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How to Quit Smoking


How to Quit Smoking

Smoking is dangerous to your health, and quitting will reduce your risk of dying from heart disease, blood vessel disease, lung problems, cancer and stroke. You’ve probably heard people saying that quitting smoking is impossible; yes, it is quite difficult but it’s not impossible.

When you are motivated, know what to expect, have social support and create a personal game plan, you can successfully quit smoking. Quitting smoking will be easier if you learn about your options and prepare yourself for quitting because stopping smoking requires desire, determination and commitment. Although most people require a plan that involves a gradual reduction in smoking and different rituals for satisfying their needs, but some smokers successfully quit by going cold turkey. Once you quit smoking, you will probably find other things that are as enjoyable as smoking. You can join millions of people who have kicked the habit for good by learning how to replace your smoking habits and how to manage your cravings.

 

THE THINGS THAT MAKE QUITTING SEEM VERY DIFFICULT:

The pleasures of smoking:

Letting go of something that has been an integral part of your life for so long isn’t easy. You probably feel that that little stick of tobacco is your best friend and that it has stuck with you through thick and thin, day or night, rain or shine. It has provided hours of comfort and activated the pleasure centers in your brain with only minimal effort. This is probably why the thought of quitting smoking seems so discouraging. You should stop for a moment and think what purpose does smoking serve? Why is it in your life in the first place?

 

How to satisfy your smoking needs without smoking:

There’s probably an alternative behavior you can substitute for smoking that will achieve the same result in the end no matter what the reason that made you start smoking in the first place. However, you are the only person that can determine what will work best for you personally. Here are some examples of smoking purposes, and certain behaviors that can substitute them:

 

  • If you smoke because you need to reduce stress or become relaxed, you can try meditation, exercising, massage or deep breathing exercises.
  • If you smoke because of loneliness or boredom, you can try to find something that you’re passionate about and get involved in it such as literature, music or art.
  • In case you smoke in order to feel more comfortable in certain social situations, you can try enrolling in a public speaking class, joining a support group or counseling.
  • If you smoke because you feel that a meal isn’t quite complete without a cigarette, you can try eating a healthy meal and then topping it off with a dessert that you like.

 

HOW TO CREATE YOUR PERSONAL STOP SMOKING PLAN:

Designing your personal game plan:

First, you should think about why you want to quit smoking, and then tailor a personal game plan to your specific needs and desires. For instance you can:

 

  • Quit smoking cold turkey
  • Gradually reduce your intake of nicotine over time
  • Systematically decrease the number of cigarettes you smoke
  • Use nicotine replacement therapy or non-nicotine medications to reduce withdrawal symptoms
  • Acupuncture
  • Try counseling using cognitive behavioral techniques
  • Hypnosis
  • Use nicotine support groups

 

Questions that you need to ask yourself:

You need to discover and address your smoking habits, the true nature of your dependency, and the techniques that work for you if you want to successfully quit smoking. Some examples of those questions are:

 

  • Are you a social smoker?
  • Do you feel the need to smoke after every meal?
  • Are other addictions linked to your cigarette smoking?
  • Are you open to talking about your addiction?
  • Is it a very bad addiction, more than one pack a day? Or would a simple nicotine patch be sufficient?
  • Are you interested in following a fitness program?
  • Are you willing to try acupuncture or hypnosis therapy?

 

To help you identify which tips, techniques or therapies could be most beneficial for you, you need to think of what kind of smoker you are, which moments of your life call for a cigarette, and why.

 

START stop smoking plan:

  • S: Set a quit date
  • T: Tell your family, friends and co-workers about your plan of quitting smoking.
  • A: Anticipate and plan for the challenges that you’ll have to face when trying to quit.
  • R: Remove cigarettes and other tobacco products from your house, car and work area.
  • T: Talk to your doctor about getting help to quit.

