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Smoking Cessation Tips That Could Help You Quit

LVHN's Tobacco Treatment Program offers support, tools and coordination of care

Smoking Cessation Tips That Could Help You Quit

Cigarette smoking is a leading cause of preventable disease and death, yet many people find it difficult to quit.

“There are so many reasons for why it’s hard to quit smoking,” says certified tobacco treatment specialist Lindsey Dietrich, with Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN)’s Tobacco Treatment Program. “Smoking truly becomes a habit and integral part of life for a lot of people, and the brain and body can become dependent on nicotine from cigarettes to feel good.”

However, while smoking can be a difficult addiction to overcome, there are many tools and resources that can help you or your loved ones on your quitting journey.

“It’s never too late to start the quitting process. I’ve seen individuals with over 60 years of smoking history quit completely,” Dietrich says. “The most important thing is truly wanting to quit and being motivated to do so. It’s one of the hardest things you’ll ever do, but it’s worth it.”

“Within hours of quitting, levels of carbon monoxide in the body drop, and within weeks of quitting, sense of taste and sense of smell get stronger and the immune system begins to improve.” - Lindsey Dietrich, LVHN Tobacco Treatment Program

To help people on their journey to quitting, Dietrich offers the information and tips she shares with others hoping to give up cigarettes for good:

The benefits of quitting

Smoking is a major risk factor for many diseases, including many types of cancer (specifically lung cancer), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes, heart disease and stroke. By quitting smoking, you can reduce your risk for these conditions and experience other health benefits.

“A lot of smokers have abnormally high heart rates. When someone quits smoking, their heart rate often returns to a normal level,” Dietrich says. “Within hours of quitting, levels of carbon monoxide in the body drop, and within weeks of quitting, sense of taste and sense of smell get stronger and the immune system begins to improve.”

The benefits of quitting smoking go beyond health as well. Quitting can help you save the money you would typically spend on cigarettes and could also give you back more time to spend with friends and family (that would previously be spent smoking alone).

Tips for quitting

If you are considering quitting, here are some things to keep in mind:

Treatment programs are effective

It can be difficult quitting smoking without formal support from a certified tobacco treatment specialist, who can help you break through both mental and physical barriers and provide you with access to tools that may make the quitting process easier.

“Research shows that joining a formal smoking cessation program and using nicotine replacement products increase your chances of long-term success tenfold,” Dietrich says.

Nicotine replacement eases nicotine withdrawal

Nicotine replacement products help smokers give up cigarettes and slowly step down from the most addictive chemical found in them. These products (which come in many forms, including patches, gums and lozenges) often help reduce the side effects associated with quitting and have been shown to increase the chance of quitting success.

“While many of these products are sold over the counter, it’s a good idea to discuss the best products for you with a certified tobacco treatment specialist and your family doctor before purchasing them,” Dietrich says. “These professionals can also help you find ways to get these products at a reduced cost if your insurance plan doesn’t cover them.”

Be prepared for side effects

Quitting smoking can cause a few side effects, including irritability, restlessness, trouble sleeping and concentrating, increased appetite, weight gain, depression and anxiety. It’s important to be aware of these before starting your quitting journey and know that you can always talk to your health care team or family members and friends for support.

Exercise and relaxation techniques – such as yoga, deep breathing and meditation – can also help reduce these side effects and keep you feeling your best physically and emotionally.

Avoid triggers and keep your mouth and hands distracted

“Smoking can become habitual, so if you have a specific location or situation that you associate with smoking, it’s best to try to avoid it as much as possible,” Dietrich says. “If a particular place is unavoidable, or if you are having a particularly intense craving, try keeping your mouth occupied with healthy snacks, a toothpick or some sugar-free gum. Also, if you miss having something in your hands, hold pencils or other items to keep them busy.”

Don’t be discouraged if you relapse

Quitting smoking can be a difficult process, and it’s not uncommon for people to have setbacks on their journey to becoming smoke-free.

“If you slip up and have a cigarette, try not to be too discouraged. It’s a setback, but it doesn’t have to be the end of your journey,” Dietrich says. “Try to identify what caused you to slip, and if you aren’t involved in a program, consider looking into your options and other resources.”

Get started for free with LVHN’s Tobacco Treatment Program

Dietrich and other certified tobacco treatment specialists are currently offering free-of-charge phone counseling sessions to people looking to stop using tobacco products (including vapes). As part of the program, your specialist will develop a personalized quitting and care plan that fits your specific needs and will help you decide on a quit date. After you quit, they will help you change your daily routine so you can avoid things that cause you to crave tobacco and provide emotional support and tips on managing side effects so you can prevent a relapse. They will also work with your family doctor to recommend nicotine replacement products for your specific care plan and provide you with a free supply for the first month.

“We are dedicated to supporting each person’s specific needs as they embark on their quitting journey, starting from the first phone call,” Dietrich says. “Quitting any type of tobacco product is not a walk in the park, but we strive to make it a bit easier through education, motivation, support and access to additional resources.”

In addition to individual counseling sessions,  LVHN’s Tobacco Treatment Program offers in-person group classes.

Quit smoking within the past 15 years

Tobacco Treatment Program

The Tobacco Treatment Program is part of Respiratory Care Services, Lehigh Valley Hospital (LVH)–Cedar Crest. Please call 610-402-4845 or 888-402-LVHN (5846) for more information about how we can help you become tobacco-free.

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