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Quitting smoking will have huge benefits for your health, but the process of ditching cigarettes for good isn’t an easy task. Luckily, there is plenty of help out there to help you through these trying times, so that you can stay on track and lead a happy, smoke-free life.
Seeking help is nothing to be ashamed of, and it can even increase your chances of successfully quitting. In fact, the National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training (NCSCT) have revealed that using smoke stop services can be three times as effective than trying to stop smoking alone.
“But who will help me?” You ask. Well, in this article we’ll take you through the different options you have when it comes to accessing the right stop smoking support. We understand that everyone is unique and different approaches will work for different people. For example, whilst some people may thrive from being a part of a community group and sharing their experiences, others may prefer one-to-one sessions.
Now, let’s explore your options…
Health professionals (such as the lovely team of qualified advisors and coaches here at LiveWell Dorset) offer behavioural support to help increase your motivation to quit smoking for good. They’ll offer you advice such as how to navigate your way around triggering situations and develop a practical strategy for you moving forward to keep you on track.
According to Jennifer Percival, a stop smoking advisor who also trains others, people that see a health advisor will make it through the first month of supportive sessions without smoking a cigarette (NiQuitin).
You can find both one-to-one and group sessions and there’s also drop-in sessions available by some advisors so you can get help at a time that’s convenient to you. Quitting smoking can be a personal matter, and you may feel that you’d rather have one-to-one support to limit your social interactions. However, it’s worth noting the benefits of group support:
When speaking to a healthcare advisor, you can expect to talk about your smoking habits and your reasons for quitting. You can also discuss any previous attempts you made at quitting so they can help you to pinpoint what went wrong and what you can try this time around.
You may also be offered a breath test to show you what the level of carbon monoxide (the harmful gas found in cigarette smoke) there is in your body. Whatever the outcome, quitting smoking will be your decision and you’ll have the choice as to whether you commit to an action plan.
GPs are often a first point of contact for smokers, and some GPs may advise smokers to consider quitting smoking for their health after assessment. Findings in YouGov data highlighted that 53% of survey respondents who smoked said they’d take action to cut down on their smoking if their GP advised them to, so, speaking to your GP about your health could be the confirmation you need that it’s time to quit.
With smokers visiting their GP 35% more than non-smokers (GOV.UK) due to health issues, GPs will often highlight the evidence-based advantages of quitting smoking to help smokers make an informed decision about quitting and how they will go about it. Your local GP can signpost you to the right support or smoking aids.
Pharmacies have always played an important role in local communities to offer advice and practically support those in need of medical help. Traditionally, community pharmacies have acted as chemists, dispensing prescriptions which had been written by doctors. Now, their role is different. Community pharmacists also offer clinical services alongside dispensing prescriptions, and they’ll usually have a private consultation area so you can have conversations with them about your personal health.
In terms of accessibility, there are over 11,600 community pharmacies in the UK, giving people easy access to their informal healthcare services.
Hospitals will also work with community pharmacies, referring patients who have begun receiving support to stop smoking whilst in hospital so that they can continue their treatment with ease once they’re back home. Treatment options can include behavioural support through private consultations as well as Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT), usually as part of a 12 week programme.
You can receive this service in addition to smoking cessation services which can be accessed through self-referral, your GP or local pharmacies.
There are helplines based in the UK with smoke-stop specialists on the other end who are ready to listen - some are available seven days a week so there will always be someone to speak to. You can talk through your options with them from wherever you are to find the right support in your area.
Some helplines include:
If you’re living in Dorset and want to talk to someone who can guide you through quitting, you can call our freephone on 0800 840 1628 to find out more about your options and how we can help you.
Whilst they may not be professionals, it can be incredibly helpful to talk to loved ones who you trust about your intention to quit smoking. By letting those around you know that you’re trying to quit, they can try their best to support you too. You may live with someone else who smokes so opening up the conversation means that they can be more understanding. It will also help if triggering objects such as alcohol and cigarettes are kept out of sight so that you’re not tempted to slip into old habits.
Alongside social support, there are certain stop smoking aids that can be used to help you. This includes:
Both Varenicline and Bupropion are prescription-only medications which come as a course of tablets. They work to reduce cravings and other withdrawal effects by stimulating the production of dopamine which makes the act of smoking much less satisfying. Varenicline is usually taken for 12 weeks, whereas Bupropion lasts for around 8 weeks.
NRT can take the form of chewing gum, patches, oral sprays, nasal sprays, lozenges or inhalators, so there’s something to suit everyone. Nicotine is the substance people are addicted to with smoking and NRT is a way for people to get nicotine into their bloodstream without having to smoke. Typically, NRT will be taken for 8-12 weeks and helps to suppress withdrawal symptoms. Many NRTs can be bought from a pharmacy as well as other retail stores and they’re also available on prescription in the UK.
E-cigarettes (also known as vapes) are becoming more popular and are used as an alternative to smoking. Essentially, they are electronic cigarettes (typically battery-powered) and they work by heating up a liquid which you then inhale. They are considered to be less harmful than cigarettes (NHS) as they don’t produce the toxins burning tobacco does.
You won’t be forced to take any stop smoking treatments, but it will likely be encouraged as they can help to successfully quit and manage your withdrawal symptoms. Whether you speak to a professional healthcare advisor such as a member of the team here at LiveWell Dorset or your local GP, you’ll be taken through the different types of stop smoking aids out there so you can choose the option that’s best for you.
So, now you know about stop smoking support and who you can go to when you’re ready to wave goodbye to cigarettes. There really are so many benefits to quitting smoking for your health, and the health of those around you. From reducing your risk of developing cancer and artery disease to helping you feel better within yourself, you have so much to look forward to in a smoke-free life.
Quitting is hard, but you don’t have to quit alone.
If you live in Dorset, our friendly team of professional health advisors and coaches are always here to help. We’re funded by Public Health Dorset and our services are free to Dorset residents who are looking to stop smoking and improve their health.
Contact us today to see how we can help. Alternatively, you can register for our services here. Simply complete the short assessment and we’ll be in touch to let you know more about our services and what we can offer.
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