By now, if you’re a smoker, you may have already broken your New Year’s resolution to kick the habit. But all is not lost. You can start over. 

It’s like falling off a bicycle when you’re first learning to ride. Falling off isn’t the end. It just the beginning – one failed attempt until you succeed.

Smoking cessation is particularly important now because according to the Center for Disease Control, those who smoke or vape may be at higher risk for COVID-19. 

This also applies to those who are exposed to the second hand smoke – children, grandparents and family members who may have weakened immune systems. So smoking not only puts the smoker at risk but his/her loved ones as well.

For those trying to quit during the pandemic there is the added element of smoking to relieve the stress many are experiencing from isolation, loss of income, trying to work at home with children doing distance learning and just plain worry about getting the virus. 

People who want to quit tobacco are also relying more heavily on it to deal with stress and anxiety.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to achieving quit success but research shows that coaching and quit medications combined provide the best chance of quitting. 

The Colorado Department of Public Health and National Jewish Health in Denver offer a free online service available to Colorado residents at www.coquitline.org

The program, which originated in 1995, served more than 27,000 people last year and is available to all Coloradans older than 12. 

Contact begins with an initial interview after which the person receives five calls from a coach, once a week to every two weeks, to check on their progress and offer tips and support. Participants may even be eligible for patches, gum or lozenges.

Many Quitline coaches were former smokers, so they have very personal connections to the topic and can help provide personalized advice. 

Quitline services are available 24/7 through text and web chat as well as phone coaching and a supportive online community. QuitLine coaches can help:

• Prepare a quit plan

• Set a quit date

• Understand tobacco triggers

• Manage cravings

• Get back on track after relapses

The Colorado QuitLine offers specialized services for some groups, including youth, pregnant mothers and people with mental health concerns. 

“My Life My Quit” is a cessation resource offered through the QuitLine for Colorado youth ages 12 to 18. 

One in four Colorado youth reported current e-cigarette use in 2019 and approximately half of youth reported trying to quit vaping or smoking in 2019.  

It is important that youth have access to tailored, confidential services to help them quit.

Granted, smoking is one of the hardest addictions to overcome. Some who have overcome heroin addiction have said giving up cigarettes was even more difficult, but the good news is, it can be done.  

The key, perhaps, is to think of it not as giving up cigarettes but as gaining health. There are a number of ways to approach this, among them family and group support, medications, acupuncture, herbs and hypnotherapy.

For those who prefer natural solutions, acupuncture, herbs and hypnotherapy, alone or combined, may help curb cravings. Chinese herbs, lobelia and niacin, for example, may help with nicotine addiction.

“Some try acupuncture because they can’t tolerate the drugs used for tobacco cessation,” says acupuncturist Jamie Starkey, LAC in an online article from the Cleveland Clinic.  “Unlike prescription medications, acupuncture has no side effects. In fact it’s common to notice side benefits like improvements in sleep and mood. Others use acupuncture as part of an overall strategy to quit.”

Acupuncture targets certain areas of the body for different conditions. Some pressure points, for example, are especially effective for suppressing cravings. The goal is to help curb cravings for nicotine as well as to prompt a relaxation response.

Hypnotherapy is a treatment that works with the subconscious mind, convincing the smoker to kick the habit by repeating back to the person while he/she is in a trance state, what he/she wants to accomplish.

Nicotine addiction is not the only problem related to smoking. 

For some oral satisfaction is also addictive. The motion of having the cigarette in the mouth and removing it with the hands, putting ashes in the ashtray, etc. may be another habit to overcome. 

One suggestion to help with this is to carry a bottle of water with a straw and drink from the straw throughout the day. 

This works especially well when suggested under hypnosis and of course, drinking water is an added health benefit.

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