Cigarette smoking is very addictive and can have long-term, adverse health effects. But there is hope for those who want to quit thanks to innovative apps, help lines and proven coping strategies. In 2019, more than 34 million Americans smoked, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That was almost 14% of Americans 18 and older. Cigarettes have chemicals that can make this addiction particularly insidious. Despite the steep uphill battle, the addiction can be overcome. Here are some actions you can take to help you or a loved one quit smoking and enjoy a healthier life.
Focus on How to ‘Stay Quit’
The goal should not be to quit smoking; rather, it should be on how to “stay quit.” There are many people who say they’ve quit many times but have not been able to permanently stop. Doctors recommend people break up their larger goal of quitting into smaller goals. For example, learn your different triggers that could make you want to smoke. That way, you can be mindful and find solutions for those actions.
Make Each Time You Quit a Learning Experience
Most people who smoke quit eight to twelve times, because of the addictiveness of cigarettes, before they successfully quit for good. Because relapse is so common, try to find a lesson you can take from each experience. If you approach quitting from the viewpoint that the more things you learn from each relapse, the greater the chance of quitting permanently.
Use Phone Lines and Apps for Support
Calling a quitting help line to get outside assistance can also help. The CDC funds a tobacco cessation hotline, 1-800-QUIT-NOW, which is free to US residents in all states. Your call goes automatically to the quit line in your state or territory. Callers are connected to coaches who help smokers create a plan to quit and give them advice when facing withdrawals and cravings. There is also an app called iCanQuit, which was supported by a grant from the US National Institutes of Health. The app focuses on acceptance and commitment therapy, which encourages people to accept their emotions and thoughts instead of pushing them away. It also offers resources for quitting and handling cravings when they arise.
Speak to Your Medical Provider
People who want to quit smoking can talk to their medial provider to come up with a treatment plan filled with multiple strategies. Doctors can prescribe medication to curb cigarette cravings and make them more manageable. It’s a short-term solution to help train your brain to not crave cigarettes as strongly. The medication doctors provide will depend on your specific situation. The prescriptions tend to be minimal at first then escalate depending on the severity of the addiction. Set up an appointment with a HealthLynked provider to discuss your options.
Quitting smoking is no easy task. However, there are actions you can take and resources available to use that can assist you. Despite the daunting effort it takes, never forget that it is possible to overcome this addiction and enjoy better health.