Life & Style | Health

How to quit smoking for good

With cigarettes so cheap and smoking allowed in many public areas, it’s no wonder so many people in the UAE stay hooked on the habit. But with a little help from the experts, you can ditch ‘the cancer sticks’. Andrea Anastasiou rounds up the services and products to help you quit for good

  • By Andrea Anastasiou, Aquarius magazine
  • Published: 12:50 October 1, 2012
  • Aquarius

How to quit smoking for good
  • Image Credit: Supplied picture
  • Three months after quitting smoking your lung function will have improved by five to 10 per cent.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), someone in the world dies every six seconds from tobacco use, while estimations suggest that one in every two smokers will die from their habit. In fact, it’s predicted that tobacco will kill more than eight million people worldwide annually by 2030. Cigarettes are killers. “More than 50 of the 4,000 chemicals found in tobacco smoke are known to cause cancer and around 200 are poisonous,” says Dr Seema Anand, specialist physician of internal medicine at Dubai’s Welcare Hospital. These toxins create a number of health hazards for women, which include the risk of reduced fertility, cervical cancer and premature aging.
“Women who smoke are three times more likely to take more than a year to conceive,” she says. “Smoking is also associated with five per cent of infant deaths, ten per cent of preterm babies and 30 per cent of underweight babies.”

Of course, we all know that cigarettes are bad for us, but did you know that if you give up smoking before the age of 35 you could have practically the same life expectancy as a non-smoker? That’s a real incentive, if you were in need of one, to kick that bad habit to the curb once and for all.

NEURO-LINGUISTIC PROGRAMMING
HOW IT WORKS
Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) is a very precise form of hypnosis, which can help you trigger the release of feel-good chemicals from the brain when you need them, simply by using your mind, so you no longer need cigarettes for that buzz, says Tony Barlow, The Learning Coach. “This is easier than it sounds,” explains Barlow. “Sit back and think for a moment of the most relaxing experience of your life. Spend a couple of minutes thinking about the sights, sounds and feelings of that experience as if you are reliving it right now. When you have finished doing this, notice how you feel. With NLP you can set things up in your mind so the body chemistry is created automatically at the moments you need it – such as the times when you would normally want to smoke. This dramatically reduces withdrawal symptoms and makes quitting easier,” he says.
WHAT HAPPENS
In your first session, there’s a lot of information gathering, Barlow explains. “I will find out how many cigarettes you smoke a day and where you smoke, for example. I also offer you the opportunity to practise how to use your mind to get some instant relief from cravings. Typically, we will go through some visualisation-type exercises, and I will demonstrate to you in the first session how much control you actually have over your body chemistry just by using your mind,” says Barlow. Three one-hour sessions are recommended over a one to two week period. Barlow also asks his clients to send a daily email report for the first two weeks to ensure they are using the mental techniques he has taught them.
HOW EFFECTIVE IS IT?
According to Barlow, quitting smoking is primarily the ability to change an ingrained mental habit. He says that consciously trying to stop smoking without any help is an almost impossible task unless your motivation level is very high. NLP changes the subconscious habit directly so that you automatically don’t feel like smoking. An alternative to this is NLP and Time Line Therapy, which uses a combination of the above and Time Line, where you imagine an internal timeline floating above you that helps you let go of negative emotions and limiting beliefs. Wendy Shaw from Matrix Training Solutions explains how the combined technique can offer quick and lasting results. “We work at a deeper level with the client’s subconscious mind, exploring the client’s beliefs around smoking, which often leads to the identification of an internal conflict. Part of them wants to stop yet a part of them doesn’t, which ultimately sabotages their success. When we deal with the lower level issues, it allows change to happen.”
THE DETAILS
NLP for quitting smoking costs Dh1,300. Available in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi, contact The Learning Coach, www.learnfastuae.com. NLP and Time Line Therapy is available at Matrix Training Sessions, where you can get a complimentary 30-minute ‘Discovery’ session. Call 04-3432555, www.matrix-training.com

