Stopping smoking may be harder than quitting heroin
Published on April 22, 2010 at 1:13 AM
By Candy Lashkari
An addiction is an addiction and it may be tougher to quit smoking cigarettes compared to beating a heroin addiction. An Australian study found that many long term smokers have tried to quit 7.4 times but are still unable to do so. Sydney GP Raymond Seidler actually feels that people do not realize that quitting smoking is just as bad as kicking heroin out of your life.
"What smokers don't realise is that nicotine addiction is as powerful, or even more powerful, than heroin addiction," he said. " The (brain's) receptors for smoking are as strongly attached to nicotine as the heroine receptor is to opiates. That can come as a shock to a lot of people. Quitting is therefore a serious challenge for most." said Dr Seidler.
A recent survey commissioned by Pfizer Australia, a pharmaceutical company, had responses from over 2,000 smokers which revealed that smokers are much more likely to find chores to do rather than approach a health care professional to help them kick the butt. Amongst the respondents 35% would rather clean the house, 27% would rather pay the bills, 22% would rather go to work on the weekend and 18% would rather go to dinner with the in-laws to avoid visiting a health care professional.
"We need to address the issues of why people are reluctant to go to a professional to get help, because we know that GPs and pharmacists have an important role to play in supporting patients who want to quit smoking," said Dr Seidler.
In the survey it was found that 28% were unsure of how the health care professional could help them quit smoking cigarettes. The smokers in New South Wales were the least likely to seek help from experts. 75% of all the respondents had made at least 2 attempts at quitting and been unsuccessful. According to Dr Seidler if more people approached experts they would be able to give up smoking with a greater success rate.
"The benefits to smokers of seeking professional help perhaps need to be more carefully and persuasively explained." said Dr Seidler.
In the survey 27% did not want to spend the money on seeking professional help from the experts while 17% were worried about being judged. 16% were unable to admit that they have tried to quit and failed, while 12% say that they do have the time to seek professional help. Amongst the respondents 6% even said that their own doctors were unaware that they smoked.
Pfizer Australia has set up a display of 219,000 imitation cigarettes in Sydney’s Martin Place on Wednesday to visually demonstrate the number of cigarettes that a 20 a day smoker would get through in a time frame of 30 years. The display is on till April 23.