I counsel all my patients on smoking cessation. Sometimes they’ve tried unsuccessfully to quit. Sometimes they aren’t ready to quit. But, they need to know that when they ARE ready, I’m here to help them.
Quitting smoking is the single best thing you can do for your health. People often fear that they will gain weight when they give up smoking, and there’s some truth to that concern. On average, people only gain 5-10 pounds in the first month. However, even if you kept that weight on for the rest of your life, that’s still healthier than continuing to smoke.
Make the Decision to Quit
So, what’s the first step to putting down the carton for good? Well, first you have to decide that you are ready to quit. Although there are medications to help individuals quit, nothing will do the work for you. Once you have made this decision, try to recruit anyone else in your house or family who also smokes to join you in your smoke-free endeavor. Studies show it’s easier to quit if you aren’t surrounded by temptation – and you have a support system to lean on for encouragement.
Talk to Your Doctor
Once you’re resolved to stop smoking, make an appointment to see your primary care physician. Studies have shown that people who use Chantix®, Zyban®, or Nicoderm® have higher success rates than people who go cold turkey. While smoking cessation medications can be expensive, it’s important to remember that you are really investing in your health and, in the long run, the cost of the medication will pay for itself. Oral medications should be started several days BEFORE your designated quit date. Prior to starting any medications, you should talk to your doctor about possible side effects.
Pick a Quit Date – Then Stick to It!
Then decide on a quit date. Pick a date that works for you and then commit. Throw away all your tobacco. Don’t cheat: no secret stashes! There are resources to help support your efforts in quitting. 1-800-QUIT-NOW offers free support, coaching and educational materials. There are even texting programs that will text you words of encouragement. Try to keep your hands busy. Keep lollipops or something else you can pop in your mouth to take the place of that cigarette.
Finally, keep trying! Just because you break down after a stressful day at work and have one cigarette doesn’t mean you should give up on the whole project. Get back on the horse and try again! Good luck!
Have questions about smoking cessation? Leave them for Dr. Szulc in the comment section below!
About Dr. Susan Szulc
Susan V. Szulc, MD, is a board-certified internist with Bon Secours Medical Associates at Virginia Beach. She received her bachelor of science in microbiology from the University of Florida in Gainesville, Fla. Dr. Szulc earned her medical degree from Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) in Norfolk, Va., where she also completed a residency in internal medicine. Dr. Szulc is board certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine. She is a member of the American Medical Association, American College of Physicians and American Medical Women’s Association. Dr. Szulc’s special interests include palliative care and hypertension.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Szulc please call (757) 305-1797!