 

TIPS ON HOW TO QUIT SMOKING AND MANAGE YOUR CRAVINGS:

Cravings that are associated with sugar levels:

Your body reacts very quickly to the lack of nicotine in your system when you stop smoking. You will probably experience some of the following physical symptoms over the course of three to five days as the toxins are flushed from your body:

 

  • Fatigue
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Headaches
  • Increased irritability, frustration or anger
  • Weight gain and increased appetite
  • Restlessness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Anxiety, tension or nervousness

 

Nicotine is absorbed into your body when you smoke within three minutes, and the chemical reactions cause your body to trigger the release of sugar. You might feel dizzy, restless, nervous, or even have strong headaches after you quit smoking because you will be lacking the immediate release of sugar that cigarettes provide. In addition to this, your appetite may be bigger after you quit smoking. For a few days until your body adjusts to this new smoke-free state of being, you may have sugar-related cravings. Because of this, you should make sure to keep your sugar levels a bit higher than usual by drinking plenty of juice for the first three to four days after you quit. This will help your body re-adjust back to normal and will prevent the craving symptoms that are triggered by the lack of sugar.

 

Smoking cessation and high sugar levels:

When you quit smoking, you should try to eat healthier. To make up for the lack of instant sugar that was released in your body when you were smoking, you may end up over-eating due to your cravings. Moreover, you should know that high sugar levels can be dangerous; so if you’re concerned, you should speak to a nutritionist.

 

How to manage your cigarette cravings:

Your cravings can be triggered by remnants of old habits such as smoking with the morning coffee, after meals or business meetings. There are several ways that can help you anticipate those moments and deal with the possible symptoms of withdrawal.

 

Cravings associated with meals:

For some smokers, drinking a cup of coffee after a meal goes hand-in-hand with having a cigarette, and the idea of giving that up may look quite scary. At least in the early stages, people have been successful in replacing that special moment with some other thing that works for them. You may try a piece of dark chocolate, a piece of fruit or a dessert. You will eventually re-discover the taste of a good meal or a cup of coffee and you will find that cigarette spoils that taste.

 

Alcohol and cigarettes: 

Many people smoke when they have an alcoholic drink. For instance, you may have to drink non-alcoholic drinks in case you feel cravings after drinking. In addition to non-alcoholic drinks, you may try nuts and chips.

 

Social smoking:

You will be at risk of never being able to quit smoking if your friends, family and co-workers smoke around you. Your risk of relapse will be increased if you don’t address this issue immediately and directly. If you’ve decided to quit smoking, you should let your social circles know that you are changing your habits, which means that talking about your decision to quit is the first important step that you need to take. Your friends and family will also have to change their habits; for instance, they shouldn’t smoke in your presence or when you’re in the car with them.

 

You should keep in mind that in every social circle there are former smokers, non-smokers, and people that can be of some inspiration in finding new and better habits. For instance when you’re at work, instead of taking all your coffee breaks with smokers only, you can have your breaks with other non-smokers. You could be a good role model for your friends and you can also give them the incentive to quit. Staying strong and not making any compromises is the most important thing. Quitting smoking is a crucial and life-changing thing, and you should let people around you know that you are serious about it. Here are some tips on how to deal with common cravings and withdrawal symptoms:

 

  • Stay active: You can go for walks or you can distract and occupy yourself with other things.
  • Keep your hands and fingers busy: To satisfy your need for tactile stimulation, you can keep your hands and fingers busy with pencils, paper clips or squeeze balls.
  • Keep your mind busy: You can listen to music or read a book or magazine.
  • Find an oral substitute: You could keep things around to pop in your mouth when you crave a cigarette. Sunflower seeds, mints, carrot or celery sticks, hard candy and gum are some good examples.
  • Drink lots of water: To minimize your withdrawal symptoms and help the cravings pass faster, you should flush the toxins from your body by drinking lots of water.
  • Find new ways to relax and to cope with depression and/or anxiety: You can improve your mood with different things without smoking.

 

Keep a journal:

To monitor your daily progress for the first couple of weeks, you can keep a diary or a journal. To identify your triggers to smoking, you should think about the different moments in your life when you enjoy smoking. You should ask yourself how you feel when you smoke, and if there are certain people or environments that trigger your cravings. You should also find other things that can make you feel that way. When you have a bad day after you quit smoking, to get some perspective on how far you’ve come, you can look back at the comments you wrote in the first few weeks.

