How to Quit Smoking
Quitting smoking is on record as one of the hardest habits to drop. Deciding that it is now time to stop smoking is just the beginning of the battle. While we all understand the health hazards of smoking, that doesn’t help much when it comes to kicking the habit.
Smoking is a psychological habit as well as a physical addiction. The nicotine substance in cigarettes usually causes a temporary and addictive sense of ‘high’. So when you try to quit smoking, your body will experience physical withdrawal symptoms and strong cravings. And because nicotine provides that ‘feel good’ feeling on the brain, you may find yourself turning to cigarettes as a way to relieve the withdrawal symptoms and stress.
Many people also smoke as a way to cope with anxiety, depression, and sometimes even boredom.
So when you decide to quit cigarettes, you need to find different, healthier methods to manage those feelings.
To most people, smoking is also considered as a daily ritual, and so smoking may come as an automatic response with your other daily routines such as reading a newspaper, drinking coffee while taking a short work break, or even on your commute at the end of the day.
For you to effectively and successfully quit smoking, you will need to address the addiction as well as the habits and rituals or routines that accompany it. Though it is usually tough to stop smoking, it is something that can be done provided you access the right support and a quit strategy.
Below are some tips to help you quit smoking.
Step #1: Prepare for the day to quit
Once you feel it is time to call it quits, set a date that you want to begin your journey. However, don’t pick a date four months from now, as this can make you change your mind about quitting. The date should not also be too soon so that you don’t have enough time to prepare.
After selecting a quit day, you need to decide whether you are going to stop cold turkey or carry on smoking until your quit date and then stop; or quit slowly or reduce the quantity of cigarette intake gradually until your quit day and then stop.
A study shows that both methods don’t produce superior quit rates, and so it is up to you to decide which method suits you best.
According to the American Cancer Society, you can take the following steps when you decide to quit smoking:
- Talk to family and friends and inform them about your quitting date
- Get rid of all cigarettes and ashtrays
- Decide whether you will use a nicotine replacement therapy program or you will abruptly stop.
- If you plan to join a stop-smoking group, register now
- Buy oral substitutes like sugarless gum, hard candy, coffee stirrers, carrot sticks, toothpicks, or straws.
- Establish a setup system, which can include family members and friends who successfully quit smoking.
- Ask family and friends not to smoke around you
When your quit date arrives:
- Avoid smoking completely
- Stay occupied
- Start right away to use your nicotine replacement therapy if you decided to use one
- Attend support group
- Drink more water and other liquid beverages
- Reduce or cut off alcohol completely
- Avoid people who smoke
- Avoid situations that can trigger your smoking cravings
There is no doubt you will feel strong urges to smoke during your quit day, but if you stay strong, these cravings will pass.
These tips can help you fight off the urges to smoke:
- Ignore the craving until it goes away. Usually, the urge to smoke will come and go in two to five minutes.
- Exercise deep breathe
- Drink water in sips
- Distract yourself
Step #2: Use Nicotine Replacement Therapies
While you can quit smoking abruptly without the use of NRT, therapy, or medication, only about 6 percent of these kinds of quits are successful.
For many people, overcoming their nicotine dependence is always the hardest part of quitting smoking.
But with the use of NRT, you can be able to reduce the cravings as well as withdrawal symptoms that may inhibit your bid to kick the habit.
NRTs are usually designed to stop your body’s nicotine dependence while supplying a controlled dose of nicotine as it prevents exposure to the chemicals found in tobacco.
There are five types of NRT approved by the FDA, and they include:
- Chewing gum
- Skin patches
- Nasal spray (prescription required)
- Inhaler (prescription required
Be sure to check with your healthcare professional if you want to use NRT.
Step #3: Try Non-Nicotine Medications
Currently, there are two FDA-approved non-nicotine drugs you can use to help you quit smoking. They include varenicline (Chantix) and bupropion (Zyban).
Make sure you also talk to your doctor before trying out these drugs since you will require a prescription.
Bupropion usually acts on the brain chemicals that cause nicotine craving and combat the cravings as well as the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. It is usually taken in a form of tablet for 12 weeks, and if you have successfully quit smoking during this period, you can still use the drug for up to 6 months to prevent relapsing.
On the other hand, Varenicline restricts the nicotine receptors in your brain, leading to reduced pleasure you get from cigarettes and decreases the symptoms of nicotine withdrawals. This drug is also used for 12 weeks but can be used for another 12 weeks if you have kicked the habit at that time.
Step #4: Consider Behavioral Support
Smoking also causes emotional and physical, which can make it challenging to not smoke after your quit day. Therefore, you need to deal with this dependence if you want to successfully create a path to quitting smoking.
The best method to tackle your emotional and physical dependence is to seek counseling services, support services, self-help materials, and other behavioral support systems.
Combining other methods such as non-nicotine medication and NRT with behavioral support increases the chances of long-lasting smoking cessation by 25 percent.
Step #5: Use alternative therapies
Alternative therapies can also be a great method of quitting smoking, but the chances are not as good as the other methods. In fact, this method can cause you to smoke even more. But if it works for you, consider the following alternative therapies such as:
- Tobacco strips and sticks
- Smoking deterrents
- Magnet therapy
- Cold laser therapy
- Electronic cigarettes
Portable vaporizers and e-cigarettes can also help you give up the smoking habit since they may be less addictive compared to actual cigarettes.