No one ever said it would be easy to quit smoking, but once you dedicate yourself to this process, it’s important to take all the appropriate steps to ensure your success. Joining a smoking cessation program can be one of the most effective ways to get the help you need to break both your nicotine addiction and your addiction to the physical act of smoking. However, most people don’t know where to look for these programs or even how they work. With the right tools, smokers can get the assistance they need and start down the path of a healthier lifestyle much more quickly.
Why Should You Quit? *
In general, most people are aware there are negative risks to smoking. One of the areas that can be most severely affected by this habit is your heart and circulatory system. This is why smoking is heavily linked to the presence of heart disease. In addition, your lungs are at risk. Many smokers will ultimately develop a chronic lung condition, whether it’s lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema or a number of other conditions. The longer you smoke, the greater your risk for developing these diseases, even after you quit. This is why it’s so important to work hard at quitting as soon as you can. Smoking cessation treatment is one of the most effective ways of achieving your goals and putting your body back on the path to success. In addition, it’s important to quit for those around you, both for their health and so they don’t have to fear losing you.
Smoking Cessation Guidelines *
While no two people will respond to treatment in the same way, just like any other medical treatment, it’s important for medical professionals to have guidelines in place to help them determine the best way to treat each patient who crosses their path. For this reason, the NCCN puts guidelines in place to provide the guidance these medical professionals need. This list of guidelines details the potential treatment plans, how long patients can expect to take to quit, and what benefits they can expect to receive. These guidelines are reviewed regularly and adjustments can be made to fit the current research and the trends seen among patients who are being treated.
What Do Smoking Cessation Programs Use? *
The methods used to help people quit smoking vary greatly depending on the program you choose and what methods work for you. For instance, some individuals are able to quit cold turkey with a little support from family, friends and a counselor, while others require more in depth treatment options. Nicotine replacement products have become a useful tool many individuals have used to gradually decrease their nicotine intake while eliminating the dangerous chemicals found in cigarette smoke. Over time, most people are able to step completely off nicotine and resume living a healthier lifestyle. However, these products don’t work for everyone.
Smoking cessation drugs can sometimes be used by medical professionals to change the chemistry of the brain to break the dependence. Many of these medications are classified as anti-depressants but were also found to help people stop smoking. These medications should only be used for shorter periods of time while the individual stops smoking. In many cases, this treatment option allows patients to continue smoking as they reduce the number of cigarettes they use each day. Once the individual is no longer smoking, medications can be weaned to complete the treatment.
Another treatment method that is growing in popularity is smoking cessation hypnosis. According to WebMD, hypnosis can be an effective method of helping people stop smoking by making subliminal suggestions to the mind. For instance, the hypnotist may suggest the smoke smells like something particularly unpleasant to the smoker or may suggest cigarette use will leave the individual parched and extremely thirsty. These unpleasant ideas can often cause fast, effective results. They may even use a technique called self-hypnosis in which the individual can repeat several affirmations every time they feel the urge to smoke. These affirmations can include:
- A healthy body is necessary to live.
- Smoking poisons the body.
- It’s up to me to protect and respect my body.
These simple phrases can remind the smoker of the detrimental impact of a smoking habit and discourage the habit altogether.
Unfortunately, hypnosis doesn’t work for everyone. In fact, one in four people are incapable of being hypnotized at all. In addition, the level of intensity each individual experiences will vary, which can mean some people are able to quit smoking almost immediately as a result, while others may take weeks, months or even years to fully quit. It’s important for individuals to enter this type of smoking cessation program with an open mind. In some cases, individuals may need to try something else entirely or combine hypnosis with another treatment option for the best results.
Smoking Cessation Timeline *
The amount of time it takes to fully quit smoking will vary widely from individual to individual. It can also depend on the treatments used and how well each person responds to those treatments. For this reason, there is no set timeline anyone can truly follow. Instead, they need to follow their body’s cues and determine whether a treatment is working and consider another if it isn’t. However, while this is the most common type of timeline most people are thinking about when they enter a program, there’s another type of timeline that should also be considered as part of the process. This timeline refers to the health benefits individuals will experience when they stop smoking.
The American Cancer Society has put together a smoking cessation timeline that clearly shows smokers the benefits of quitting so they can realize how important it is to quit as soon as possible. This timeline shows the following:
- Heart rate and blood pressure often drop within 20 minutes of quitting.
- Carbon monoxide levels drop after 12 hours.
- Circulation improves and lung function increases after three weeks to three months, depending on how long an individual smoked.
- Lung function, such as cilia, mucus and ease of breathing, improve between one and nine months.
- The risk of heart disease drops by half after a year.
- Risks of certain cancers, such as bladder, mouth and throat reduce by half after five years.
- Risk of cervical cancer returns to normal after five years.
- The stroke risk returns to normal in two to five years.
- The risk of lung cancer reduces by half by year 10.
- The risk of heart disease returns to normal by 15 years.
In addition to these important risk facts, individuals who quit smoking also decrease their chances of developing diabetes. While quitting at any age is beneficial to your health, the younger you are, the better your outcome will be.
Quitting smoking isn’t always an easy task, but with the help of a smoking cessation program, individuals can give themselves a better chance at a successful outcome and ensure they lower their risk of serious medical conditions. While it’s never a good idea to start smoking, recognizing the benefits of quitting is a giant step in the right direction, giving smokers a new lease on life and helping them enjoy a healthier lifestyle and a longer life with those around them.