Are you a smoker or do you have a loved one looking to stop smoking? This guest post by Brie Mann may help!
Smoking is not an easy thing to quit. It’s an immediate source of calm, and nicotine is an addictive drug. However, quitting isn’t a hopeless endeavor; countless smokers manage to put cigarettes down for good. It just takes a bit of effort.
The mistake that most people make is that they rely too heavily on willpower, and they don’t use some of the tools that are out there to help them wean off of nicotine. It’s possible to quit cold turkey, but few people ever manage to do it, and there are far more efficient and less painful ways to make it to the other side.
Step One: Set Milestones
It’s important to have a firm grasp of when someone intends to quit smoking altogether, and it’s equally important that there are milestones both before and after that date. Celebrating both large and small victories is a huge help psychologically, and it makes each step toward progress feel that much more rewarding. It’s a good idea for someone to plan monthly celebrations that take place on the date that he finishes his last pack or throws his cigarettes away, and if he opts to use nicotine patches to help with cravings, it’s worth celebrating each occasion where he’s able to lessen the dose and stick to his commitment.
Step Two: Anticipate and Head-Off Cravings
There’s no replacement for nicotine, but it is possible to re-wire the brain so that those cravings become associated with activities other than smoking. The item that works best for someone will vary according to individual tastes. Some smokers are able to replace smoking with fruit. Every time a craving kicks in, they take a bite out of an apple and they experience the positive brain chemicals that come with ingesting something sweet. The ideal solution generates a natural and healthy high to replace the addictive one. It doesn’t have to get rid of the cravings altogether, it just has to be enough to take the edge off so that it’s possible to use willpower to pick up the slack.
Step Three: Don’t Stop
Nearly everybody backslides when attempting to alter a long-standing habit. It’s not the end of the world, and it’s important to keep things in perspective. Smoking one cigarette may feel like a massive defeat to some people, but in the bigger scheme it doesn’t matter as long as they don’t smoke again. The same thing applies even if someone goes on a smoking binge after pledging to quit. What people need to do in those scenarios is go back to the drawing board, examine why they failed, set new goals and continue on while accounting for what they’ve learned. There is no such thing as failure unless someone stops trying, and there’s never an excuse to stop trying.
The Smoke-Free Life
Those who want to quit smoking should make it as difficult as possible to actually get away with it. Instituting systems of accountability with friends and loved ones is an excellent idea when it’s possible, and giving someone else their car keys after a certain hour will help stave off the possibility of midnight cigarette runs.
The first month is always the hardest, but things do get easier. It may be impossible to completely undo the conditioning caused by an unhealthy habit, but it’s entirely feasible to minimize the appeal of cigarettes and to stay clean for as long as someone desires. Persistence is the most important element; as long as someone keeps at it, he will eventually accomplish his goal.
About the Author
Do you have a trick to stop smoking that you can share with us?