How to Quit Smoking for Good
Once you’re hooked, cutting down or quitting can cause unpleasant withdrawal symptoms like irritability, depression, increased appetite, trouble concentrating and sleep disturbances, but quitting is possible. Here are some strategies to help you succeed and, ultimately, quit smoking for good.
Make a Plan to Quit Smoking For Good
Quitting smoking takes mental (and physical) preparation. Pick a “quit date” within the next month and circle it on your calendar. Between now and then, set the stage for your smoke-free life. This is an exciting time, so be enthusiastic.
Stock up on healthy or non-fattening foods to nibble, such as sugar-free chewing gum, baby carrots, pumpkin and sunflower seeds and fresh fruit.
The night before the big day, throw out all cigarettes, ashtrays, matches, lighters and other smoking paraphernalia. Remember, you are a non-smoker now; you don’t need them.
Make an Announcement
Tell your friends, family and work colleagues about the date you plan to quit. And try not to be embarrassed if you’ve made the announcement before. Remind them that it often takes repeated attempts for quitting to work and ask for their help in making this the last one.
People can become depressed when quitting smoking-especially the elderly, who can also become confused because memory and concentration may be temporarily impaired. As with weight gain, it helps to be prepared-in other words, plan how you might deal with such symptoms if they occur, and don’t be afraid to seek help from your doctor, rather than lighting up again in desperation.
Studies show that having a strong support network increases your chances of successfully quitting smoking. Many hospitals and health centres offer quitting programs. Go to Go Smokefree! to find helpful resources on how to quit. Think about joining a support group for the first three months-the time during which most relapses occur. For a support group near you look online or in the Yellow Pages.
Smoking often occurs in stressful or social situations. It’s something to do in a work break, when stuck in a traffic jam or during quiet evenings at home. Once you quit, you’ll feel that something is missing during these times. Depending on where you are, fill the gap with another activity.
Sing along to a favourite CD in the car. Take short walks instead of smoking breaks. Do something with your hands, such as jigsaw puzzles as you wind down in the evening. You’ll miss cigarettes less if you keep busy.
Consider Nicotine Replacement
Some smokers successfully quit cold turkey, but you can double your chances of success by using some form of nicotine replacement in the early days. Most forms of NRT can be bought over-the-counter, but it is also available by prescription. Nicotine replacement doesn’t give you the same buzz as cigarettes, but it does reduce cravings.
It isn’t meant to replace smoking, rather to eliminate withdrawal symptoms.
Your odds of succeeding are increased slightly if you combine NRT with a prescription-only drug called bupropion. Originally intended as an antidepressant, it appears to interrupt the areas of the brain associated with addiction and the enjoyable effects of nicotine. This lessens not only your wish to smoke but also the physical symptoms of nicotine withdrawal.
Identify your triggers-coffee and alcohol are common ones-and do your best to avoid situations where you might have reached for a cigarette automatically back in the days when you were a smoker. It may help to avoid alcohol altogether and drink mineral water or fruit juice during that vulnerable initial period of two to three months. Later on, you’ll be able to enjoy a drink with more confidence-but remember that alcohol always lowers inhibitions, so you’ll need to remain vigilant.
When you feel the urge to light up-and you will-look at your watch and give yourself
10 minutes. During that time, take full, deep breaths as you would if you were drawing on a cigarette. Deep breathing will fill your lungs with clean, smoke-free air and trigger a relaxation response.
By the time 10 minutes is up, the acute urge to smoke will have passed, and you’ll be better able to move past the craving.
If You Have a Relapse
Put out the cigarette and “keep on quitting.” Leave the situation or setting where smoking resumed-and don’t look back! Focus instead on moving forward with your new plan for healthy living, so you can quit smoking for good.