How to quit smoking: get ready for smoking cessation properly

Often smokers are themselves prepared to quit smoking and make multiple attempts to quit smoking, but fail! It is all due to lack of will power, as we frequently blame ourselves? Or, could something else also be responsible for our failure to quit smoking? Understanding these ‘failure factors’ will help in understanding how to quit smoking successfully

Factors which set you to fail in your attempt to quit smoking

This is a mix of medical, behavioral and social factors, which make your attempt to quit smoking, much harder than it needs to be! These factors can be countered to a great extent by planning your quit attempt and getting medical or expert help. Read about these factors and strategies to counter them in detail now:

Nicotine dependence: not dealing with it adequately

Smoking gives the body nicotine which is a very strong addictive substance. When one tries to quit smoking, his/her level of nicotine dependence is a key factor to consider. Different people have different levels of dependence on nicotine, even for the same level of smoking. So, before you make a quit attempt, assess your nicotine dependence level.

The most commonly accepted way is to take the ‘Fagerstrom Nicotine Dependence Questionnaire’ . Your score will help you and your doctor decide whether you need nicotine replacement only (with nicotine gums or patches or both) or you are a candidate for drug therapy to quit smoking

Drug treatment for smoking cessation: not giving it a chance

Nicotine patch, gum etc. are not the only options available for people with heavy nicotine dependence. Two drugs called bupropion and varenicline are used quite extensively for smoking cessation in the western world and are easily available in India also

Studies show that the success rate for these drugs with or with out nicotine replacement therapy is better than only nicotine replacement therapy. They are safe drugs and need to be taken for a 3-6 month period only

Discuss with your doctor!

Not preparing adequately for your quit attempt

Many successful quitters would say that just quitting one fine day is the best way to do it. They are right in the sense that stopping altogether on a ‘quit date’ works much better than aiming to gradually reduce your number of cigarettes.

But, you need to prepare not only yourself, but also your family and friends for this ‘quit date’. You need to also prepare your work and home environment well. How should you go about it? Experts (including WHO) suggest a STAR strategy. read about it below

Not getting help/ support in your attempt to quit smoking

Studies show that people who get help in the form of doctor or health worker counselling sessions or even helpline support for their quit attempt, are more successful in quitting smoking

In our country there are few good centers or mobile apps or helplines that offer these services. Even the one that offer these services, are not as per WHO’s expert guidelines. So find a doctor or a health worker if you can, or else talk freely to at least one friend about the different challenges you face and how to deal with them. Also, tell them to remind you of your reason for quitting smoking frequently

So, what is the right way to quit smoking? Read below

How to quit smoking ?

1. Talk to your doctor for deciding on need for drug therapy

You need assessment for nicotine dependence. This will help in planning

  • The level of nicotine replacement: whether you need only gums or patch or combination of these. Also in what dose and frequency
  • Need for drug therapy: and selection of appropriate drug and dose

2. Plan your quit attempt well, use the STAR strategy

  • S means:  Set a quit date. Ideally, the quit date should be within two weeks.
  • T means:  Tell family, friends and co-workers about quitting, and request understanding and support
  • A means:  Anticipate challenges to the upcoming quit attempt, particularly during the critical first few weeks. This is the trickiest part, especially at work, where it is difficult to control everyone’s behavior and temptation triggering situations. Experts recommend the ACE strategy for this.
    • A is for AVOID. For example: not going with colleagues in the ‘smoke break’
    • C is for CHANGE. If some thing can not be avoided, then try to change the situation in a positive way. For example: if your boss is smoking in front of you, ask permission to get yourself a coffee, so that you can get away.
    • E is for ESCAPE. you have to actively escape temptation. For example: do not go fr an evening out where all your friends will be smoking!
  • R means: Remove tobacco products from the environment

3. Plan counselling or talk sessions at key junctures

If you can find a counselor, great. Otherwise just set up a schedule with a friend. Ask them to check your progress at the times given below

  • On the eve of quit date to check for your preparation
  • 3-4 days after quit date
  • Once a week, for next few weeks

4. Reward yourself for adherence to the plan

By doing something that gives you pleasure. It could be shopping, eating out etc.

Hope you find success in your attempt to quit!

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