Quitting Smoking: More Than Willpower

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 atQuitNet 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