People who have smoked for most of their lives may not recall what life was like before smoking. For years, smoking was a reward, a past time, a coping tool for stress, anger, boredom, anxiety, sadness, frustration and every other emotion or challenge that came along.
As a result, longtime smokers may not have developed emotional coping tools or practiced letting go or learned to sit with their feelings. This can leave the newly quit in double trouble! At the same time withdrawals, anxiety and stress step in, the quitter's only known coping tool (smoking) steps out. When you stop smoking, you stopped doing something you were used to doing every day for many years. It is no wonder why your emotions go through a challenging time!
It is normal to feel nervous, restless and even sad when you quit smoking. You miss your daily ritual; even more so if there are no new behaviors in place for each of the moments throughout the day that you used to smoke.
Quitting is a process. It takes time. It does not feel comfortable at first and that is OK! When you stop smoking, you can no longer do what you used to do in the same way you used to do it. Temporary mood swings can result from quit related hormone fluctuations and quit related withdrawals. It will get better, so keep going!
Know that every smoker goes through similar challenges. As you work your way through your quit, you are actually 'becoming a nonsmoker', not just 'not smoking'. Make a commitment to find new emotional coping tools so you can move forward happily and successfully as a nonsmoker. Plan ahead how you will meet your emotional needs as a nonsmoker. Your answers to the following questions will help provide you with a personal road map to success:
- How will you relax?
- How will you reward and celebrate?
- How will you process feelings of anger?
- How will you deal with anxiety?
- How will you cope with stress?
- How will you overcome sadness, depression?
- What will comfort you and get you through a bad day?
Chances are, you have no idea how to answer these questions because you have never had to! This is a normal experience, and rest assured you can find things that interest you, inspire you, calm, comfort, entertain and support you as a nonsmoker.
Think of things that have helped you get through strong trigger moments in the past. Think of things that make you laugh or recall fondly. Really work your quit process; brainstorm and come up with new emotional coping tools that can address your individual needs effectively. Next week, we will take these new coping tools you've identified and discuss how to move forward successfully as a nonsmoker!
Keep going and KTQ,
Vikki CTTS-M Celebrate your quit with other quitters:
Support from family and friends can be very helpful when you're going through the quitting process. Words of encouragement can spur on progress and keep the focus on the positive. It’s motivating knowing that your family/friends will stick by your side during the uncomfortable times, especially in the early days of your quit.
That being said, family and friends may also unintentionally do and say things that make it more difficult for you to quit, actually doing more harm than help. It’s usually not that family and friends want to roadblock your quit, but rather that they just don’t understand how difficult quitting can be. They may see only the irritable, depressed, and unpleasant person you have become, not realizing you are going through withdrawal and perhaps battling one huge crave after another.
The way to remedy this problem is through discussion. Start by explaining to family and friends how important their support will be in helping you quit for good. Let these people know the reasons why quitting is so important to you. Let them know quitting may be one of the hardest things you’ve ever done. Educate family members or friends who have never smoked on the addictiveness of nicotine and how withdrawal causes unpleasant side effects, such as anxiety, irritability, lack of concentration, depression, etc. Remind your family and friends these are normal but temporary quit symptoms.
If you have family or friends who still smoke, ask them if they have ever tried to quit, and if so, what were their experiences? They may have helpful advice. Make a list and think about ways your family and friends can be helpful in supporting your quit. If you live with a smoker ask them not to leave their tobacco products in sight and to smoke out doors and out of view. If needed, remind them that being around people smoking or seeing cigarettes, lighters, etc., are strong triggers to smoke. Tell them under no circumstances are they to offer you a cigarette. Your family and friends are the people in your life who care about you, so an honest and heartfelt request will more likely than not get you the needed support.
