Block Island Times

Quitting time

Smoking cessation, some facts:
Quitting is hard. Nicotine withdrawal can leave people feeling irritable, unfocused, anxious, and hungry. Nicotine is a powerful substance, and research suggests that nicotine may be as addictive as heroin, cocaine, and alcohol.
In the United States, seven out of 10 smokers report a desire to quit smoking completely. But without help from counseling and medications, only three to six percent of them will succeed. So, the first tip is: Don’t go it alone. Block Island Medical Center is committed to helping you reach your goals, and would love to assist you if you’re thinking of quitting. Here is some information to help you get started.
What are the health benefits? 
First, some motivation. 
Tobacco smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals. Hundreds of them are harmful to the body, and dozens of them are linked to all sorts of different cancers. The earlier you quit, the greater the health benefits. Quitting at age 30 can add 10 years to your life expectancy: That’s 3,650 more days to enjoy the Block Island sun. Quitting at age 40 can gift 3,285 more sunrises and sunsets. Quitting at age 50 can give you 2,190 more days with your family. You are never too old to quit.
Within the first hour of smoking cessation, your heart rate and blood pressure drop. By 12 hours, carbon monoxide levels in the blood fall. Within weeks, circulation and lung function improve. People notice their coughs getting better, their shortness of breath less bothersome. Their teeth and gums and skin get healthier. Even the children around them experience lower rates of asthma, ear infections, and other lung diseases. 
And here’s the best news:  after one year of smoking cessation, risk of coronary heart disease, heart attack, and stroke is about half that of a smoker’s. After five years, for females, increased risk of diabetes is eliminated. By 10 years, the risk of lung cancer halves, and the chance of getting mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, cervix, and pancreatic cancer all fall significantly. By 15 years, the risk of coronary heart disease and pancreatic cancer is equal to that of someone who has never smoked before.
You are never too old to quit.
What can I do to quit?
Get a team!
Make an appointment with us! Data shows that even five minute conversations with a health professional can improve quit rates. We are here to help!
Recruit your friends and family for support and encouragement.
Group Therapy and Smoking Cessation Programs – available at South County Hospital and Miriam Hospital.  The Medical Center will host an on island smoking cessation program this October.
Consider quitting on or around your birthday:  there is no better or longer lasting gift you can give yourself or your loved ones. 
Baby Steps
Try to reduce smoking by one cigarette every other day
Wait an additional five minutes to smoke when a craving hits
Smoke a cigarette only half way
Keep a cigarette diary
Remove associations such as ash trays, cigarettes, and lighters from sight
Helpful Resources
TCSRI (Tobacco cessation services of R.I.) (401) 789-0943 (free service including “quit coaches” who are accessible by phone
R.I. Smokers Helpline (1-800-QUIT-NOW): nicotine replacement therapy
Freedom From Smoking (American Lung Association) with free online programs (401) 533-5179
Mobile phone apps (“Smoke Free,” “Kwit”)
Both behavioral counseling and medications assist in cessation. But the two together achieve the highest rates of success. There are a couple different types of pharmaceuticals that can help you quit. 
1.Nicotine Replacement Therapies (NRT): Nicotine Replacement Therapies are often covered by insurance, prevent withdrawal symptoms, and alleviate acute cravings. They can come in gums, patches, sprays, inhalers, and lozenges.
2.Non-NRT Medications: Pharmaceuticals like Bupropion (Zyban) and Varenicline (Chantix) have been shown to assist in long term smoking cessation.  Both of these work by decreasing the craving for nicotine.  A discussion with your doctor or a trained smoking cessation counselor through one of the resources above can help you decide if one of these medications may help you quit.
Remember: Even thinking about quitting is preparation. Attempts to quit can lead to eventual success. Taking your time or slipping back into habits doesn’t mean you failed. You don’t have to do it all at once. Just getting the information is a helpful and positive first step. Tell yourself that for now you are just learning your options. You can make the quitting decision later.
If you’re thinking about quitting, let us help. Make an appointment with your healthcare provider, and mention the Wellness and Risk Reduction Program. 
Additional information:
The medical content of this article was edited by Dr. Mark Clark, Director, Block Island Medical Center.


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