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When it Comes to Smoking, Be a Quitter!

Toni Ann DiSantis

Quitting smoking is the most important thing smokers can do to live a longer, healthier life. Yet almost one in every five American adults smokes.

You’re not weak, you’re addicted

If you’ve tried to stop smoking and always seem to pick it up again, you’re not alone. Nicotine, the drug in tobacco, is as addictive as heroin or cocaine. Smoking, and the chemicals in tobacco products, affect the heart and blood vessels, your hormones, your respiratory system, your metabolism and your brain. If you are a woman who is pregnant, nicotine affects your baby in the same ways.

A smoker who tries to quit faces up to a few weeks of withdrawal. The physical addiction to nicotine is in full force after just a few weeks of smoking. But also, there is a mental addiction to the habit of smoking. Both types of addiction have to be tackled when someone quits smoking.

 

Making it through the cravings

Between the withdrawal symptoms and the challenge of breaking a habit, it’s no wonder many smokers have a hard time quitting. Here are some ways to cope:

  • Take a brisk walk. Even a five- or 10-minute walk can help you through your craving and withdrawal symptoms. It can also triple the amount of time it takes for your next craving to hit.
  • Spend time in places where you can’t smoke. Try the library, museums, bookstores and malls.
  • Change other habits too. If you used to smoke when you watched TV, unplug the TV set. If you had to smoke with your morning coffee, have tea instead. Make plans to do something you enjoy when you would have smoked your favorite cigarettes of the day -- take a walk outdoors, call a friend, take a bath or play a game. If you change your routine, you are less likely to feel something is missing.
  • List your reasons. Make a list of all your reasons for quitting. Keep copies of it in your wallet, at your desk, and on the refrigerator. Look at it when you are tempted to smoke.
  • Don’t be fooled. Remember, there is no such thing as “just one” cigarette or puff. The strong desire to smoke will eventually pass.
  •  Stall. If you feel like you are about to give in, telling yourself you have to wait at least 10 minutes. This will often be enough time for you to get past the craving.
  • Reward yourself. Save the money you would have spent on tobacco for a daily treat or a major purchase.

 

The symptoms of nicotine withdrawal include:

  • Dizziness (for the first day or two)
  •  Depression
  •  Feeling frustrated or angry
  •  Trouble focusing
  •  Feeling really tired
  • Headache
  • Trouble sleeping and bad dreams
  •  Nausea or hunger
  •  Anxiety and irritability

Visit anthem.com for more ways to get healthy — and stay healthy.