Nov. 01, 2010

Break Free From Smoking

Many people with lupus ask, “Is there anything I can do to improve my health?” If you’re a smoker, the answer is yes: Stop smoking! More than any other lifestyle choice you can make, that will have the greatest positive impact on your lupus and overall health.

While this is good news, it doesn’t make quitting any easier. You may have already tried to quit and become frustrated. Remember, it’s never too late to quit, and by getting help and having a plan you can increase your chances of success. Here are some strategies to get you started:

Have a Plan. Before you quit smoking you need to do some prep work and make a plan. It’s important to understand why you smoke and what your smoking triggers are, and to make a list of reasons you want to quit. You also need to determine how you’re going to quit. Too often people go at it alone. Ask yourself: Do I want to use nicotine replacement therapy? Join a support group? Find a “quit smoking” buddy? The answer is different for everybody. Finally, set a quit date, and stick to it.

Let Your Doctor Know. Your doctor can talk to you about getting help to quit, including using nicotine replacement therapy or other medicines to help manage feelings of withdrawal. Ask your doctor for advice on which medicine may be right for you.

Get Support. You may not want to tell anyone you’ve decided to quit smoking, especially if you’ve tried unsuccessfully before. But you’re also denying yourself a powerful tool—support from friends and family. You should also consider finding a friend to quit smoking with or joining a local support group. The more support you have, the more likely you will be successful.

Be Ready for Quit Day. It’s important to remove temptation by getting rid of any remaining cigarettes, ashtrays, or lighters. You may also want to clean your house and car to get rid of the tobacco smell. Have supplies on hand, such as quit-smoking medication and things to chew on and occupy your hands, such as straws, toothpicks, or hard candy—whatever works for you.

Beat Your Cravings. The urge to smoke will come and go. Try and wait it out. A few tips:
Change what you are doing, go outside or to another room, take a walk, or take deep breaths. The key is to try something. You should also avoid high-risk situations that are going to tempt you to smoke, such as bars, places you used to smoke, and hanging out with friends who smoke.

Manage Your Stress. Many people smoke to relieve stress, which is also a trigger for lupus, so it’s important to find ways other than smoking to relieve your stress. 

Reward Yourself. Quitting smoking is hard, so be sure to reward yourself. Use the money saved from quitting smoking to buy new clothes, get your car cleaned, get a massage, or whatever else will help keep you going.

What’s in a cigarette?

There are more than 4,000 chemicals in a cigarette; 69 are known to cause cancer, including nicotine, carbon monoxide, cyanide, arsenic, formaldehyde, and ammonia. Some of these same chemicals are used in wood varnish, insect and rat poison, DDT, and nail polish remover.

What happens when you stop smoking?

  • 20 minutes after you stop smoking, your heart rate becomes normal.
  • 12 hours after you stop smoking, the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.
  • 2 to 3 weeks after you stop smoking, your coughing and shortness of breath decrease.
  • 1 year after you stop smoking, your added risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker’s.
  • 5 to 15 years after you stop smoking, your risk of having a stroke is reduced to that of someone who doesn’t smoke.
  • 10 years after you stop smoking, your chance of death by lung cancer is about half that of a smoker’s.


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