Do you smoke? Do you want to quit but don’t think you can? Do you love to smoke and know you need to quit but don’t really want to? I usually meet people that fall into one of these categories. People either want to quit but have tried without success or they love smoking and want to quit just so they will shut up that person in their life that is encouraging them to quit. I cannot relate to trying to quit smoking since I have never smoked before but I can relate to wanting to make a change so bad but coming up short every time I try. I am your classic yo-yo dieter. I am really good about losing weight for a short period of time, then I get tired of trying and go back to my old habits and pack on whatever amount of weight I had lost within a few weeks. It isn’t easy to change a habit that you have had for years, and it’s even harder to give up something you actually enjoy. For instance, I love chocolate cake! I could eat it regularly and the idea of not eating it is very depressing. So what happens when I give up chocolate cake? Sure, I drop weight, and honestly, I feel really good about myself. Then I am invited to a wedding or family function where they are serving chocolate cake. Oh, boy am I in trouble. I actually consider not attending the event so I can avoid the said cake…but that isn’t possible since it’s my best friend’s wedding. So what’s a girl to do? I attend the wedding and avoid the cake table! I hide in the bathroom during the cake cutting and while other guests are eating that delicious piece of heaven. The entire time I am thinking about taking home all the leftover cake (haha).

It is a real problem and I bet you have experienced a similar situation with smoking. As a pharmacist, I counsel people every day on how to quit smoking. I fill prescription after prescription for smoking cessation. I always have high hopes for my patients, that this time they will finally quit. This will be the time that they will put down those cancer sticks (it’s what I use to call them as a child) for good. I have a long history of hating smoking. My mom has been a smoker for about 99% of my life. I have vivid memories of begging her not to smoke in the car while she drove me to school just so my clothes and hair wouldn’t smell of cigarette smoke. I can remember sitting in the living with my shirt or blanket over my nose while watching tv just so I wouldn’t have to smell the smoke. I use to beg my mom all the time to quit smoking, but she wouldn’t. As a child, I didn’t understand why my mom wouldn’t quit smoking for me. I am her daughter (her favorite by the way) and she is supposed to love me more than anything else in this world so why wouldn’t she quit smoking for me? Now as an adult I can say I understand. It is an addiction and one that she couldn’t just quit, at least not on her own without the help of medication, therapy, or just sheer willpower and blessings from the good Lord above. Most of my patients first try to quit smoking on their own. The good ole cold turkey method. This method will work, but you have to have a strong motivation to back up this method. Usually, it has to be more than just because you want to quit. My mom actually quit smoking in September 2018 using this method. I think she had tried to quit before using this method but was never successful, but that is because she didn’t have the right motivation. Last fall, her motivation came in the form of an oxygen tank. She had hernia surgery in July 2018 and after waking up from the anesthetic she struggled to get her oxygen levels up to an acceptable level.

Her doctor was quite concerned and they feared she was going into respiratory distress. She was put on oxygen in the hospital and was told she needed to follow up with her primary care doctor ASAP. She left that day without oxygen but with fear in her heart. She soon was put on inhalers and was told she needed oxygen 24 hours a day, but she refused. I just want to stop right here and tell you my mom is 57 years old. She has smoked since she was 12. If you are a smoker, then that should be enough to make you think about quitting. My mom is way too young to be on oxygen 24 hours a day, but unfortunately, that is her reality. My mom was bound and determined to avoid wearing oxygen 24 hours a day so she quit smoking cold turkey. That was the motivation she needed to quit. I do have at least two patients I can think of right now that this motivation didn’t work and they are still smoking, but they are not using their oxygen 24 hours a day and they are a bit more stubborn than my mom and are probably going to need a bit more motivation. I will touch on my mom’s story a bit more in another blog, but to finish up this story my mom had to bite the bullet and start using oxygen 24 hours a day in January of 2019 (5 months after her diagnosis with COPD). So what if you want to quit but just can’t seem to do it and cold turkey is not an option. Let’s start with what have you tried? There are several options of medications to try, I am going to list a few here.

  • Nicotine Patches
  • Nicotine gum
  • Nicotine lozenges
  • Nicotine inhalers
  • Nicotine nasal spray
  • Nicotine mouth spray
  • Nicotine sublingual tablets
  • Vaping (which is my least favorite choice)
  • Bupropion (Zyban or Wellbutrin)
  • Chantix

Have you tried any of these options? What has worked for you in the past and what hasn’t? Why didn’t it work? Please feel free to message me and I would be more than happy to offer you suggestions on what to try next. Of all these options as a medical professional, I have 2 favorites. I firmly believe that when used properly, patients can quit smoking while using the patch. If you have an issue with keeping your mouth or hands busy, I would suggest adding the gum or lozenge to your regimen or just some really good sugar-free hard candy or gum. The other option that I have seen a ton of success with is Chantix. I know you may have heard some horror stories about the side effects, and to be honest half of those stories are probably true. I will tell you as long as you don’t have any type of mental condition where Chantix could interfere with your current medications, then it is worth the side effects. Yes the dreams are crazy, yes you might be a little bit more on edge than normal and risk divorce (just kidding) but it will all be worth it after 3 months of treatment. If your insurance will cover it and you don’t have any medical conditions or take any medications that would interfere with Chantix, I would highly recommend this drug to quit smoking. I have not seen much success with Bupropion and I do not recommend it unless you have tried all other options. I do want to circle back and make sure that you understand that none of this is going to work if you are not committed to quitting. You might as well not even try if you are not bound and determined to quit and will do whatever it takes to make this dream a reality. It’s a lot like weight loss. If you are only half in, eating healthy sometimes, and work-out sometimes then you won’t be successful. If you need particular advice about dosing on a specific product I mentioned, please message me and I will send you all the information you need. I will be in prayer for all of you who read my post and want to make a change in your life. I don’t want you to tote around an oxygen tank every minute of your day like my mom has to do. You can stop smoking, don’t tell yourself otherwise. You just have to want it more than anything else in your life!

God Bless,

Dr. Jen

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