and what is right in your world. The rest is just random ups and downs. What you focus on grows - focus on all the good things around you!
HONOR YOUR QUIT
Quitting smoking is a big change. It takes effort, commitment, will power, planning and daily attention. Quitting is a good exercise in effective goal setting and completion, and each step in your quit process adds successful tools to use in other parts of your life. Celebrate and protect your quit by making every day a smoke free, relaxing day!
Stay tuned for Part 2; Detox. Until then, keep up the good work and KTQ!
Vikki Q CTTS- M
Master Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist
Part Two of last week's Mother's Day Q Blog: Dealing With Peer Pressure
Most adult smokers picked up their first cigarette when they were teenagers, and so began a potential lifelong addiction. Peer pressure is one of the most common reasons kids start to smoke. Adolescence is a time when fitting in is extremely important. Kids want to be liked by their peers and fear being made fun of or singled out. Teens may engage in risky behaviors in order to win social acceptance from their peers. If invited to join a group where smoking is common, your teen will most likely smoke to feel accepted. This is especially true if a teen feels socially awkward and doesn’t make friends easily.
It’s also more likely for teens with attention deficit/hyperactivity (ADHD) to experiment with smoking and become nicotine dependent. Nicotine is a stimulant that acts similar to some of the medications used to treat ADHD. Cigarettes easily become the drug of choice for kids with ADHD, as they self-medicate to relieve their symptoms. School life and social pressures can increase stress and anxiety for all teens. So, while smoking may start as a result of peer pressure, it may end up as a coping tool for life's daily stress.
Get to know your teen’s friends! Ask your teens if any of their friends smoke. Ask if they talk about smoking with their friends or if they have ever been offered cigarettes. If their close friends smoke, eventually they may break down and try one. Ask them to picture situations where their friends may offer them a cigarette. Help them practice resisting peer pressure by doing some role-playing so they feel comfortable saying no to their friends.They can blame it on their parents: “Not for me, My Mom/Dad will ground me for life if I smoke”, or use humor: “No Way. There are all kinds of poisonous chemicals in those things!” They can even be blunt and just say “No thanks”.
Ask your teen their opinion on the dangers of smoking. It’s best not to lecture on the long term consequences of smoking as teens tend to live in the here and now and ten to twenty years down the road is an eternity to them. Your teen’s vanity is a better hook. Teens don’t want yellow teeth, wrinkly skin, or smelly breath and hair. If you want your teen to be aware of the health risks of smoking, put it in terms that are relative to them now. Let them know how smoking will affect their ability to sing, dance, run track, play ball, swim; even date! Choose something that matters to them.
Smoking is expensive. Have your teen do the math on how much money the average smoker spends a year on cigarettes. Have them make a list of things they could buy with that money. Chances are, they have been asking or saving for something special; now’s a good time to show them the financial costs of cigarette smoking. Offer a reward incentive for staying smoke-free (or quitting if they smoke) and see how quick they comply!
Your teen is faced with peer pressure on a daily basis, so expect to revisit the issue of smoking frequently. Being supportive will help them make the right choice. Being an example by not smoking, setting clear boundaries that smoking is not an option, and keeping the communication lines open will help prevent your children from becoming smokers!
Quit with QuitNet today:
Welcome to the this week's installment of Member Stories, which features Steve M, aka Lancer071, who celebrates a 5-year quit!
"I smoked for 30 years, and at last count was smoking about 35 cigarettes a day.
"I tried quitting Cold turkey, failed. Patches failed. It all failed. I was missing a key ingredient for a lasting quit--Support. I found that here in QuitNet.
"The coughing, and being outta breath, is what made me decide to quit smoking this time. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I was lost and looking for help online to quit smoking,and I stumbled upon the Q. It was a listing on Yahoo search, if I recall, back in 2004.
"As far as what inspires me to stay quit--I'm not sure inspire is the word for it. A picture for the mind maybe, the little demon in a corner doing push-ups to keep in shape for the next time I get relaxed and say, "Yeah, I can have just one." Knowing there is only the promise of a slow death, and picking up right where I left off. I lost a 6 month quit, and the shame and guilt is another inspiration to stay quit now.
