Quitting smoking is difficult, especially in the first few days. Physical and psychological withdrawals hit hard at this time and cravings and urges to smoke are strong. When a craving to smoke occurs, action needs to be taken. The choices are endless, but here are three of the best tried and true crave busters.
Drinking water is a great crave buster. Hand-to-mouth is a habit that's hard to break and water is a good choice for an oral substitute. Not only does water give you something to do with your hands, it’s also filling, reduces your appetite and has zero calories. Water is not a beverage that is usually associated with smoking, so it will unlikely trigger the same response as a cup of coffee or a beer. Staying well-hydrated is important in keeping your body healthy. Water removes the toxins from your body and helps with the healing process after quitting smoking. Reaching for that glass of water to quell a craving will help prevent constipation, which at times accompanies quitting smoking. If you don’t like the taste of water, try jazzing it up with a slice of lemon, lime, fresh fruit. When a craving to smoke hits, drink up and enjoy the benefits water offers.
Cravings to smoke often pop up when feeling stressed. Life stressors run the gamut, from issues with family, finance and health to the daily annoyances of traffic jams and waiting in grocery store lines. In the past, smoking may have been how you handled the stress in your life. Deep breathing is one of the best ways to manage cravings to smoke and stress. Now you can take a deep breath without inhaling the poisons in cigarette smoke. As you deep breathe, visualize yourself in a peaceful, soothing place where you can totally relax, escaping for a few moments. Repeating a personal slogan to yourself ‘Smoking is not an option’ while taking the deep breaths will reaffirm your decision to quit.
Take some time to practice deep breathing exercises. Begin deep breathing from the diaphragm, rather than the chest, by getting comfortable lying on the bed, floor or reclining in a chair. Begin by placing a hand on your stomach and breathing in slowly, through the nose while mentally counting to five. When you are inhaling picture the air going down into your stomach until it’s totally inhaled (you should feel your stomach rise up where your hand is placed). Now slowly exhale through your mouth for the count of five and picture the air emptying out of your stomach until it’s totally expelled (you should feel your hand on your stomach go down). Repeat this ten times during practice and you should feel stress and anxiety symptoms decrease. Taking a deep breath to get you through a craving will get you to the other side more relaxed.
Getting physical and moving helps distract from the cravings to smoke and reduces the intensity of the cravings. Quick and easy exercises that you can do in spurts when a craving appears work well. Knee bends, lunges, going up and down the stairs, or sitting in a chair alternately relaxing and tensing your muscles are exercise that can be done at home or work when time and space is limited. Even just getting up and walking around for a few minutes will help. Choose an activity you will enjoy, whether it be yoga, dancing, biking or swimming -- any activity that has you moving will do. Both high and low impact exercises increase your endorphin levels, which makes you feel good, more alert and energized. Physical activity helps reduce stress and tension. Not only does exercise help you deal with the physical and psychological cravings of nicotine addiction, but it’s also a major player in managing the weight gain associated with quitting smoking. Consult your doctor before starting an exercise program if you have a sedentary lifestyle or any medical problems. Daily exercise will improve your mood, lung function and stamina. Using exercise to handle your cravings to smoke will keep you fit and healthy.
Keep Going and KTQ!
Quit with us!
Fake it Until You Make It, Part II
My first cigarette ever (smoked in the back of the high-school bus in response to taunting by Robbie the neighbor boy) left me vomiting and shaking behind the milk shed. I stumbled up to the house and collapsed into my bed on that sunny spring afternoon, my head spinning and stomach churning, certain I’d puke some more if I dared move a finger. Never again, I swore. Smoking is stupid. Next time someone taunts me or calls me a sissy for not smoking, I'll just tell them to forget it.
Even as I thought those thoughts, I felt the cold fist of doubt in my guts. If the cool kids smoked, and I didn’t, how was I going to fit in? I was the new guy in a rural school, and desperate for acceptance. I was also pretty small, barely 5 feet tall and 100 lbs, an easy mark for bullies. Being with the cool kids meant no bullying of me, so being made sick by smoking was a real problem.
When mom came home I told her I must have caught the spring flu, that I wouldn’t be able to keep down supper. It took hours before the headache and nausea were gone. I slept fitfully all night. I worried about what I’d do the next day, when I would certainly be expected to smoke again. I was at a real-life crossroads, for sure.
