It took time for you to learn to smoke and use nicotine... and it will take time for you to learn to live without it. You are stronger than your addiction!
Quitting smoking and other inhaled nicotine use is one of the best investments in your future. It is never too late to quit.
When you stop smoking:
- your health and life expectancy improve,
- you lower your risk of 12 types of cancers,
- you slow the progression of your lung disease, and
- you reduce the effects of second-hand smoke to those around you.
20 minutes after quitting
Your heart rate and blood pressure returns to your normal
12 hours after quitting
Your blood carbon monoxide level returns to normal
48 hours after quitting
Your sense of smell and taste begin to improve
2 weeks after quitting
Your circulation and lung function begin to improve
1 to 3 months after quitting
Your cough and breathing problems begin to improve
1 year after quitting
Your risk of heart disease is reduced by half
5 years after quitting
Your risk of throat, esophagus or bladder cancer is reduced by half. Your risk of cervical cancer (in women) and stroke drop. Your risk of having a stroke is the same as for a non-smoker
10 years after quitting
Your risk of dying from lung cancer is reduced by half
15 years after quitting:
Your risk of heart disease becomes equal to that of a non-smoker
Understanding and addressing addiction
Addiction is complex. Understanding your addiction and knowing your triggers can help you plan for the challenges of quitting, as well as appreciate and celebrate your steps to success. To address addiction, consider the three links that bind you to smoking and nicotine use.
Nicotine is an addictive substance. Nicotine releases a chemical called dopamine in your brain that makes you feel good. Your body craves feeling good. When that feel-good response to nicotine wears off after a long night’s sleep, a full day of work or a flight, your body lets you know that it's time for more nicotine.
People with a strong physical addiction to nicotine may benefit from nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) to help them gradually overcome their dependence.
Smoking is often associated with daily routines, for example having a cigarette with a cup of coffee, after a meal, or when watching the news. The connection that ties activities to smoking is a form of mental addiction. Mental addiction also refers to the emotions that prompt your desire to smoke - stress, loneliness or even joy.
Changing your daily routines and finding different emotional coping strategies help to minimize mental addiction to nicotine.
Certain social situations can lead people to smoke together. This may be a way to connect with a new social group, a common thread that connects you to old friends or an end-of the day way to relax with a friend or partner.
Social support is equally important when you quit smoking. Finding people who support you in quitting, and talking with them regularly, has helped many to be successfully in their efforts to quit.
Know your triggers: mornings, coffee, watching television, driving, stress, phone calls, boredom, meals, alcohol, a comfortable chair, loneliness, gatherings. Can you name some more?
Understanding when and why you smoke or use nicotine is an important step in the quitting process. The Take Action section in this module allows you to track your daily habit, as well as your triggers.
Making a Plan to Quit
First, consider when and why you smoke or use nicotine. Try to recognize your trigger(s). Are they physical, emotional and/or social. Listing your reasons for smoking as well as your motivations for quitting is a healthy start to a successful quit plan.
Make a plan
Choose two or more proven quit-smoking methods. Here are some options:
- List your motivations for quitting
- Find support in-person, telephonic or online support
- Get the support of family and/or friends, or a certified respiratory educator
- Use non-prescription nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) like nicotine gum, lozenges, inhalers or patches
- Ask a member of your healthcare team about prescription medications to help you quit
- Avoid places where you habitually smoke and people that you habitually smoke with (for some time)
Using both NRT and a counselling program (group or individual) increases your likelihood of quitting permanently. Talk with your healthcare provider, pharmacist or certified respiratory educator about programs and resources in your area.
The Canadian Lung Association is one of the partner organizations behind Smoke Free Curious, a site that features a wide range of proven tools and resources to help you quit.
- Find resources in your area on the Quit Map
- Order free NRT
- Speak to a quit coach by calling 1-866-366-3667 (toll free)
- More tools and resources
Pick a day
Quitting is a personal challenge. Whether you decide to gradually cut back or quit all in one day ("cold turkey"), the choice is yours. There is no perfect way or perfect day. Consider low-stress times when you can avoid physical, mental or social triggers. Circle the day on your calendar and do not accept reasons to back out.
