One of the most powerful things that I have learned in medicine is evidence of how to effectively quit smoking.

When one smokes they build up a reservoir of receptors that get pleasure from the nicotine. Therefore, the more one smokes, the more likely they are to keep smoking. Furthermore, when the person stops smoking, they will get much more of a ‘high’ from smoking again than a virgin smoker would. You could say they are smookered (play on the word snookered… joke).

What do you think is the best way to quit?… willpower alone?

No… far from it. It’s not effective to show a smoker the terrible effects of smoking; they already know it. It’s not useful to lecture them; they already know that it wastes money, beauty, health, etc. The best way to stop is:

  1.  to have someone that you are accountable to and
  2.  to use a tablet or medicine to reduce the nicotine crave, i.e. patches, inhalers, nasal sprays, tablets, etc in a level that matches the current intake.

Doing one of the two is not as effective as doing both 1, 2. Interestingly, the former is more effective than the latter.

This translates into our spiritual lives; we too need:

  1. a father of confession whom we are accountable to. The beauty of the Orthodox Church (compared to almost all other churches) is that confession is an essential sacrament and a mystery of mercy.
  2. a replacement of sin in the form of pleasure but not for the body but for the soul, e.g. prayer in place of food when fasting, singing hymns instead of music, filling the mind with stories of saints instead of others, reading the Bible instead of reading useless things, doing good in place of evil in bearing fruits of repentance, etc

Smoking cessation can prolong one’s life even if the lungs have gone into the destructive and progressive state of COPD (a sometimes terminal condition). In fact, smoking cessation is better than all the medications we can give even at the very end stage of lung destruction (COPD). We too, in our spiritual lives, can never say it’s ‘too late’ or not beneficial to change now. Now is as good as any other time to stop sinning and start winning. If God has kept me alive, then surely there is hope for me.

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