Robbie treated me differently the next day. He’d saved a seat for me on the bus, and invited me to hang out later with him and his friends at the ‘smoking doors’ (behind the gym at the back of the school). I begged off with a story of a typing class assignment that was long overdue.
All day, though, I couldn’t stop thinking about smoking. That night I watched TV actors smoking and laughing, smoking and beating up bad guys, smoking and getting the girl. I saw a parade of commercials about cowboys on horses roping cattle; sleek, sexy women coming a long way, baby; and other guys with black eyes who’d rather fight than switch. Was I the problem, I wondered, and not the cigarettes? Maybe I just wasn’t manly enough. Maybe I needed to toughen up and learn how to smoke right. After all, I saw smokers smoking everywhere I looked, and not one of them was getting sick over it. I resolved then and there to try the smoking experiment again. Maybe smoking would actually make me tough enough to smoke!
The next morning I asked Robbie if he was going to be at the smoking doors after 3rd period. When I showed up, there were half a dozen boys in jeans and flannel shirts, swearing and roughhousing and smoking. One boy held out his pack of Winstons and offered me a cigarette. I can still feel the thrill of that moment, the personal validation of the gesture, the implied respect and acceptance that came with not only being offered a smoke, but with accepting and smoking it. Even better was the social cachet of hanging out with the other smokers, or, rather, being seen hanging out with them; that was worth any amount of physical discomfort.
I took tiny little tobacco puffs while pretending to take big ones. I could feel the dizziness and nausea returning, but somehow managed to not lose control—until Mr. Benoit, the Civics teacher, burst through the smoking doors and caught us red-handed (smoking on school grounds was prohibited even then). Startled, I inhaled a monster hit of tobacco smoke and burst into a coughing fit. The other boys escaped, but I was too busy choking and drooling to go anywhere. Mr. Benoit collared me and hauled me off to the principal’s office.
This smoking-related trouble turned out to be a lucky break for me, however. It gave me street cred with Robbie and Co, while providing me the alibi I needed to avoid smoking with them for the rest of the year. It also gave me a break from my conflicted thoughts about smoking. In fact, I really believed my smoking dilemma had been resolved once and for all--in favor of not smoking.
Until my senior year in high school, that is. I fell hard for a classmate, Janice A. She was bold and brash. She did what she wanted when she wanted, took no crap from anyone…and she smoked. But I didn’t care about that; I would have done anything to get her to pay attention to me. All my previous bad history with tobacco fled my memory. Before you could say smoking kills I was at the local market (which regularly sold tobacco to underage kids) buying Janice’s favorite brand. And a fancy Zippo lighter.
As I remember it, I wasn’t really thinking about smoking those cigarettes myself. I had in mind a clear image of offering her a smoke, just like in the movies; of snapping the Zippo lighter to light the lady's cigarette; of cupping my hands just so around the burning end to shelter the flame from the wind. And surely, just like in the movies, love would flow from that moment.
I learned that Janice usually snuck down to the park to smoke during study hall, and so arranged to ‘accidentally’ bump into her there. My plan worked. Me, Janice, and a red and white pack of cigarettes wound up occupying the same point at the same time. I offered her a cigarette, gave her a light, cupped my hands just so to get the fire started…She looked at me quizzically and asked, “Aren’t you going to have one?”
“I just had one,” I replied.
“Well, I hate to smoke alone,” she said. So I grabbed a butt and stuck it in my pie hole. I lit it, but only pretended to take a real puff. I sucked some smoke into my mouth (taking great care not to inhale), held it in there while faking a deep dive into the lungs, and then slowly exhaled with my mouth pursed and my cheeks puffed out like a chipmunk’s. It was hard to hold a conversation like this, and after a few minutes of bemused observation, she came out with, “How come you don’t inhale?” I was shocked, certain I’d given a command performance.
“I do inhale,” I answered.
“Not today , you don’t,” she responded.
“Well, I’m in training,” I offered.
“Training for what?” she asked. “Training to smoke?”
I don’t remember what I said after that. Janice and I never did hook up, but I spent the rest of that school year avoiding smokers and telling myself they were losers.
Next time: An Army of smokers?
Alan P, CTTS-M
You’ve quit smoking so that you can live a healthier, happier life. Maybe after you kicked the habit, you picked up a couple of healthier ones like eating a more balanced diet, getting more exercise, or managing your stress. But what about sleep?
