HOW TO QUIT SMOKING
Nicotine is one of the most harmful and widely available legal drugs in the world. It’s addictive and harmful both to smokers and the people passively exposed to smoke, especially children. If you’d like to give up smoking, but don’t know where to begin, create a structured plan. Realize why you want to quit, prepare for success, and carry out your plan with the support of others or medication therapy. Quitting smoking is difficult, but not impossible.
Think about if you want to quit smoking. Nicotine is incredibly addictive and it will take determination to quit. Ask yourself if a life without smoking is more appealing than continuing your life as a smoker. If the answer is yes, have a clear reason for wanting to quit. This way, when abstaining becomes difficult you can be clear about your very important reason to quit.
- Consider how smoking affects these areas of your life: your health, your appearance, your lifestyle, and your loved ones. Ask yourself if these areas would benefit from you quitting.
Determine why you want to quit. Make a list of all the reasons you want to quit. This will help you become clear about your decision to quit. You’ll want to refer to this list later, if you’re tempted to smoke.
- For example, your list might say something like: I want to quit smoking so I can run and keep up with my son during soccer practice, have more energy, be alive to see my youngest grandchild get married, or save money.
Be prepared for nicotine-withdrawal symptoms. Cigarettes are highly effective at delivering nicotine throughout your body. When you stop smoking, you might experience increased cravings, anxiety, depression, headaches, feeling tense or restless, increased appetite and weight gain, and problems concentrating.
- Realize that it may take more than one attempt to stop smoking. About 45 million Americans use some form of nicotine, and only 5 percent of users are able to quit during their first attempt.
Choose a date for when your plan will start. Committing to a start date adds structure to your plan. For example you might choose an important day such as a birthday or holiday, or just pick a date you like.
- Pick a date within the next 2 weeks. This gives you time to prepare and start on a day that isn’t stressful, important, would otherwise lead you to smoke
Pick a method. Decide which method you would want to use, like quitting cold turkey, or slowing/reducing your use. Quitting cold turkey means that you completely stop smoking without looking back. Reducing your use means smoking less and less until you’ve stopped. If you pick reducing your means, be specific about when and by how much you will reduce your use. For example, it might be simple like saying, “I will reduce my use by one cigarette every two days.”
- You’ll have a better chance of success if you combine counseling and medication with stopping, regardless of which method you choose.
Prepare for cravings. Have a plan in advance for when cravings strike. You might try hand-to-mouth. This describes the action of moving your hand to your mouth for smoking. Have a replacement to fulfill this need. Try snacking on low-calorie snacks, like raisins, popcorn, or pretzels, when this urge comes up.
- You might try exercising to combat cravings. Go for a walk, clean the kitchen, or do some yoga. You might also try to control your impulses by squeezing a stress ball or chewing gum when cravings hit.
Prepare the night before quitting. Wash your bedding and clothes to get rid of cigarette smells. You should also get rid of any ashtrays, cigarettes, and lighters from your house. Make sure to get plenty of sleep, since this will help lower your stress.
- Remind yourself of your plan and carry a written version with you, or keep it on your phone. You may also want to re-read the list of reasons why you want to quit.
Know your triggers. Many people find that certain situations trigger the desire to smoke. You might want a cigarette with your cup of coffee, for instance, or you might want to smoke when you’re trying to solve a problem at work. Identify places where it may be difficult not to smoke and have a plan of what you’ll do in those specific places. For example, you should have an automatic response for a cigarette offer: “No thank you, but I will have another tea” or “ No – I am trying to quit.”
- Control stress. Stress can be a pitfall when trying to quit smoking. Use techniques such as deep breathing, exercise, and down time to help thwart stress.
Consider using e-cigarettes. Recent studies have suggested that using e-cigarettes while you quit smoking can help you reduce or quit smoking. Other studies recommend caution when using ecigarettes since the amount of nicotine varies, the same chemicals as those in cigarettes are still being delivered, and they may re-activate the habit of smoking.