Copd

Teaching with a Twist – Quitting Smoking: Why should you?

Posted on March 13, 2020   |   



This article was written by Stephanie Williams, BS, RRT

Quitting Smoking | COPD Digest

Quitting smoking. It is a subject that triggers a variety of reactions from people when you bring it up. Some people get defensive, some get argumentative, and some seem to appreciate the concern behind the question. I know this because I am one of the annoying people who will bring it up. If you have been on COPD360social a while, or if you have read other things I have posted, you might know that I am a respiratory therapist with many years of experience in caring for people in the hospital, pulmonary rehab, skilled nursing facilities, and as part of a home care team. In each of those different settings I brought up the topic of quitting smoking. And even here, on this forum, I’m doing it again.

Let’s start off by doing a little level setting. I am not going to spend time talking about the reasons you should quit – damaging your lungs, increased risk of cancer, or heart disease. If you are an adult human who has lived in proximity to the news or other media, you already know all of those things about smoking. For your own reasons, those reasons alone are not enough to motivate you to quit. So, let’s move to another level of motivation.

If you were in one of my smoking cessation classes, I would ask you why you keep trying to quit smoking. What keeps drawing you back to the notion to quit? Write that reason(s) down. Now think about why you still smoke. Think it through honestly and write it down, too. You don’t need to show these reasons to anyone – they are personal. Do you believe smoking is a habit that you can quit, or do you think it is an addiction? Several years ago, I found a simple test that can help answer that question. It is called the Fagerstrom Test and a link to it can be found here. Once you determine if you are dealing with a habit or an addiction, it can help you talk to your doctor about a plan to quit. Go ahead and take the test and score before reading on.

You are probably telling yourself that you have tried to quit many times and always end up smoking again for some reason. Believe me I understand. But here is the good news, most people have to attempt quitting several times before they are successful quitters. I would suggest that we change the way we think about those previous attempts at quitting. Instead of looking at those as failed attempts, look at them as figuring out what didn’t work for you. Maybe you just need another recipe to quit smoking for good, or maybe you are leaving a key ingredient out of the recipe you have used. You may think you used the right ingredients but missing an ingredient or skipping a step may make all the difference.

Here is my example:

My grandmother made THE BEST layered cakes in the world. No kidding – they were ah-mazing. And throughout my childhood, I would stand next to her in the kitchen while she sifted and measured and stirred the glorious cake batter. She would make these cakes for our family reunions or special occasions and most of the time they were devoured before other available desserts.

One year, she asked me if I would like to make the cakes for a family special occasion. Do you know how amazing that honor was? I was so excited to be the one to make the cake in place of my grandmother. I wanted so much to make her proud.

Well, there I stood in my kitchen – sifting and measuring and stirring, and knowing I was doing everything just like my grandmother would do. I even went and bought the same brand of flour just so I wouldn’t be taking any chances. The batter was poured into the pans and into the oven they went. So far so good . . . until it came time to turn the cakes out of their pans. I grew very nervous when it became obvious that the cakes were not coming out of those pans in one piece.

I did the only thing I knew to do. I called my grandmother. She was so patient as we went through each ingredient and I assured her that I had followed the recipe to the letter. Then she asked me the million-dollar question – had I floured the pans? Ohhhh, no. I had missed a step. I had missed a pretty important step and it completely changed the outcome.

This story is the basis for how I ran my smoking cessation classes. What if all those other times you tried to quit you were just following the wrong recipe, or you had a recipe that almost worked? What if you were just missing the right tool or combination of tools to make you successful? If you are addicted to nicotine, that is a medical problem that can require a medical intervention, so talk to your health care professional about tools they can prescribe to help you be successful, including medications, as well as over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapies like gum or lozenges. They can be extremely helpful when the urge strikes to light up.

Next, keep these points in mind as you plan to quit:

  1. Set a quit date and stick to it. Smoke your last cigarette the night before and start off fresh and smoke-free the next morning.
  2. Nicotine cravings are real, but not rational. Have you ever seen a toddler in a store pitching a fit for something they want? This is how your brain will work during cravings. Your brain will effectively be your toddler and you will have to firmly tell it ‘no’ when it pitches a fit for a cigarette. Like the parent in the store, you do not have to give in to the toddler tantrum. Let that image come to mind when you have a craving.
  3. For most people, these nicotine cravings will be at their peak around day three. After that, your brain begins to get the picture that the tantrums are not working, and it isn’t going to get what it wants.
  4. On average, a nicotine craving will last about 10 minutes. What can you do for that 10 minutes that would get you out of that situation, change your frame of mind, and keep you from smoking? Make a phone call, check the mail, go get a glass of water, eat a piece of sugar free candy, check in to COPD360social – do something to ignore that toddler brain.
  5. Find a buddy who is a non-smoker, or a never smoker, and ask them if they can be a lifeline for you. I would tell my classes to call me if they had a very strong urge to smoke that they couldn’t seem to get through. I told them that if they called me and could convince me that it was a good idea for them to go ahead and smoke, that I would come to their house and smoke a cigarette with them. As of the writing of this post, I have never had to do that – I have never been convinced. Sometimes, just talking it through can take the urge away.

Now the Twist!

Celebrity name game!

Have you heard of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon? There is a theory that every actor in Hollywood is only separated from Kevin Bacon by six working relationships. This is a fun game and can make you think of actors or movies you haven’t thought of in a long time.

For instance, I might say Jeff Daniels. As a group, we would try to connect the relationships back to Kevin Bacon.

Here is an example:

Jeff Daniels

  • Jeff Daniels to Keanu Reeves in Speed
  • Keanu Reeves and Charlize Theron in Sweet November
  • Charlize Theron and Kevin Bacon in Trapped

And there we have it – Jeff Daniels is 3 degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon.

So here we go…

We will start with a fairly easy one. Our actor is Ben Affleck. How can we connect the dots?

Ben Affleck to Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting

Your turn!!

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