Sleep is something we often take for granted. We all need sleep, and yet it may be the first thing that is sacrificed in a busy day. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25% of U.S. adults experience insufficient sleep or rest. Crankiness, difficulty concentrating, and fatigue can be a direct result of not getting enough sleep. A good night's rest is important to both physical and mental health. Chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to greater risk for obesity, depression and anxiety. Another alarming statistic estimates that, each year, 100,000 police-reported crashes are related to driving while tired!
Many ex-smokers complain of having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep after quitting smoking. While sleep woes are a common and frustrating complaint among recent quitters, they are also temporary. Nicotine’s effect on sleep is largely due to its stimulant properties which keep the body and mind in alert mode instead of wind down mode. In addition, since the body goes without nicotine for a long period during sleep, smokers may awaken earlier in response to withdrawal. Smoking is also a risk factor for an array of sleep disorders including sleep apnea, insomnia, and exaccerbation of restless leg syndrome. Ultimately, quitting smoking is the best thing you can do to rest easier!
Knowing you need more sleep and actually getting more sleep can be two different things. While sleep needs vary, the average adult needs roughly between 7-8 hours of sleep. Quality of sleep, however, is just as important as the amount of sleep you get. Here are some simple tips to getting more and better quality sleep.
First, invest in your sleep environment. Proper support, including mattresses and pillows tailored to individual bodies and sleep styles, can help improve sleep quality. Also keep your bedroom dark and the temperature cool.
Second, go to bed and get up at around the same time every day, including on weekends. Creating a consistent sleep and wake schedule helps regulate the body's internal clock. It's slightly more important to wake up around the same time of day as it's easier to force yourself to wake up than it is to force yourself to be sleepy.
Third, avoid alcohol and caffeine 4-5 hours before bedtime. Beer, wine, soda, coffee, tea, etc. signal the brain to stay awake and can take several hours to clear the body.
Last, restrict your bedroom activities to sleep and sex. This means keeping electronic devices—TVs, ipads, cell phones, books (electronic or otherwise) and other distractions—out of the bedroom. Even backlighting produced from these devices is a powerful cue for your brain to stay awake.
Pick up getting more sleep as a healthy habit and you will not doubt be rewarded with feeling good, alert, and energized.
You care about your pets and want what is best for them. You carefully select their food, shop for toys, matching bowls and perhaps a special, comfy bed. You take care of them when they are sick, do your best to keep them well, play with them, enjoy them and spend quality time with them. You love them, and they love you! They are an important member of the family. For some of us, they're our only family.
We know the dangers of second hand smoke. Second hand smoke is especially harmful to children, as they are much smaller and more vulnerable than adults. What about the smallest family members of all - our pets?
Dogs and cats can become very sick from living in a smoking household. Dogs are affected by an increased risk for stomach, sinus, nasal and lung cancers, asthma and chronic ear and skin infections. Since dogs are already prone to allergies and skin issues, living in a home filled with second hand smoke will increase the likelihood of these health problems occurring.
Smoker's pets smell very strongly of stale smoke and may have dull coats, eye stains and yellowing teeth. Pets who live in smoking households are literally coated in second hand smoke and nicotine - not unlike your walls and windows! Their fur traps the nicotine, and while both dogs and cats get this smokey fur covering, cats spend a significant amount of time licking their fur. This puts them at greater risk for oral cancer from grooming themselves. They are also twice as likely to get lymphoma than cats not living in a smoking household. Cats are already prone to getting asthma, so a smoking household can accelerate the onset of symptoms. Both dogs and cats can get tumors as a direct result of daily, ongoing exposure to toxic, second hand smoke. Smoke irritation can cause watery eyes & sneezing.
Listen to your pets! Do your pets leave when you smoke? Do they jump off your lap or go in another room? If you quit smoking, do they seem happier to be around you now? Pets do not like smoke, and will usually leave to avoid it. Did they go through any symptoms when you quit smoking? Some people report their pet displayed coughing, congestion and other mild symptoms consistentwith withdrawal. While the probability of nicotine withdrawal occurring from second hand smoke exposure alone is not medically validated, there is speculation a possibility exists.
Nicotine is poisonous. Ingesting a cigarette, discarded butt, nicotine patch or lozenge can kill your pet. Some signs to look for include rapid breathing, vomiting, weakness, excitability and diarrhea. Call your vet right away if you suspect your dog or cat has gotten hold of a nicotine product.
