Today, all across Alberta, thousandsof people will wake up and decidethis is the day they will quit smoking.
And many of those people decide thevery same thing the next day, and theweek after, and the month after that.
Most people who smoke (or who usesmokeless tobacco) want to quit, but formany, it’s really difficult.
“ I threw everything at it. I usedlozenges and Champix, the prescriptionmedication,” says Pat Doyle, 48, whosmoked his last cigarette in 2010.
“It wasn’t my first attempt to quit
smoking, but it will be my last.”
A pharmacist in Drumheller, Doyle
was more than aware of the negative
effects of tobacco. Smoking can cause
any number of cancers, including
most lung cancers, as well as chronic
obstructive lung disease. Smoking is
also associated with heart disease,
high blood pressure and stroke, and can
increase the risk of menstrual problems
in women and erection problems in
men. Chewing tobacco has more than
4,000 chemicals (including at least
70 carcinogens) and can cause oralcancer, cavities, gum disease andtooth loss, to name a few.
Whether you smoke it, chew it orsnuff it, the nicotine you’re ingestingtriggers the release of a chemical,dopamine, in your brain that soothesyour nerves and gives you a sense ofwell-being. As soon as you stub outthe smoke or spit out the tobacco, thedopamine starts to drop and you canbegin to feel irritable, anxious and tense.
You go back for more to relax. Nicotineis as addictive as heroin or cocaine.
“Once I got over the four-day hump,it got easier,” says Doyle. “All the temptations and stressors are still there, butyou have to fight through them, andthe cravings for the nicotine eventuallysubside.” And as the cravings go away,your body also starts to undo the damage.
So, how to quit?
There is no one right way. AlbertaHealth Services’ AlbertaQuits, oneof many different programs availablein the province (see list of resources),recommends a cessation programto double your chances of success.
Doyle says signing up for a program,
as well as using pharmaceutical supports
helped him beat the habit. “ I didn’t go
to the meetings, but I did follow the
literature that said: This is what you
should do, this is how to prepare
yourself and then you have to follow
through with it.”
Most programs recommend planning
a “quit day” and then changing your
routine to try to avoid some of the
triggers that make you crave tobacco.
Keep busy, avoid temptations andmanage your cravings with pharmaceutical aids such as a patch, gum or oraldrugs. Meetings and online groups canhelp support you through the process.
For some, quitting smoking is a verypersonal endeavour. Sheryl Campbellof Edmonton quit smoking 20 yearsago after trying a few times. In hernext-to-last attempt, she told everyoneshe knew that she was going to quitsmoking and she kept them informedof her efforts along the way.
After that very public attempt failed,she tried a different tack.
“ I tried again but I didn’t tell a
soul and I didn’t talk about it at all,”
Campbell says. “ I was turning 30 and
I had always promised my dad that
I would quit smoking. I was going to
do this for my father.”
Campbell says it took people a couple
Giving up tobacco is seldom easy for those addicted to nicotine.
As writer Jennifer Allford reports, one of the most important elementsto quitting tobacco is just believing that you can do it
Photo by Jessica Fern Facette
You have to fight
through the stressors,
and the cravings for the
who wants to quit
wants to quit for their