Monday, July 14, 2014

I just quit smoking, when will I feel better?

Most smokers feel better in three to four weeks. By this time the nicotine withdrawals have subsided or are being effectively managed and "habit" cigarettes have gone away.

Nicotine withdrawal is the main reason why smokers relapse the first month they quit. Physical withdrawal symptoms are: Cravings, depression, anger, irritability, insomnia, hunger or weight gain, fatigue, restlessness and frustration. For some smokers these symptoms can last up to six months.

There is no reason why a smoker should feel uncomfortable during this first month because there are seven FDA approved cessation medications to help with physical withdrawals. Often a combination of medications works better than using one. A recent study showed that the combination of Chantix with the Nicotine Patch worked better and had higher quit rates than using either of them alone. A professional tobacco treatment specialist can help a smoker figure out what combination of medications may work best.

Habit cigarettes are often seen as the hardest to quit. The one with your morning coffee, in the car on the way to work, or the one at break time. The cigarettes are a conditioned response. Your brain has associated different activities with the jolt of nicotine. This is the same conditioning as Pavlov's dogs. The dogs were taught to associate the ringing of a bell with food. Every time they heard a bell, they started salivating because they knew food was coming. A smokers brain is exactly the same - you smell the coffee and your brain immediately thinks of a cigarette. You get into your car and your brain immediately thinks of a cigarette.

What most people are not aware of is that Pavlov also taught the dogs to stop anticipating food when they heard the bell. It's called "extinguishing the condition". It takes about three to four weeks or about 30 different times where you have a cup of coffee without a cigarette. After this amount of time, your brain no longer anticipates getting a cigarette.

When nicotine withdrawals and the habit cigarettes are no longer an issue, a smoker will feel "normal" again. This is when a smoker may think they have the problem beaten. They have mastered their addiction. But they have only mastered two parts and the tools used for withdrawals and habit cigarettes are not the same tools needed to overcome what is needed to overcome the reasons for long-term relapse: stress, weight gain, emotional triggers, alcohol and being around other smokers.

So just because you feel better soon, don't let your guard down but develop new tools and strategies tostay quit for forever.



Monday, June 30, 2014

Looking for e-cigarette stories to be published.

Have you tried e-cigarettes? Did they help you stop smoking or was it waste of money? I'm looking for real world experience with e-cigarettes or personal vaporizers to include in a new e-book I am writing. This will be an informational e-book presenting both sides of the e-cigarette controversy.

For participating I will send you a FREE copy of the e-book once it's completed. You can either leave your experience in the comment section or I can call you and do an interview, whichever is easiest for you. Send an email to : VJSleight@cs.com with your phone number and the best time to call. All comments will be anonymous.

Friday, June 13, 2014

How to Make a Plan to Quit Smoking

Imagine you are at your doctors office and he just told you that you have to stop driving a car. It's bad for your health and if you continue you risk disability and/or death. You must stop today!

Did you just go into a total panic? You might be thinking, "But how am I going to get home from here? How to I go to work tomorrow? Or take the kids to soccer practice? Or go grocery shopping?

The thought of never being able to drive again might just cause you to rebel, go into denial and ignore your doctors advice. You might tell yourself, "It's too hard. I've been driving for too long to change. I might be one of the lucky ones. Bad things happen to other drivers but not to me."

But if you had six months to make a plan on how to use other forms of transportation, you could do it. You might get a bus schedule and map out the routes to work, the grocery store and the mall. You might ask coworkers if you can car pool with them and a neighbor if you can tag along to the grocery store.

You discover there is a wide variety of modes of transportation and you have options: planes, trains, buses, bicycles, skates, unicycles, skateboards, walking, motorcycles, scooter, boats, ships, canoes, rick-shaws, tuk-tuks, horseback, helicopters, cable cars, tramways, funiculars, sailboats, yachts, elevators, ski-lifts, escalators, chauffeured limousine and even a spaceship.

Not all of these options may apply to your particular situation but you do have options. You might need a different option for every time you used to drive a car but by getting creative it can be done; and what works for someone else might not work for you. It might not be easy but not impossible.

Quitting smoking is exactly the same. If you had to quit today, what would you do? Would you go into a panic because you don't have a plan on how to have your cup of coffee without a cigarette? Or what to do at break-time? You might need a different idea for every one of your cigarettes.

