family practice issues and general life events

Stopping smoking

Let me start this by saying, I have never smoked, so I personally never had to deal with that addiction and the cravings.  However, I do treat many smokers as patients and try to help them conquer that addiction.  The first thing I do know, is that everyone who is having problem stopping smoking has that one friend that just decided one day to stop and laid the pack down.  No problems, no cravings, just pure will power.  And to those friends, I say, stop it.  You are not helping your friend by saying,

“it’s easy, I just decided to quit and did it.”

Because for every one smoker who decides to quit like that, I have seen about 20 of the other kind.  Twenty who suffer from the cravings and the desires to smoke.  Those who have dealt with the stress in their lives by smoking.  Those who now struggle what to do with their emotions and how to deal with stress.  

Recent studies indicate that the average smoker tries 7 times before stopping smoking.  That is six times they were not successful.  Six attempts that frustrate and make them feel like a failure.  Looking at it as a failure is part of the problem.  Some studies indicate that tobacco is more addictive than heroin.   And heroin is the drug that everyone fears being addicted to.  In fact, when in an inpatient setting to deal with other addictions, the one addiction that is never dealt with, tobacco.  Rationale, if you take away the tobacco addiction, chances for relapse for other drugs increase significantly.

There are multiple choices of products that help with cessation, many replace the nicotine through patches, inhalers, gum, etc.  The goal is that by stepping down, you can beat the habit.  Then there is Chantix, which makes tobacco taste bad, and makes people nauseated.  Or Zyban/Wellbutrin which is an anti-depressant thought to help with the urges to smoke.  And the latest, the electronic cigarette.  This also is a tobacco replacement system, that removes most of the other products in a cigarette, but initially has nicotine.  Also with the goal of stepping down.  Also includes vapor to inhale.  I am a little skeptical to the claim that it is 100% safe and that you can do it forever without consequences, but as a means to get off of tobacco products, absolutely the lesser of two evils.

Now I live in a state with one of the highest levels of tobacco use.  While there has been legislation preventing smoking in restaurants and state buildings, we also have drive through smoke shops on tribal lands.  The one just outside my town, has three windows.  No need for waiting or getting out of your car.

The reasons for stopping smoking have been endlessly documented for both the individual and everyone they live with, especially their children.  The cost is also well documented.  But if it were easy, all of these products wouldn’t be needed.  Increasing taxes on cigarettes would stop those who couldn’t afford to stop.  

Maybe we should treat it like an addiction.  And maybe we should look to understand the science of addiction, and look at it as a real medical problem and not just weakness of the individual.  


Comments on: "Stopping smoking" (2)

  1. Kendra Barton said:

    Very well said. I was one of those people that tried 7, 10, 15 times to quit before I actually did. And when I did quit finally, I was one of those people that laid down the pack and never touched it again. That 16th time it was easy, the first 15 were not. And I also understand that every person is different and this is an addiction, not a weakness. But I was ready at that 16th time. It wasn’t enough to quit for me, or my health, my husband, etc. But the second my 4 year old son told someone I “must be outside smoking” my heart broke and I knew it was time – for him. So I did. That being said, it is not easy. I still think about it, but I don’t crave them anymore. Now I celebrate the fact that I did it. Finally. After smoking since I was 15 to 34. Thanks for looking at it like the addiction it is!

    • And that does seem to be the common thread between those that are successful, they are really ready. You are correct, its not enough to quit for someone else, because no matter how good your intentions are or your reasons, until you are ready it won’t happen. I am glad you were able find your time. Congrats.

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