Former smoker offers 4 steps to quit vaping and smoking amid the coronavirus pandemic

(NEW YORK) — Chris Trotman, a social worker in Maryland, lives with sickle cell anemia. But he also struggles with a habit that is affecting his health: vaping.

“I want a stronger vape and I know that’s bad because I know I’m supposed to be quitting,” the 25-year-old told Good Morning America. “I’ll probably hit this thing about, like, 250 times in this hour break.”

Trotman and others like him may have new inspiration to quit. The National Institutes of Health recently issued an alert, warning that “people recovering from addiction now face new challenges” when it comes to getting access to medication and social support due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

What’s more, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 78% of COVID-19 patients being treated in the intensive care unit were living with at least one underlying condition, such as chronic lung disease and cardiovascular disease, which can be affected by smoking tobacco.

Given this added threat, author Brad Lamm believes that his moment could be the wake-up call many smokers and vapers need to break the habit.

“I think a lot of people that have struggled with addiction and recovery are finding it difficult to connect with the very things that have helped them stay stopped,” Lamm told GMA, noting such things as in-person support groups that likely came to a halt amid social distancing.

Lamm, a former smoker of 20 years, is the author of a new book, titled Quit Vaping, which offers a plan to help smokers and vapers stop, and transition to a healthier lifestyle. Here, he offers steps you or a loved one can start taking to overcome a smoking or vaping addiction, even amid coronavirus.

1. Set and share your quit date

“This is crucial to build up and adopt the winning mindset for the actual day you will stop,” Lamm says, noting that his method doesn’t have you actually stopping until day 7.

He adds that during this step, you focus on the detox and nicotine-tapering process, as well as other activities, such as writing, and, importantly, choosing a nicotine replacement and solidifying social support.

Lamm notes that each of these is a major decision and that what works for one person may not be the same for someone else.

“Like any meaningful event in life or work, your quit date should have the same calendar importance,” Lamm says. “That gives you some mental and emotional leverage over feelings of hesitation and avoidance, as well as personal accountability.”

2. Know that cravings come and cravings pass

Lamm says it’s important to “practice moving through cravings, with the support of medical nicotine, to get through them. That’s a key to your quit.”

He notes that his method of quitting also includes a replacement therapy, and he recommends talking with your primary care physician or another source of prescription advice for information about products that help curb cravings.

“There are many replacement products and tools available over the counter in pharmacies,” Lamm says. “When we compare how easily we would take medicine for a cold or allergies, it’s really no different. Don’t be afraid to try more than one and compare until you find the one that is right for you.”

3. Live your quit

“Everything worthwhile takes work,” Lamm says. “Practice the new rituals helping you stay stopped,” pointing to medical nicotine, breathing exercises and other tools in his book.

Especially important is your support network.

“Think of a support network like a cavalry that can be called in when things get tough,” he said. “Social support eliminates feelings of discouragement, isolation or being overwhelmed.”

4. Maintain a healthy lifestyle

“It is essential that you get weight, diabetes and hypertension under control, and participate in your own self-care in active and meaningful ways,” Lamm says.

He recommends looking at how you eat, how you move and exercise, and how you breathe — paying special attention to your lung activity — as basic measures of your wellness.

“Quitting is not just possible, it’s medically necessary,” Lamm says. “The pandemic is a real-time example of how fragile our lungs are.”

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