New Help For Smokers

Smoking is the prototype addiction, i.e. compulsive behavior, in spite of negative consequences.  Only the most extreme denial can rationalize smoking as something that is not harmful and allright to continue.  There is no question that smoking significantly increases two of the most common causes of premature death both cardiovascular disease and cancer, but in addition quality of life significantly decreases by illnesses such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.  Smoking is socially a nuisance and is increasingly expensive, and it accelerates aging especially of the skin.  Despite these facts, smokers argue "it relaxes me and I enjoy it."  For some individuals the increased risk and fear of gaining weight, especially among women, keeps them from quitting.    However, there are much better alternatives to these arguments.  

Addictions are not easily given up and smoking proves one of the most difficult.  In fact, inhaled addictive chemicals reach the brain faster than drugs given IV.  Since every puff reinforces smoking addiction, one pack per day provides 200 reinforcers per day.  The good news is that there are new treatment options that work through novel mechanisms to help smokers overcome the addiction.

"But I have to be ready to quit."  Not necessarily true.  With one new treatment, you can take the medication while you continue to smoke.  The medication interferes with the addictive power of the cigarettes.  Now with multiple medical options and cognitive behavioral techniques, you can give up your worst habit- or at least significantly reduce the number of cigarettes you smoke per day.  In addition, lifestyle modification and sometimes medication can prevent weight gain, and lifestyle coaching is useful and often necessary.

When researchers look at smokers who successfully quit, one thing stands out.  Most say they just decided one day to quit on their own.  Those that quit, however, were more likely to have been advised by their physicians.  That just reinforces my responsibility as a physician to educate and discuss the risks of smoking and the various treatment options available.   

One important consideration that should be taken into account when quitting is whether you have a history of depression or are currently depressed.  Quitting smoking can make your depression worse, and taking Bupropion (Wellbutrin, Zyban) or other antidepressants can be protective.

For more information or to schedule coaching to help you quit, contact Melissa King during regular office hours at 972-234-0489. 

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