Finding your motivation and preparing yourself are critical to successfully quitting smoking. It can be hard to stop smoking, with managing smoking withdrawal symptoms and avoiding smoking triggers, but you are not alone.
There are different programs to help that you may be aware of, such as the Government of Canada site, but did you know your local pharmacist can help you on your smoking cessation journey?
Having a healthcare professional, such as a pharmacist, to guide you can greatly increase your chances of success.
Cigarettes contain many toxic chemicals, including carcinogens. Cigarette smoking and e-cigarettes cause a range of health risks to yourself, and others via secondhand smoke. As a smoker, your risks of lung cancer, heart attack, and other serious health problems are significantly higher.
Smokeless tobacco use is also unsafe, with increased risks of mouth and pancreatic cancer, and other health concerns.
The good news though, according to the Government of Canada, is that after you quit smoking, your risks start to lower. Within 20 minutes, your blood pressure starts to drop, and within a day, the carbon monoxide in your blood drops to normal. After two weeks to three months, your lung airways relax so you breathe more easily.
After one year, your coronary heart disease risk is half of that of a smoker. In five years, your risks of stroke are the same as a non-smoker, and in ten years, your chances of dying from cancer have significantly been reduced. The health benefits keep going on, too.
Simply put, it is hard to quit, because nicotine is highly addictive. Nicotine is a chemical which stimulates the production of dopamine in the brain, the chemical you can develop the addiction for. The dopamine gives positive feelings, which makes you want to get more. Over time, the brain is altered, to crave the dopamine you get from nicotine.
When you smoke, adrenaline is also released, increasing blood pressure and heart rate, and putting your body under physical stress. This increases a sense of anxiety and the need for relaxation that you may feel you get from nicotine.
Pharmacists can support you in a variety of ways, including providing education, recommending medications, and making sure that different medications are compatible. Some offer more comprehensive counselling sessions, collecting your family and background health history and developing a tailored plan.
Your pharmacist is local and accessible, so you have the advantage of a convenient and flexible health care professional for advice. They have medications and products right there to help, and are able to guide you on them, as well as any drug interactions you may have. They can offer personalized and tailored support. Some pharmacists specialize in helping people quit smoking, or offer a 'quit smoking program'. Having all of this expertise conveniently available to you when you need it makes you more likely to benefit from these resources.
Your pharmacist can provide a wealth of information on a quitting strategy and nicotine addiction. Whether you are starting to think about quitting smoking, looking to reduce the amount you smoke, or are actively in the process of quitting, a pharmacist can arm you with more information and tips. Even if you are not really sure you want to quit smoking, your pharmacist can help.
A pharmacist can work with you to develop a customized quit plan for you, with a quit date, motivational tools, and other elements to help you succeed. They can also guide you on nutrition and other healthy living ideas to support your journey.
A pharmacist can explain any prescription medications you have been given to help you stop smoking, including side effects and drug interactions, as well as discuss any additional over-the-counter products that can or cannot be used with your prescribed medication.
With all of the products out there, including nicotine replacement products, it can be confusing to know what you should take. Also, combining some of the products is dangerous. Your pharmacist can help you find the right product to ease withdrawal symptoms or manage cravings, or make recommendations for you to discuss with your doctor.
Your pharmacist will be able to discuss the various tobacco smoking cessation products, including nicotine gum, patches, nasal sprays or inhalators, and discuss which may be best for your individual circumstances. You can be better informed on the positives and downsides of each option, to make a better decision.
Stayner Family Pharmacy has pharmacists ready to help you take the next step to quit. If you are struggling with cravings or nicotine withdrawal symptoms, or have other factors that are making it hard for you to go smoke free, we can help support your journey, to make it easier for you to have your last cigarette.