 

Get support from others:

You should have the right people around you when you’re quitting smoking because this is such a difficult thing to do for many people. You should tell your family and friends that you’ve decided to quit smoking and you should ask for their support and encouragement. You could also find a friend who wants to quit smoking too, and you can help each other get through the difficult times.

 

Keep the pounds off:

Many people gain weight when they quit smoking, but it’s usually only a small amount, between three to five pounds. When your oral gratification of smoking is replaced by the self-soothing mechanism of eating, you gain weight. But despite this, you shouldn’t keep the fear of putting on a few pounds weigh you down. You can maintain your current weight by eating healthy and keeping active.

 

FIND HELP TO QUIT SMOKING:

Finding the right combination of things that could help you quit smoking is as individual as you are. By easing withdrawal symptoms, reducing cravings, and improving your chances of successfully quitting, medications can provide support in your effort of stopping smoking.

 

Medication therapy:

Smoking cessation medications should be used as part of a comprehensive stop smoking program monitored by your physician if you want to actually benefit from those medications. To determine whether an anti-smoking medication is right for you, you should talk to your physician about your options. Some examples of FDA approved therapies are:

 

Nicotine replacement therapy:

In this type of therapy you replace the cigarettes with other substitutes of nicotine such as a nicotine patch or nicotine gum. To improve some of the withdrawal symptoms without the tars and poisonous gases that are found in cigarettes, these products deliver small and steady doses of nicotine into your body. With this therapy, you can focus on breaking your psychological addiction and concentrate on learning new behaviors and coping skills.

 

Non-nicotine medication:

By reducing your cravings and withdrawal symptoms, non-nicotine medications can help you stop smoking. Up till now, the only two non-nicotine medications that are approved as smoking cessation aids are varenicline (Chantix) and bupropion (Zyban). However, these medications should be used only for a short period of time.

 

Non-medication therapies:

Some of the therapies that could be helpful in quitting smoking are:

Hypnosis:
Hypnosis is a popular option and it has good results. In this therapy, you get into a deeply relaxed state where you are open to suggestions that strengthen your resolve to quit smoking and increase your negative feelings toward cigarettes and smoking. Your doctor can help you find a qualified smoking cessation hypnotherapist.

Acupuncture:
Acupuncture is one of the oldest known medical techniques; it works by triggering the release of endorphins, which are natural pain relievers that help the body relax. When used as a smoking cessation aid, it can help manage the symptoms of smoking withdrawal.

Behavioral therapy:
Nicotine addiction is associated with the habitual behaviors that are involved in smoking. In behavioral therapy you will focus on learning new coping skills and breaking your habits.

Motivational therapies:
You can motivate yourself to quit smoking with the help of many self-help books and websites. Calculating the monetary savings is one of the well known examples. In the case of some people, only calculating how much money they will save after they quit has been motivation enough to quit smoking.

 

HOW TO MANAGE RELAPSES:

What to do when quitting smoking doesn’t work:

When trying to replace unwanted habits with new positive ones, two steps forward one step back is a common pattern. If you have a small setback it doesn’t mean that you can consider yourself a smoker again. You shouldn’t be disappointed in yourself if you start smoking again because most people try quite a few times before they’re able to kick the habit for good. By learning from your mistakes, you can turn your relapse into a rebound. You can create a new and improved stop smoking plan by identifying the triggers or trouble spots that you’ve run into.

 

If you slip up, it doesn’t mean that you’re a failure and that you can’t quit for good; but you shouldn’t let a slip become a mudslide. It’s important to get back on the non-smoking track immediately, so throw out the rest of the pack. To feel good about yourself, you can go back to your journal when you quit. You should find out exactly what it was that made you smoke again and decide how to cope with it so that the next time it comes up you’ll know what to do. What has been most helpful? What didn’t work? These are the questions you need to ask yourself and learn from your experiences. If you feel like you can’t do it alone, you can find a friend that also wants to quit smoking and you can gain strength from each other.

 

If you are using a medicine to help you quit smoking and you start smoking again you should call your doctor without any delays because some of those medications shouldn’t be used if you’re smoking.

-------------------------------------

Prepared By: Dr. Mehyar Al-Khashroum
Edited By: Miss Araz Kahvedjian




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