Help you pets. If you do smoke, smoke outside to reduce your pet's risk of exposure - think of those tiny lungs! Be sure to wash your hands after smoking a cigarette. Avoid petting and handling pets or their food/treats with nicotine covered hands.
Save your pets! Quit for your health and theirs. Provide them with a happy, healthy environment and fresh air to live in. That way, you'll both be around to enjoy each other for many healthy, wonderful years. ~*~* KTQ ~*~*
Master Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist
Don't Quit Alone:
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:
Times change and life moves forward. Few things are the same for us as they were back in the day. Many smokers grew up smoking. At a young age, we were drawn to a glamourized perception of smoking. Maybe we thought it looked masculine, sexy or rebellious. Maybe we wanted to be cool or important, or part of the 'in crowd'. Perhaps it made us feel exotic, independent, edgy or grown up. With cigarette in hand, we were no longer shy or boring, uncomfortable or lonely - we were smokers!
When we needed a break, we smoked. Angry, sad, mad, tired, in trouble, needed a friend – we smoked! There were always smokers hanging around to listen, feel our pain and keep us company. Smokers understood us, were there for us and supported us. Relationships were forged over the common bond of smoking.
Years and years of smoking followed; through marriages, jobs, kids, joy, change, disappointment and day to day life – all experienced via the porch, kitchen table, favorite chair or parking lot with a cigarette.
Fast forward to today... smoking is not considered rebellious or cool anymore. In fact, it is frowned upon by many and illegal in most places! Everyone knows Cigarettes Kill. They kill you, your children, your pets, your friends, your family and future. They kill opportunity. You may not get that apartment, job, insurance policy or date if you are smoker. Of course, you know things have changed since your youthful choice to start smoking, and you really do want to stop.
But you are a smoker! How do you let go of who you are? What about your special lighter, that crystal ashtray your mom gave you, your favorite brand that has been in your pocket or purse for the last 20 years – how do you just stop being you? And what about your smoking friends? Will you lose them? What will they think of you? Will you even be you anymore?
Truthfully, smoking was never ‘who you were’, but rather 'something you did'. You have done lots of things differently since then, and stopped doing many things from your youth. (Hopefully the mullet, snakeskin boots or shoulder pads are long gone?) And yet, here you are and you are still you! You will do lots of new things as your life moves forward. You are not only still you, but reveal the Real You when you courageously let go of the old habits and patterns that no longer serve you. Smoking no longer serves you! Only by letting go and embracing the gift of change can you move forward to your best possible future.
Celebrate your quit. Let go of the past and make room for some new things to come to you that really are cool – like feeling great or having more energy, time and money to enjoy, living longer and breathing deeply as you move about the day. That is all about you, and you deserve it!
Every long term smoker goes through the ‘Letting go of the old me’ process during their quit. As you go through this process, you are actually 'becoming a nonsmoker' and as a result, will find your quit gets easier and easier as time goes by. You will come to think about things differently. Instead of thinking "I am stressed, I need a smoke" you will think "I am stressed, I’d like to go for a walk/call a friend/make tea." You will learn new ways of coping with old habits and triggers that are healthier than smoking. You will gain confidence and have a sense of pride and accomplishment.
As you let go of your old attachment to being a smoker, you will welcome in a new indentity that is healthier, happier and cooler than ever before :)
Keep going and KTQ!
Vikki Chavez CTTS-M
Master Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist
First, some points to clarify:
1) QuitNet is not anti-cold turkey quitting. In 18 years as the world's first and largest quit-smoking website, we've had a lot of experience with what works best for the most, and what the research indicates -- and that's what we speak to here. If you can quit cold turkey, you should -- the sooner the better.
2) QuitNet does not receive revenue from the sale or advertisement of NRT or other quit-aids (in fact, you won't find any ads at the Q).
3) This blog isn't a debate on whether or not you should quit cold turkey, nor a response to anti-NRT theorists. The author doesn't work for tobacco companies, or any tobacco product manufacturers or distributors.
4) The author himself quit a three pack a day addiction cold turkey, 21 years ago. He knows from experience that cold turkey quitting can work. Further notes at the end of the blog.
