Tips for quitting smoking

Quitting smoking is one of the best health decisions a smoker can make with immediate and long-term benefits, reducing the risk of cancers, respiratory and heart diseases and improved mental health.

Smoking cessation can be difficult. With each cigarette, nicotine binds to specific receptors that cause the release of neuromodulators, particularly dopamine, a “happy hormone” which gives pleasure. Because it feels good, the temptation is to continue doing it, leading to addiction. Nicotine addiction can be long-term and relapsing so it may take some time and outside help. The addiction is made up of two parts, the physical desire for nicotine and routines around smoking.

Withdrawal symptoms can start in the first 4-12 hours after stopping. They include craving, irritability, frustration, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, increased appetite, depressed mood and insomnia. These symptoms are often their worst in the first 24-72 hours and then decrease in the following 3-4 weeks.

Nicotine replacement therapy may be used to ease withdrawal symptoms. Patches, gum and lozenges are available from your Pharmacist and are subsidised by the government. These can be used on their own, to help reduce the number of cigarettes smoked or, in some cases, alongside other medicines for cessation.

Other medicines used include Zyban (Bupropion) and Champix (Varenicline, when available). They work on the same receptors as nicotine, blocking its effect and reducing cravings. They need to be prescribed by your Doctor. Vaping is thought to be less harmful than smoking and is another option to help quit smoking. Support is available at, call 0800778778, text 4006 or touch base with your Doctor or Pharmacist.

As part of the journey, alter your routine with new hobbies, rewards and ways to enjoy life. Plan healthy snacks for yourself and develop new ways to deal with stress and relax. Prepare yourself before returning to risky places, people or activities. Include calcium-rich foods in your diet, including oranges, broccoli, salmon and almonds.



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