- Nicotine suppresses appetite. Be prepared with healthy snacks.
- Nicotine relieves stress, but so does walking, singing or humming.
- Nicotine, like caffeine, is a stimulant. Be ready for low moods and motivation. Remember this is temporary.
- Get rid of all nicotine items in your home, car and work environment
- Wash your ashtrays, clothes and jackets to get rid of the smell.
- Keep distractions for your mouth, hands and mind available while at home, in the car and at work.
- Sugar-free gum and candies, toothpicks and/or straws.
- Puzzles, puzzle books, fidget items and hobbies can occupy your thoughts and hands.
- Choose your ways of coping, like positive self-talk, calling a friend, listening to music or using a relaxation website or app.
- Reward yourself every time you defeat a craving.
Celebrate your successes
All milestones are monumental.
- Celebrate 1 day, 3 days, 1 week
- Celebrate 3 weeks. That’s 21 days of being a nicotine free, long enough to break a habit!
- Celebrate 3 months. That’s a big one as it's the average timeframe for people to truly quit.
- Every day that you are a non-smoker or non-nicotine user, is a day you should celebrate.
If you slip up, don't give up. It can take many attempts to successfully quit smoking. Consider these attempts trial runs. Be kind to yourself and don’t quit on yourself. Again, you are stronger than your addiction.
Look for the good in situations, even the slip-ups. You have learned something that you should plan ahead for, or something that you should avoid. Revise your quit strategies and try again. Plan for a reward with your unspent smoking dollars.
Get some extra support
Have a quit buddy to join you in quitting; or select a friend who has quit to support you through challenging times. Choose your support people carefully. Make sure your friend understands that criticism is not helpful when you are trying to quit.
Walk it off
Adding exercise helps to calm cravings and calm "slip-up guilt".
Review your motivations for quitting and renew your commitment to yourself.
Your steps to success
- If you have a pulse oximeter, check your oxygen saturation and heart rate. If they're normal for you, plan to exercise with us.
- Have you taken your long-acting controller inhalers? Should you take your quick-acting reliever inhaler before exercising?
- Are you assessing your symptoms daily?
- Is your oxygen set correctly for exercise?
- A little breakfast goes a long way when you plan to exercise.
- Quickly dismiss cravings using one of the 5D's - Distract, delay, deep breath, drink water, discuss.
- Be happy that you're working your way through module 4! You are halfway through!
Be happy! You are working your way through Module 4, and halfway to the finish line!
Relaxation and Meditation
Reinforcing relaxation and diaphragmatic breathing.
There are also many free meditations that can be found on YouTube and various other websites to promote stability, clarity, mood, motivation, relaxation and sleep. The Canadian Lung Association does not endorse the use of any particular or specific website or channel for meditation and relaxation. Sites listed are suggestions only.
Motivations and strategies for smoking and nicotine cessation
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BREATHE Better – Stay STRONG Virtual Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program Medical Disclaimer
Before you begin the BREATHE Better – Stay STRONG Virtual Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program, please read and agree to the medical disclaimer.
Medical Advice Disclaimer, Disclaimer of Warranty and Limitation of Liability
Please read this document carefully. The Canadian Lung Association (CLA) strongly recommends that you consult your physician or other qualified healthcare provider before choosing to take part in BREATHE Better-Stay STRONG. You acknowledge that CLA offers no medical assessment, diagnosis, or treatment, and that CLA makes no determination as to whether or not you are physically fit to participate in this program. This program is intended for Canadians living with chronic lung disease, be it obstructive or restrictive in nature. This program is not supervised and therefore not intended for Canadians who are awaiting lung transplant, lung volume reduction surgery or those who have pulmonary hypertension. Certain pre-existing non-respiratory conditions may also exclude you from participating in the exercise portion of this program.
THERE ARE POTENTIAL RISKS INHERENT in your participation in BREATHE Better-Stay STRONG, including, without limitation, worsening of your existing symptoms, an increased load on the heart, episodes of light headedness, fainting, dizziness, pain, chest discomfort, shortness of breath and bone and muscular injury. If you experience faintness, dizziness, pain, or unmanageable shortness of breath at any time while participating in exercise program, you should stop immediately.
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