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!