I Want To Quit Smoking! Where Do I Start?
Are you ready to quit, but don't know where to start? Let's take a look at some suggestions to help put you on the path to success!
You may already know that nicotine from smoking clears your system in 72 hours. Or, that cigarettes contain over 4000 chemicals, tar and gases. Detox involves more than just nicotine leaving your system, so it usually takes a few weeks before you get to the 'feeling better' phase of your quit. However, detox is only part of your quit process! Two thirds of quitting successfully involves actively addressing the emotional, habitual, and behavioral attachment to the act of smoking.
The Quit Formula
Using a quit medication such as Chantix, Zyban or NRT to take the edge off cravings + having clear motivations for what you will gain as a nonsmoker + having support from friends, quit buddies and family + learning from your past relapse triggers + staying busy while addressing those personal triggers effectively = a successful Quit!
You can quit with or without NRT or quit medications. The choice is yours, and many people do quit successfully cold turkey. You may have stronger initial cravings and withdrawal symptoms, but the overall quit process will remain the same.
The purpose of NRT (patch/lozenge/gum) is to take the edge off cravings so you can focus on breaking your attachments to the act of smoking. NRT keeps a slow, low, steady dose of nicotine in your system so you avoid the addictive 'rush/crash/crave' cycle that makes quitting tobacco so difficult. By removing some of the intensity of physical withdrawals, it may be easier for you to 'do the work' of practicing new nonsmoking behaviors and coping tools that support your new, smoke-free lifestyle.
NRT and quit medications are advised to be used for at least 8 weeks, and tapered off as directed by the product/medication manufacturer. 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. Doing so with overwhelming physical cravings often leads to relapse before any of the 'learning new behaviors' or 'habit breaking' part ever takes place. Reduced craving ensure you will stick with your quit long enough to succeed. In fact, using a support product can double your chances of a successful quit!
Work Your Quit
Long term quit success comes from having 8 weeks of practice and actively practicing new behaviors and coping tools, not from simply having support. The key factor here is the Quitter must actively work their quit process daily in order for support products or a cold turkey quit to be effective. How do you work your quit? You can start with some reflection and planning. Take a look at your biggest tobacco triggers. That is where you will want to put your time, energy and focus during the next few months!
- If you have quit for even a day; you have had success! What worked?
- What are your top three triggers?
- How have you dealt with these triggers during previous quits?
- What are a few more things you will commit to doing this time?
- How will you cope with stress, boredom, anger, and other smokers?
- Who will support your quit efforts? Reach out!
Become A Nonsmoker
Own your quit by coming up with new behaviors and trigger coping solutions that could work for you. For example, if coffee is a trigger, then drink your morning coffee at a smoke-free coffee shop, or make tea or hot cider at home instead. If driving is a trigger, drink water with a straw, sing along to a new CD, or repeat your motivations for quitting as you drive. Practice getting through cravings, triggers, disappointments and day to day life situations without using tobacco. No amount of NRT or medications can do this particular part of the quit for you, which is a good thing! It forces the newly quit to identify new coping tools and start thinking about living their day to day lives without a cigarette.
Quitting smoking is the best thing you can do for your health. Get started right away! Let your support method of choice do its job, while you do your job ~ actively work your quit process! You will learn lots of new ways to enjoy your healthy, nonsmoking lifestyle.
Keep going, and KTQ!
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