We all have that one person we’re constantly concerned about because of their incessant tobacco chewing habit. Irrespective of the sincere promises made about quitting every new year, they can’t seem to let go of this harmful addiction. Smokeless tobacco is available as gutka, pan masala, and mishri. It is kept in the oral cavity and chewed on for extended periods. As per the latest research, of the estimated 28.6% of tobacco use in India, only 10.7% of the total tobacco consumption is in the form of cigarettes and bidis, whereas 21.4% is used in the form of smokeless tobacco. Research shows that smokeless tobacco use kills an additional 0.02 million individuals in India annually. Quitting Tobacco chewing is a long uphill task, but the good news is it can be done! It may take a few tries and several setbacks but there is enough help available to get you through the process.
Here are some essential tips to follow as told by Dr Payal Agarwal, Dental Surgeon- Periodontology, Implantology, Co-Founder- Healthspace Clinic for quitting tobacco:
1# Set yourself a quit date
Focusing on the benefits of quitting tobacco is one of the first steps to the process. It is important to keep in mind that you owe it to yourself and your loved ones to kick the habit. Condition your mind and build your resolve by telling yourself about the benefits of quitting.
- No more red, sore gums.
- The white patches in your mouth disappear.
- As Tobacco is very abrasive, it wears away your teeth. It can destroy dentition over time.
- Teeth tend to become sensitive and start developing cavities.
The risk of cancers caused by smokeless tobacco (cheek, gums, mouth, tongue, throat, stomach) reduces each passing year, to the point where it is almost as if you’d never used smokeless tobacco.
Once you have built up the absolute resolve, set the quit date and stick to it. A recent 2016 study in the Annals of Internal Medicine done on 700 smokers shows that going COLD TURKEY works better than trying to reduce the intake over time. So, on the day you choose to quit, throw away all your stash and don’t buy any more.
2# Prepare Yourself with distractions and alternatives
Let all family members and friends know of your decision to quit. Make sure they know the times of the day that the cravings are hard. Keep a routine of a daily workout or physical activity to keep you agile. Tobacco chewing is about the nicotine high and the habit of keeping something in the mouth. Working from home means you will have to keep distractions ready. This can be addressed by keeping any of the following things handy and on your desk at all times. Stock up on other things to put in your mouth
- Sunflower seeds and carrot sticks
- Sugarless gum
3# Get Professional Help
Another thing that you could definitely try is getting yourself some professional help. You can always opt for counseling sessions. These one-on-one sessions with a professional can help you find better alternatives to quit. The Indian Dental Association has started this initiative called Tobacco Intervention Initiative (TII) that aims to create a tobacco-free India through intervention and prevention. The dentists at IDA are professionally trained to diagnose abnormal conditions associated with or caused by tobacco use. Counseling by a dentist helps the patient understand the deleterious effects of continued tobacco usage. This knowledge about the adverse effects helps patients in quitting tobacco.
NRT – Nicotine Replacement therapy – This involves substituting tobacco used with low dose sustained-release nicotine alternatives and tapering the use over time. It aims to reduce the withdrawal symptoms accompanied by quitting tobacco. Nicotex is one such sugarless chewing gum available in India in 4mg and 2 mg doses that help in NRT.
Non Nicotine therapy – Various medications have been proposed to reduce the effect of withdrawal symptoms. The worst symptoms last for 2 to 3 days and usually go away in 2 weeks. In case you need medications you need to start 2 weeks before quitting tobacco. Thus, it is good to discuss this plan with your physician well before quitting to avoid any harmful side effects.
While there are a bunch of solutions that one can choose from while wanting to quit chewing tobacco, at the end of the day it all depends on your attitude and resilience to give up this harmful habit. Once you have made up your mind, there is no going back, just moving ahead towards a healthy tomorrow. Say yes to cancer if you don’t say no to tobacco.
With inputs from Dr Payal Agarwal, Dental Surgeon- Periodontology, Implantology, Co-Founder- Healthspace Clinic
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