They are attributed to Winston Churchill lots of clever phrases. One of the best known is the one that says: “to stop drinking is easy. I have done it more than fifty times ”. To paraphrase the great Winston it seems that quitting tobacco is an arduous task that in many cases supposes a failure and the need to try again.
Stop smoking is one of the most profitable actions in improving our health. We know, without a doubt, that quitting tobacco has a clear impact on reducing the possibility of suffering from many of the diseases that result from its use.
At 10 years after quitting, the risk of dying from lung cancer is almost half that of smokers
As stated in the US National Library of Medicine one year after quitting the risk of heart disease is half that of someone who continues to smoke, at five years the risk of having mouth, throat, esophagus and bladder cancer is reduced by half and the incidence of neck cancer is the same as someone who has never smoked. Between 2 and 5 years after quitting smoking, the risk of stroke is also the same as that of a non-smoker. At 10 years of age, the risk of dying from lung cancer is almost half that of smokers, and at 15 the risk of coronary heart disease is again the same as that of the general population. In addition to the multiple effects of tobacco on the skin, gums, obstructive diseases of the respiratory system or on erectile dysfunction and low birth weight of the children of smoking mothers.
Quitting seems more difficult than it really is, but it depends largely on two factors that are decisive to be successful:
– The motivation to quit.
– The knowledge of how this addiction works and the possible triggers of a relapse.
The first thing to recognize is that the habit of smoking is developed by emotional factors and not by logical decisions. It is not a free choice, but the result of a combination of personal factors and evil business plans.
Nobody can say that the first experience with a cigarette was pleasant. Remember the scene: hidden from the stares of the adults who had been robbed of one, we were with a friend passing our cigarettes between coughs, hoarse voices and tears caused by the smoke and feeling ourselves adults for the first time. It was like a Masai rite of passage but without the need to hunt a lion with a spear. It was like the scene of Robert de Niro in Taxi Driver, facing the mirror in defiance. The pleasure was more in do something forbidden, although initially it was not pleasant. You had to get used to tobacco, just like the carafe alcohol in the first few glasses that burned your throat like fire water.
Smoking, a dangerous addiction
Not so many years ago it has been possible to demonstrate, after long legal struggles that forced the tobacco companies to finally publish the qualitative list of the more than 600 substances that are artificially added to tobacco, that many of them were for enhance nicotine addiction.
In all addictions, the emotional factors are the ones that trigger the start of using and are the ones that make it difficult to quit.
Once the need is created, you no longer smoke for pleasure but because lack of nicotine produces a knock-on effect, unpleasant sensations that can only be solved by lighting another cigarette. But one fools oneself by saying that it is a free choice while imitating the poses of the actors and actresses who for years have been icons of identification. Do the simple exercise of remembering how many glamorous images you have associated with tobacco and think about how they have subliminally influenced us. By the way, two of the cowboys who participated in the famous commercials of an American cigarette brand galloping with a herd of horses died of lung cancer.
In all addictions, emotional factors are the ones that trigger the start of using and are the ones that make it difficult to quit. The areas of the brain where we generate emotions are the same in which drugs act. It is not enough to reason why we have to quit smoking. Our rational brain has to work to contain what our emotional brain wants. That is why it is difficult to do what is convenient for us if we do not like it. That also explains the difficulty in doing a diet, for example. If chard were what made us fat, there would be no fat person in the world, but what makes us fat is what we want.
What are the keys to quitting smoking?
To quit smoking you first need to believe in the importance of quitting. Find out about the consequences of tobacco, calculate what it costs you to smoke and where that money could be spent, make a candid list of the pros and cons of smoking.
The next thing is to find out about all the methods that can help you. Ask those who have quit how they did it. Any method that has worked for someone else may also be helpful for you. And sometimes you have to try it in different ways until you find what works for us.
Know that within the process of quitting you have to count on there will be specific moments in which the desire to smoke will reappear, that’s why it is an addiction, but they are episodes that they remit when we confront them and that they disappear if every time tobacco calls us we recognize that it is a trap that we set ourselves. There is no need to renegotiate what has already been decided. You just have to resist. Every time. Every time. Doing alternative things. And it is achieved. And I assure you that it ceases to be a struggle after a while. The battle disappears.
We talk about Dr. Xavier Fàbregas, founder and medical director of Mas Ferriol