HYPNOSIS
HOW IT WORKS According to John Barclay, director at Hypnosis Dubai (www.hypnosisdubai.com), hypnosis is a natural state of physical relaxation and mental focus in which your critical conscious mind is bypassed so that positive, goal-oriented suggestions can be delivered directly to your subconscious. It is believed that 80 per cent of how you think, feel and behave is controlled by your subconscious mind, meaning hypnosis is a powerful tool through which to influence your behaviour. During a hypnosis session, you will be guided through various relaxation techniques until you are in a very relaxed state. You will then be asked to imagine unpleasant outcomes from smoking, and offered visualisation techniques and affirmations that will help you associate smoking with negative images.
WHAT HAPPENS Barclay explains how during the first session a case history is taken, following which the hypnosis begins. During your second visit, the visualisations you explored in your first session are reinforced, and you should be on your way to becoming a non-smoker. The Quit Smoking Programme involves two one and half hour sessions that are five to seven days apart. The total session time is three hours.
HOW EFFECTIVE IS IT? According to Barclay, hypnosis is the only technique that deals with the issues that make a smoker return to smoking. “As these issues are removed using hypnotherapy, there is no need for anyone to start smoking again and they are a non-smoker for the rest of their lives,” he says. Barclay also explains how there is a 65 per cent success rate when you use hypnosis to quit smoking. This is compared to just five per cent for when you go it alone, and 25 per cent when using gum or patches.
DETAILS Dh600 per hour or Dh1,600 for the programme, Hypnosis Dubai, call 050-4271739 or visit www.hypnosisdubai.com.

ACUPUNCTURE
HOW IT WORKS Acupuncture is part of traditional Chinese medicine, whereby the functioning of your organs can be improved, pain can be eased, and good health promoted through the rebalancing of energy (also known as ‘qi’) in the body. Fine needles are used to stimulate the body’s ‘acupoints’ thereby boosting depleted energy, or moving stagnated energy. For smokers, it boosts the liver function and aids detoxification, which helps reduce the dreaded cravings, and alleviates withdrawal symptoms, such as irritability, mood swings and increased appetite that can be side effects of quitting. At the Dubai Herbal and Treatment Centre, the smoking cessation treatment consists of acupuncture sessions, detox tea and sometimes herbal medications – used to help people with nicotine withdrawal symptoms such as insomnia, irritability and headaches.
WHAT HAPPENS Despite common misconception, the needles used in acupuncture are extremely thin, and therefore insertion is barely noticeable and not painful. During a session, each needle is inserted very superficially into your skin, where they remain while you rest. The number of sessions needed vary from person to person, but typically, between five to 15 sessions are needed to give up smoking.
HOW EFFECTIVE IS IT? According to Dr Maria Ridao Alonso, allopathic physician at the Dubai Herbal and Treatment Centre, acupuncture takes care of both the emotional and physical side of quitting smoking. It also helps reduce withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, nervousness, insomnia, shakiness and headaches.
DETAILS Five sessions for Dh750, while one day of the detox tea costs Dh10. The Dubai Herbal Treatment Centre, call 04-3351200 or visit www.dubaihtc.com

IQS
HOW IT WORKS IQS utilises a special device that administers electrical stimulation to the earlobes in a process known as auricular therapy. According to Alaa Abou Laban, deputy manager at IQS UAE, these small electrical currents are applied to key points on the earlobe, releasing a flow of beta-endorphins throughout the body, creating a sense of vitality. The endorphins prevent nicotine depravation and help to stop the cravings. They also help detoxify the body from nicotine.
WHAT HAPPENS You will first be given a questionnaire to answer – this explores your smoking habits and nicotine consumption. Following this, a spirometer measuring device is used to measure the carbon monoxide (CO) level in your body to determine whether you are a light, medium or heavy smoker. Finally, the therapy is applied to your earlobes via what is known as a ‘Rise’ device. A one-hour session is usually all it takes, but severe addicts may need two sessions.
HOW EFFECTIVE IS IT? The auricular therapy claims to help remove all your cravings while controlling stress levels. It has also been found that the therapy helps control your appetite during the cessation phase, meaning you shouldn’t gain any weight. According to Laban, the IQS team has been studying the effectiveness of the treatment for several years and they have found that there is a 90 per cent success rate.
DETAILS A one-hour session costs Dh2,000, IQS, call 04-2626000 or visit www.iqs-uae.com