"This quit is a record for me. It took everything I had to make this quit stick. I did it by living here at the Q mostly, and had the attitude of do or die (because that's where it was leading to, anyway). The clubs are the real lifesavers for me. The support I received there was unbounding, unselfish.They never had a harsh word, never left me, and always had my back. So if the Q is a quit-tool, it's all I need.
"I have made so many lifelong friends here. I have met many Q people face to face, and all are wonderful people sharing the same goal. I met the one true love of my life here; all the other women have been a joke up till this Angel came into my life, and taught me that anything is possible. Meeting my soulmate here on the Q? Priceless.
"My most valuable advice to new ex-smokers? Never quit quitting!!! I have had a dozen quits go bad before this 5 year quit. "Never quit quitting" by me.
"There's really not much I can say about a web site that has saved my life...oh yes, there is: Thank you to all the Q family that I'm sure it takes to keep this wonderful place going. You saved me. Thank you!!!!"
Steve M, aka lancer071
Part One: What do you do when you find the child who pestered you for years to quit is now picking up the habit themselves? Upset and surprised as you may feel (after all, you did strongly advise them not to follow your bad example), you will need to tread lightly and resist the urge to lecture and demand. If you come on too strong, your child may just dig in their heels, assert their independence, and continue to smoke.
Instead, be a good listener and ask your child why they started smoking. What was the appeal? How much do they smoke, and with whom? It only takes a short time for a smoker to become addicted; ask if (s)he feels uncomfortable going without smoking for a few hours. Opening a discussion about their smoking habit can help you both create a quit plan.
A great way to prevent your children from smoking is to set a good example and not smoke yourself. So, if you have already quit, then congratulations! If you are in the process of quitting, be honest with them about how hard it is for you to quit and how much you wish you never started. If they see you slip or relapse, use that as a teaching moment. Kids respect honest communication over ultimatums. Reconfirm the addictive power of nicotine. Let them know it’s a struggle, but that you won’t give up on quitting smoking. In the meantime, go outside to smoke and avoid leaving any cigarettes accessible to your teen. Make your home and car a smoke-free zone. Studies show parents who avoid smoking in front of their children may help prevent them from picking up the habit.
Don’t underestimate the influence you have as a parent! Though your teen may appear to be ignoring you, the truth is they care a great deal about what you think of them and don’t want to disappoint you. Stay strong and consistent in your message that smoking is not an option. Keep the communication open by being nonjudgmental and paying attention to what your child is telling you.
Next week: Helping your kids deal with peer pressure.
You can quit smoking successfully, and we can help:
Welcome to the first installment of Member Stories at the QBlog. This week features tinacsu, a new member who quit smoking just in time for April Fool's Day, telling her story in her own words...
"I smoked for 18 years, about half pack a day. If stressed I smoke a little more each day. I tried to quit smoking many years ago...the first time I quit for 2 months. 5 years ago a quit lasted maybe 2 weeks. My heart really wasn't in it, to completely let it go.
"When I smoked I was ashamed of my addiction. I hated thinking that I am trying to make sure my body looks tight on the outside, but am ingesting poison that is ruining my insides. What truly made me decide to quit is my co-worker died of bone cancer 2 months ago. That really made me get serious about quitting.
"On Easter Sunday, 3/31/13, at 11pm, I had my last cigarette. I told myself that on April 1st I would not smoke anymore, and I talked to my Dr. and got a script for the patch. What's different this time is IT IS TIME. I am tired of being a slave to something that is killing me. Cigarettes are so expensive now and people are paying that money to something they think will provide comfort--but they don't. Cigs do not make problems go away or make them better. Ex-smokers have have to learn new coping skills.
"I just googled about quitting smoking and joined QuitNet on 4/3 or 4/4. So far I've been reading the testimonials, factoids, comics, and I joined a few clubs. Seeing my quit status and updates of the days, minutes, hours, seconds, money saved and life saved is inspiring.
