Tips for beating your addiction to nicotine

A cigarette butt - Courtesy image
A cigarette butt
— image credit: Courtesy image

Courtesy of Franciscan Health System/St. Francis Hospital

Tobacco use is a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and various other cancers. Using tobacco is more than a simple habit. It’s an addiction to nicotine, one of 4,000 deadly chemicals in tobacco.

Breaking away from the addiction is a difficult task, but your good health is worth the work it takes to quit. Changing your behaviors that support the addiction will help in the struggle.

• Be aware of the triggers: Determine what times of the day and night you find yourself using tobacco. Keep a diary that pinpoints the “trigger” times. Once you can recognize the triggers, try substituting alternative behaviors.

• Look for and accept support: Tell the people in your life that you want to quit. Set a quit date and ask them to support you in your decision. You will be on edge at first and their understanding of your irritability is important. Make a pact to quit tobacco with a friend. Call a friend or colleague who has already quit for support during the rough moments.

• Attend Freedom from Tobacco support group meetings: These are held at Franciscan Health System’s St. Francis Hospital in Federal Way on Thursdays from 5:30 until 6:30 p.m. Admission is free. Call (253) 223-7538.

• When the urge hits: The urge to use tobacco will eventually pass whether or not you light up. When you feel the urge coming on, take three deep breaths, brush your teeth, walk around the block, or drink some water. As time goes on, the urge to smoke will become less intense and easier to manage.

• Rid your body of nicotine: Drinking plenty of water will help flush tobacco chemicals out of your system. Eating healthy, well-balanced meals will help your body get rid of toxins. Exercise is an excellent way to curb cravings for nicotine. Try a brisk walk 15 minutes a day.

• Keep your hands busy: Find substitutes for the hand movements of using tobacco. Start a hobby that involves your hands, such as sewing, woodworking, painting or drawing.

• See your doctor: Your primary care physician can offer support, advice, and a prescription for medications or nicotine replacement products as needed.


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