Once again a New Year is here. At year’s end, we look back. We take stock. We ring in the new and look to improve. We turn the calendar page, and we think about leaving behind our “bad habits”. We pledge to ‘exercise more,’ ‘lose weight,’ ‘ stop smoking.’ Sometimes we actually do it for a day or even two. Often we find changing behaviors to be tough. We may brush it off by explaining that we have ‘no willpower.’
When the plan is to quit smoking, we need reasons to quit, and we need determination. Even with lots of both, we may not succeed. When our brains receive a built-in reward from the “bad habit” (in the form of a chemical called dopamine with each puff), we need a really good plan. We need a plan supported by science!
What would that look like? Here is what it takes to succeed:
- Tools to manage withdrawal symptoms. The FDA has approved seven medications to help manage withdrawal from tobacco: Nicotine patch, nicotine gum, nicotine lozenge, nicotine inhaler, nicotine nasal spray, bupropion and Chantix. Seek help to select which aids are right for you. Learn how to use the medicines to your best advantage. One common mistake is to underdose. Ask your health team or seek help at specialized quit services or a quitline (1-800-Quit Now)
- Goals that fit with your life and your needs at this point in time—a plan tailored for you.
- Support to keep you on track. Find a coach or a counselor, on the phone or in person. Contact us at UMDNJ-Tobacco Dependence Program, 732 235-8222, email@example.com , call 1-800-Quit Now, or log in to BecomeAnEx.org.
- Don’t give up. It takes people on average eight times before they succeed. Each cigarette you don’t smoke gives your body a break and helps you build the confidence you need to succeed.
We see people quit every day. Tobacco treatment works. Our program is free.
Call us at 732-235-8222. We offer individual and group treatment.
The UMDNJ-Tobacco Dependence Program is here to help you be tobacco-free in 2013.
Donna Richardson, LCSW, LCADC, is the clinic coordinator for the Tobacco Dependence Program at the UMDNJ-School of Public Health, UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and The Cancer Institute of New Jersey. As a tobacco treatment specialist, she has spent more than 30 years helping people examine ways to improve their health and lifestyle through behavioral changes in order to become tobacco-free.