Dr. Raymond Rezaie Discusses His Top 4 Tips to Quit Smoking

Montreal doctor Dr. Raymond Rezaie

July 21, 2021

Dr. Raymond Rezaie Discusses His Top 4 Tips to Quit Smoking

According to the CDC, smoking cigarettes kills more than 480,000 people every year in the United States. Smoking also significantly increases your chances of developing lung, throat, and mouth cancers; heart disease; blood clots; and having a stroke. But despite understanding these facts, millions of Americans have difficulty quitting smoking. That’s because the main component of cigarettes (or cigars, vapes, dip, etc.) is nicotine – a highly addictive substance that releases dopamine in the brain, says Dr. Raymond Rezaie.

There are several ways to fight the addictive properties of nicotine and embrace the health benefits of being an ex-smoker. Here are a few of Dr. Rezaie’s favorites.
You Have to Find Your Reason Says Dr. Raymond Rezaie
Nicotine releases a hit of dopamine with every puff of a cigarette. Since a typical smoker takes ten or more puffs per cigarette, a pack-a-day smoker is receiving at least 250 dopamine hits every day! That’s a lot of reinforcement and pleasure that your brain does not want to give up.

Because it’s so difficult to quit smoking, says Dr. Raymond Rezaie, you need to find a compelling personal motivation to help you. Maybe you want to protect your children from dangerous secondhand smoke. Maybe you had a health scare or you want to lower your risk of lung cancer. Or maybe you want to be able to jog around the block without wheezing to a stop every few steps.

Whatever your motivation is for quitting, write it down, make it visible, and hold your goals in your mind when the urge to light up hits.

Don’t Just Go “Cold Turkey,” Says Dr. Raymond Rezaie
Quitting nicotine abruptly can leave you struggling with unpleasant side effects like headaches, mood swings, malaise, and intense cravings. These withdrawal symptoms can cause you to boomerang and start smoking again just to get back to normal.

So, instead of just throwing away all of your cigarettes, make a plan. Have counseling, medication, and support lined up to help you control your cravings and lessen the suffering? Nicotine replacement therapy can be especially helpful in stepping down your dependence on nicotine over time says Dr. Raymond Rezaie. Gum and patches can slowly cut back your dependence on nicotine by giving you controlled doses – without the dangerous health hazard of smoking.

Avoid Smoking Triggers Like Alcohol Advises Dr. Raymond Rezaie
Humans are creatures of habit, says Dr. Raymond Rezaie. If you’re a “social smoker” and you usually smoke at parties or when you’re drinking alcohol, try to avoid indulging in those activities until you’re further into your quitting journey. Alcohol also lowers inhibitions, making it more difficult to stick to your goals.

The same goes for any rituals that you’ve tied to smoking. If you usually have a cigarette with your coffee in the morning, try switching to tea while your brain retrains itself. If you smoke after you eat, try doing something else like chewing gum or brushing your teeth.

While the nicotine cravings are strong when they hit, it’s important to remember that they usually pass in about ten or fifteen minutes says Dr. Raymond Rezaie. So distract yourself with a different activity and you may find that you forget the craving altogether.