Twenty two years ago, before the patch and other quit-aids were available without prescription, I quit smoking cold turkey (CT). Three times, in fact, the third time being, as they say, a charm. And after many years of easy access to over-the-counter quit medicines like NRT, i.e., the patch, gum, lozenge, etc, most smokers still try to quit cold turkey. CT is defined as any treatment method which does not include medicinal control of withdrawal symptoms, i.e., the smoker stops smoking, either abruptly or with a plan, and doesn't employ any chemical interventions to minimize detoxification. Hypnosis, acupuncture, and other alternative treatments are also considered CT because they do not directly address physical withdrawal, or detoxification.
So you won't ever catch me saying cold turkey is a bad way to quit, or that it won't work work for you. I'm living proof that it can and does work. But it's also important to address the most common misconceptions about CT quitting, so you can make the best choices for your next quit.
Myth #1. Cold Turkey is the most effective way to quit.
Decades of research repeatedly demonstrate that only 3-6 CT quitters, out of every 100, will succeed during any given quit attempt. This makes cold turkey the least effective of all treatments, even less so than medication placebos. The primary reason for these low numbers is that the physical, mental and behavioral parts of withdrawal sometimes prove too much to handle, and can negatively impact everyday life even for the most determined quitter.
However, this doesn't necessarily mean that any single quitter won't be able to quit using CT, only that, statistically, other methods provide better odds overall.
Myth #2. Cold Turkey is the safest way to quit.
Quitting smoking is rarely dangerous, and almost never more dangerous than continuing to smoke, but a slower, measured withdrawal from nicotine usually provides an more comfortable path to tobacco freedom. The sudden onset of cold turkey detox among the heaviest smokers can trigger risky fluctuations in heart rate and blood pressure. Changes in metabolism can adversely affect prescription medication doses. CT quits can trigger acute depression and suicidal ideation among those with certain mental health issues, and/or massive chemical/hormonal rearrangements in the body.
Additionally, CT quitters are more likely to transfer smoking addiction to sugar, caffeine, or other addictive substances, causing acute or chronic difficulties with weight gain, depression and anxiety, and other mental and physical health issues -- all of which can generate higher rates of slips and relapses.
Myth #3. Cold Turkey is the fastest way through withdrawal.
The longest, most intense detoxifications are usually suffered by CT quitters (depending on the level of addiction). Three days is commonly referred to as the make-or-break timeline for CT withdrawal, but CT quitters can experience moderate-to-severe detox symptoms for weeks after quitting. Again, this is not to say you will suffer such withdrawal if you quit cold-turkey -- that's largely determined by your current addiction/smoking level and metabolism -- only that you're more likely to.
Myth #4. The intensity of a Cold Turkey quit inhibits relapse.
Though many CT quitters claim that their quit is/was so horrific that they never want to go through it again, there's no solid research demonstrating that past withdrawal experiences influence current quit-success, or that a bad past experience keeps one quit. What we often find instead is increased resistance to the idea of quitting because of past difficulties, and higher rates of slips and relapses during intense detoxes.
Myth #5. Most smokers quit Cold Turkey.
This one is not a myth. CT is still the most widely-used method, largely because it’s the easiest, and free. But most CT smokers will also relapse during any individual quit. This is why smokers are increasingly turning to quit-aids first, or after trying and failing with CT.
All that being said, cold turkey quitting may still best the way for you to quit. If you're a middle-aged man or post-menopausal woman, have successfully quit smoking before without medicinal intervention, and/or aren't being treated for depression or a bi-polar condition, your odds of quitting CT are better than average. If you're pregnant or breastfeeding, weigh less than 120 lbs., or smoke less than half a pack a day, you probably should quit smoking CT. In any event, a CT quitter is wise to beef up their support network--which increases the chances of any quit succeeding.
But if you know, or fear, that severe withdrawal will negatively impact your life, or haven't been able to get through the withdrawal process unaided in the past, don't worry. There are more effective treatment methods available to you!
Good luck, visit QuitNet for help, and KTQ.
Alan Peters, CTTS-M
Regarding public health perspectives on cold turkey quitting: This blog is about CT quitting for individual smokers. Public health officials often, and should, promote CT treatment to large populations, because that's more cost-effective than offering, distributing and supporting compliance with quit-medicines on a large scale.
No QuitNet authors or experts receive research funding or other renumeration from pharmaceutical companies. Some tobacco researchers do, however, sign onto funded studies at various points in their careers. This is an indication that the U.S. doesn't adequately fund such research in general, not necessarily that the resulting research is biased or fraudulent.
