Be a Fighter - Put down the lighter
Thinking of giving up smoking? Or not yet thinking of doing it. Either way it is worth a read to see what is in store for you.
One in 5 people in the world either smoke or have been smokers. So you are not alone. Information on quitting smoke is freely available and is somewhere stored in the back of your mind. This information is never strong enough to stop you from smoking. Nagging family or familiar friends usually kick-start the stop smoking campaign in your life. Most commonly a serious event like a hospitalisation episode or a heart attack brings the need for the process intro focus. There is no safe level of smoking. So telling oneself that I smoke occasionally doesn't nullify the effect.
Smoking is not good for the Heart or the Lungs is a well-known fact. But it affects almost every other organ in the body including the Bladder. I don't wish to burden you with statistics as this does very little in the way of making you give up.
Why is it so difficult to give up then? Because Nicotine is a tenaciously addictive drug. So when one stops a withdrawal syndrome is seen. Irritability, anger, restlessness, impatience and difficulty in concentrating results. This is very important for the family around to understand as support at such time is crucial. Symptoms may last several weeks or months. Physically palpitations and constipation are the most common symptoms.
So when the Doctors shouts at you to say give up today or die - it is not always possible.
So where do you start and how to do it.
Motivation only starts when you feel ready to give up
Then comes the calculation to know how addicted you are. A rough guide would be to see if you need a smoke within half an hour of waking. If you do, then it is going to take a little longer to completely give up. Needing to smoke even if you are in bed is also more significant than the number of smokes in a day.
The next step is to set a date to give up. This could be Diwali, a Birth date or a month later. But this needs to be a few weeks away so the mind can remain focussed. Try to give up without medication in round one. Attempt a 50% reduction in the smoking in the first three months and 75% in the first 6-9 months This is realistic and more likely to have longer effect. At one year after starting try to stay smoke free up to 3 weeks. It will take a lot of patience from both yourself and the family.
If you have previously tried and not been able to give up, then medication up to month 6 can help reduce the urge and prevent a relapse. Medication has its own side effects but may be necessary for you.
Smoking cessation is a dynamic process that occurs over time rather than a single event. Smokers cycle through the stages of contemplation, quitting and relapse an average of three to four times before achieving permanent success.
Don't give up as it is not impossible. Cancer cures smoking but at what cost? Tar the roads, not your lungs. Don't smoke - there are cooler ways to die.
Article by Dr.Supriya Sundaram
Pulmonologist, Kauvery Hospital