The do's and don'ts of quitting smoking - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

FOX Medical Team

The do's and don'ts of quitting smoking

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Anyone who has ever smoked and tried to quit knows how addictive nicotine can be. But what really works when it comes to quitting? Several former smokers had some hard-earned tips that might help you quit.

Carla Berg, a Winship Cancer Institute addiction expert and professor at the Emory School of Public Health, had talked to hundreds of people trying to quit.

"One thing I hear from people all the time is, ‘I'm just waiting to feel ready to quit,' or, ‘I just need to want to quit and then I'll quit.' And what we know is that just rarely happens out of nowhere. So I always tell people if you're waiting for the best time to quit smoking, that time is now," said Berg.

So what works? Through her Facebook Page, FOX 5's Beth Galvin asked former smokers to share their secrets.

Lindsey Burns, who quit 13 months ago, says "the fourth, fifth and sixth day were the most trying and then in the beginning if we were drinking, it was really hard."

Linda Salazar, who hasn't smoked in eight years, says, "it was so hard but I used regular chewing gum and sucked on sugar free candy for a few weeks. Can't stand the smell now but, the first year I had cravings on and off especially after a meal or when drinking coffee."

To quit permanently, Berg says you need to know your triggers, and plan for them.

"Do you need to tape up a straw?  Do you need to find the biggest bag of hard candies that you can find.  Do you need to hide your cigarettes, or do you need to allocate yourself one or two a day while you're trying to cut down," asked Berg.

Donald Kell, who gave up smoking 10years ago, says "the only way to quit as far as I am concerned is to just quit -- cold turkey."
      
Others say nicotine replacement gum, patches or prescription drugs like Chantix and Zyban eased their withdrawal.

Quitter Cathy Morris McDowell says "go grocery shopping first and buy healthy non-fattening foods. I gained 15 pounds, and have now put myself on a diet. Quitting smoking is very hard and I just took it one day at a time."

When you need to light up, pick up the phone. Call a 1-800-QUIT-LINE, and talk to a trained counselor.  

"Who has talked to a number of smokers, and has seen people struggle through it and figure out what works for them. I think part of it is their skill and I think part of it is being able to talk to somebody so honestly," said Berg.

One thing smokers and former smokers mentioned is how drinking alcohol really tripped them up when they were trying to quit. Berg says even having one drink can be a slippery slope, because alcohol drops your inhibitions. If you want to read more about what helped former smokers quit, or offer some advice, visit Beth Galvin on Facebook!

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