What is the Great American Smokeout?

In recent decades, smoking has decreased due to heightened public awareness of its links to cancer and other preventable illnesses, yet almost 35 million Americans continue to smoke cigarettes; this leads to smoking still being one of the highest preventable causes of death across the United States and many other parts of the world. The goal of the Great American Smokeoutis promoted by the American Cancer Society, which is held every 3rd Thursday November, to help encourage those with a smoking-related substance use disorder to make a plan towards quitting. This event helps people who are going through the same experiences come together to support and encourage one another through their addictions.

Even with declining trends in the general population, smoking is still several times more prevalent among those who are suffering from other mental health disorders, like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other co-occurring substance use disorders like alcohol use disorder. It can be helpful for these causes of comorbidity to encourage and treat addictive smoking habits to improve other health outcomes and treatment of comorbidities.

The idea behind the Great American Smokeout is that it is one day where you can make the initial steps to recovery. Although the challenge is for individuals not to smoke for the day, not everyone will be able to make the switch from smoking to non smoking ever again in a day. However the day is seen as an encouragement to think about your habits, whether or not you want to quit, and to make those initial steps towards recovery. One does not have to completely quit smoking on the day of the Great American Smokeout, but instead can start to create a plan, reach out to their friends and family for support, and reach out to healthcare providers for possible treatment options.

It is important to seek out a method to quit smoking that works for you. Some can quit in a day, while others need to cut back gradually on their habits. It is important to find the method and support that works for you and your own health. When it comes to making a plan to quit smoking there are some preliminary steps for you to take. Some strategies that help those who plan to quit is to first make a list of reasons that you wish to step smoking, whether it is for your own health, the health of others around you, the risks and benefits, etc. Then, it is beneficial to set a specific date that you want to quit smoking. Then, to carry through your decision, find a way to quit through the use of nicotine replacement therapy, prescription drugs, or therapy. It is also key to have a support system through friends, family, and support groups to help you through the tough times. Quitting any addiction is difficult, but it is a process and starting to make that step towards sobriety can have great importance for your health and quality of life.

If you are struggling with your mental health, or you know someone who might be struggling, please feel free to contact the professional team at Lifeline Connections for help! Getting yourself help, whether it is through self-help or by reaching out to professionals is an important part of recognizing that you are struggling; it is also a good step forward in getting the help you need. You can visit Lifelineconnections.org or call 360.397.8246 for more information.

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