Quit Smoking Your Way!
It’s difficult. Most smokers will tell you that. Giving up your favorite habit is one of the hardest thing to do. A large majority of smokers want to quit. So why don’t they just do it? Smoking is an addiction and like most addictions it requires work to rid yourself of its unhealthy grasp.
The good news is this: Put the right plan in place that works for you personally as a smoker and you greatly increase your chances. There is far more support out there now than there has ever been, from nicotine replacement treatments to hundreds of support groups.
Back in the old days you had to go cold turkey and it’s no wonder so many people were unsuccessful. Our knowledge of addiction has grown in the last few years, however, and we all have access to it.
Why It’s Difficult to Give Up Smoking
Smoking activates the pleasure centers of your brain. This is remarkable when you consider how foul cigarettes taste. Think back to that first one and the sensation of choking and the harsh cut of the smoke, and you may wonder why you actually became addicted. Nicotine gets into the brain and changes the way it operates. It creates a need in you that is difficult to ignore – that’s why smokers get those strong cravings when they try to go cold turkey.
Smoking is affected by triggers. We have to smoke while we drink. We have to smoke when the stress gets too much. We need to light up once we’ve finished that meal. We want to feel that smoke in our lungs and see that cloud of smoke in front of our faces. All this despite the fact that these little sticks are actually killing us as we enjoy them.
Developing a Smoking Cessation Plan
Putting together a plan to quit smoking is important. We do it for a lot of things in life from saving for a holiday to developing a project at work. So why not have one for stopping smoking?
Start by listing all the reasons why you smoke. Then list everything about why you want to stop. Take a look at your smoking habits. When do you light up? Which is your favorite cigarette? The one first thing in the morning? The one you have after dinner? Do you only smoke when you are drinking? What kind of smoker are you? A social smoker? A 60 a day addict? Writing down your thoughts and feelings about your smoking behavior can give you a clear idea about how to beat it. Next you need to work on a list of all the benefits that you get from quitting smoking, including:
The Main Parts of a Smoking Cessation Plan
You need to cover all the bases and approach quitting smoking as if you were going into battle. It all starts with START.
Coping with Cravings
If we didn’t have cravings, we’d all be able to quit, it’s as simple as that. You may be pretty good for the first couple of days and then those cravings kick in and, before you know it, they’re taking over your every thought and urging you to go buy a cigarette.
Just one to take the edge off things.
Cravings take many forms including increased irritability, difficulty concentrating, even headaches and flu like symptoms. Many of these are perfectly natural responses to coming off nicotine and all those toxic substances each cigarette contains.
Many people turn to sugary/sweet treats to help them over these moments. The big problem that some cite is putting on weight. Forget about this – if it works for you, then use it. That may mean you put on a little weight but you can always deal with that once you’ve got past the craving stage and are more comfortable being a non-smoker.
For other people, using nicotine replacement can work, either with patches or chewing gum. Others switch to something like an e-cigarette which still has nicotine but doesn’t come with all the toxins and tar.
Triggers can make cravings worse. For instance, if you like to have a smoke with your evening drink then not drinking or going to your usual bar will help avoid this. Other problems that increase cravings are when people smoke around you – it immediately seems that you are missing out and you convince yourself that just one won’t do you any harm.
There are plenty of ways to divert your attention so that you are less likely to dwell on not having a cigarette in your hands:
Keep your initial list of reasons why you wanted to quit in the first place so that you can refer to them in moments of weakness. As we have said, everyone is an individual and what works for you may not be great for someone else.
Support from Friends and Family
Getting support and feedback from those around you is important. They can give you the confidence to keep going and help you work through the bad moments when cravings become just too much. Often it takes just a few minutes of distraction to help you get over a mini crisis point.
The good news is that the longer you go smoke free, the easier it becomes. The first couple of weeks are usually the worst and if you can get over this period you are statistically more likely to quit for good.
Medical Approaches to Quitting
There are two options available to smokers. The first is to use something like a nicotine replacement therapy. These include patches, gum, sprays and replacement cigarettes that all deliver a nicotine hit without the nasty toxins. Another choice is medication that is aimed at reducing withdrawal symptoms and includes products such as Zyban and Chantix. These may have certain side effects and need to be prescribed but can help get you over the most difficult periods.
There are plenty of non-medical solutions to giving up smoking and there’s no harm in searching around to find if one of these works for you. They include:
The Benefits of Being Smoke Free
Always remind yourself of the benefits of being a non-smoker. Within the first couple of hours you’ll find your blood pressure back to normal. Within a few days all that nicotine will be out of your system. Your risk of a heart attack will gradually improve every day that you stay smoke free. You’ll also be less likely to get cancer.
Think you’re too old to quit smoking? Research has shown that quitting in later years can protect you from conditions such as dementia. It’s never too late to quit. While fewer older people decide to quit because they have been smoking for so long, those that do have a much higher rate of success than other demographics.
Planning to quit is much better than simply stopping cold turkey. When you plan you can make provision for potential hurdles and get the right treatments and distractions in place to increase your chances of success. Any smoker will tell you that it can be pretty hard on occasion but keep at it and, if you fail, don’t use that as an excuse to give up quitting altogether. You will succeed, you will become a non-smoker and you will be healthier and happier.