By Stephanie Simons,
Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire
Smoking is linked to a number of fatal diseases including lung cancer, pneumonia and emphysema. It can cause asthma and reduce your lung capacity, making it harder to exercise and it can even affect the health of those around you. However, smoking is an addiction and many who would like to stop struggle to. As this month is Healthy Lung Month, here are some ways which you can pursue a healthier lifestyle.
Smoking is an addiction. Once you have decided to quit, consider making a plan. The two most common ways are cold turkey and the cut down method. Cold turkey requires the smoker to stop consuming nicotine immediately. The cut down method involves slowly reducing the number of cigarettes consumed until they are removed from your routine altogether. If you decide to use this method, it may be helpful to print off a calendar with the number of cigarettes to be smoked each day outlined.
Whichever method you decide to use, many people find stop-smoking aids crucial to the recovery process. These aids include patches, gums and lozenges which can help to alleviate nicotine cravings and can make it easier to resist reaching for a cigarette. Nicotine patches come in varying strengths and the dose is decreased over a period of two to six weeks, depending on the individual. The patches can be applied and left on for either 16 hours (apply in the morning and remove at bedtime) or 24 hours depending on the severity of the nicotine cravings. Nicotinell and Nicorette products can be purchased at Lindo’s and a pharmacist will be happy to discuss the best option for you.
However, it is not only the physical nicotine craving that can cause people to relapse but also the habit itself, which becomes part of a routine for many people. It is therefore important to keep yourself occupied throughout the recovery period.
Combating an addiction largely comes down to willpower. So, it is vital to stay optimistic and to remember why it is that you want to stop. For example, if you are quitting because you want to set an example for your children or because you want to save money for a vacation, make sure to visualise how it will feel when you’ve accomplished your goal, or even carry a photograph to inspire you.
You will find your journey back to healthy living much easier if you don’t do it alone. Let your friends and family know that you are trying to give up smoking and ask for their support. Share your reasons for wanting to quit and let them know if you want them to call out any slip-ups or if there is anything they can do to help distract you. Support can come from other friends who want to quit smoking, too, and there are support groups in Bermuda which you may find advertised at your church and community centres.
Support can also come from professional sources: if you struggle to give up on your own, you should seek the advice of your doctor who may be able to prescribe you medication to make the process easier. There are alternative therapies which you may find helpful such as therapy, acupuncture, hypnotherapy and holistic remedies.
If worst comes to worst and you find yourself falling back into old habits, don’t despair. It is important to take control of the situation as quickly as you can and get back on the path to recovery, despite how tempting it will be to give-up.
Making the decision to quit is half the battle, the rest is holding your nerve and keeping your head up high.
Stephanie Simons is the head pharmacist at Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and has been practicing for over 20 years. She is a registered pharmacist with the Bermuda Pharmacy Council and is a member of the Bermuda Pharmaceutical Association.