Why Is Quitting So Hard?
We all know health risks of the smoking, but that doesn’t make it any easier to kick habit. Whether you’re occasional teen smoker or lifetime pack-a-day smoker, quitting can be really tough.
Smoking tobacco is both physical addiction and psychological habit. The nicotine from the cigarettes provides a temporary and addictive high. Eliminating that the regular fix of nicotine causes your body to experience the physical withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Because of the nicotine’s “feel good” effect on brain, you may turn to the cigarettes as quick and reliable way to boost your outlook, relieve the stress, and unwind. Smoking can also be way of coping with the depression, anxiety, or even boredom. Quitting means finding different, the healthier ways to cope with those feelings.
Smoking is also ingrained as daily ritual. To successfully stop the smoking, you’ll need to address both addiction and the habits and the routines that go along with it. But it can be done. With right support and quit plan, any smoker can kick addiction even if you’ve tried and failed multiple times before.
Your Personal Stop Smoking Plan
While some of the smokers successfully quit by going the cold turkey, most people do better with tailored plan to keep themselves on the track. A good quit plan addresses both short-term challenge of stopping the smoking and the long-term challenge of preventing the relapse. It should also be tailored to your specific needs and the smoking habits.
Take the time to think of what the kind of smoker you are, which moments of your life call for cigarette, and why. This will help you to identify which tips, the techniques or therapies may be most beneficial for you.
Are you very heavy smoker or more than a pack a day? Or are you more of social smoker? Would simple nicotine patch do the job?
Are there certain activities, the places, or the people you associate with the smoking? Do you feel need to smoke after every meal or whenever you break for the coffee
Do you reach for the cigarettes when you’re feeling stressed or down? Or is cigarette smoking linked to other addictions, such as the alcohol or gambling?
Start your stop smoking plan with START
S = Set a quit date.
Choose the date within next two weeks, so you have enough time to prepare yourself without losing your motivation to quit the smoking. If you mainly smoke at the work, quit on weekend, so you have few days to adjust to change.
T = Tell family, friends, that you plan to quit.
Let your friends and the family in on your plan to quit the smoking and tell them you need their support and encouragement to stop. Look for quit buddy who wants to stop the smoking as well. You can help each other get through rough times.
A = Anticipate and plan for challenges while quitting.
Most people who begin the smoking again do so within first three months. You can help yourself make it through by preparing ahead for the common challenges, such as the nicotine withdrawal and the cigarette cravings.
R = Remove cigarettes from your home, car, and work.
Throw away all of your cigarettes, the lighters, ashtrays, and matches. Wash your clothes and freshen up anything that smells like the smoke. Shampoo your the car, clean your drapes and carpet, and steam furniture.
T = Talk to your doctor
Your doctor can prescribe the medication to help with the withdrawal symptoms. If you can’t see doctor, you can get many products over counter at your local pharmacy, including the nicotine patches, lozenges, and gum.
Identify Your Smoking Triggers
One of best things you can do to help yourself quit is to identify things that make you want to the smoke, including specific situations, the activities, the feelings, and people.
Keep A Craving Journal
A craving journal can help you zero in on the patterns and the triggers. For week or so leading up to your quit the date, keep log of your smoking. Note moments in each day when you crave cigarette
Tips For Avoiding Common Triggers
Alcohol. Many people smoke when they have the drink. Try switching to the non-alcoholic drinks or drink only in places where smoking inside is prohibited. Alternatively, try the snacking on nuts, chewing on cocktail stick or sucking on a straw.
Other smokers. When the friends, family, and the co-workers smoke around you, it can be doubly difficult to give up or avoid the relapse. Talk about your decision to quit so the people know they won’t be able to smoke when you’re in car with them or taking coffee break together. In your workplace, find non-smokers to have your breaks with or find things to do, such as taking walk.
End of a meal. For some smokers, ending meal means lighting up, and prospect of giving that up may appear daunting.
Coping With Nicotine Withdrawal Symptoms
Once you stop the smoking, you’ll likely experience number of physical symptoms as your body withdraws from the nicotine. Nicotine withdrawal begins quickly, usually starting within an hour of last cigarette and peaking two to three days later. Withdrawal symptoms can last for few days to several weeks and differ from person to the person.
Common nicotine withdrawal symptoms include:
- Cigarette cravings
- Irritability, frustration, or anger
- Anxiety or nervousness
- Difficulty concentrating
- Increased appetite
- Increased coughing
- Constipation or upset stomach
- Decreased heart rate
As unpleasant as these withdrawal symptoms may be, it’s important to remember that they are only temporary. They will get very better in a few weeks as toxins are flushed from body. In the meantime, let your friends and the family know that you won’t be usual self and ask for understanding.
Manage Cigarette Cravings
While avoiding the smoking triggers will help reduce urge to smoke, you probably can’t avoid the cigarette cravings entirely. Fortunately, the cravings don’t last long typically, about 5 or 10 minutes. If you’re tempted to light up, remind that the craving will soon pass and try to wait it out. It helps to be prepared in advance by having the strategies to cope with the cravings.
Distract yourself. Do dishes, turn on TV, take a shower, or call friend. The activity doesn’t matter as long as it gets mind off smoking.
Remind yourself why you quit. Focus on reasons for quitting, including health benefits lowering your risk for the heart disease and lung cancer, improved appearance, money you’re saving, and enhanced the self-esteem.
Get out of a tempting situation. Where you are or what you’re doing may be triggering craving. If so, a change of the scenery can make all difference.
Reward yourself. Reinforce your victories. Whenever you triumph over craving, give yourself reward to keep yourself motivated.
Coping With Cigarette Cravings In The Moment
Find an oral substitute – Keep other things around to pop in mouth when cravings hit. Try the mints, carrot or the celery sticks, gum, or sunflower seeds. Or suck on drinking straw.
Keep your mind busy – Read book or magazine, listen to some music you love, do crossword or Sudoku puzzle, or play online game.
Keep your hands busy – Squeeze balls, the pencils, or paper clips are good substitutes to satisfy that need for tactile stimulation.
Brush your teeth – The just-brushed, clean feeling can help banish the cigarette cravings.
Drink water – Slowly drink large glass of water. Not only will it help craving pass, but staying hydrated helps minimize symptoms of nicotine withdrawal.
Light something else – Instead of lighting cigarette, light a candle or some the incense.
Get active – Go for walk, do some jumping jacks or the pushups, try some yoga stretches, or run around block.
Go somewhere smoking is not permitted – Step into public building, the store, mall, the coffee shop, or the movie theater,
Preventing Weight Gain After You Stop Smoking
Smoking acts as appetite suppressant, so gaining the weight is common concern for many of us when we decide to give up cigarettes. You may even be using it as reason not to quit. While it’s true that smokers put on weight within the six months of stopping the smoking, the gain is usually small about five pounds on average and that initial gain decreases over the time. It’s also important to remember that carrying few extra pounds for few months won’t hurt your heart as much as the smoking does. However, gaining the weight is not inevitable when you stop smoking.
Smoking dampens your sense of the smell and taste, so after you quit the food will often seem more appealing. You may also the gain weight if you replace oral gratification of smoking with eating unhealthy comfort foods. Therefore, it’s important to find other, the healthy ways to deal with the unpleasant feelings such as the stress, anxiety, or the boredom rather than mindless, the emotional eating.
Nurture yourself. Instead of turning to the cigarettes or food when you feel stressed, the anxious, or the depressed, learn new ways to quickly soothe yourself.
Eat healthy, varied meals. Eat plenty of the fruit, vegetables, and the healthy fats. Avoid the sugary food, sodas, fried, and the convenience food.
Learn to eat mindfully.It’s easy to polish off tub of ice cream while zoning out in front of TV or staring at your phone. But by removing the distractions when you eat, it’s easier to focus on how much you’re eating and tune into body and how you’re really feeling.
Drink lots of water. Drinking at least six to eight 8 oz. glasses will help you feel full and keep you from eating when you’re not that hungry. Water will also help flush the toxins from your body.
Medication And Therapy To Help You Quit
There are many different methods that have successfully helped the people to kick smoking habit.
Smoking cessation medications can ease the withdrawal symptoms and reduce the cravings. They are most effective when used as part of comprehensive stop the smoking program monitored by your physician. Talk to your doctor about your options and whether anti-smoking medication is right for you. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved options are the :
Nicotine replacement therapy. Nicotine replacement therapy involves “replacing” cigarettes with the other nicotine substitutes, such as the nicotine gum, patch, the lozenge, inhaler, or nasal spray. It relieves some of withdrawal symptoms by delivering the small and steady doses of the nicotine into your body without tars and poisonous gases found in cigarettes. This type of treatment helps you focus on the breaking your psychological addiction and makes it easier to concentrate on the learning new behaviors and coping the skills.
Non-nicotine medication. These medications help you stop the smoking by reducing the cravings and the withdrawal symptoms without the use of nicotine. Medications such as the bupropion (Zyban) and the varenicline (Chantix, Champix) are intended for short-term use only.
What You Need To Know About e-cigarettes
Since it eliminates tar and toxic gases found in the cigarette smoke, smoking e-cigarettes (vaping) is almost certainly less dangerous than the smoking conventional cigarettes. While different studies have the conflicting results, e-cigarettes may also be helpful in kicking habit. However, there are some downsides to vaping:
The liquid used in the e-cigarettes contains the nicotine which has many negative health effects, including the high blood pressure and the diabetes.
The nicotine from e-liquid is especially dangerous to the developing the brains of children and teens.
E-liquids may contain the flavoring agents that can cause chronic lung disease.
Some vaporizers can generate the significant amounts of toxins such as formaldehyde.
There are several things you can do to stop the smoking that don’t involve the nicotine replacement therapy, vaping, or prescription medications. These include the :
Hypnosis – This is popular option that has produced good results for smokers struggling to quit.
Acupuncture – One of oldest known medical techniques, acupuncture is believed to work by triggering release of the endorphins (natural pain relievers) that allow body to relax. As smoking cessation aid, acupuncture can be helpful in managing the smoking withdrawal symptoms.
Behavioral Therapy – Nicotine addiction is related to habitual behaviors or rituals involved in the smoking. Behavior therapy focuses on learning new coping the skills and breaking those habits.
Motivational Therapies – Self-help books and the websites can provide number of ways to motivate yourself to give up the smoking. One well known example is calculating monetary savings. Some people have been able to find motivation to quit just by calculating how much money they will save. It may be enough to pay for summer vacation.
Helping A Teen To Quit
Most smokers try their first cigarette around age of 11, and many are addicted by the time they turn 14. This can be worrying for the parents, but it’s important to appreciate unique challenges and peer pressure teens face when it comes to quitting the smoking. While the decision to give up has to come from teen smoker him- or herself, there are still plenty of the ways for you to help.
Tips For Parents Of Teen Smokers
Try to avoid threats and ultimatums. Find out why teen is smoking; they may want to be accepted by peer group or want your attention. Talk about what the changes can be made in their life to help them stop the smoking.
Be patient and supportive as child goes through quitting process.
Set good example for your kids by not smoking yourself.
Know if your children have the friends that smoke. Talk with your kids about the ways to refuse a cigarette.
Explain health dangers, as well as unpleasant physical aspects of the smoking
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