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Quitting Smoking – How Your Primary Care Doctor Can Help

One of the most common new year’s resolutions is to quit the use of tobacco, but experts estimate less than 10 percent will be successful. Why?

“There are a lot of reasons people struggle with quitting,” explains Dr. Samuel Wesonga, WakeMed Physician Practices Primary Care. “First of all, it’s really, really hard. But even more so, I believe people don’t use the many resources that are available – either because they aren’t aware of them or they don’t want to ask for help.”

Dr. Wesonga enjoys working with patients who are trying to quit – and he has shared his roadmap for coaching them to success.  If you or someone you love is interested in quitting tobacco, check out these tools and tricks – all of which your primary care doctor should be able to help you navigate.

#1 – Make a Plan.

Pick a “quit date.” Whether it’s the new year, a birthday, anniversary or just a defined date in the future, setting your quit date is the first step toward success.  You may want to wean yourself by slowing reducing tobacco use prior to the quit date, or you may be the “cold turkey” type. Either way, talking to your primary care physician about any previous attempts to quit and your smoking history can help determine which strategy is best for you.

#2 – Identify Your Triggers.

Understanding when and why you are most likely to use tobacco will help you make a plan for working through the challenges that come with quitting. Some smoke with coffee or alcohol, while others have triggers such as social situations or stress.  Develop a plan for how you will work through these scenarios, which are sure to come up.  Some use gum (nicotine or otherwise), while others like to exercise or call a friend.

#3 – Try OTC or Prescription Therapies.

There are many therapeutic options to help with quitting – including nicotine gum, patches or prescription medications such as Wellbutrin or Chantix.  “Oftentimes, combining OTC and prescription therapies is the best option – and it can take some trial and error,” explains Dr. Wesonga. Your primary care doctor will have access to the scientific data and literature about which therapies – whether alone or in combination – offer the greatest chance of success.


#4 – Don’t Go It Alone.

There are dozens (if not hundreds!) of resources out there to help. Engaging the support of your medical provider increases your chance of success – they are best suited to offer advice on medical therapies and can hold you accountable. In addition, you can get a wide variety of support from your personal network, support agencies and even technology.

Have a discussion with friends and family (especially those who smoke) to let them know their support is important to your success. Non-profit organizations such as the NC Quitline, the Centers for Disease Prevention & Control (CDC) and the American Cancer Society offer helpful services such as live phone support, educational materials and much more. Finally, you may want to try a mobile phone app to help get you started (check out here or here for ideas).

Even though quitting comes with its short-term challenges, remember that quitting provides incredible long-term benefits.  Dr. Wesonga reminds us,

“Quitting smoking is one of the most important things you can do for your health and the health of your loved ones – and it’s one risk factor patients have full control over.  It’s not easy by any means, but patients who quit report that they feel better, gain confidence and even save a considerable amount of money.”

If you or a loved one want to quit smoking – WakeMed Physician Practices Primary Care can help.  To schedule an appointment, visit us online or call 919-350-9100. Also, see the other ways that WakeMed Primary Care can help you resolve to live a healthier, happier life in 2019!

About Samuel Wesonga, MD

Dr. Samuel Wesonga is a primary care physician with WakeMed Physician Practices – Primary Care – Brier Creek