Smoking cessation takes willpower and determination and it’s not something that can easily be accomplished. Unfortunately, quitting the habit is not as straightforward as starting it.
This is because the body has become addicted to nicotine and the effects it has on all bodily systems:
- Adrenaline rush – nicotine triggers the release of adrenaline that smokers have become reliant on for alertness and focus
- Dopamine – this neurotransmitter stimulates pleasure centers of the brain and smokers often experience anxiety and depression during the cessation period
- Blood sugar levels – Smokers have increased blood sugar levels. This means that their body is accustomed to it and cessation can cause weight gain
It is important to understand that nicotine is a drug as much as cocaine, heroin, and amphetamines are. It changes the chemistry of the brain on a profound level and getting out of the clutches of this addition is a monumental challenge. Learn more about nicotine addiction side effects.
The following tips and tools will help you overcome challenges associated with smoking cessation and allow you enjoy a smoke-free and nicotine-free life.
Quit Smoking Step by Step
Smoking cessation requires careful deliberation and a plan. Without it, most smokers revert back to their old habits in a matter of days, sometimes even sooner.
- Get motivated
Reading up on smoking health effects is one of the ways to get motivated. Other motivations include finances, peer pressure, healthier lifestyle, setting the right example for your kids, and so on. Choose a reason that you’re confident will help you resist the urge to light up a cigarette and remind yourself often of why you’re doing it.
- Preparation is key
Going cold-turkey is extremely difficult. Before you decide to do it, make sure you have a support system in place – friends, family, or coworkers. Also, talk to your doctor about nicotine replacement therapy and do some online research to find out if there are support groups available in your community. The most important thing: get rid of anything smoking-related in your environment, home or workplace.
This means no hidden packs of cigarettes, no hookahs’, no ashtrays. If you are serious about quitting these will only be a distraction and a sure-fire way to fall off the wagon.
- Substitute your addiction
Some smokers will be adamant about quitting without using nicotine replacement therapy. If this is you make sure that you substitute your addiction with something else.
Start running, swimming, or playing tennis. Learn how to knit – anything, really, that you can find refuge in once those cravings kick in.
- Avoid triggers
Smokers have a pattern. Some enjoy a cigarette over coffee while others like to light up after a meal. Of course, it’s difficult to skip meals just to avoid cigarette cravings so find something to do after you’ve eaten. Revert to your nicotine substitute or go for a quick walk around the block.
Also, try to avoid alcohol for a while. Smokers tend to smoke more in social situations (if it’s permissible) and alcohol clouds your judgment, making it easier to slip up.
- Try and then try again
Don’t get discouraged if you fail on your first try – most smokers do and it’s something you need to prepare for. Chalk it up to inexperience and move on; brushing up on all the reasons you want to quit smoking and on steeling your resolve.
Don’t quit quitting either. Slipping up a couple of times before you get there can be disappointing but the important thing is to be persistent and push through.
- Reward yourself
What you’re doing takes courage and determination. Make sure you acknowledge that and that you reward your effort. Quitting smoking will prove to be financially lucrative – use some of that money you save to treat yourself to something you’ve always wanted but never got around to buying. After a year, you might even save enough to go on a vacation!
Quit Smoking Tools
Luckily, there are tools at your disposal today which you can use to facilitate your cessation attempts. Some of them have been around for decades, such as nicotine gums, while others were made available by recent technological and informational advances.
Smokers need to remember that they are not going through it alone. There are tens of thousands of people giving up cigarettes and other tobacco products on a daily basis – some are successful and others are not but the important thing to keep in mind is that there are groups and tools out there designed to help people achieve their tobacco-quitting goal.
- Nicotine Replacement Therapy
Smokers can take a number of different routes here – over-the-counter pills, nicotine patches, nicotine gums, and nicotine inhalers and sprays. The important thing is not to combine different nicotine products to an excessive degree and not to smoke while taking them. Smoking and using nicotine replacement therapy puts you at serious risk for an overdose.
- Electronic Cigarettes
While the jury is still out on how safe electronic cigarettes actually are, most experts agree that they are safer than regular cigarettes as they contain a lesser number of poisonous ingredients and virtually no tar or carbon monoxide.
E-cigarettes come in various forms and liquids that go into them may or may not contain nicotine – this will depend on whether you’re going cold turkey or you’re slowly weaning yourself off of nicotine.
- Online Communities and Social Media
Smoking cessation is a lot easier when you have the support of people who are going through the same thing you are. Fortunately, today you don’t need access to a local group for that – most places don’t even have one.
There are numerous forums and social media groups where ex-smokers give a lot of sound advice to those just starting on their smoking-cessation journey. Get involved and surround yourself with likeminded people – at least virtually.
- Quit Smoking Mobile Apps
Mobile apps can significantly help your efforts and keep you on your course. Most smokers need encouragement during the cessation process and it can come readily from your mobile phone. Most apps are free to use and offer tips and tricks on how to fight cravings, along with the ability to track your progress and interesting statistics.
Kwit gives you useful statistics, ranging from how many cigarettes you didn’t smoke to how much money you’ve managed to save in the process. Whenever you feel a cigarette craving you can shake your phone and get an encouraging message from the app.
It also doubles as a topical game app – play to quell your cigarette urges and you will eventually earn the title of ‘Ultimate Quitter’!
This is an iPhone app that is free to use. You can completely personalize your cessation journey and track everything, from how much nicotine you are getting to how much money you’re saving in your quitting process.
If you want to know about the world of good you’re doing to your body by quitting smoking, install Quit it Lite – a free iPhone app. It will track all the positive changes that are occurring to your organs since you’ve stopped smoking. If you ever think of starting back up simple take a good, hard look at the good your actions will undo.
It truly takes a village to do something right – and Cessation Nation app recognizes that. The community of former smokers is always there to help those just starting out and games that are built into the app provide a welcome distraction when the worst of cravings hit.
Quitting smoking is hard – it’s going to take you a while to get used to not holding a cigarette in your hand. Use the steps in this article to reinforce your determination to your goal and reach out to others in the same situation if you begin faltering – quitting smoking is always easier if you have support.