Thinking about quitting smoking?
EAGLE COUNTY – Wow, only six more days until 2006. Time flies, which is an important reason to prepare for all we do. This year I was struck by words from Mark Strakbein, the principal at Eagle Valley High School. In introducing his January newsletter, he wisely writes about New Year resolutions: “You can change your life at any time; all it takes is a personal commitment to do the things necessary to make your desired changes. Now this takes hard work, sacrifice and perseverance, but it can be done. The key is to continue to work to make these changes and to not give up.”How true. Is there anything worth doing that does not take hard work, sacrifice and perseverance? ‘Tis the season to get healthy!Dear Doc: I’m finally ready. I know I need to do it. What can you do to help me quit smoking?- Sick of Being Sick in EagleDear Sick of Being Sick: Congratulations! Best wishes! You’ve made an incredibly important decision. It is one which will change your life more than I hope you’ll ever know. In order to give you the help you deserve, I’m actually going to devote this topic to two weeks. Today I’d like to talk about quitting smoking. My smoking spiel, as it may be. Next week we’ll look at medications and other commitments.Perhaps most importantly, you’ve made the biggest step – commitment! All the ideas, suggestions, help and encouragement won’t help a bit if you’re not ready and committed. There is no magic bullet, pill or patch that will quit for you. If you’re not quite ready, think about this. It is a rare person that doesn’t quit smoking. It sounds simple, but it is very true. The only people that don’t quit are those that die of some tragedy, usually prematurely. A terrible car accident, sudden massive heart attack, or other life-ending event takes the smoker before his or her time. For many it is the impending tragedy that signals the motivation to quit. Your doctor is usually the bringer of the bad news:”I’m very sorry, but that spot on your lungs is cancer and we’ll need to start chemo. …””You are ready to get discharged from the hospital. I’ll arrange for the oxygen to be delivered to your house because you won’t be able to breathe without it. Make sure you don’t smoke or you could blow up.””Yes, you had a small heart attack. I’m so glad you are recovering. It is very important to quit smoking so you don’t have another one.”That news can be motivating indeed. My message is that if you know you are going to quit sooner or later, why wait?Now that you’ve decided to quit, we need to think about the four reasons why you smoke. In no particular order, they include nicotine addiction, habit, stress and socially. Working on each reason is the key to success. With respect to the addiction, medications are often very helpful. Stay tuned next week! For the rest, remember it will be like you’re giving up your best (but evil!) friend.First things first. When to start? Two months away is too far. It is too easy to talk your self out of it or to keep pushing it off. Tomorrow is too soon. You need to prepare. No time is perfect. Our lives are too busy to wait until it is just right. When you are ready, write down your commitment. Put it on your refrigerator. Share it with all your friends. Ask those who can support you to help and equally importantly, ask your smoking friends to refrain from tempting you to have just one. Finally, in those last few days as a smoker, stop emptying the ashtrays and throwing out the cigarette butts, just to remind yourself what you are putting in your body. The last day or two, change brands. It will help avoid the great smoke out (just had to finish the last pack). If you smoke lights, switch to a stronger brand. If regular smokes are your thing change to menthol. Those last cigarettes won’t taste as good and the memories of the last few won’t be so strong.Next, change your routine. When do you smoke? Look at your habits and change them. Here are some ideas for what to do.The key is not just giving up the cigarettes, but making other life changes too. It involves a paradigm shift. Start living as a non-smoker rather than as a smoker. A new year is on its way and it will be a great one. All we need is hard work, sacrifice and perseverance to make it so.Dr. Drew Werner of the Eagle Valley Medical Center writes a weekly column for the Daily. He encourages health questions. Write him by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Editor, Vail Daily, P.O. Box 81, Vail, 81658.Vail, Colorado