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Why Can't I Quit Smoking?

Why Can't I Quit Smoking?

One of the most difficult bad habits to break is smoking. Each year about 30-50% of American smokers try to quit smoking with a mere 7.5% success rate. If you count yourself among the 34 million American adults who smoke and want to quit, these sobering statistics may leave you feeling defeated.

 Although kicking cigarettes to the curb is difficult, it’s not impossible, say the specialists at Generations Family Practice in Cary, North Carolina. Committing to quit is the first step. In this blog, we’ll explain why quitting smoking is so challenging, and more importantly, how you can stack the odds in your favor.

The nicotine/dopamine connection

The health implications of smoking are no secret. Smoking kills 480,000 people each year, making it the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. But that’s not where the story ends. Smokers are not only affecting their health but the health of those around them as secondhand smoke causes more than 41,000 deaths annually.

 Knowing that something is bad for you and the ability to do something about it are two different things, especially when it comes to smoking. There are about 600 ingredients in cigarettes. When smoking cigarettes these ingredients burn, creating over 7,000 chemicals. 

Remarkably, 69 of these chemicals are not only toxic, but many are cancer-causers.

The most significant ingredient that makes quitting smoking so difficult is a powerful stimulant called nicotine. Clinical research reports that nicotine is as addictive as cocaine, heroin, or alcohol.

Nicotine rewires your brain

As with other addictive drugs, nicotine interacts with hormones in your body to elicit feelings of happiness or satisfaction and other important sensations. For instance, nicotine releases the feel-good hormone called dopamine and endorphins, which calm you, and serotonin, which controls your moods and appetite.

Smoking rewires your brain and the longer you smoke, the more ingrained the results are, and the more difficult it is to quit smoking. Your mind and body literally get tricked into believing that you need nicotine to feel good, sleep well, and control your appetite.

When you embark on a smoking cessation program to quit, your body goes through nicotine withdrawal, a temporary collection of unpleasant and uncomfortable physical and mental symptoms resulting from nicotine leaving your body.

The time it takes to go through nicotine withdrawal differs from patient to patient and can last from several days to several weeks. Typically, the symptoms are more intense the first few days, but lessen as each day passes. The good news is nicotine withdrawal symptoms are temporary, but the health implications that may result are lasting, so the gain far outweighs the pain.

In fact, according to research, after the two-year mark of being smoke-free, your risk of heart attacks drops significantly. During the five- to 10-year mark, your risk of cancer drops dramatically. Remarkably, by the 15-year mark, your risk of developing coronary heart disease drops to almost that of a nonsmoker.

Getting support impacts your success

Understanding the challenges of quitting smoking is important, but so is your commitment to reaching your goal — even if it doesn’t come on your first attempt. 

 For many people, stacking the odds of success in your favor means being open to support from your physician as well as friends and family. You don’t have to go it alone. 

 Here at Generations Family Practice, we know that every patient’s journey to becoming smoke-free is a personal one. We create smoking cessation programs that are dialed into your unique situation. Our program offers medications such as skin patches, nasal sprays, and inhalers, but we don’t stop there. 

We also offer cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and support groups to help you get through those tough times when you’re tempted to light up. We will be your biggest cheerleader and help you develop strategies to make it easier to quit.

 If you’re ready to commit to living a healthier, smoke-free life, book an appointment online or over the phone with Generations Family Practice. Start your journey to a healthier you. Contact us today.

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