"It's one step at a time. I am currently using the patch, but I just read Allen Carr's book, Easy Way to Quit, and he basically says that the willpower method is best, and following his advice. If I was alone on an island that might work! But I enjoyed his book and recommend people read it.
"What inspires me to stay quit is the fact that I sleep better at night, and knowing that I am improving my health. I have more energy in the gym, too. I like to run...I feel confident now that I can start running. When smoking crosses my mind I think of not being able to run for a long period of time.
"My most valuable advice for to others is: Pray. Ask God for guidance and help and strength. Take it one day, one hour, one minute, one second at a time. Don't worry about tomorrow, just get though today. Sometimes if I am having a strong craving I will tell myself, "Maybe tomorrow I will have a smoke, but not today." And the next day I say the same thing (I got that from another quitter on the site)."
QuitNet member since April, 2013
Unlike most tobacco addicts, I was a reluctant smoker at first. I had to work at becoming hooked. If it weren't for the repeated pressure from peers to conform, combined with coolness imagery and a narrative driven by manufacturers and advertisers, I'd have never even tried. This is the third installment of my personal journey into the hell of nicotine dependence. The story so far...
As the new kid in a rural farming town, I tried smoking to fit in, but smoking made me so ill I couldn't take any more than a few puffs at a time. I tried again to become a smoker, or at least fake being a smoker, a few years later when I developed a crush on a high school senior who was herself a heavy smoker. Pretending to be a smoker didn't cut it, however; she wasn't fooled, and the physical effects of tobacco on my body remained a powerful deterrent. Then I joined the Army. [Image: National Archives]
One thing about military life, especially basic training--everything is broken down into pain and simple pleasures. All the civilian things that are important to a new recruit--family, friends, relationships, hairstyles, clothes, TV, partying, chasing girls and boys--are systematically stripped away and replaced with a spartan existence and enforced reliance on routine and authority. Conformity, not rugged indidualism, becomes the order of the day.
You'd think that a habit like smoking, which damages the body, distorts human thought processes, and is marketed as symbol of autonomy and rebellion, would be a bad fit for property of Uncle Sam. Any you'd be right, except for one thing: Uncle Sam himself was a smoker, targeted by tobacco companies (eager to expand their markets by pitching cigarettes as morale-boosters for combat troops) as far back as WWI. Soldiers from privates to generals, as well as retirees, military civilians and dependents, are likely to smoke at up to twice the national average (which currently hovers around 20%).
During WWII, free cigarettes were rationed to soldiers via manufacturers and retailers, and were considered by the troops even more valuable than MRE's (meals ready to eat). Cigarettes became part of the wartime iconography. I myself was profoundly affected, long before ever trying to smoke, by movie images of Allied fighting men lighting up with satisfaction after winning a firefight, or bombing the bejeebus out of Hitler with jaunty little cigarettes stuffed in the sides of their mouth.
In the 1970's, the U.S. government began to re-evaluate smoking by troops, as evidence mounted that smokers performed at a lower physical level than nonsmokers, were more easily injured, and got sick more often. This ill effect on combat readiness ignited a war between the military and cigarette makers and sellers that continued throughout the 1980's and '90's.
Today, soldiers still smoke at a much higher rate than civilians, though the government has taken some positive steps in the right direction--even partnering with QuitNet to help soldiers get free of tobacco addiction.
Next time: So how did I finally get hooked on death sticks?
Alan P, CTTS, Healthways QuitNet
You had a good quit going, then you smoked one. Now what?
A slip is a red arrow pointing to a personal trigger challenge. A relapse is a red arrow pointing to a large space in your quit plan.
What to do next?
STOP. Go back to the very beginning. Every single quit - be it an hour, a day or a year - has within it all the tools you need to ensure your next quit is your best (and last) quit ever!
If you have quit for half a day, that means you have quit successfully before! It also means you know how to quit, how to get through an urge, what works good for you and what does not, when your hardest trigger times are and what has led to a slip or relapse in the past.
Move forward today by writing down a successful quit plan, one that is custom tailored just for you via your previous quit(s):
What are your 3 biggest smoking triggers?
How do you plan to get beyond them?
What worked before? What else are you willing to try? Write it down.