OTHER RESOURCES
 
SUPPORT GROUP The Gulf News Stub It! campaign is being held in association with the DM Healthcare Group. If you wish to join, please contact readers@gulfnews.com with your details and a few lines about why you want to quit smoking.
BOOKS There are numerous books available to help you along the way. Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Stop Smoking (Penguin Books Ltd) and Quit Smoking Today (Bantam Press) by Paul Mckenna have both enjoyed high success rates.
NICOTINE REPLACEMENT Various nicotine replacement therapies (NRT) are available from most major pharmacies. These include gums, sprays, lozenges, tablets and patches, with each providing a remedial administration of nicotine to the body to help wean it off the drug.

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THE BENEFITS TIMELINE
Dr Anand says that even from 20 minutes of being smoke-free, your health starts to improve – here are the changes minute-by-minute, hour by hour and day by day.
AFTER 20 MINUTES Your blood pressure decreases, your heart rate reduces, instantly reducing your risk of a heart attack, and the body temperature of your hands and feet increase, improving your circulation.
AFTER 8 HOURS “After eight hours the carbon monoxide level in your blood normalises and the oxygen level in your blood increases back to normal,” says Dr Anand.
AFTER 48 HOURS After 48 hours, your body is nicotine-free: the regeneration of nerves start and your sense of smell and taste improves. Plus, “your chances of having a heart attack decreases significantly,” says Dr Anand. Your breathing will also improve.
AFTER 3 MONTHS Your lung function will have improved by five to 10 per cent
AFTER 1 YEAR Your risk of coronary heart disease is reduced by 50 per cent.
AFTER 10 YEARS Your risk of lung cancer is reduced by 50 per cent; and there is a reduced risk of other cancers, including the pancreas, bladder, kidney, mouth, and throat.
AFTER 15 YEARS The risk of heart disease and mortality is the same as a non-smoker.

"I gave up by going cold turkey"

Sapna Khan, a Dubai smoker for the past two years, managed to quit with no assistance. Here’s how…

“I got into the habit of smoking around 12 to 15 cigarettes a day about two years ago, after smoking shisha on a regular basis for about six years. I decided I needed to quit as I noticed my health had started to deteriorate – my stamina was poor, I had chest pains every morning, a smoker’s cough and a sore throat. My clothes, fingers and breath stank. Plus, although cigarettes are relatively cheap in Dubai, I was still spending Dh300-400 every month. “Two months ago I decided to go cold turkey. In the past I had tried to gradually reduce my consumption, but I soon figured out that smoking less was demotivating and unsuccessful.

“I did not rely on anything else to quit – no over-the-counter nicotine strips or chewing gum. I’ve realised you have to want to stop and the most successful method is self-control and determination to do good for yourself and your body. The only person who can help you is you. “Cravings were at a peak during the first few days and this was the most challenging part – but the cravings became less and less and eventually stopped after three to four weeks. “I noticed the changes after quitting almost immediately – my chest pains were lessening, I was breathing better, and my throat started recovering. Recently, I joined the gym and I am working on my stamina so that I can run and lift weights again.

“You have to be truthful with yourself and realise that cigarettes do not have control over you, but you do have control over cigarettes. Quit!”


 

Did you know?

A jab, which could provide life-long protection against nicotine cravings, is currently being developed at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York. Though research is still at an early stage, the theory is that such a ‘genetic vaccine’ would neutralise nicotine before it reaches the brain.

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