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
When you quit smoking, the first thing you may notice is a craving. Your immediate thought will be “I need a cigarette!” because that is what you have always thought whenever you get ‘that feeling’. As a matter of fact, longtime smokers transfer just about ANY feeling or sensation to “I need a cigarette!” Doing so probably leads to more relapses and failed quit attempts than just about any other factors combined. So what is really going on here?
In the very beginning, cravings are a valid physical response brought on by quit related withdrawal symptoms. Remember, it is not just nicotine but 4000+ chemicals, smoke, tar and gasses leaving your system – a system used to inhaling all of the above every hour on the hour for years on end! Stress, irritability, craving, agitation and anxiety are weapons used by the addictive brain to convince you to re-dose via another cigarette. Physically, your body really does think it ‘needs’ a cigarette! Nicotine clears your system in just 72 hours. That is why your physical cravings are often stronger on days 4, 5 and 6 of your quit than they were at the beginning. It is the absence of nicotine & other smoking related chemicals in your system that signal withdrawal. Your system is not used to this sensation at all. Let these cravings pass by you, as they are temporary!
Once your body adapts, the withdrawal related aspect of cravings is no longer a factor. So why is that craving, ‘that feeling’ still there? Why do you still think to “I need a cigarette!” when you know your body does NOT need a cigarette anymore? Because this is the craving that does not pass; it is a void that must be filled.
Your mind still tells you that you ‘need a cigarette’ because it has become your lifelong habit to smoke in response to every emotion or sensation! You could be stressed. You could miss the ritual of lighting up and smoking. You could really need comfort, something to look forward to, something to occupy your time or some social interaction. The secret is to find the real want/need behind each sensation or emotion and ‘feed the crave’ with what you really need in that moment. That is how you fill the void, and that is how you become a nonsmoker vs ‘not smoking’. Your body let go of smoking, now it is time for YOU to let go of smoking! You’ve ignored what you really feel/need for so long, ‘the sensation behind the crave may be hard to identify at first. That’s ok – it’s perfectly normal! The next time you have a craving, stop and ask yourself “What am I feeling? What do I need to feel better? Would a long walk, new hobby, hot bath or good book help right now? How about talking to a friend or your kids or spouse?
Work hard to meet your needs successfully as a nonsmoker. Once your emotional needs are met, those old thoughts of 'I need a cigarette' will fade away. You will not feel stressed, crave, or seek a quick fix. You'll be happier, healthier and able to keep your wonderful quit going strong. That is how cravings pass and being a nonsmoker becomes a comfortable, permanent lifestyle change!
Vikki Chavez CTTS-M
Master Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist
*~*~* You don't have to Quit Alone *~*~*
I could quit smoking if only I had more willpower….
Quitting smoking is more than just a matter of willpower. Nicotine addiction works not only on a physical level, but on emotional and behavioral ones as well. Nicotine is—without a doubt—one of the hardest addictions to overcome. So what makes nicotine so addictive?
- It only takes 7 seconds after that first puff for nicotine to "hit" the brain.
- It is rapidly metabolized by the body. This is why most people have to smoke every few hours to maintain nicotine levels in the blood.
- It is legal.
- It is readily available, and can be purchased almost everywhere.
- It is socially acceptable, although this is changing.
- It is deeply embedded in our daily lives (from getting up, to a smoke with coffee, to driving to work, to smoke breaks, to socializing, to after dinner, to relaxation/de-stress, etc).
For these reasons (and more), it's important to create a quit plan that addresses the many facets of nicotine addiction. The first place to start might be to use an FDA-approved quit medication (i.e. nicotine replacement therapy, Chantix, Zyban), as these medications can help take the edge off withdrawal symptoms so that you can focus on the behavioral and emotional components of quitting.
Next, develop effective coping strategies for emotions like stress, anger, sadness and anxiety. New ways of dealing with them include deep breathing, exercising, journaling, meditating, working on a hobby, playing a musical instrument, reading a book, listening to music, talking it out with a friend, playing with pets/grandchildren/kids, going for a walk, working in the yard or garden, etc. These new behaviors may not seem effective at first, but KEEP DOING THEM. They will become more effective with time and practice.
Last but not least, enlist in the support of family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc. Connect with other folks who are quitting/have already quit either here at QuitNet or in the 3D world. Support is one of the most important factors in keeping a quit!
Remember that you didn't become a smoker overnight. It may take some time to get used to being a non-smoker again.
Master Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist