About 10 million UK adults smoke, some 22% of men and 21% of women and most start before they turn 18. Smoking causes a staggering 90% of UK lung cancer death.
Nicotine, the additive property in tobacco, is as addictive as heroin or cocaine, according to the Royal College of Physicians so it’s no wonder we find it so hard to kick the habit. However, with willpower and the right support, you can give up. Choosing when to quit is a highly personal choice and you need to be ready but with new year looming, there’s never been a better time to get prepared!
Dr Jasper Mordhorst is the Medical Director for www.thehealthcounter.com. As well as being an online doctor, Dr Mordhorst also works as a GP in South London. Here, he shares his expert advice on how best to stop smoking.
- Firstly, learn to understand why you feel the need for a cigarette – what causes the physical craving and what are the risky situations that might tempt you back to your habit?
- Get support. Tell friends and family what you are doing as this ‘informal’ contract can be very powerful in your subconscious and go along to your local Quit Smoking service (free on the NHS) and sign up to a programme. Success rates are higher (around 30%) for those who combine psychological support with a combination of quit Smoking medications, so don’t go it alone unless you really want to.
- Many people are helped by nicotine replacement treatment which may be a patch, a pill or even an inhalator. Some prefer an electronic cigarette which not only dispenses a dose of nicotine but gives you something to hold in your hand. There are other drugs too, which reduce the cravings that quitters have to battle against so do your homework to find that’s right for you.
- Focus on the positives. As well as your physical health, your bank balance will also look a lot healthier if you quit. Your body is very resilient and once you stop smoking, it will start to repair itself almost immediately. Skin will look less wrinkly, your energy levels will increase and your blood flow will be boosted. For example, in as little as 24 hours later, your lungs start to clear, within 48 hours, your body is free of nicotine and your sense of taste and smell will improve etc. After a year, the risk of having a heart attack is half that of a smoker!
- Don’t beat yourself up. If you don’t succeed, don’t give up hope. Many people finally stop smoking on their umpteenth attempt – it’s just a matter of time.
I’d suggest trying some of the following nicotine replacement treatments to help satisfy your addiction whilst you are weaning yourself off cigarettes. It’s perfectly okay to combine your NRT choices so find a combination of gum and inhalator that works for you. The following NRTs are available to buy directly from www.thehealthcounter.com and delivered directly to your front door:
· Nicotine patches (in varying strengths)
· Nicotine gum
· Mouth spray
· Nasal spray
· Microtabs - which dissolve and release nicotine under your tongue
· Inhalator - a plastic, hollow 'cigarette' which releases nicotine vapour (not smoke) when you inhale.
And one last piece of advice, smokers often find they miss the sensation of smoking - that is, having something to hold, fiddle with and put in your mouth. Replacing cigarettes with gum can help to bridge the oral fixation. Eating crunchy foods, like celery, may also help. Using an inhalator, or simply carrying a pen, can help keep your hands and mouth busy.
And finally, good luck!