COLUMBUS – The addictive nature of nicotine makes kicking the habit extremely difficult, and some Ohioans who resolved to quit smoking in 2016 may have already thrown in the towel.
But cessation experts say it’s important to keep trying.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nicotine is nearly as addictive as heroin and quitting can take multiple attempts because of withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, irritability, and cravings.
However, Emily Lee, vice president of Mission Services for the American Lung Association of the Midland States, says success is possible.
“It may be hard right now, but if you work through it the long-term benefits way outweigh the struggles you are having right now because the withdrawal is temporary and will subside,” she stresses. “And in the long run there’s more health benefits to not smoking.”
Lee recommends coupling nicotine replacement therapy with a smoking cessation program. She says the physical and emotional support makes staying smoke-free much easier than going cold turkey.
Research shows fewer than 7 percent of people are able to quit smoking without medicines or other support.
Within 12 hours of quitting smoking, blood oxygen levels increase to normal, and between two weeks and three months the risk of a heart attack drops.
Lee stresses the benefits continue for years.
“And there are long term ones that will get your body as close as possible to as if you had never started smoking,” she points out. “It would be almost equal to that of a non-smoker. “
The America Lung Association offers its Freedom from Smoking program, and Lee says there are other community resources available. And because quitting is such a huge behavior and health change she recommends getting your doctor involved.
“So that they know what they are trying to do and make sure they are following and using nicotine replacement products correctly and properly and that their physician knows that they are trying to do this,” she explains.
Smoking causes more that 438,000 deaths annually in the U.S., making it the leading cause of preventable death.