Dependence on nicotine is an addiction, which often makes tobacco cessation more challenging than engaging in other behavior modifications, such as starting an exercise program or eating more fruits and veggies.
Amanda Dudgeon, NP and certified tobacco treatment specialist at Altru, shares real questions, real answers about quitting tobacco for good.
Why should someone seek help from a certified tobacco cessation specialist?
- Certified tobacco cessation specialists understand the brain chemistry changes that are involved in addiction and have received special training to assist patients with conquering addiction. Assessing and understanding individual triggers is an important component of treatment.
- At Altru, we create an individualized plan for each tobacco user’s unique situation and triggers, and provide the reinforcement needed to be successful.
What methods do you use during treatment?
- Using the cognitive behavioral approach to self-talk is key. Thinking or talking to yourself in situations that trigger you to use tobacco is a necessary component to get past those urges. Saying to yourself, “Smoking is not an option”, or “I can do this” may be the self-encouragement required to get past bumps in the road to ending your addiction.
- Alter routines and use problem solving skills to identify situations that could put you at risk of relapse. Certain places and times of the day can create extreme urges to use tobacco. Breaking the old routine and making a new routine increases success rate.
E-cigs are popular right now. Are they a healthy alternative to smoking other forms of tobacco?
- The compositions of e-cigs are all different. They are not regulated by the FDA and are known to contain additives and impurities. Some contain cytotoxins and carcinogens, as well as varying amounts of nicotine. I do not recommend them due to the lack of evidence for safety.
- The health benefits of quitting tobacco are endless. As a provider, I see many people suffering from COPD. The feeling of not being able to breathe can be terrifying. Quitting smoking reduces this risk. Many develop lung cancer as a result of smoking. These people often have a difficult time with treatment and suffer significantly. I also see cancer of the mouth, esophageal, gastric and other cancers. If I can help someone quit early, his or her risk of developing these diseases decreases significantly.
It’s never too late to quit. When you’re ready, we’re here. Smoking can lead to a number of serious health problems, from cancer to heart disease. Quitting the habit can foster both immediate and long-term health benefits.
Decide that you deserve to be healthy. Quit smoking aids are available to those who financially qualify through Altru Health Foundation. Request an appointment with a certified tobacco treatment specialist today for a smoke-free tomorrow. Learn more at altru.org/quit.
Amanda Dudgeon is a family nurse practitioner and certified tobacco treatment specialist at Altru Cancer Center. In addition to seeing patients for rechecks and tobacco cessation, Amanda implements the Survivorship Program. Outside of spending time with her husband and two children, she enjoys playing basketball and softball.