In some circles, quit is a bad word. However, around this time of the year as people look within to improve their lives, it’s the perfect way to define a means to a healthy end. High on the list of better choices and upgrades to one’s life throughout the year, sits a very popular New Year’s resolution. Millions across the country undoubtedly took a vow to take back their health by dropping a health hazard, cigarettes. Now with less than two weeks into the battle against cigarettes a significant number of smokers may relapse.
Through the eyes of a nonsmoker, the habit seems simple enough to kick. However, Dr. Elmer Huerta, director of the Cancer Preventorium at the Washington Hospital Center, says the general perception is misguided. “It takes a smoker at least 11 tries before he or she is successful at quitting,” says Huerta. Cigarettes are 10 times more addictive than cocaine and it’s easier to quit heroin than cigarettes. So why is it so difficult?
The threat of cancer and other health problems like heart disease and emphysema although prevalent in a profusion of commercials fail to drastically scare millions of smokers straight. “Smokers have a way of thinking that that kind of stuff only happens to other people,” says Dr. Huerta. “It’s not until someone gets a life changing diagnosis from a doctor that they usually take quitting seriously,” he adds. Even with the threat of life and death, there’s a level of extreme difficulty attached to the desire and need to quit.
The flood of immediate complications associated with quitting smoking cause a number of smokers to relapse. Surprisingly, it’s part of what it takes to beat the odds and should not serve as a deterrent. When it happens, however, Dr. Huerta says it's the perfect time for the smoker’s support system to go to work. “It’s a step by step process. The first step is the commitment level of the smoker and family members should not laugh if the person relapses.”
While some smokers possess an amazing ability to quit cold turkey, they are the exception and not the rule. Every year, nearly estimated 443,000 smokers die prematurely because of illnesses caused by smoking.
Experts encourage anyone serious about a pursuing smoke free life to combine their promise with a cessation program, over the counter medication and positive reinforcement. “It means changing your routine, just like if you were on a diet,” says Dr. Huerta.
For help, contact the following organizations:
American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345
American Legacy Foundation at http://www.becomeanex.org/
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