If you’re a smoker, there’s a good chance that you want to quit. According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, an estimated 70 percent of state smokers want to kick the habit. And why not? Smoking not only is linked to a host of health problems, including cancer, stroke, heart problems, and lung disease, it is also an expensive, smelly habit.
But quitting is not easy. The nicotine in cigarettes is very addictive. Don’t be discouraged -- there are plenty of resources available to help smokers quit. Talk with your family physician about quitting; he or she will be able to provide you with several resources as well as encouragement. While some people are able to go cold turkey and stop smoking on their own, others need some help, whether it’s talking to someone to get support or using a medication to help wean your body off nicotine.
It’s important to have a plan when you quit smoking. Set a quit date and then spread the word. You’ll need the support of your family and friends; explain to them the reasons why you want to quit. Quitting smoking is difficult – I won’t lie to you – you’ll be tempted to smoke and you’ll go through withdrawal. Your body is used to nicotine and once you’re no longer smoking, you may feel a little depressed, have trouble sleeping, be a little cranky, and feel anxious. But don’t worry, those feelings will pass.
You’ll also need to be prepared to fight off any triggers associated with smoking. For example, do you always have a cigarette in the car on the way to work? Come up with a new activity to take its place. Some people chew gum as a way to give them something to do with their mouth while others may hold a pen or pencil if they’re used to holding a cigarette.
With help, everyone can kick the smoking habit. Once you quit, your health will improve. Research has shown that in just the first few days of quitting smoking, people have seen their blood pressure decrease and blood oxygen levels return to normal. Five years after having that last cigarette, the risk of stroke is reduced to the same level as people who never lit up a cigarette and your chance of developing lung cancer is half that of a current smoker.
The holidays are fast approaching. Give yourself and your family the gift of better health and quit smoking for good.
Scott Schuldes is a certified family nurse practitioner and associate medical director at ThedaCare Physicians-Hilbert. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.