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Let the Great American Smokeout begin your journey to quit
Since the pandemic, we’ve all been thinking of ways to be healthier. Quitting smoking could be the answer for you. The American Cancer Society's 44th annual Great American Smokeout on Thursday, November 19, is the perfect time to build your plan on how to quit for good. The Great American Smokeout calls on smokers to decide to quit, stick to it, and become smoke-free.
Stopping smoking is hard work and may take multiple attempts. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, one reason it’s so difficult to stop smoking is that smokers’ brains have 'learned' to smoke. Just like unlearning to ride a bike, it is incredibly hard to unlearn that simple, mildly rewarding behavior of lighting up a cigarette.
To modify that behavior, experts say a combination of approaches that includes tobacco cessation counseling usually works best. Research has shown:
Combining counseling and medication works better than using medication alone.
Self-help techniques, group counseling, and telephone counseling are more likely to work than stopping smoking “cold turkey” without assistance.
Counseling — even with a health care provider who does not specialize in therapy — can significantly improve one’s chance of quitting.
Cessation counseling is focused on the role that tobacco plays in a smoker’s daily routine and then tailoring a quit plan to fit into their everyday life. Counseling can come in a variety of forms, ranging from brief counseling with a primary care provider to individual or group counseling formats and even counseling by phone or through VA Video Connect.
VA’s tobacco cessation counselors typically discuss activities or situations that trigger someone who uses tobacco to light up, such as talking on the phone, drinking coffee or alcohol, or feeling bored or stressed. Counseling usually includes developing strategies for coping with those triggers and making the long-term behavioral changes needed to stop smoking for good. Cessation counselors may also recommend nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) or prescribe medication to help relieve the symptoms that come with nicotine withdrawal.
“This program works,” said one Veteran, who smoked up to three packs a day for 44 years. He had tried to give up cigarettes many times before he was able to stop for good with VA’s help in 2012. “I felt better than I had in years.”
Below are some VA resources that can help:
Your Local VA Facility
Talk to your primary care doctor or mental health counselor. They will help you find the combination of counseling and medication that is right for you. Local VA medical centers offer various programs, including individual counseling, group classes, telephone clinics, and telehealth.
If you're ready to quit and want to talk to someone on the phone, call 1-855-QUIT-VET today. Quit VET is a toll-free national quitline open Monday through Friday (9am - 9pm ET) available to Veterans who receive their health care at VA. Callers to 1-855-QUIT-VET (1-855-784-8838) will work with a quitline counselor to build a quit plan and discuss strategies for staying on track. Counselors can also provide scheduled follow-up calls to help you meet your goals. Counseling is also available in Spanish.
Receive daily tips and encouragement via text message from SmokefreeVET. Text VET to 47848 to receive regular support and quit tips. You can also text keywords such as "STRESS" or "SMOKED" to receive an immediate response. A Spanish language version is available by texting VETesp to 47848.
Stay Quit Coach
Download this mobile app designed to help Veterans quit tobacco, with tools and information specifically addressing the needs of Veterans with PTSD. Stay Quit Coach is available for free from both iTunes and Google Play.
These are only a few tools to help you quit tobacco. Please sign in and talk to your VA health care provider via Secure Messaging(sign in required) to find out how they can help you quit.
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