How to Quit Smoking for Good
Quitting smoking is a difficult task, probably one of the most difficult things things a person can encounter in their life. I've personally dealt with a number of addictions in my past, but giving up cigarettes was definitely the most difficult one to overcome. I tried just about everything and a few things helped, while others were a waste of time. So in this article, I'll explain the options you have when it comes to quitting smoking, and try to detail which methods I believe are the most effective.
Almost everybody who starts smoking and decides to quit, will try to step down at one point or another. This is usually the first technique people try to use when trying to quit smoking. We all thought when we first started "I'll never get addicted, and if I do, I'll just gradually cut down each day on how much I smoke". This almost never works. The main problem with this is that you are underestimating the power of addiction. As long as you put yourself around something you are addicted to, it's almost a sure thing that you will never be able to limit yourself when it comes to consumption. The addiction from tobacco is a genuine physical addiction, and is not the same as a psychological addiction to candy or video games. A tobacco addiction is more similar to that of heroin, than it is to marijuana. If you've ever seen a heroin or crack addict, and noticed how hard it is for them to quit, it's almost as intense for some people as those types of addictions. It's not only a psychological addiction, but also a physical one.
Patches, Inhalers, and Gum
Nicotine patches can be effective for some people, however I never had any luck with them and tried a number of different brands. They are basically patches that you stick to your skin, which will supplement the usual nicotine intake you would get from cigarettes. When it comes to choices, you have a large selection out there now, such as Nicoderm CQ, Novartis Nicotine Transdermal System Patch, and various Walgreens and Target brands. Many of the patches come with instructions and different levels. The levels, or steps, are intended to help you gradually lower your dependence on nicotine, by intaking less nicotine with each step. For example, the first package you buy would probably be Step 1, which would usually be 21mg of nicotine. You would use these daily for maybe a week or a few weeks, then transition down to Step 2, which would be a smaller dosage of nicotine, most likely at 14mg. Step 3 would typically be about 7mg. Although it can be very dangerous, I found myself smoking cigarettes again while still on the patch. For instance, I was on Step 2, but took it off halfway through the day and lit up a cigarette within a hour after taking it off. The reason why I feel they are ineffective in your battle to quit smoking, is because they continually release nicotine into your system. It may be much less than the nicotine you find in cigarettes, and you may be stepping down to a lower level every few weeks, but I feel that this is why I ended up smoking while still on the patch. It's most likely because a person who smokes is only used to intaking nicotine at various times during the day and in higher doses. So when you stop smoking and go on the patch, it's almost as if the nicotine is teasing you, because it's such a small dosage, but it's there all day long, entering your body through your skin. It's not enough to get that good feeling you get from tobacco, but just enough to remind you of what you're missing out on. Patches are usually not available over the counter, so if you're considering on giving them a try, you may need to be 18 or 21, depending on where you live.
Inhalers were brand new around the time I decided to quit smoking. There wasn't that many brands on the market, just Nicorette, so I didn't get a chance to try out other brands, though I'm sure they are the same. For some reason, they never became as popular as patches and gum. I personally had more luck with the patches than the inhalers. The inhalers were better, in that they let you control what times you intake your nicotine. However, they are too similar to a cigarette when it comes to "puffing" on them. At first, I thought the similarities to a cigarette or cigar would be beneficial in quitting, but I soon realized that it made me miss smoking even more since it simulates the hand-to-mouth movements you would normally do with a cigarette. So I give the developers credit for coming up with the idea. It was a good idea, but failed to deliver.
As far as nicotine gum, I found that this was a little more effective than the inhalers and the patches. Reason being, because it lets you control your times of intake, like the inhaler, but didn't involve the hands like an inhaler or cigarette would. If I had to go with any of these 3 options, I would go with the gum first. If that doesn't work, then maybe you should give the others a try.
Quitting Cold Turkey
It took me about 6 years of trying to quit before I finally did it. My mother had recently passed away from lung cancer and it had a devastating effect on me. It made me hate cigarettes and I was just so sick of it at that point. I just gave them up during her last week on earth, and haven't touched them since. I quit Cold Turkey, which means that you give up cigarettes without using any assistance like the inhalers, patches, and gum. You will probably hear other people saying "The only way to quit is Cold Turkey". They are probably right. I'm sure there are many people who have quit while using those other methods, but if I had to guess, I would say that the Cold Turkey route probably has the highest success rate for quitters. I believe this is because you are not stringing yourself along like with those other aids. The first few days are hard, but the body withdraws more quickly than if you were to continue taking in small doses of nicotine every day. In other words, you put yourself through the worst of it in the beginning, so you can get over everything quicker.
No matter what option you decide to go with when giving up smoking, you will most likely need to make some lifestyle changes as well, to ensure success. I recommend you get rid of all the things you would associate with cigarettes or tobacco. For example, I loved to listen to music and lay in bed while I would smoke and I always drank pepsi at the same time. So I associated these things with my habit. So I gave up pepsi, and tried not to lay in the same spot I normally would. I even stopped listening to music for a little while and decided to spend my time doing other things instead.
Get Your Mind Off It
As mentioned before, my mother was sick with cancer the week I quit, and that is probably why I was finally able to quit that week. One would think that the stress would cause me to want to smoke more. But I think that my mind was so preoccupied with what was going on, that I just didn't even have time to think about smoking, and when I did think about it, I was disgusted because of what was happening as a result. So try to get your mind off of cigarettes, by preoccupying yourself with other things. Try to engage in new activities and do whatever you have to do just to keep your mind busy.
Stay Away From Stress
The most important thing you should try to do is to avoid stress. Start taking steps in your life to cut stress out of your life, however, don't substitute a stressful situation with idle time if you think that idle time is going to make you think about smoking more. For example, I find that exercise is a great way to relieve stress, but also keeps a person busy so that they are not sitting around thinking about things. Exercise is also good because I believe it plays a role in removing toxins from your system as your fat is metabolized, which probably helps a person clear their system and get over a physical addiction. If exercise is not your thing, or you aren't physically able to do it, then maybe you should consider renting some movies. Whenever you have nothing to do, watch a bunch of movies that will keep your mind off of cigarettes.
Eat Lots of Snacks
I snacked a lot in the weeks after I initially quit. I'm naturally a very skinny person with a very high metabolism. So I don't really have to worry about gaining weight, and I mostly pigged out on snack foods like ice cream and chocolate. But if you're a person who is more prone to gaining weight, there's lots of fat free foods out there that are available. Vegetables like celery, with maybe some type of fat free dressing to dip it in, would probably be your best option. I also chewed lots of gum majority of the day too. I found that cinnamon or fruity flavored gums were not as effective as spearmint flavored gums. If you smoke menthol cigarettes, mint flavors may want to be something you avoid, since you may associate it with the cigarettes you normally smoke.
Tell People You Quit
They say you shouldn't care much about what people think of you. But most people do care, and most of us want other people to respect us. If you're the type of person who cares what people think about you, then you should use this weakness of yours and convert it into strength. What I mean by this is that you should tell everybody you personally know that you have quit smoking. I told as many people as I could. So a month after I had quit, when I was thinking about picking up another smoke, I thought about what those people might think of me. I didn't want people to view me as weak, or as someone who gives up on things easily. So this created a type of strength within me, and helped me overcome my addiction to smoking, because I felt like I would let those people down if I quit. I feel this type of thinking was instrumental in my struggle to quit and played a huge role in my eventual success.
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