The two things you need to do to stop smoking
There are many reasons people start smoking cigarettes. They are an impressionable age. Their family members smoke. Their social circle smokes. They are bored.
Whatever the reason, if you are a smoker now is the time to quit – no matter how long you have been smoking, you can quit. It starts with finding your motivation and developing a plan.
“No one can make you quit smoking; only you can yourself,” says Alix Schnibben, PharmD, BCACP, Clinical Pharmacy Specialist with the St. Joseph’s/Candler Center for Medication Management. Schnibben also is a certified tobacco treatment specialist and leads the Tobacco Cessation Program.
The first thing Schnibben says to do is find your motivation. Ask yourself, “What’s your reason for quitting?” Is it for your family or your health? Do you want to save money? Find your drive and then put your plan in place.
Nicotine addiction is twofold
There’s a physical attachment where your body becomes accustomed to nicotine and needs it to function, Schnibben says. Then, there’s the emotional or behavioral attachment where smoking becomes engraved in your everyday behaviors such as waking up, driving or grabbing a drink with friends.
“First you have to treat the physical aspect of it and then deal with the emotional or behavioral part of it,” Schnibben says. “You have to be able to do your activities without smoking, so that emotional attachment is the hardest to block compared to the physical attachment.”
Your plan to quit smoking needs to address both attachments.
Regarding the physical aspect of your body craving a cigarette, Schnibben suggests talking to your primary care physician or a tobacco treatment specialist such as herself, as well as your insurance company, if medications, gums or patches are an avenue you can take. Schnibben also suggests finding an oral substitution to cigarettes such as sugar-free mints, cinnamon sticks, celery sticks, straws, pen caps, tooth picks or something else to help take your mind off your craving.
“If you can wait one to two minutes with a craving, you are more likely not going to smoke,” Schnibben says.
Once you have your plan in place to treat your physical withdrawal symptoms, make a plan to deal with the mental part. Schnibben suggests joining the Comprehensive Tobacco Cessation Program at St. Joseph’s/Candler. One-on-one counseling sessions and support groups are available. Schnibben highly recommends individualized counseling because she finds patients open up more and can therefore focus on their individual needs.
“One-on-one (counseling) really focuses on you. Do you qualify for medications? What should you take? What works best for you based on your current conditions and medical history?” Schnibben says. “We are really able to focus on behavioral aspects as well. What could you do besides smoking and driving? What could you incorporate into your life instead of cigarettes?
“We guide you in making a quit plan because the quit plan is what is essential.”
So if your New Year’s resolution is to quit smoking start now by finding your motivation and developing a plan. If you want some help, visit sjchs.org/stopsmoking for more information on the Tobacco Cessation Program. The program is free for Medicaid patients and covered by several insurance providers.
Anyone interested in the Tobacco Cessation Program at St. Joseph’s/Candler can call 912-819-8407.