Quit smoking & drinking

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Quit smoking & drinking

Sunday, May 24, 2020

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SMOKING tobacco has been linked to various respiratory conditions and non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as stroke, heart disease and a variety of cancers, as well as other issues like reduced function of the immune system.

Since next week Sunday, May 31, is World No Tobacco Day, and in light of the current global pandemic, which puts smokers at increased risk of serious illness, there has never been a better time to kick the habit of smoking.

Likewise, having more than one or two alcoholic drinks per day for women and men, respectively, has been linked to various NCDs and a weakened immune system. And, while this may be common knowledge, it is still difficult for many people to quit.

So here are a few pointers, which have been put together with the help of the National Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA) and Jamaica Moves, to get started on kicking the habit of smoking and drinking excessively.

1. List your reasons for quitting

According to the NCDA, when you pinpoint why you want to quit — whether it's to reduce your risk of NCDs or saving money — it helps you to stay motivated. Try to put that list in a place where you can see it everyday, such as on your refrigerator or on your phone.

2. Choose a day to stop and stick to it

When you identify a date, you can use some time leading up to that date to prepare yourself for the changes.

Identify your triggers. For some, they smoke in social situations, when they're stressed, anxious, or generally experiencing intense emotions. Try to think of and plan to exercise alternative means of dealing with those triggers — some suggestions include: Listening to music, meditating, keeping active, connecting with non-smokers and non-drinkers, especially someone who you may call on to hold you accountable during urges or times when you normally smoke, or trying a new hobby.

3. Take it one day at a time

Focus on not smoking or not drinking today, and do not be fooled into comforting yourself by having 'just one'.

The NCDA also suggests that you “reward yourself each time you resist the urge to smoke or drink”. When you feel the urge to drink or smoke, try to delay acting on the urge, take deep breaths, drink some water, and call your “accountability buddy” to help you through the urge.

4. Avoid situations where drinking and smoking are encouraged

If you notice that you tend to smoke or drink around certain people or places, avoid them. If others around you smoke or drink as well, encourage them to join you on your journey to quit.

During your preparation, you are encouraged to get rid of all cigarettes, vaping paraphernalia, and alcohol from your house or anywhere else you keep them.

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Many people who try to quit, experience various other issues such as withdrawals. Regular exercise, at least 60 minutes daily, is one way to cope with potential withdrawals, irritability or other emotional upset from quitting — plus it has a reel of other health benefits.

It is also suggested that you reflect on your progress and how healthy you're becoming, and find tips and routine through Jamaica Moves.

6. Connect with a health care professional who can help

The NCDA says, “Don't be afraid to ask for professional help.”

Contact the council's help line at 876-564-HELP (876-564-4357), to access trained counsellors who can assist. They can help with managing strong emotions, developing plans for quitting and helping you to stay on track.

During times of social distancing, the council suggests online resources such as MyQuitBuddy from the App Store or Google Play that are free and personalised.

Just remember that you're quitting for you and your health. The first few weeks may be most difficult, but even if you slip up, keep trying and learn from the setback.

Jamaica Moves is the country's coordinated national response to the increased incidence of NCDs. Through education, engagement and the building of supportive environments, the campaign hopes to reduce NCDs by 25 per cent by the year 2025.


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