Quitting smoking is tough yet a possible task
4/22/2012 9:30:09 PM -
Accra, April 22, GNA -Quitting smoking is a tough task, yet it is possible. Withdrawal symptoms are the first psychological and physical battle a smoker faces when he or she decides to quit the habit.
Withdrawal symptoms are the result of the reduced levels of nicotine in the body. According to www.netdoctor.uk the drop in nicotine in the blood disturbs the balance of the central nervous system, creating symptoms such as craving for tobacco, irritability, anger, increased appetite and weight gain.
Other symptoms include poor concentration, depression, tiredness, constipation, restlessness, insomnia and anxiety.
This stage decides whether the smoker will lose or win the struggle. Those who are not able to resist these strong desires go back to smoking. This stage in the quitting process is most precarious and many smokers fall at the first hurdle.
Professor John Osei-Tutu a lecturer at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) Trondheim was a chain smoker for more than 20 years. He says cravings while trying to quit the habit are very difficult to handle.
'When you go to the shop the cigarette will be calling you, buy me! buy me! and the body will be responding yes I need it, I need it,' he noted.
'As a way of satisfying the unquenchable urge to smoke sometimes I stay around people who smoke just to inhale their smoke,' he explained.
'But anytime I coughed I knew I was digging my grave by smoking,' he said.
Prof Osei-Tutu finally broke the hold that tobacco had on him by telling himself he did not want to be a slave to any substance.
'It is nothing else but will power,' he said, adding: 'Therapy is good but it must be backed by will power.'
Dr Lily Appoh a researcher at the Psychology Department NTNU says it is important that family members, peers and friends whom a smoker may be accountable to, to support him or her in their bid to stop smoking.
There are various types of help available to people who want to stop smoking. The first is the desire to quit. These efforts could be augmented by cognitive behavioural therapy, aversion therapy, drug therapy, telephone based help (counselling) and nicotine replacement therapy.
In cognitive behaviour therapy, the therapist helps identify distorted and negative thought patterns in the patient and assists in recognising and changing these beliefs.
The critical aspect of this therapy is that the therapist helps the patient to see that they have the ability to stop smoking. They are assisted to learn alternate forms of dealing with stress and what to do when they feel the urge to smoke.
Nicotine replacement therapy is a process whereby regulated amount of nicotine are introduced into the body through stick-on skin patches, chewing gum, nasal spray or lozenges.
These methods are effective in relieving withdrawal symptoms as they help control nicotine cravings. The dosage of nicotine is reduced gradually until it is totally withdrawn.
The drugs are available to help smokers overcome smoking. Some of the medications could be used along with nicotine replacement therapy.
Drugs such as Bupropion, Varenicline, Nortriptyline and Clonidine are available to assist addicted smokers to quit the harmful habit.
Counsellors can help smokers to devise appropriate strategies to help them stop smoking, based on each person's unique smoking pattern and assist the victims to avoid the emotional pitfalls they may encounter in the process.
In Ghana, though there no organised national rehabilitation programme for smokers, medical officers at the various hospitals and health centres are willing to assist anyone who wants to kick out the butt off his or her fingers. Help is also available to addicted smokers on smokefreeghana.com.
Rejecting nicotine in any form (cigarette, pipes, bidies, kretes, clove cigarette snus snuff) is very critical because it is the second major cause of preventable death worldwide and the fourth common risk factor for disease.
According to the World Health Organisation, tobacco in 2005 alone caused 5.4 million deaths and predicted that if current smoking pattern persists the death toll would jump to 8 million each year.
Apart from the ailments that nicotine inflicts on its users it exacerbate poverty, contribute to world hunger, damage the environment and above all affect production by lowering national productivity.
Every nation for that matter Ghana needs healthy and energetic work force to transform her economy and every smoker forms a critical part of that revolutionary force of economic emancipation.
The tobacco industry through crafty manipulations will continue to entice smokers especially the youth and imprison them for life to enjoy the habit, but the power to resist the antics and break the fetters of nicotine slavery rests on the will power of the victim to decide to quit smoking now!
Quitting smoking is painful and stressful but the best way to avoid the pain of quitting smoking is never to start smoking.
A GNA feature by Emmanuel Kpeglah