I had such great guests for my show last week that I asked them to each contribute some words of their own to be posted on the site. Read below for an informative and compassionate piece from Dr Douglas Beach, Director of the Division of Pulmonology, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Take it to heart for yourself, or share it with a loved one. Keep up the good work!–Dr Darria
As a pulmonologist, I see patients with breathing problems on a daily basis. Too often do I hear patients express regret about not quitting smoking earlier. The truth of the matter is that it is never too late! Quitting smoking is more important than any medicine a doctor can prescribe in preventing long term health problems. So I encourage all my patients who smoke to try every day to cut back and eventually quit smoking.
Patient who smoke need to be ready to quit smoking. If you are not ready to quit smoking, you should think spend a minute every day thinking about the reasons why quitting would be a good idea (whether it is for health reasons, or even to put more money in your pocket and less into the tobacco companies enormous profits). Once you are ready, you should talk to your doctor about ways to help you quit. Even if you don’t ask, your doctor may ask about ways to help you quit smoking. Just talking about how to quit smoking is more important that a prescription pad, and there is no quick fix to quitting. Although there are medicines than can help people quit, making a plan is the critical first step.
Nicotine is a powerful drug, more addictive than any drug that can be bought illegally. The nicotine found in cigarettes takes between 7-10 seconds to reach the brain. The thousands of other chemicals in cigarettes are just along for the ride, and they are more toxic than anything you can imagine putting in your body. Most people remember their first cigarette, which was probably bad experience. But the nicotine keeps people coming back for more, even though the adverse effects are obvious to even a first time smoker.
Once you are ready to quit, remember a few things:
Set a date. The first of the month, someone’s birthday, or the day after a particularly stressful week. Try your best to stick to that date.
Get rid of all the matches, lighters, ashtrays, and that last cigarette you have around.
Tell your family and friends you are going to give it a shot. Get their support!
If you slip, don’t worry, there is always tomorrow. Give it another chance!
Finally, using a medicine that replaces the nicotine, like the Nicoderm Patch, Nicotine Gum, or Nicotine Lozenges, replaces the only thing in the cigarettes that your brain is addicted to. Once you have gotten over those urges, the chances of giving the cigarettes up for good increases 3-fold! Using another medicine, like Chantix or Buproprion, can increase the chances of quitting even more, just ask your doctor.
Thanks for reading, and GOOD LUCK!