If you or a loved one smokes, it’s likely that quitting made your list of New Year’s resolutions. But most smokers know that this can be one of the toughest resolutions to keep! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has just released some information and tips that can help. If smoking cessation was on your resolutions list for 2015 but you didn’t succeed last year, try some of these ideas.
Develop a Quit Plan
Planning ahead is a major part of successfully quitting smoking. Smokefree.gov offers details on how to create an effective quit plan, including:
- Picking a quit date. Starting the new year smoke free is a great idea.
- Letting loved ones know you’re quitting so they can support you.
- Listing your reasons to quit smoking.
- Figuring out what triggers make you want to smoke so you can avoid them, especially during the early days.
- Having places you can turn to for help right away.
Get Some Free Help
The CDC recommends several free resources for people trying to quit smoking:
- 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or 1-855-DÉJELO-YA (1-855-335-3569) (for Spanish speakers). This free service offers a lot of resources, including coaching, help with making a quit plan, educational materials, and referrals to other resources where you live. Learn more here: http://smokefree.gov/talk-to-an-expert.
- Smokefree TXT (http://smokefree.gov/smokefreetxt). This free 24/7 texting program sends encouragement, advice, and tips to help smokers quit smoking for good. To get started, just text QUIT to 47848, answer a few questions, and you’ll start receiving messages.
- Online help. Includes tips from former smokers and other resources (www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/quit-smoking/quitting-resources.html).
- Smokefree App (http://smokefree.gov/apps-quitguide). The QuitGuide is a free app that tracks cravings, moods, slips, and smoke-free progress to help you understand your smoking patterns and build the skills needed to become and stay smoke free.
Talk to Your Doctor About Medication
Because cigarettes contain nicotine, a powerfully addictive drug, when you first quit, your body may feel uncomfortable until it adjusts. This is known as withdrawal, and there are medications that can help lessen this feeling and the urge to smoke. Studies show that smokers who use medicine to help control cravings, along with coaching from a quit line, in a group, or from a counselor, are much more likely to succeed than those who go it alone. Seniors should talk to their doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider before using any of these medications, especially when they are using other medications and/or living with a serious medical condition.
Many options are available if you are considering using medications to help you quit smoking. The most common smoking medications are nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs), which give your body a little of the nicotine that it craves without the harmful chemicals found in burning cigarettes. Examples of Food and Drug Administration-approved NRTs that you can buy over the counter include nicotine patches, nicotine gum, and nicotine lozenges
NRTs that need a prescription include nicotine inhalers and nasal spray. Your doctor can also prescribe medication that does not contain nicotine to help you quit smoking completely.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adapted by IlluminAge AgeWise, 2016.