What are your 3 biggest motivators for being a nonsmoker?
What are 3 great benefits you noticed last time when you Quit?
Write it down!
Think of 3 more motivators or benefits and add them to your list.
Post your motivators on your refrigerator, bathroom mirror, car visor, desk and so forth. Be sure to Celebrate your Quit! Acknowledge how great you're doing to inspire more great days.
What are your personal emotional triggers?
How did you cope with stress, boredom, frustration and anger last time?
What else can you try this time?
Write it all down. Do it again + add some new options!
How did you reward, relax, comfort, enjoy, fill your time & socialize as a nonsmoker during your last quits? What else can you try? It is important your emotional needs are met, not ignored! If you reward, relax, comfort, enjoy and stay busy, then you will not be bored or stressed or feel like you are 'missing out' as a nonsmoker, so really think it thorugh and write it down.
Why did you slip or relapse this time? Why did you slip or relapse last time?
Using your answers from the above questions, what are 5 things you will commit doing this time instead of smoke when faced with each one of your relapse triggers?
What are 3 more things you are willing to try?
Plan ahead and write it down.
Now you have an outline of your quit personal 'get back on track' action plan.
Remember, NRT/Chantix/Zyban only work to the degree that the quitter works their quit process. Support products are very helpful and they 'take the edge off' as the quitter moves forward. Ultimately, it is the 'quitter moves forward' part that results in a successful quit.
Commit to get back on track with your quit. You can do this - you already have!
Good luck and keep going!
Vikki Q CTTS-M
Master Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist
You don't have to quit alone:
When you can’t breathe, nothing else matters.
This powerful message--found on the American Lung Association website--couldn't be more truthful. If you suffer from asthma and/or other respiratory diseases, the heat, chemicals, and smoke from cigarettes is the last thing your lungs need.
“Asthma and smoking simply don’t mix,” a pulmonologist once told me.
Asthma affects both children and adults and can be life threatening. Deaths due to asthma number over 3300 every year, according to the Allergy and Asthma Foundation. Many deaths can be prevented by taking measures to treat symptoms before they worsen. Asthma symptoms include:
- Chest tightness
- Shortness of breath/difficulty breathing
Avoiding asthma triggers and regular use of a controller inhaler are key to preventing asthma exacerbations. One such trigger to avoid is tobacco smoke, including smoke from pipes, cigars or cigarettes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 21% of U.S. adults smoke and have asthma. If you have asthma and smoke, quitting is one of the best things you can do for your lung’s health and for the health of your children’s lungs.
Children are particularly susceptible to lung irritants as their bodies are much smaller. Childhood asthma affects 7.1 million children under the age of 18. Smoking during pregnancy can potentially affect newborn lung development and increase risk of childhood asthma.
While, to date, there is insufficient data to show that smoking and secondhand smoke cause asthma, it does make asthma symptoms worse. Tobacco smoke, whether inhaled directly (mainstream smoke) or indirectly (passive smoke) irritates the airways and causes a chain reaction including inflammation of the airways, tightening of airway muscles, and increased mucus production, all of which contribute to the narrowing and obstruction of the airways.
When you quit smoking, you effectively remove a huge source of lung irritation and will notice better asthma control and fewer flare-ups. It is possible, however, that you may notice an initial worsening of asthma symptoms--increased chest tightness, difficulty breathing, coughing, and mucus production. But do not despair! What may appear to be an excacerbation of your asthma is the contrary: your body is healing. Think of it this way: it’s almost if you are not used to breathing without restriction (or if you haven’t breathed easily in the many years you probably smoked). These changes may act as a trigger to asthma symptoms (remember: people with asthma have "twitchy" lungs, meaning hyper-reactivity to anything that can potentially trigger a flare-up). But in the long run, your asthma should IMPROVE. Most folks notice a significant improvement in breathing after 90 days.
In the meantime, you may find yourself increasing your usage of a “rescue” inhaler, at least until symptoms improve. You might also try a warm bath or compress or breathing and relaxation exercises to help alleviate tight chest muscles.
The bottom line: keeping your house smoke-free will leave you and your family breathing easier.