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Why Is It So Hard to Stop Smoking?

Why Is It So Hard to Stop Smoking?

It seems like every medical questionnaire asks if you’re a smoker. You may sheepishly confirm, acknowledging that you need to quit.

When you know it’s bad for you, why is it so hard to quit?

Dr. Sidharth Bagga, pulmonologist for Oroville Hospital, demystifies why the cessation of this habit is so troublesome.

Why Should You Quit Smoking?

“Smoking is the most preventable cause of injury to the body at this point,” says Dr. Bagga. He also educates that very little time is spent counseling on how to quit.

From a financial standpoint, smoking is an expensive habit. People spend a significant portion of their annual income supporting their smoking habit. If they develop lung disease, society foots the bill for those who can’t afford the necessary treatment on their own.

Smoking impacts the entire body. Not only does it do direct harm to the lungs, it also interferes with the cardiovascular system. The brain and other organs don’t get enough blood flow or oxygen, upping disease risk. Joint pain, cancer and other organ difficulties can develop from a smoking habit.

What Gets in the Way of Quitting?

Many people started smoking as youngsters, and it developed into a habit. Just as a morning cup of coffee is a ritual for some, giving up the behavior seems like it could alter the course of the day. “The biggest obstacle in trying to quit smoking is ourselves,” avers Dr. Bagga.

The truth is, if you aren’t genuinely interested in quitting, you will fail.

Smoking is marked by an addictive aspect, which is another reason it’s so difficult to ditch. “Cigarette smoking creates a pathway in your brain that is very similar to the feedback we get when we eat,” shares Dr. Bagga. Nicotine is addictive and is best delivered through smoke. Nicotine replacement products aren’t as quick at delivering nicotine to the brain. That good feeling after having a cigarette gets in the way of just saying “no” to the next one.

How Can You Successfully Quit?

The system Dr. Bagga recommends begins with identifying your intention and admitting to yourself that you are ready to stop smoking. You may be suited for going “cold turkey,” or you might require smoking cessation aids. Lozenges, gum, electronic cigarettes, meditations or behavioral therapy can assist the quitting process. Setting a quit date gives you a goal.

Dr. Bagga also suggests observation and accountability. Figure out your triggers and act on what you’ve learned. You may need something else to keep your hands or mouth busy after years of cigarette use. Have a family member help you maintain accountability.

For those who need additional help, Oroville Hospital has a clinic dedicated to helping patients quit smoking.

“Failing to quit smoking is not a failure. Failure to start quitting smoking is the complete failure,” assures Dr. Bagga. “As long as you keep trying, you will succeed.”

**To listen to an interview with Dr. Sidharth Bagga, pulmonologist for Oroville Hospital, follow this link:

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