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Set the date, then execute your plan

I remember getting motion sickness when our family got into the car, my brothers and me in the backseat. Dad was a smoker. He would crack the driver’s door window so the smoke would vent outside the car, but I remember the smell of the smoke. I remember feeling like I was going to throw up, the headaches.

Though my brothers and I asked him many times to quit smoking, he didn’t until the damage was done and the doctor said he had to quit. Even then, there were times that one or another family member caught him smoking in the garage or when he went to the convenience store to get his lottery ticket or Bargain Hunter paper. He died of lung cancer after years of having emphysema. And I don’t remember how many years he used a breathing machine or oxygen. He smoked for more than 60 years, I think.

There have been times that I have asked other of my loved ones to stop smoking. They watched my father’s health decline over the years. They were there every time we made an emergency room run thinking it was his last day on earth. No matter how many times I said, “Please quit smoking. I don’t want to do this with you, too,” my pleas went unanswered, so I stopped asking. Each one who has quit decided that they needed to quit for themselves. And one by one the smokers in the family are quitting.

Everyone has smokers in their family, I suppose. And the younger the person is, the harder it is to beat the addiction of nicotine that is found naturally in tobacco. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that, “Tobacco smoke contains a deadly mix of more than 7,000 chemicals; hundreds are harmful and about 70 cause cancer.”

If you are a smoker, quitting is probably one of the hardest things you will ever do. When stressful moments overwhelm you, you may think that you should go back to smoking because you handled stress a lot easier when you could take a smoke break. But then you think, no, you smoked your last one. You are doing this for you. You are going to do this because you are worth it. You have a lot of reasons to be healthy for a long time to come.

Quitting smoking lowers the risk of lung and other cancers. Quitting reduces the risks for heart disease and stroke. Quitting lowers the risk of COPD (a leading cause of death in the U.S.). Quitting reduces the risk of infertility or having a low birth weight baby.

“Smoking,” advises the American Cancer Society, “is the largest cause of preventable death and illness in the world. An estimated 34 million Americans smoke cigarettes. There are about 480,000 smoking related deaths annually in the U.S. Approximately 16 million people in the U.S. live with a disease linked to smoking.

Most smokers, advises the CDC, become addicted to nicotine. “It may be as addictive as heroin, cocaine or alcohol.” Often people who stop smoking start again because of withdrawal symptoms (feeling irritable, angry or anxious; having trouble thinking; craving tobacco products; feeling hungrier than usual.) Stress and weight gain also cause recovering smokers to start smoking again.

If you are a smoker and you want to quit you are not alone. If you quit and started again, you are not alone. Sometimes it takes more than a time or two to successfully stop smoking. But you can do this. If you need help, talk to your health care provider.

The Great American Smokeout is Nov. 21. You have time to set your date and make your plan for quitting that day.

Addiction has no address, but Family Recovery Center does. For more information about the education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related behavioral issues, contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, info@familyrecovery.org. FRC is funded in part by United Way of Northern Columbiana County.

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