One of the most popular resolutions people make at the start of a new year is to quit smoking. Many people find quitting smoking difficult — only about 4 to 7 % of people are able to quit smoking on any given attempt without any help. Many people try to stop on their own, but using some kind of assistance can increase your chances of quitting for good.
Think About When and Where You Smoke
Just being aware of what might make you want to smoke is an important first step to knowing how to quit. For example, if you tend to smoke after meals or at certain places, remember those triggers can influence you to smoke, and try to avoid them, if possible.
Think About What You Get Out of Smoking
Using what you enjoy about smoking will help you be more effective in choosing a substitute. For example, you might like the tactile sensations of a cigarette in your hand, the sense of camaraderie with friends on a smoke break, or the feeling of smoke in your mouth, which means that cessation tools that mimic these feelings might be more effective for you.
If you smoke during certain activities or times of the day, consider trying something new. Instead of smoking when you wake up, try meditating, or light exercise. If smoking while driving feels natural, consider popping in a piece of gum or nibbling on a toothpick instead. If you need to keep your hands busy while watching TV, crocheting or knitting can be a good distraction.
Get Rid of Smoking “Reminders”
This means getting rid of all cigarettes, lighters, ashtrays and other tools you use to smoke. It’s also a good idea to wash your clothes, hair, and the inside of your car to remove the smell of smoke.
Think About Your Perspectives
Remember that in the face of a stressful event, such as a bad day at work, smoking won’t actually solve the issue. Additionally, remember that every day smoke-free is a day to a healthier you. Think about why you want to stop smoking—it may help to make a list of your reasons that you can pull out when you feel an urge to smoke.
For each smoke-free day, week or month, reward yourself. You can use the money you would have spent on smoking to save for a trip or treat yourself to your favorite meal. Additionally, you can use smaller or free rewards, such as a new haircut, a hike with a friend or item for a hobby to fuel your success.
Tools and Other Strategies
For additional support in quitting smoking, nicotine replacement is probably the first thing to come to mind. Nicotine replacements offer a steadily declining dose of nicotine to wean you off of needing nicotine. These replacements come in many forms, such as gum, patches, lozenges, and inhalers.
Quit Support Lines
1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) is a help line you can call any time for additional support as you quit. The American Lung Association also offers an online chat service with access to counselors and other health professionals. SmokefreeTXT is a text-messaging service that also provides support. Your state might also have state-wide quite lines offering a similar service.
There are two prescription medications for quitting smoking: buproprion (brand name of Zyban or Wellbutrin) and varencline (brand name of Chantix.) These medications do carry side effects, so be sure to talk with your doctor to see if they will benefit you.
Hypnosis and Other Therapies
There are people who swear by therapies such as hypnosis, acupuncture, and aromatherapy. The research behind these strategies for quitting smoking is, at best, mixed, but they can enhance other strategies, such as nicotine replacement.
Speaking with your doctor is a helpful step to determining what kind of strategy will help you the most. You might also benefit from seeking professional counseling, even for a short duration. Counseling can also help you learn new ways of coping with feelings that might make you want to smoke.
Finding other people who are also quitting smoking can give you new ideas to use as you quit smoking. Groups can also provide a network of new friends who don’t smoke, which can eliminate one of the main triggers for people trying to quit.
Quitting smoking can be a difficult task for anyone. People interested in quitting smoking have multiple tools to make the process easier. These tools range from changing habits to medical interventions to creating support networks. The important aspect to remember when trying to quit smoking is to find a plan and strategy that works for you and your needs.
Have you quit smoking? What strategies worked for you? Leave us your answers in the comments.