Is quitting smoking on your New Year’s resolution list? Good for you! I am not going to lie to you. It is going to be tough. Especially in the beginning. But you have a better chance of succeeding if you research ways to quit smoking and choose the right method for you. After all, everyone is different. And nothing will make you feel like a failure faster than trying to mimic Sally at the office who quit just like that. Good for you Sally but most of us need a good plan to finally kick the habit.
First things first. You are going to need to get your head around this. You have to transition from thinking of yourself as a smoker to saying you are a non-smoker. You are going to have to play some major mind games on yourself.
- Read all you can on what smoking does to your body.
- Read about all the changes that happen when you quit.
- Remind yourself how disgusting a habit it is and give your friends/family permission to tell you every time you light up.
- Blame everything in your life on smoking. (even if that is not true)
- Download a quit smoking app and choose a date to start.
Now that you have your mind ready and at least some willpower to make quitting smoking a reality, let’s look at the different ways you can go about giving up cigarettes for good:
How To Quit Smoking
1. Quit Smoking by Going “Cold Turkey”
Quitting smoking by simply stopping – going “cold turkey” – is the oldest form of quitting. Many people over the years have quit their addiction this way. Stopping without any help involves immense willpower but it can be done if you keep yourself in the right frame of mind. Keep your eye on the prize and constantly remind yourself why you are quitting.
The advantages of quitting smoking cold turkey are that the most severe physical withdrawal symptoms are gone after three days. The psychological addiction takes longer to overcome but is easier to fight once the physical cravings have subsided. It also costs less than other methods. Like zero.
Disadvantages to quitting this way include, of course, more severe withdrawal symptoms. Often, the quitter will feel tense, anxious, and nervous the first several days and may be irritable and find himself/herself short tempered. Fortunately, these symptoms do subside over time. The quitter may find it hard to sleep or enjoy anything for a day or so. It is best to warn family/friends/co-workers so that they can give you a little leeway with your moods and possible outbursts in these initial days.
Here are some things the cold turkey quitter can do to help himself/herself through the roughest spots:
- Distraction. Sometimes just distracting oneself from the thoughts of wanting to smoke will help until the craving subsides. Taking a short walk or calling a friend can be helpful activities.
- Drinking a glass of water can sometimes help the quitter through a rough patch.
- Chewing activities will frequently help, things like chewing gum, eating sunflower seeds, or munching on baby carrots.
- Keeping your hands busy. Take up knitting or any other craft. Or like my friend who had a hard time not smoking while driving, sit on your smoking hand!
- Find a friend or support group. Having someone that is going through the same thing to talk to when things get tough will help you keep on track.
2. Nicotine Replacements Can Help Smokers Quit
Some people do better slowly easing themselves into quitting. One way to go about it is by using nicotine replacements, such as nicotine gum or a nicotine patch.
The advantages of using nicotine replacement is that the smoker doesn’t experience full-blown nicotine withdrawal all at once. You gradually ease yourself into quitting, slowly using less and less gum or fewer patches. And while you are slowly weaning yourself off the nicotine, it is also good idea to replace the habit of smoking with something new in it’s place. For example, if you are used to smoking a cigarette after every meal; instead, brush your teeth, apply a patch to your arm, or go for a walk. You will have a better chance to quit and never smoke again if you institute a new habit in the place of the old. If you don’t, you will fill that empty space with craving and soon you may give in.
Disadvantages to this kind of quitting include prolonging the withdrawal experience. While the quitter is no longer inhaling smoke, he is still getting his “nicotine fix.” Also, the quitter needs to use caution; it is thought to be dangerous to smoke while wearing the patch because it can cause excess levels of nicotine in the body. Finally, the cost might seem prohibitive to some. One pack of 100 pieces of gum can cost over $50. But if a quitter is no longer buying cigarettes, it may be worth the cost. It is funny how we don’t blink an eye over the cost of a pack of cigarettes but are appalled at the cost of the gum.
3. Using An E-cigarette With Nicotine To Wean Off Cigarettes
In much the same way nicotine replacements work, the person is able to gradually reduce their nicotine consumption thus reducing the nasty effect of withdrawal.
The advantage of using an E-cigarette is it satisfies not only the nicotine dependence but the physical act of smoking. You are still doing the hand to mouth action. You gradually reduce the number of times you use it as well as purchase lower nicotine oils as you progress to help you gradually wean off nicotine altogether.
Disadvantages include becoming dependent on the e-cigarette and not reducing your nicotine intake at all. Plus, you can overdose on nicotine and there have been studies now that are concluding that e-cigarettes are just as dangerous as smoking.
4. Some Smokers Quit with the Help of Antidepressants
Some doctor’s will prescribe an antidepressant to help you quit smoking. Doctors will often prescribe the antidepressant buproprion (known by the brand names Zyban and Wellbutrin) for smokers who want to quit. It is thought to aid in the quitting process because it helps ease withdrawal symptoms like anxiety and irritability.
Advantages of using buproprion are that the smoker can gradually stop smoking, and she isn’t replacing one form of nicotine for another, as in the case of the patch. Using buproprion is also likely to make the process easier than quitting cold turkey.
Disadvantages are that one is taking a drug for which there are side effects, just like any other drug. Further, it is only available by prescription, so a smoker must talk with their doctor. Buproprion can cost about $1 per pill, so it costs more than quitting cold turkey but likely wouldn’t cost as much as nicotine replacement products. Plus, some people’s insurance could possibly cover part of the cost.
5. One of the Newest Ways to Quit Smoking: Varenicline
Varenicline, known more by its brand name Chantix, is another way people can quit smoking. Varenicline blocks the smoker’s nicotine receptors so he doesn’t experience the stimulation he normally would from nicotine.
Advantages of using varenicline are that the smoker gradually decreases and then stops smoking and experiences fewer physical withdrawal symptoms than she would with other methods.
One disadvantage of quitting using varenicline is that it is still a relatively new drug, so its cost is quite prohibitive. Often a month’s supply runs over $100 and many insurance companies may not pay a portion of the cost. Also, like any other medication, varenicline has side effects. The smoker must get a prescription from his doctor before they can take this drug. Please discuss with your doctor all other medications you are on for possible conflicts and discuss any past/current mental health issues as those may be exasperated by taking this drug for some people.
6. Getting Hypnotherapy to quit smoking
I have several friends that have been very successful with hypnosis as a means of quitting smoking for good. The smoker is put into a trance like state, similar to daydreaming. You are aware but your mind is more open to suggestions while your critical, conscious mind, which wants to smoke, is temporarily blocked.
The advantage of using hypnosis is it helps you get your mind aligned with your desire to quit smoking. Basically, the hypnotherapist helps you to reframe your subconscious thoughts around smoking. They will repeatedly go over why smoking is bad and why you should quit.
The disadvantages of hypnosis is that you may have to go as many as 6 times to have impactful results. That can get costly. As well, hypnotherapy will not overcome your desire to smoke if you really don’t want to. They can not rewire your brain completely.
Smokers Have Options When it Comes to Quitting
Today, smokers have many choices when they decide they are ready to quit. No matter what method you choose, be sure to lean on the support of your doctor, family and friends. And don’t be afraid to join a local support group or one online to help you through difficult moments.
Quitting smoking isn’t easy but is likely one of the most important, life-enhancing decisions a smoker will make in their lifetime. Are you ready?
Create a life you love!
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