If you or the person you support are smokers, chances are good that you have probably at least thought about quitting at some point. You may even have made one or more unsuccessful attempts to quit smoking.
Planning ahead can be the key to success. Share these tips with your family member or friend with diabetes and make quitting smoking a New Year’s resolution that sticks!
Benefits of quitting smoking for people with diabetes
Instead of thinking negatively about the future loss of cigarettes, start thinking positively about the many benefits to be enjoyed…some almost immediately.
• After about 8 hours of the last cigarette, harmful nicotine and carbon monoxide levels will be cut in half. Oxygen levels will be back to normal, leading to improved circulation.
• In just 48 hours, all nicotine will have left the body and taste and smell will be markedly improved.
• After 1 year, the risk of coronary heart disease is around half that of a smoker’s.
In addition to cutting the risk of heart disease, quitting smoking also reduces the risk of other diabetes complications such as damage to the kidneys, eyes, nerves, feet and legs.
Decide on a quitting method
There are a number of different methods to help smokers quit. Consider the different options and choose the method - or combination of methods - that seems to make sense for you.
Different methods include:
• Do-it-yourself: some people prefer to avoid external programs and instead use self-help guides, videos, audio tapes, web sites and software programs. Telephone quitlines can be helpful, offering support, information and materials.
• Medication support: Nicotine patches, gum, lozenges and spray are all available without a prescription. There are also prescription medications available as well to help lessen withdrawal pangs. And in some provinces, a pharmacist can prescribe these medications, instead of having to go to your doctor for the prescription.
• Group counseling: Support groups are available. In some parts of Canada, smokers can also get the support of special clinics with trained specialists to guide them.
• Hypnosis or acupuncture: Some ex-smokers claim great success from these holistic support methods.
Ask a member of the diabetes healthcare team for more information about the different quitting methods.
Plan ahead by recognizing smoking patterns
Many smokers find it is easier to start breaking smoking patterns during the pre-quit period when they know they can still access nicotine. But before you can start to break them, you need to identify what these patterns or habits are.
Keep a piece of paper tucked into a cigarette pack and start writing down each occasion that you light up. For example, do you light up when you have a cup of coffee or when you answer the phone? Make a note of it. After a few days, you will start to see clear patterns emerging.
Start breaking smoking patterns
Start taking control by changing at least a few smoking habits before you actually try to quit. Try breaking some of the most entrenched smoking patterns first. By the time you actually come to New Year’s Day and the time to quit, you will have removed some of the toughest challenges.
For example, do you always light up when the phone rings? Make it a point to instead reach for a glass of water to sip, or an elastic band to fidget with.
Do you always light up on the way home after work? Delay that first after-work cigarette for half an hour.
Find an immediate cigarette helps you wake up in the morning? Delay it until after you have had a shower or made that first cup of coffee.
Knowing that you will shortly have that craved-for cigarette will make it easier to start breaking habits.
Be prepared for cravings when you quit
Be aware of the times when cravings are most likely to occur. These will often follow the patterns you have already identified. However, you are also likely to come across cravings that you may not have thought about. For example, cravings that are tied to emotional experiences such as the urge to celebrate after clearing a driveway of snow, or successfully sorting through a pile of household bills.
Health Canada suggests fighting cravings by trying the four Ds: Delay, Distract, Deep Breathing and Drink Water. You will find lots of great tips like this on Health Canada's web site. Write down some ideas for fighting cravings, so you can refer to them when they occur.
Have you quit successfully or have you helped a family member or friend with diabetes kick the habit? Please share your experiences with other community members in the Community Forums section of the site.