You may be a former smoker or a nonsmoker wondering how you can be supportive in helping a family member or friend who is quitting tobacco. You can begin by asking the quitter what they feel would be most helpful and honor their request. If you are a former smoker it may be helpful to share your past experiences; just respect that the quitter may be using a different quit plan. If the quitter is irritable or moody, it’s due to nicotine withdrawal, not a personal feeling towards you; withdrawal symptoms are temporary. Be available to listen to any concerns they may have about quitting. It's better to talk it out versus smoke it out.
Offer to do activities with the quitter that help distract from cravings, such as going to the gym, for a walk, to the movies, a museum, etc. Be in the quitter’s corner by picking up the slack at home when the stress of quitting is getting to them. Offer any needed help to lighten the load. Continue to encourage the quitter, even if the quitter backslides.
Quitting successfully takes many attempts. Each one is an opportunity to learn and move forward to success. Don't forget to praise your family/friend's quit milestones; whether it be one month or two years, all are cause to celebrate!
Keep coming back, and KTQ!
Next week:Joining a Support Group or Smoking Cessation Program
You can quit smoking successfully, and we can help:
Last week we talked about stress; this week we will talk about detox! QuitNet Q'sters often ask if there is anything they can do to help their body detox after so many years of smoking cigarettes. Quitting smoking is the best detox plan of all. However, the answer to the question is yes! Here are some options that may help support your body as you keep the quit:
Free radicals cause damage to your cells and can be formed by smoking, pesticides, pollution and daily metabolic processes. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals and as a result, can help protect your cells from damage. You will find antioxidants in many fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, vitamins, minerals and herbs.
By eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables, you can help your system heal, detox and flourish. Eating fresh foods high in cysteine, beta-carotene, vitamin B2, vitamin C and vitamin E will increase your antioxidant intake. Zinc and selenium will help stregthen your immune system.
Fruits and vegtables are very nutrient dense, high fiber, low calorie and as an added benefit - reduce both food and nicotine cravings. The majority of fruits and vegtables are alkaline which helps restore your system from it's highly acidic state brought on by smoking. Here are some food chioces that are very high in antioxidants:
- red, black, kidney and pinto beans
- blueberries, cranberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries,
- cherries, plums, prunes, apples
- russet potato
There are endless benefits to loading up your grocery basket with a wide variety of these colorful, wholesome, fresh foods!
Herbal remedies are not FDA approved and may interact with certain medications or medical conditions. Always ask your doctor before taking herbal remedies. Keep in mind that supplements 'add to' a healthy diet and do not work alone. Your healthy diet is the foundation, and herbal supplementation builds upon that foundation.
Many herbal teas, seasonings and medicinal herbs contain antioxidants. Aloe vera, bilburry, green tea, garlic, turmeric, ginkgo, ginger root, grape seed and milk thistle may help your body fight free radicals. Herbal teas are an easy way to support the detox process. Tea is also relaxing to prepare, steep and sip as you celebrate your quit! Here are just a few of the many herbs that may help support different areas of the body:
- Liver: Burdock, Milk Thistle, Artichoke, Dandelion, Licorice Root
- Lungs: Ginger Root, Garlic, Thyme Leaf
- Skin: Fennel, Aloe Vera, Ginger Root, Licorice Root
- Circulation: Ginger, Black Pepper, and Long Pepper
- Digestion: Anise Seed, Licorice, Fennel, Peppermint Leaf
Adding an herbal detox remedy in powder, pill or tea form may help your system detox. If herbal supplementation appeals to you (and your doctor has no objections), give it a try!
The human body is about 60% water! Drinking plenty of water will help you detox by increasing the amount of nutrients you absorb in food and eliminating waste from your body. Water also helps you feel full, reduces cravings and can have an alkalizing effect on your system. Smoking can be dehydrating and acidifying, so your entire system will thank you if you get in the habit of drinking plenty of fresh water.
By adding some nutritional support to your system, you can help your body detox and repair after many years of smoking. Today is a great day to move forward as a healthy nonsmoker!
Be healthy, and KTQ!
