Quitting for Good

4 tips to help your patients quit smoking

When developing a quit plan, reviewing a patient’s physical and emotional state, as well as his or her environment, can lead to a greater chance of success.

An online survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of the AOA found Americans are split on whether positive or negative health messages are more likely to help tobacco and nicotine users reduce their use of those substances or quit.

Positive health information about the benefits of quitting was believed to be more likely to help someone reduce use of or quit using tobacco or nicotine by 34 percent of Americans, while 33 percent thought health information focused on the harmful effects of tobacco/nicotine is more likely to help.

The March poll of more than 2,000 U.S. adults revealed many Americans (23%) think collaboration with family members or friends is the most effective aid for a tobacco/nicotine user who is trying to quit. Nicotine replacement products such as patches, gum or mouth spray were believed the second most effective (22%), followed by prescription quitting medication (17%).

About half of smokers try to quit every year, and most tobacco and nicotine users say they want to quit. Even when smokers have intentions to quit, they often have a hard time. Less than 10 percent of smokers are successful in quitting each year.

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“What’s often missing—and most difficult to prescribe—is a support network dedicated to health goals,” said Richard Bryce, DO, an osteopathic family physician practicing at the Community Health and Social Services Center (CHASS), a federally qualified health center in Detroit. “As an osteopathic physician, I’m an integral member of their quit team. Together, we identify reasonable lifestyle alterations that can reduce temptation and empower change.”

When developing a quit plan, reviewing a patient’s physical and emotional state, as well as his or her environment, can lead to a greater chance of success.

“As with any health objective, a quit plan must account for the other pressing health or financial concerns,” Dr. Bryce says. “Health improvements happen when we understand the person in the context of their wider environment.”

Here are four tips to help patients kick the habit for good.

1. Identify usage triggers
Tobacco use often starts with limiting exposure to specific situations and stressors. Examine the potential people, places and things that trigger the dependence.

2. Create multiple layers of support
Products like patches and pills are best used in coordination with counseling and support from family and friends. Dr. Bryce suggests scheduling appointments with the patient and their partner or family.

3. Celebrate big and small successes
Even reduced tobacco and nicotine usage can positively affect a patient’s health and those who surround them.

4. Find a different reward
Tobacco use is often tied to a reward impulse. Recalibrate and rewire this impulse and find rewards from activities or indulgences that are more healthful, like exercise or coffee.

Have tips that have successfully helped your patients quit smoking? Share your advice below.

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