Everyone knows that quitting smoking is easier said than done.
Obviously, we also already know that smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in Canada. We also know that butting out for the last time will enable you to live healthier longer to be able to enjoy the adventures your future holds.
This is why Familiprix, in collaboration with Vie de Parents, explain why it is so challenging to quit smoking and we’ll share some simple tips to help you be successful.
Whether you’re at the stage of contemplating quitting or starting to quit, know that you’ll need support to prevent relapses.
Your pharmacist can also help you to stop smoking. Having support and encouragement is essential in order to quit smoking for good.
Why do we smoke?
A University of Washington study found that over 90% of smokers who try to quit relapse at least once, and blame stress. This is because stressors disrupt brain activity in a region that nicotine calms down. Researchers believe that stress causes smoking to feel exceedingly enjoyable.
However, it’s not just stress that makes you light up a cigarette. Nicotine is believed to have effects on your energy levels and ability to concentrate in addition to causing a feeling of calmness and well-being. Sound familiar?
It’s therefore likely that during withdrawal, the absence of nicotine is more noticeable if you’re also experiencing stress, fatigue or irritation. Knowing this in advance is already a step forward when finding solutions to overcome this challenge.
The main barriers to stopping
Worrying about the physical and psychological side effects of withdrawal is quite normal. However, it’s important to remember that these side effects are also a sign that the body is purging itself of its addiction, and moving towards a healthier lifestyle.
Now let’s take a look at the most common side effects of nicotine withdrawal and some tips to overcome them. And note that these symptoms vary depending on the person, the amount of cigarettes smoked, the number of years spent smoking and the smoker’s general state of health.
Dizziness and shaking
Better oxygenation of the lungs or the stress caused by quitting smoking are often the cause. It’s important to stretch well and get fresh air as often as possible.
Anxiety, irritability, nervousness and restlessness
The body adapts to the lack of nicotine that served as a stimulant. A healthy lifestyle is key, such as being active, drinking plenty of water, eating balanced meals and getting enough sleep.
Headaches, difficulty concentrating and sleeping
A lack of nicotine can interfere with concentration, but you shouldn’t compensate for this with stimulants such as soft drinks. Weaning off cigarettes can affect sleep. To help, try reading while taking a hot bath or taking a walk to think about something else and relax.
Smoking influences hunger signals, so it’s normal for the body to try to regain its natural signals. Sugar cravings are also normal, since it provides pleasure, comfort and energy like cigarettes provided.
Cough and constipation
The respiratory and intestinal systems begin to function again without the chemicals in nicotine that paralyzed or overstimulated them. Drinking water, eating well and exercising regularly will be your best allies.
The urge to smoke
All these side effects associated with withdrawal will lead to one thought: smoking. It bears repeating that these effects, although they may last for some time, will pass. And by keeping busy and away from sources of temptation, you’ll see the benefits of stopping smoking faster than you think.
Fear of being judged by others
Some of you may be around smokers and fear their judgment about your decision. It’s important that you repeat the reasons for this process that you’re undergoing for yourself: to be in better health, to resume a sport, to be around for your children for a long time, to complete life projects, etc. Don’t hesitate to share your challenges with those closest to you. Every year, nearly 900,000 Quebecers make a serious attempt to quit smoking. In other words, your own initiative may motivate others to quit smoking. Now that’s some motivation to begin your new chapter!
Fear of gaining weight
As far as weight gain is concerned, it’s true that nicotine stimulates the metabolism, which then expends more calories in addition to masking the signals and the feeling of hunger.
As you regain control of your body, you may have difficulty recognizing your appetite, but balanced meals and regular physical activity are great ways to help your body regain its health smoothly.
The benefits of quitting smoking
Did you know that if you quit smoking at age 30, you’ll gain 10 years of life expectancy? That at 50 it’s a gain of six years? Even better, five to 15 years after quitting smoking, the risk of stroke becomes comparable to that of a non-smoker.
And between one to nine months after quitting, your body quietly becomes able to fight off infections and viruses again. Your voice also becomes clearer, your hair softer and you’ll have healthier-looking skin.
These are just a few of the benefits of quitting, but there are many, including regaining your sense of taste and smell, reducing snoring and the risks of sleep apnea, among other things. Above all, no longer being addicted to cigarettes enables you to fully enjoy your days with lots of endurance. You can run with your children or grandchildren without getting out of breath and you can treat yourself to many new pleasures with the extra money that you now have in your pockets.
Saying no to a substance that influences your emotions, your metabolism, your physique and your psychological self is a big challenge. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime decision, because it will undoubtedly influence the rest of your life. And in a good way. One step at a time, well informed and well supported, there’s a path mapped out for you and your success. Many people have already succeeded. And now it’s your turn!
How your pharmacist can help
In addition to supporting you in your efforts, your pharmacist is there to give you advice that applies to your everyday life. For example, they can guide you by providing tips to avoid temptation and to fight any side effects.
As a healthcare professional, under certain conditions they may prescribe nicotine replacement therapies. Would you be a good candidate for a patch? How do gums, lozenges, mouth sprays or inhalers work?
It can quickly become overwhelming, but there’s no need to worry, as your pharmacist will guide you and make it easier.
Need more information?
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