It’s no secret: quitting smoking is not easy. For many smokers, the commitment to become smoke-free and stay that way can feel nearly impossible—but it’s not.
For Syeda Moosvi, MD, an internal medicine physician at MedStar Montgomery Medical Center, helping her patients quit smoking is a passion—and a process that starts with a simple conversation.
Following clinical best practice guidelines, Dr. Moosvi asks all of her patients if they smoke. If the answer is “yes,” she asks follow-up questions like “How much?”; “Are you interested in quitting?”; and “Have you tried to quit in the past?”
“This is such an important conversation, because often it can be a starting point for support and ultimately for changing behavior,” she says. “Cigarette smoking is a very complex addiction. It’s a disease, not just a habit.”
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), tobacco use is the most common preventable cause of death. Diseases progress faster in smokers. Smoking can complicate surgery and other medical interventions, as well as delay recovery. Because smoking increases the risk of blood clots and stroke, women smokers over age 35 are not prescribed hormonal contraception or hormonal treatments for menopause-related symptoms.
Fortunately, there are many options that can help smokers quit successfully. Nicotine patches, lozenges, gum, prescription medication, and smoking cessation counseling can all be part of a successful quit plan.
“The best combination for success is counseling with a smoking cessation expert and prescription medications,” says Dr. Moosvi. “Only 3 percent of smokers who attempt to quit without support will be successful.”
Dr. Moosvi reassures her patients that they can quit successfully. “Everyone quits at their own pace, and you don’t have to do it alone. If you want to quit, talk to your doctor. We will always make time to talk about your goals and how we can help you achieve them.”
BENEFITS OF QUITTING SMOKING:
- You’ll reduce your risk of cancer, heart attack, and stroke.
- Your lungs will be better able to fight infection.
- Your taste buds will work better, so food will taste better.
- For women of childbearing age, quitting smoking reduces the risk of infertility, as well as having a low birth weight baby.
- By eliminating the cost of cigarettes and reducing your medical costs, you’ll save money.
- Create an internal dialog and rehearse your action plan for quitting. Ask yourself:
- What do I enjoy most about smoking?
- Why do I want to quit?
- What are the main challenges in my way?
- Who most wants me to quit?
WHEN YOU ARE READY:
- Set a “quit date” in the near future—not six months out.
- Be realistic and know what to expect, including the side effects of nicotine withdrawal (such as irritability, headaches, difficulty concentrating, and cravings).
- Avoid alcohol, which increases your chance of relapsing.
- Exercise—any physical activity is a good place to start.
- Distract yourself for two to three minutes until cravings pass.
- When you feel like smoking, talk to the person who most wants you to quit.
To make an appointment or learn more, call (301) 774-6655.