A healthy diet can be an effective quit tool to help reduce cravings, mood swings, withdrawal symptoms and weight gain. Fear of weight gain is a common barrier to quitting smoking, as well as a primary relapse trigger. Following a healthy diet can put you in charge of your weight and wellbeing. Myths surrounding diet and exercise create justifications for weight gain, continued smoking, and relapse. Many people assume the following:
- If I keep smoking, I won’t gain weight. Did you know many quitters are over their ideal weight, so smoking hasn't helped prevent weight gain?
- If I relapse, I will lose the weight I gained during this quit. Did you know most people do not lose weight when they go back to smoking, and that quitting is not usually the cause of weight gain?
- I can’t afford to gain any more weight; it is bad for my health. Did you know that the stress on your heart from a pack a day habit is equal to an extra 90lbs of body weight?
The Awesome Truth About Weight Gain
Weight gain does not happen overnight. To gain 5lbs of actual body fat, you'd need to consume 17,500 calories more than what is required to maintain your current weight! This means you are in control of weight gain - it does not attack you against your willl.
Weight gain is almost always a result of overeating. many people eat too much or eat foods high in sugar and fat. When this is done consistently without exercising, you take in more than you can burn off -- and you gain weight. Eating within individual caloric requirements prevents weight gain.
And, that weight gain alters your muscle to body fat ratio, further slowing your metabolic rate. The more muscle you have, the faster your metabiloc rate. The more fat you have, the slower your metabolic rate. Men generally lose weight faster than women, as they tend to have more muscle. People who are overweight tend to store more fat from the calories they eat than those who are slender. This is why losing weight is harder each time you give it a try. Overweight smokers may already have a reduced metabolic rate as a result of current eating habits, lack of exercise and weight gain. The key to managing weight successfully lies in making different food choices than those that led to weight gain. Adding exercise is a great way to help get a sluggish metabolism going again.
Nicotine is a stimulant, so stopping smoking can potentially affect metabolic rate to a small degree. Reducing calories by just 200 per day can offset any changes in metabolism after quitting. This is the equivalent of bypassing one tall mocha from Starbucks (no whipped cream) or half a ham & cheese sandwich per day. Preventing weight gain realted to quitting smoking requires minimal changes to current lifestyle.
‘Scale Weight’ fluctuates from day to day based on multiple factors, including food consumption, sodium intake, water retention, hormones, medications, amount of sleep and stress levels. Weighing daily is not advised for this reason, as it can needlessly discourage the quitter. Most quitters gain less than 10lbs, which can be managed by making reasonable daily diet choices.
Hormones and Weight Gain
Women who quit may experience symptoms from hormone fluctuations similar to PMS. These symptoms may include increased appetite, bloating, cravings and water retention independent of dietary intake. Women quitting during or after menopause may experience increased fat storage (usually in waist/abdomen area) and reduced metabolism independent of quitting smoking. Hormone levels usually balance out within several months of remaining smoke free.
Some studies show quitters who use nicotine gum, lozenge or bupropion to support their quit may be less likely to gain weight during their quit. However, this effect only lasts while on the meds.
The Best Kept Secret: Fruits and Vegetables!
Research shows that among current smokers, those who ate the most fruit and/or vegetables were more likely to smoke less than a pack a day and wait at least 30 minutes before smoking their first cigarette of the day. This reduced dependence on smoking is huge, and a testament to the importance of dietary choices during your quit. Research shows abstinence rates were higher for quitters that consumed the highest amount of fruits or vegetables, and 3 times higher for those who ate both. (1)
Fruit and vegetable consumption, non-caffeinated beverages and dairy products worsen the perceived taste of cigarettes. On the other hand, meats, caffeinated beverages and alcohol were perceived as enhancing the taste of cigarettes. Drinking coffee or a cold beer may increase your cravings, so choose wisely for success.
Fruit comes to the rescue! The sugars in fruit also increase dopamine levels and thus reduce the craving for a cigarette, resulting in fewer cigarettes smoked each day and less nicotine dependence. Fruit contains fiber and many other beneficial nutrients (such as vitamin C) which also interact with the dopamine system. By getting your sugar crave fed with fruit, the newly quit can avoid candy and other junk foods that lead to binging and weight gain.