Here is an except from my book, "How to Win at Quitting Smoking" which you can get a free copy just by signing up for my blog. This is how to break your smoking habit BEFORE you quit:

Activity: Make a smoking corner, away from all household activities, -- someplace you do not normally go and only smoke there. It could be the side of the house, by the garbage cans or in a corner of the garage. Don’t make it someplace you enjoy going to, but someplace you do not like and do not spend time there.
Even if you already smoke outside, like on the patio or porch, find someplace new. After you quit smoking, you want to be able to go to this place without it triggering a craving to smoke. Change the place where you used to smoke to a new relaxation corner where no smoking is allowed. Practice your relaxation techniques there and/or use this area to work on your Action Plan.
Smoke by the clock. Do not smoke whenever you want to but instead let the clock dictate when you smoke. Choose a time schedule so you smoke often enough to not have strong withdrawals or cravings. Smoking a pack a day is one cigarette every hour; 10 cigarettes a day is every two hours; two packs a day is every half hour. If you do not feel the need to smoke when it is your time to smoke, you don’t have to, but you can’t have another cigarette until it is your next time to smoke.
Do not try to cut down -- the purpose is to learn new behaviors while your brain is still calmed by smoking and to break your old associations.
When it is your “time” to smoke, go to your smoking corner, stand (unless you have a physical challenge) and smoke. In your smoking corner, do not do anything else except smoke. Do not take your coffee with you. Do not take your cell phone. Do not listen to your iPod. Do not leave a window open and watch TV. Do not talk to others. The purpose is not to multi-task when you smoke but to give yourself time to be conscious of what you are doing. By separating your smoking behavior from your other behaviors, you are “breaking your habit”.
After you have smoked a cigarette, go back into the house and go about your normal activities. Have a cup of coffee or watch television. See how it feels to be doing this activity without smoking. It might feel weird but that is normal. Remind yourself that this strange feeling is just a thought about smoking and not a physical craving.
Stop Smoking in your car. If you are driving when it is your “time” to smoke, pull over to a safe area and get out of your car to smoke.
Do not smoke with other people. If your work place has a designated smoking area, do not go there to socialize with your fellow smokers, but only go there at your time to smoke; do not get distracted by talking to other smokers. Leave as soon as the butt is put out. 

For more good ideas to break your habit sign up for my blog in the right hand column and receive a FREE copy of "How to Win at Quitting Smoking".

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The #1 secret to quitting smoking

I'm asked all the time what is the one thing I would say to smokers who want to quit. The answer I want to say is to tell me more about the smoker and I will tell you what that smoker wants to hear but everybody is different. Every smoker is connected to their cigarettes in different ways and it will take different methods to become successful.

However, what every successful smoker has in common is that they truly desire to become smoke-free and quit smoking. They don't feel they have to, no one is forcing them, they are quitting because they WANT TO.

Which is the key to success: want to quit smoking more than you want to continue smoking. I can already hear you saying, "But I really do want to quit!" But is there that small voice in your head saying, "But I enjoy smoking too."?

Smokers often have a love/hate relationship with cigarettes. It is like any other bad relationship: sometimes it seems easier to stay than to go through the process of changing. So with cigarettes it is time to make the decision for a divorce.

Make two lists: things you enjoy about smoking and things you enjoy about being smoke-free. Spend time thinking about what being smoke-free means to you. More time to spend with your family or doing things you enjoy instead of constantly being a slave to your cigarettes. More money to spend. More freedom. No more searching for a place to smoke or feeling like a pariah. What are your values? is smoking preventing you from really embracing your values: as a parent and role model, as someone who values the ability to be physically independent, valuing freedom and the right to make your own decisions instead of being controlled by nicotine?

On the other hand, what do you truly enjoy about smoking? Do you enjoy the stench of stale tobacco smoke? Spending money only to burn it up? Lying to yourself that it relieves your stress when actually all it is doing is relieving your withdrawal symptoms and adding to your stress.

Once your reasons to be smoke-free are more important that another cigarette, you will find the method that will work for you. It will also get you through the months ahead when nicotine is calling you again for just one more time.  But when wanting to quit is the more important, you can tell that cigarette that you've moved on and there is no going back.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Secondhand smoke is #1 trigger for asthma

May is Asthma Awareness Month. This chronic respiratory disease affects over 25 million people, 7 million are children. While there is no cure for asthma, it can be controlled. Besides medical treatment, environmental control is the biggest factor a person can do to manage asthma.

Asthma is an inflammation of the lining of the delicate tissues in the airways in your lungs which make it difficult to breathe. It is a serious and possibly life threatening disease. Every day there are 30,000 asthma attacks with 5,000 going to the emergency room and 1,000 are admitted to the hospital. While there are many things that can trigger an attack, secondhand smoke is the #1 trigger.  While there is no cure, asthma can be controlled.

If your child has asthma, stop smoking. If you refuse to quit, stop smoking around your children and change your clothes after smoking - yes, the harmful chemicals from smoke cling to your clothes. Smokers who don't want to quit will say, "You got to die of something, it might as well be something I enjoy."

Last year 7 children in San Bernardino county died from asthma. It's one thing to not care about your own health but do you really want to be responsible for the health of your child with asthma, possibly making their disease worse?

To learn more about how you can control asthma visit The American Lung Association website.