Quitting smoking isn't easy, and at times your motivation can begin to lose steam. To ensure success you will need to power up your desire to stay quit.
REASONS FOR QUITTING
One way to boost your motivation is to review all the reasons you wanted to quit in the first place. Are those reasons and motivating factors still important to you? If not, then reevaluate and come up with a new list of valid reasons to quit smoking. Keep in mind that the more reasons you find to motivate yourself in favor of quitting the more likely you are to stay quit.
Make your reasons personal and specific. For example, instead of saying 'To feel healthier' you might say 'So I don't feel out of breath when I play with my children.' Think about the personal costs of smoking for you and those you love. Being a good role model and protecting your family from second hand smoke may pull at your heart strings. Imagine yourself five or ten years down the road if you quit; picture that same time period continuing to smoke and what do you see? Think about the consequences of continued smoking. Where do you want to be? Perhaps you are upset with the control cigarettes have over your life and you want to be free of the addiction. You can't leave out the spiraling cost of cigarettes today, either. With the money saved by not smoking, you could take a trip or pay a bill.
BENEFITS OF QUITTING
Acknowledging the short and long term benefits you receive from quitting smoking, and reframing your thinking to focus on the positive aspects of quitting, will help get you out of a motivational slump. Smoking is detrimental to every organ in your body. Quitting smoking is the single best thing you can do to improve your overall health. Within minutes of your last cigarette your body begins to heal itself. In the first twenty minutes your blood pressure and heart rate decrease. There are other immediate benefits you become aware of right away, like fresher breath and clean smelling hair. The benefits of quitting get even better over time. Soon you may notice that your morning cough has disappeared, you can walk up the stairs and you are not out of breath, and the food you prepare smells and tastes good. Quitting helps improve self image and self esteem. You conquer an addiction, set a good example and take back control of your life. Your risks for smoking-related diseases decline and you get a chance to live a longer life. Focusing on the positive benefits of quitting will improve your motivation to move forward.
The more people you have cheering you on the better. This is especially helpful when you are going through a tough time and experiencing a lapse in motivation. Words of encouragement can spur you on and help you keep the focus on the positive. Involve yourself with others who are trying to quit smoking or have already quit. Most quitters have experienced dips in motivation; you can learn from them by listening to their stories. A great source of support can be found here on QuitNet, in the forums, clubs and chat. It's also important that you support yourself by recognizing your own quitting progress and the lifestyle changes you made to get to this point. Celebrate your quit milestones and reward yourself by buying something enjoyable with the money you have saved not smoking. Gathering support from others and acknowledging your quit success keeps you motivated and moving forward.
Keep Going and KTQ!
Quit With Us!
What happened? You were doing so well, pleased with the way your quit was going and then the next thing you know you’ve slipped. A relapse back to smoking is in the making. Now you’re feeling guilty, self critical and down right depressed; saying “It’s not a good time”, “I’m not ready yet”, “I’ve already smoked, so another one won’t make a difference.” Sound familiar? Slips and relapses are common in the quitting process. In fact, most smokers attempt quitting many times before being successful. Quitting smoking is a learning process and rarely a one-shot done deal. So, how do you recover and get back on track?
When a slip up occurs (slip = a puff or a couple of cigarettes) the best response is to stop smoking right away. Toss any cigarettes you may have on hand to remove any temptations to light up. A slip doesn’t mean you are a failure, so don’t use it as an excuse to pick up another cigarette! Try to figure out what made you slip up so you can handle it differently next time. Re-commit to quitting by thinking about all the reasons you quit in the first place. Have your reasons matter and motivate you enough to make quitting smoking the number one priority in your life right now. Focus on all the health benefits you enjoy now and in the future by not smoking. You’ll need to keep the big picture in mind. Gather support from your family, friends and the QuitNet community. View your slip as a loss in footing that can easily be regained by immediately picking yourself up and refocusing on your quit.
A relapse (relapse = go back to your "old ways" of smoking) is a wake up call that you are losing control of your quit. It’s time to limit the damage, get rid of the smokes, reassess your quit plan and get back in the game. View your relapse as a teaching tool in quitting successfully. What triggering event or situation made you reach for the cigarette? What quitting strategy could you have used instead? Are you complying with quit treatment recommendations? Have the motivating reasons you wanted to stop smoking changed? Did you reach out for support? Take the time to figure out what went wrong so you can fix it and move forward. Don’t allow self-pity or self-blame to enter the picture. Commend yourself for trying to quit! Every attempt to quit moves you closer to your success.
Keep coming back, and KTQ,
Next week: Preventing A Relapse
Meet Barbwire11. She is a QuitNet ex-smoker, and an active member of the Qmunity. She's also one of the winners of QuitNet’s Great American Smokeout: Picture Your Quit contest; see her winning submission above (and log into QuitNet to view the contest page). We asked Barb to share her experience, strength and hope with us:
1. Can you tell us about your inspiration for your contest photo: "I'm
keeping my quit just so I can hang out with my grandson, breathing while I
laugh with him.”? How has your grandson inspired you to keep your quit going
I actually have 3 grandsons, this one is Ryley the youngest. His last visit is the first time he got to be around his Omi without a cloud of smoke following me & a butt in my hand. This the first time in his 14 yrs I could laugh spontaneously with him & not go into my "smokers choke" worrying if I 'd black out again. When they were young I referred to him & his brother as my heroes but they truly are; they taught me it was time to grow up & take control of my addiction. This young man is a straight A student, a super soccer player who refs other games when he has the time. How could I not possibly be inspired by him?
2. How many times have you tried to quit smoking? When did you quit, and how did you do it?
I've lost count of the number of times I tried to quit. I know every night at bed time I would tell myself I have to quit. I'd never gone one 24 hour period without a cigarette from age 13 to age 59. I'm 62 now, and I quit on Jan 25, 2010. I knew that if I made it 24 hours, then 3 days, I would become an ex smoker. 59,402 cigs not smoked over 33 months is huge to me.
I had my prescription for Champix (Chantix
in the U.S). I joined Quitnet. I read profiles of many that could have been about me & came to the realization I wasn't the only one whose main priority in life was smoking. Smoking was and had been controlling me. I joined the Chantix Users Club, where there was a ton of care, support, friendship and laughter.
Someone on the Q posted the link to Alan Carr
's book. It clicked for me somehow. I got angry at tobacco companies, I got angry at the government for knowingly allowing tobacco companies to add addictive additives to tobacco products. I got angry at me for being so stupid, not believing I was poisoning myself. I admitted to being an addict. I read every article I could about addiction, smoking tobacco, the ingredients of a cigarette; to me, knowledge is power. 3. How much did you smoke? What made you decide to quit?
I smoked for 46-47 yrs, never taking a break. I was up to 3 packs a day. If it was a long day I was known to open a 4th pack. My husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He had quit 28 yrs previously. It was getting harder for me to walk & breathe at the same time. My denial was over.
4. How did you learn about QuitNet? And how long have you been a member?
It was advertised on British Columbia Canada radio and TV. I was getting tired of hearing about it, I'm like, "This is going to help .......HOW?" I can be arrogant, but am also known to eat crow, and I am curious, too.
Short answer is: almost 3 yrs. My newest addiction began December 2009 when I joined QuitNet! I was still smoking then but I would not smoke while on the Q -- as if they could see me! I've left and returned many times, I just can't stay away from so many caring people.
5. What's your most memorable experience on the Q?
I can't name just one experience but I do know this -- of all the times I tried to quit alone, I never made it to 24 hours. With the help, support, information and caring on the Q I finally have my freedom from nicotine, my breath. 6. What are some of your favorite quit smoking tools?
Sliced apples chewed really, really, really slow. As long as I was chewing I could forget about smoking. For the hand to mouth part it was a glass of water; to this day I have a drink in my hand, could be water or wine but that is what I reach for these days.
7. What would you say is your most valuable piece of advice to others trying to quit smoking?
Get support. Talk and read about others who have walked these steps before you; you may learn some tips. Get to know who your enemy is, admit to being an addict, and plan your quit. But MOST IMPORTANTLY, do what works best for you.
Smiles, and KTQ,
High speed winds and towering water swells heralded the arrival of Storm Sandy earlier this week. In wake, it left collapsed buildings and homes, flooded streets, power outages, debris, lost lives and general chaos.
Natural disasters and times of crisis are common relapse triggers to smoking. You may be overwhelmed with feelings of fear, powerlessness and lack of control. Your "old way" of responding to a crisis may have been to stock up on cigarettes and put yourself on lock-down in preparation for the storm and the recovery time ahead. However, now that you've quit smoking, cigarettes are not an option. Being caught in the middle of disaster may not be a choice you have, but choosing to remain smoke-free, can be.
Your ability to get through a crisis without lighting up is an important part of a quit process. No amount of smoking is going to change things so you may as well weather the storm! Part of damage control means being prepared for emergency situations in the first place. If you live in parts of the country where earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, tornadoes and other natural disasters can strike, take the time to create a plan and build a kit of basic emergency items you may need.
Now more than ever it's also important for you to reach out to the community. Instead of turning to cigarettes for support, turn to others--friends, family, neighbors, co-workers and fellow quitters:
Share stories, express your concerns, keep others posted on your status as well as get updates on how others are coping. If you're stuck at home, stay distracted by catching up on old movies, calling up friends and family members, playing video games, baking, etc. If you have no power, no means of transportation or are otherwise incommunicado, keep yourself busy until power returns. Some ideas include:
- Board games
- Working on a hobby
- Reading books
- Writing in a journal
- Prayer/meditation/positive affirmations and mantras
Do whatever it takes to remain smoke-free.
Even if you weren't directly hit by a crisis like Storm Sandy, you may have family and loved ones who were. Concern over their well-being, not knowing if they are safe and/or not being able to communicate can be frustrating and stressful. You can maintain some semblance of order by continuing with your usual daily routines. You can also try connecting with family members and friends who are reachable. Focus on the things you can control and let the rest go.
The road to recovery can be a lengthy one. But be confident in tackling any situation that comes your way with a sense of calm determination. Stay safe and stay smoke-free,
The most commonly asked question in tobacco treatment is, "What's the best way to quit smoking?" The best answer is: "That's not the right question." What most of us really want to know is, "How can I quit for good this time?"
The evidence tells us that Quitting is a Process, Not an Event. Very few of us quit by simply putting down the death sticks and then willing ourselves to not pick them up again -- though most of us try that approach at least once. Multiple quit attempts using various methods are the norm, not the exception. Why?
The US Public Health Service reviewed 8,700 quit-smoking studies, and declared that smokers enjoyed the best chances of quitting for good when they not only took advantage of quit-medications, but peer and/or professional support as well.1 Why the dual approach? Because tobacco addiction isn't only physical. It's mental and behavioral as well, and interacting with professionals and/or other ex-smokers is the most effective way of getting at the psychological reinforcers of our addiction. When we try to quit by dealing with the physical aspect alone, we're usually tripped up by long-held thoughts and attitudes associated with smoking (which can 'trigger' urges to smoke even years after quitting).
Make Quitting Your Idea
So how can we put together a quit plan that addresses the mental component up front? One good way is to develop our own reasons for quitting. Most of us first consider quitting smoking because of external motivations--the pleas of spouses or loved ones, health scares, smoke-free workplaces, or increases in cigarette or insurance costs. For us to be best-motivated, it helps to mentally position our quit as our idea.
A simple Pros & Cons list is one way to do this. Ask yourself: What do I like about smoking? Is it a welcome break from work, a reward, or time spent with friends? And what don't I like about it-- the smell, coughing, the expense, the hassle of smoking publicly? List these things so you can compare and contrast. Do your reasons for quitting outweigh reasons to keep smoking? Let your brain play with this list for a few hours/days/weeks; you'll notice your mental picture of smoking changing over time.
Another way of changing how you think about quitting is to imagine a smoke-free life, full of all the possible advantages of quitting. A dramatic improvement in health is one possibility, as is a longer life. But there are other benefits, as well. You could look younger, with fewer wrinkles, softer skin, and shinier hair. You might save a lot of money that would have gone up in smoke, or been spent on treating tobacco-related illness. You could have more stamina and endurance; sleep better; enjoy more tastes and smells; have whiter teeth; increase your self respect; be a better role-model for your children and grandchildren; save your loved ones from second or thirdhand smoke--the list of great reasons to quit smoking is potentially endless. Try listing as many of these benefits as you can think of, and then ask yourself: What are my 3 BEST reasons for quitting? Write these down, too, and return your thinking to this list whenever you find yourself obsessing about cigarettes in your mind.
Reframe Your Quit History
Though some of us quit smoking on the first try, most of us have made more than one attempt. We tend to think of such attempts as failures, so it will be helpful for us to reframe our perceptions of previous efforts. Actually, each quit-attempt teaches us something valuable, something we need to know to stay quit for good. This means that the more times we've 'failed' at quitting, the better our odds of succeeding this time!
Your quit-history is your greatest asset, so reflect on these questions, and change how you think about quitting: How did I quit before? What worked, and what didn't? Did I use the chosen quit method as recommended, for as long as recommended? How did I start smoking again? Are there other tools I could have employed that I could use this time? Has anything changed in my life that might make this quit easier or harder?
Do Quit-Medications Help the Mind?
Most of us can't put our lives on hold just because we're quitting smoking. Quit-meds help us deal with the physical aspects of withdrawal, but they also help us to stay mentally on track, and to be less affected by post-quit smoking obsessions, concentration or memory problems, or the irritation and mental restlessness that accompany tobacco detoxification.
Control Your Self-talk (Or It Will Control You)
Finally, consider taking charge of your thought processes altogether by controlling your self-talk. Self-talk is that conversation you're having with yourself right now, as you read this: I agree with this, I disagree with that, what am I having for lunch, etc. We tend to think of our thoughts as driven by our environment, our emotions, etc, but that scenario has cause and effect reversed. Our thoughts right now become our attitudes tomorrow, which determine our actions the day after, and mold our future next week.
Your tobacco-dependent mind will attempt to self-talk you into abandoning your quit before you start, or to slip/relapse afterward. It'll whisper things like, I don't want to do this now/anymore, or, This is too hard! or, I can have just one. Remember, the addicted brain doesn't have your best interests at heart; it only wants you smoking again, and it's going to lie to you in your own voice.
Pay attention to what you're saying to yourself. Whenever you catch yourself self-talking the idea of smoking again, or of throwing away your quit, you can literally interrupt that thought. Command yourself to , "Stop the presses!" as you visualize your mental machinery grinding to a halt. Then turn your thinking back to positive things. Remind yourself of the reasons you're quitting; grab that list you made earlier and read it. Affirm positive concepts like:
- I don't smoke, no matter what; no matter what, I don't smoke
- No power on earth can make me smoke
- If I do give in, how will I feel afterward?
- I love being a non-smoker!
- I have all the support I need to stay quit!
- I quit and can stay quit, regardless of anyone or anything!
- I am proud to be a non-smoker
- This, too, shall pass
The more you exercise control of your own thinking, especially regarding smoking and quitting, the less power tobacco will have over your thoughts. Eventually, your mind will stop trying to trick you this way altogether.
Good luck, and KTQ,
Alan Peters, CTTS-M
For more, visit or
1. Fiore MC, Jaen CR, Baker TB, et al. Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence: 2008 Update. Clinical Practice Guideline. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Public Health Service. May 2008. Clinical Practice Guidelines.
There are some misconceptions about quit support products, specifically surrounding the ‘support’ part! Take Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) for example. As tobacco treatment specialists, we sometimes hear "My NRT is not working". Let's look at the role NRT plays for a basic overview of what to expect. NRT does not make you quit smoking. It does not remove the habitual want to smoke, or the emotional need to smoke. NRT does not eliminate withdrawal symptoms, nor does it prevent the detox process from occurring.
So what does NRT do? It takes the edge off cravings so you can focus on breaking your lifelong habitual, behavioral and emotional attachment to the daily ritual of smoking. NRT supports your efforts by reducing the physical cravings and withdrawal symptoms so you are more likely to stick with the quit process long enough to succeed.
NRT is not designed to match your smoking habit nicotine consumption milligram for milligram, but rather to reduce cravings by delivering a slow, steady dose of nicotine in your system based on the average amount of cigarettes you smoked prior to your quit date. This slow, steady dosing avoids the rapid and addictive 'rush/crash/crave' cycle that smoking provides (and makes quitting so difficult). NRT helps by lessening the intensity of physical withdrawal symptoms. Physical withdrawals will still occur as your body detoxes, heals and adjusts after years of inhaling toxic, chemical filled smoke, tar and gasses into your lungs and throughout your entire system. Nicotine is just one of the many thousands of chemicals in cigarette smoke.
NRT is advised to be used for at least the first 8 weeks of your quit while stepping down gradually. Stepping down as directed ensures minimal cravings and maximum quit support. Why 8 weeks? Research shows it takes a good 8 weeks of practicing new behaviors, habits and coping tools to learn a new habit, such as being a nonsmoker! Doing so with overwhelming physical cravings often leads to relapse before any of the learning new behaviors or habit breaking part takes place. Nicotine and temporary cravings are a small part of the Big Picture. Long term quit success comes from having 8 weeks of practice and actively working to learn new behaviors and coping tools, not from 'using NRT'. The Quitter must actively work their quit process in order for NRT support to be most effective.
So, how do you work your quit process? Start by identifying your top 3 tobacco triggers. Then, come up with effective new coping tools that will work for You. This is where you want to put your time, energy and focus during the next 8 weeks you have NRT support. Practice getting through stress, boredom, relationships, disappointments and day to day life situations without using tobacco. Practicing new coping tools ensures your quit process gets easier as time goes by. No amount of NRT can do this particular part of the quit, which is a good thing! It forces the newly quit to start really thinking about living their day to day lives without a cigarette. In each of those moments where you choose to do something else instead of smoke, you will be laying the foundation for becoming a nonsmoker.
The key to success is to let NRT do it's job by using it correctly as directed, while you do your job - actively work your quit process! Along the way, you'll discover lots of new things to do as you enjoy your healthy, smoke free lifestyle.
Master Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist
Don't quit alone! We can help:
Although some of us quit smoking on the first try, most of us have made more than one attempt. That's not necessarily a bad thing; each attempt taught us something valuable about staying quit. In fact, the more times we've 'failed' at quitting in the past, the better our odds of succeeding this time.
One reason many of us make so many quit-attempts is that we don't always have the motivation to quit, or to maintain our quits afterward. Most smokers first consider quitting because of external motivators--the pleas of spouses or loved ones, health scares, smoke-free workplaces or financial incentives by our employers, or increases in cigarette or insurance costs.
Many of us grudgingly agree to quit smoking to satisfy others, but don't really have compelling reasons of our own to do so. For us to have the best shot at quitting and staying quit, it helps if quitting is our idea. Just how do we make it so?
Some simple exercises can help to move us in that direction, at any time before or after our actual quit-day. Ask yourself:
- On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being the highest), how much do I really want to quit right now? What would need to change for me to raise that number a couple of notches? Is that a change I can work on?
- Using the same scale, how confident am I that I could quit right now? What would need to change for me to raise that number a couple of notches? Is that a change I can work on?
Next, a set of pros/cons questions can help clarify what we really think about our smoking. Ask yourself:
- What do I like about smoking? (is it a welcome break from work, a reward, or time spent with friends?)