Daily Diet Tips for Success
Eat small, healthy, frequent meals to keep blood sugar levels steady. This will reduce cravings, fatigue and mood swings while revving up the metabolic rate. This one tip alone may counteract potential metabolic changes from stopping smoking.
1. Eat lots of fresh fruits, vegetables! Half of your plate should be filled with F&V.
2. Eat nonfat dairy products, lean protein and whole grains.
3. Drink plenty of water, for both fullness and cleansing.
4. Avoid soda, junk food and excess sugar,fat and sodium.
Pay attention to what you eat, how much you eat and how often while consuming as many fresh fruits and vegetables as possible. These steps will ensure you keep both your quit and your waist line. The quit process brings opportunity to reach your weight management goals, as well. Another key component to success is exercise, which will be my next blog topic!
Keep going and KTQ,
Vikki Chavez CTTS-M
You don't have to quit alone:
(1) Reference: A Longitudinal Evaluation of Fruit and Vegetable Consumption and Cigarette Smoking Jeffrey P. Haibach, M.P.H., Gregory G. Homish, Ph.D., & Gary A. Giovino, Ph.D., M.S., Nicotine Tob Res (2012) doi: 10.1093/ntr/nts130
Exchanging of presents is a popular tradition in many countries during Christmas season. But the best gift can't be found at the mall or any specialty store. The best gift you can give yourself and your family this holiday is the gift of quitting smoking.
At first, quitting smoking may seem like more of a pain than a gift. Common withdrawal symptoms like coughing, mucus production, fatigue, headaches, and mood swings make the long term benefits of reducing cancer, heart attack, stroke and emphysema, seem too far away to appreciate.
Rather than focusing on some of the long term benefits of quitting, take note of the more immediate benefits of quitting smoking:
- Improved sense of taste and smell. When you quit smoking, food becomes tastier and more enjoyable!
- Look and smell better. You no longer have to worry about others being able to smell smoke smell on you, in your home or in your car!
- More money in your pocket. According to the American Lung Association, the average cost of a pack of cigarettes in the United States is $5.51. That's money you can use now on groceries, gasoline, or for entertainment (dining out, movies, etc.).
- More time on your hands. And with that time, you can be more productive in your day!
- The health benefits of having more energy, being able to take in more oxygen, improved circulation, lower heart rate and blood pressure, and less coughing.
For some, however, the immediate benefits of quitting may be too subtle to notice or enjoy. Or perhaps the benefits are overshadowed by the daily struggle with cravings and/or withdrawal symptoms. You may not even feel like you are getting any benefits from your quit and wonder if you ever will. While these thoughts are completely normal, there are benefits of quitting smoking that are valuable beyond measure.
- Relaxation. Ex-smokers are less stressed than those who continue to smoke. You no longer have to worry about getting your next "fix." Your schedule no longer revolves around the next cigarettes. You can still deep breathe, but without the toxins, heat and smoke.
- Freedom. You can go anywhere, do anything. You are no longer restricted to from public areas because of smoking. Nor will you find yourself standing out in the cold, snow or rain ever again (at least not over a smoke!).
- More time with family and friends. Your time is a gift to others, as well as a gift to yourself. In addition, each cigarette not smoked saves you 11 minutes of life. That's time better spent working on relationships with people rather than cigarettes that are destructive!
- Role modeling. Your children and grandchildren are the future. When you quit smoking, you give the gift of leaving a smoke-free legacy!
Early in your quit, you may not feel like yourself. The changes that come with quitting smoking will be many; some good, others challenging. These changes are gifts. Your body is healing from years of cigarette smoking. The benefits are there; you just need to take the time to notice them! What's more, the benefits keep coming for weeks, months, and even years after quitting smoking. Quitting smoking is truly the gift that keeps on giving!
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:
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