Four ‘Ds’ help tobacco users curb the urge

| December 9, 2010 | 1 Comment

BethAnn Cameron, U.S. Army Public Health Command (Provisional)



ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — Many people make the transition from using tobacco products by using nicotine replacement patches, gum or other medication.

Remember, however, to use medications as prescribed by your health care provider.

You may experience uncomfortable feelings such as headaches, nervousness, irritation or anxiety. Drinking plenty of water can ease these discomforts. These symptoms will go away as your body tolerates reduced amounts of nicotine until no nicotine is left.

The urge to reach for your cigarettes or spit tobacco will be almost gone in a few months. The association between tobacco and many of your daily activities will also curtail.

Before, you trained your brain to connect using tobacco with a daily activity. Now, your daily activity is connected with a new habit or pattern of behavior that you developed. Before you drank a cup of coffee and smoked a cigarette, or you reached for your spit tobacco in reaction to fatigue or stress. Now, you should reach for a straw, a piece of candy or gum.

The process of maintaining control in order to stay tobacco free requires using some coping strategies. One tip is to avoid people or places where people use tobacco. To cope with an urge to smoke, use the four “Ds”:

•Deep breathing. Take slow, deep breaths to feel relaxed and in control.
•Drink at least eight glasses of water a day.
•Do something else to keep busy.
•Delay by counting to 100 or 200 and thinking pleasant thoughts until the urge passes.

Another alternative is to use a “survival kit” of items such as chewing gum, candy, toothpicks, rubber bands and paper clips to serve as substitutes instead of using tobacco.

You may have pleasant memories of tobacco and think how nice it would be to have just one cigarette or a little dip. This lapse is risky because it can lead you to “slip” or relapse into using tobacco.

If you slip, make a fresh start by considering the circumstances that caused the slip. Review the reasons why you quit tobacco: health, family members, personal appearance, to breathe better or regain mission readiness.

Set a date, make a quit plan and quit again. Be sure to get support system: a buddy, someone to talk with or a group of people who can support you.

The only people who lose their battle with tobacco are the ones who stop making an attempt. Each unsuccessful attempt to stop increases the likelihood that the next attempt will result in success.

Most people who quit say that about one year after quitting they no longer think about tobacco. This time period depends on the amount of nicotine, your level of dependence and how many aspects of your life rotated around using tobacco.

(Editor’s Note: BethAnn Cameron is a health educator with the U.S. Army Public Health Command-Provisional.)


Category: Health, News

Comments (1)

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  1. Quit Smoking Doctor says:

    Great article about stopping cravings!

    I always tell my patients that there is no such thing as "just one cigarette" when they are quitting. Smoking "just one cigarette" almost invariably leads to relapse.

    Once you quit, tell yourself that you can never smoke again!

    Tim Ferenchick, MD

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