- What don't I like about smoking? (the smell, coughing, the hassle of smoking publicly, the health risks?)
- Do the negatives outweight the positives?
- Are there healthier replacements for the things I like about smoking?
Next, a sort of Cost/Benefit Analysis will help uncover fears and other obstacles to quit-motivation. Ask yourself:
- If I continue to smoke, what's the worst thing that could happen to me? What's the best thing that could happen?
- If I quit smoking, what's the worst thing that could happen to me? What's the best that could happen?
- Does the best or worst weigh most in my analysis?
Imagining a Smoke-free Life
Finally, an effective way of making quitting your idea is to imagine all the possible advantages of quitting, and to focus on them. A dramatic improvement in health is one possibility, as is a longer life. But there are other benefits, as well. You could look younger, with fewer wrinkles, softer skin, and shinier hair. You might save a lot of money that would have gone up in smoke, or been spent on treating tobacco-related illness. You could have more stamina and endurance, sleep better, enjoy more tastes and smells, have whiter teeth, increase your self respect, be a better role-model for your children and grandchildren, save your loved ones from second or thirdhand smoke--the list of great reasons to quit smoking is potentially endless.
- What are five good reasons for me to quit smoking?
- What are my three best reasons to quit smoking? Note: Record My Three Best Reasons, and keep that list for handy reference in your phone, wallet or purse.
Motivation isn't something we can turn on and off like a light switch, but once we set our brains in motion solving a problem (like smoking), they inevitably move us toward a solution (quitting). The process may take a day, month, or a year, but as long as we're contrasting and comparing our old ways to the new way, our old desires to the new ones, our smoking life to a smoke free life, our odds of developing the motivation to get us there are greatly increased.
Good luck, and don't forget to visit the Q for more education and support.
Alan P, CTTS-M
Congratulations! You’ve made the decision to quit smoking. After 30, 40, or more years of smoking you are finally ready to have ALL the chemicals from cigarettes out of your body. But you don’t just want all those chemicals out for good; you want them out IMMEDIATELY.
While nicotine—the primary addictive ingredient in cigarettes— is cleared from your body quickly (about 24 hours), the 4,000 other chemicals found in cigarette smoke can make the detoxification timeline more complicated.
Headaches, dizziness, coughing, constipation, mood swings—all very common with withdrawal—can make the detoxification process downright unpleasant. Finding ways to get through this process more effectively has many quitters looking for a quick fix. But is there really anything you can do to make your body heal faster?
Ultimately, the only effective antidote for detoxification is TIME. Your body has the amazing ability to heal. In fact, after that last cigarette, your body immediately begins healing from the chemicals in cigarettes. You can mainly thank your kidneys and liver for this, both of which work tirelessly 24/7, 365 days a year to filter your blood.
To support your body in its natural healing process, here are some things you can do:
- Eat a healthy diet. While there is no specific food to help with detoxification, certain foods—fruits and veggies, whole grains and other healthy foods—have been shown to help lessen cravings.
- Exercise. Being physically active is a natural metabolism booster and helps fight cravings and withdrawal symptoms by providing a distraction, helping improve mood, and staving off potential post-quit weight gain.
- Get enough sleep. While the “perfect” amount of sleep may be different for everyone, sleep is important because it’s a time when your body repairs itself. Aim for 6-8 hours a night.
- Drink water. Water is crucial to our survival. Staying well-hydrated while quitting can help your body stay healthy.
- Take a multivitamin. Smoking can deplete certain vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin C. Taking a multivitamin replenishes those lost from smoking.
While these tips may not necessarily speed the detoxification process, they certainly can make the process more manageable!
Still wondering if there is anything else you can do? While there is no hard, scientific data to support use of herbal supplements in expediting the quitting process, lobelia, ginseng, and St. John’s Wort may have some potential. But beware: natural does not necessarily mean safe. Herbal supplement can potentially interact poorly with medications you may already be taking, plus carry their own risk for use. Consult your physician first before taking an herbal supplement!
Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist