Once you have started smoking it’s one of the most difficult addictions to give up. We are all aware of the long term health damage that can be done by lighting up, including cancer and coronary heart disease, but it’s still a tremendous challenge to cut out those cigarettes.
Over a billion people worldwide smoke making it one of the most prevalent addictive practices we’ve ever known, even when compared to drinking.
Talk to any smoker and they will tell you they have tried to give up on numerous occasions. Once those cravings grow, however, it can lead to irrational behaviour and feelings of intense stress that can only be relieved by lighting up again. Even with restrictions about where you can smoke in many Western countries, outside offices, bars, restaurants and nightclubs you’ll find people pulling out their packs of twenty and having a smoke.
There are a number of different things that people can use to give themselves a better than evens chance of quitting.
Have a Quit Smoking Plan
If you want to give yourself as much chance of success as possible then putting in place a plan is a good idea. This should include when you are going to quit, whether you are going to cut down gradually or go cold turkey, and how you are going to cope with those dangerous cravings.
There are also the tools you are going to use. One idea might be to have some meditation training that will assist you in dealing with the most difficult cravings. If you smoke a lot when you drink, then you should look at avoiding those particular triggers where you are more likely to smoke than not. Planning well not only gives you confidence, it empowers you to face your addiction head on and means you’re more aware of what is ahead and how you are going to deal with it.
Fortunately for people who want to conquer a smoking addiction there are plenty of alternatives out there. You can use nicotine replacement patches and gum to take the edge off withdrawal or even try something like hypnosis to change the way you think about cigarettes entirely.
In recent years, e-cigarettes have been responsible for helping a lot of people quit. Because they mimic the experience of smoking much more, including producing that all-important cloud of smoke, people have found them useful in taking away the cravings. Vapers are now a part of our social fabric and there are many who have successfully switched from cigarettes to something considered much safer.
The long term effects of vaping are still not entirely known but e-cigarettes are generally thought to be better than real cigarettes because they don’t contain the 4,000 or so harmful substances that can cause cancer and heart disease.
Many people like to have a smoke after a meal or when they have a drink. Changing these triggers is important if you want to beak the link between your behaviour and lighting up. Other people smoke at home and stopping this can be one of the most difficult behaviours to modify. Getting rid of all your ashtrays and having a good clean that gets rid of the tell-tale smell of stale smoke can make a difference, as can moving around your furniture.
Coping with Cravings
Even if you manage to get through the first couple of days without any problem, you are going to encounter cravings at some point. They will often pop up out of nowhere and destroy your concentration so that you can only think of one thing, that next smoke.
Cravings generally only last five or so minutes and, as long as you know that you can deal with them you have more chance of resisting. This is where something like mindfulness comes in. Instead of trying to distract yourself you focus on the feelings and emotions that are overtaking your body. Doing this helps take the edge off and see the cravings for what they are. It’s a difficult ability to master but is well worth the effort.
Finally, stopping smoking gets easier the more you do it. Your mind and body will adjust and it won’t be too long before you can consider yourself truly an ex-smoker. Don’t be disappointed if you fail occasionally – it happens to the best of us. Just keep at it and you should eventually succeed.