We’ve known for decades that smoking is extremely dangerous for our health and to those around us. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death and more than 16 million Americans are living with smoking-related diseases. It causes many types of cancers, contributes to heart disease, strokes and many other serious health problems; as mentioned in our post on ‘What Are External Behaviors?’, smoking also creates potential issues for unborn babies. The risk isn’t just on the smoker but also to those exposed to the toxic fumes, so with all the credible evidence available, why do so many of us still choose to light up?
Nicotine is highly addictive and just with many other addictions, help and support will almost certainly be needed to quit the habit. With the right advice and planning, it’s absolutely achievable so for anyone looking for information about quitting smoking, we’ve detailed a few ways to get started.
Picking a date to stop smoking can give you time to prepare but ensure that the day is not too far in the future to eliminate the risk of changing your mind. Research from the Cochrane Library showed no real distinction in success rates between those who quit abruptly on the given day and those who reduced their intake prior to quitting, so choose what feels best for you. Sign up for any help groups during your preparation period and tell your family, friends and colleagues your quit day. If you can nominate someone as your go-to support person, then this could help during difficult times. Remove all smoking paraphernalia from your environment so there are no temptations or reminders.
When you reach the day you’ve chosen to quit, it’s important to immediately start to retrain your way of thinking and deal with any triggers such as finishing a meal or having a coffee. Keep as busy as possible and have plenty of water and juice to hand to drink should you feel a craving. The urge to smoke will pass and usually quite quickly so see it through by taking a drink or exercising breathing techniques. You can take yourself outdoors to partake in activities or just simply for a walk. Blocking cravings with distractions will make the process easier so finding quick actions such as sucking candy or sipping water, whatever suits you, will be useful for times when you’re unable to leave your environment.
Many people wanting to quit smoking find it useful to use safer alternatives such as nicotine gum or lozenges. These products act to distract from cravings but also satisfy the body with nicotine intake. A blog post about nicotine patches on Prilla explains that patches are a relatively new form of tobacco-free product that offer a discreet, odorless and low-cost way to deter cravings during your quitting journey. Asking your healthcare provider for help and support with prescription medicines to aid you in quitting is also a route to explore but always seek medical advice before combining any medication with alternative products.
Some ex-smokers find that using alternative therapies have enabled them to stay smoke-free so these may be worth considering. Hypnosis is considered a safe and effective treatment for remaining abstinent and should be carried out by a trained professional or therapist. It’s been reported that hypnotherapy is slightly more successful than behavioral counselling, though this may depend on the individual. Both acupressure and acupuncture have assisted many during the process of quitting smoking. Neither discipline has any scientific basis however both are widely used to treat a variety of health conditions.
Recording Progress & Information
You may find that logging or verbalizing your progress helps you along your quitting journey. Journaling milestones will give you something to look back upon and provide you with the motivation you need during tougher times. Write down or say out loud the reasons why you wanted to give up smoking, such as for health or financial reasons and remind yourself why it’s important to you. In an article by Journal Owl a doctor with 15 years of clinical experience talks about how she has recommended journaling and witnessed many patients stay off cigarettes in the long term. Recording progress and other related information will also enable you to identify and subsequently avoid triggers; certainly worth exploring for the cost is just moments of your time.
Quitting smoking is a very personal journey and different methods are suitable to different people, we hope that we’ve given a good variety of start-points to consider if you are embarking upon becoming smoke-free. Thank you for reading.