Smoke Free Life

Dear Dr. B: I have been a chronic smoker. I have tried to quit but can never succeed. I have given up trying. Is there an easy way to quit smoking?

Answer: Well, you are not alone in this dilemma. It is well known that people give up trying because they find it so difficult to quit smoking. Old habits are hard to break. But with patience, perseverance and under proper guidance they can be broken.

Studies have shown that 70 per cent of smokers now want to quit smoking completely, 46 per cent try to quit each year and more than 70 per cent of smokers visit a health care setting each year. Good news is effective treatments now exist (JAMA, 2000;283:3244-3254).

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (http://www.cdc.gov/) says that there are five steps to quitting smoking. These five steps will help you quit and quit for good. You have the best chance of quitting if you use all five steps together:
1.Get Ready.
2.Get Support.
3.Learn new skills and behaviors.
4.Get medication and use it correctly.
5.Be prepared for relapse or difficult situations.

Most smokers fail to quit smoking because they try to quit on their own, without the benefit of highly effective treatments. You need help from yourself (have motivation and get ready), from your family and friends, from your physician (get medications and use it correctly), seek counseling and join a support group (to learn new skills and behaviours and be prepared for relapse or difficult situations).

Physicians have to treat smokers just like they treat patients with chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol levels. After all smoking is a chronic disease.

A minority of smokers (about seven per cent) does achieve permanent abstinence in an initial attempt to quit, but the majority continues to smoke for many years and typically cycle through multiple periods of relapse and remission. So don’t feel bad if you are going through this phase. Don’t give up fighting and seeking more help as success rate can be increased to 15 to 30 per cent if you persevere with the guidelines and recommended treatment.

One way to do it is by enrolling in the Freedom from Smoking Program organized by AADAC and Palliser Health Region, in conjunction with the Students’ Association of the Medicine Hat College.

Gordon Wright, Health Promotion Marketing Coordinator, Palliser Health Region informs me that this is a free program for any smoker who wants to kick the habit. Monday, January 15, 2007 was orientation day. You can phone Rita Aman (Palliser Health) @ 502-8224 or Anne Joly (AADAC) @ 529-3582 to see if there is room to enroll in the program.

Good luck and keep trying. I know you will eventually succeed.

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