Allegra Wiborg, Lead Trainer, Service Delivery
Occasionally participants in our tobacco cessation program will tell me they dont want to use the patch or nicotine gum to quit tobacco. Some have pretty strong feelings about it, too: If Im quitting nicotinewhy would I want to add it to my body?! No thanks.
I can see where these participants are coming from. Isnt that like pouring gasoline on the fire? I too was confused about how nicotine replacement therapy worked until I became a Quit Coach.
Now that Im well-versed in NRT and its benefits, Im happy to have the chance to educate participants who may be afraid of it. Yes, patches and gum contain nicotine, but thats it. Cigarettes contain nicotine and smoke and tar and carcinogens and 4,000 chemicals (including ammonia and arsenic!).
Nicotine is what makes you addicted to cigarettes; but its not what kills you. That would be the smoke that clogs your lungs, and the carcinogens that breed a variety of cancers. It is safer to get nicotine from the patch rather than continue to smoke.
When a person uses NRT she starts by matching the nicotine intake as she was used to getting from tobacco. This way she doesnt have uncomfortablesometimes excruciatingphysical withdrawals (shaking, nausea, headaches).
Without the burden of physical withdrawals, she begins to live a life without cigarettes. This is hard work in itself. Maybe she starts taking a shower in the morning, instead of having that wake-up cigarette. Maybe she gets comfortable saying, Im a little stressed right now, Im going to walk around the block instead of going for a smoke break.
Research shows that breaking a habit takes 28 days. Again the beauty of NRT: after a month of the acclimated level of nicotine, a person begins to wean off the drug by using smaller and smaller amounts for the second month. At the end of eight weeks she is free of the nicotine addiction and has demonstrated confidence in a smoke-free lifestyle!
These are the facts and ideas I bring up to participants who are reluctant to use NRT. In a way, theyre still rightif a person quits tobacco cold turkey, nicotine leaves their body within two to five days.
Too bad quitting cold turkey is so difficult. With the help of NRT and a Quit Coach, a smoker is 8 times more likely to quit successfully. And isnt it the end resultbeing quitthat matters?
As a former Quit Coach®, Allegra remembers the importance of viewing each caller as an individual who brings their past and their personality to the behavior change process. And, she remembers the importance of treating each caller with care. These are elements she tries to share with Quit Coaches in her training classes. Read more of Allegra Wiborg's blog posts.
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