02 Jan Smoking Cessation: An Ordeal Requiring Motivation and Support
Smoking cessation is the process by which a person changes their behavior and body chemistry to lose their addiction to nicotine and quit smoking tobacco products. The smoking cessation process requires motivation, a change in lifestyle and attitude, and sometimes, drugs and medical help.
Smoking affects a person’s heart, lungs, brain and nervous system. Many people use smoking to reduce their appetite, to attain calm, sleep better and sometimes to make social contact. Smokers not only affect their own health, they affect the health of their families and friends.
My dad smoked for most of his life. He has had two heart bypasses. During his last bypass surgery, he had a heart attack on the operating table. Post-surgery, he came down with pneumonia and spent a week or more in the University of Washington hospital in intensive care. I visited him during this time and one night, my husband and I showed up while the nurse was clearing the fluid out of my dad’s lungs so he didn’t drown. He used a syringe that looked quite a bit like a large turkey baster to suction the fluid and then dump it into a pan. While I watched him do this, I noticed the fluid was milky but tainted with dark gray. I asked the nurse, ”is that from smoking?” The answer was yes. I was horrified. At the moment, my dad is living day to day with congestive heart failure-a condition in which fluid builds up around his heart and makes it difficult for the heart to pump.
To Quit Smoking:
At the time my dad had his last bypass, my fiancé – now my husband – smoked. He, too, was horrified and disbelieving that so much smoke remained in the lungs. It helped I think, that his doctor found a spot on his lungs that looked like potential emphysema or cancer. He also had recently divorced his first wife who smoked. His son offered him $1,000 to quit smoking and later paid it to us by doing work on our property. I refused to allow smoking in the house. I also told him that I wasn’t going to marry a dead man. Lucky for me, he realized I was serious. All of these things provided the motivation for him to quit smoking.
But it wasn’t easy for my husband to quit smoking. My husband had smoked for forty years. Habits so ingrained are hard to break. He felt he couldn’t think if he didn’t smoke.
My husband’s smoking cessation plan included the use of nicotine patches. Before he turned to nicotine patches, he spent over a year smoking light cigarettes and cutting back on the number of cigarettes he smoked. He chose to quit just before vacation so his need to think would be reduced. He also felt like he could put up with many of the withdrawal symptoms during vacation that would have been impossible to endure while he worked.
Those first weeks were pretty bad. He turned pale and gray in his face, sweat running down his forehead. During those times, he’d rub his nicotine patch hoping to get a jolt. He ended up using more patches than recommended then cutting down on them gradually. He also ended up wearing the nicotine patch for a longer duration than recommended. He was irritable and gained weight.
It took him over a year before he quit craving cigarettes. It took nearly five years before he quit dreaming that he smoked. Many times he confessed to me that he had smoked in his dreams and he knew he was bad but that they tasted so good.
Any smoking cessation plan should consider :
Support from family members to quit smoking.Help from medical products such as nicotine patches or a new product called Chantix that blocks the effects of nicotine on the brain.Support from a family doctor including tests of heart and lung functionality can improve success rates.
Change in habits including regular exercise to promote good blood flow and reduce stress and anxiety. Also changes in habits like drinking coffee that often go hand-in-hand with smoking. Changes in habits to put something else in a smoker’s hand to replace the cigarette. Changes in lifestyle so that friends and family don’t smoke around them. Changes in diet to help limit weight gain.
Compassion for the difficulties a person undergoing nicotine withdrawal experiences. If you know someone who quits smoking, forgive them for their irritability
Support groups such as hypnosis sessions, counseling, and Nicotine Anonymous can improve success rates.
These Web sites can help:
Explains difficulties encountered when quitting smoking, facts, tips, research and more.
Explains some of the success rates statistics and alternative methods mentioned in this article.
American Lung Association:
Provides connections to online programs that support smoking cessation, legislative news and other facts and data.
Includes many articles on the affects of smoking and tips for a cessation program.
American Heart Association:
Provides fact sheets about handling the smoking cessation process.