How to Quit
One of the first things to remember when quitting smoking is that there are many options to help you quit. Just because one method doesn't work, or you have to try a few times before you are completely smoke-free doesn't mean that you should stop trying. Other than personal support from friends, family, and other people who are trying to quit, there are medications and nicotine-replacement therapies that can also help. Not everyone can quit "cold turkey". What's important is to find a method that works for you and that you can stick with in order to stay smoke-free for good.
Once you've made the decision to quit, one of the first helpful methods to start is, just like with anything else, preparation. To help you prepare for "quit day", a lot of former smokers said that they started by writing down why they were going to quit on a piece of paper, on their white-board at home, or somewhere that they could use as a reminder when times got tough. Some of these reasons can be anything from: "I'm spending $300 a month on cigarettes, and I could use that money toward a vacation" or "My son has asthma and I know my smoking and the smoke smell affects his health." Maybe your reason for smoking is about you and your health maybe you don't want to develop high blood pressure, blood clots, heart disease, emphysema, or a number of other smoking-related diseases that can affect chronic and long-term smokers. Another way to get started in your preparation is by asking yourself questions such as "How confident am I that I could quit?" and "How important is it for me to quit smoking?" and rate yourself on a scale of one to ten. If you answers range higher than a seven in importance and confidence, then it might be a good time for you to quit.
Once you've reached your "quit day", it's important to let friends and family members know that you've quit smoking, and are trying to stick with it. Having a support system and people to cheer you on and help you along the way is important, because this will help reaffirm that your decision was the right one.
At the Eastwick Community Clinic, we offer group and individual support sessions with our volunteers and other faculty members and clients to help you talk about your struggles, answer questions, and share stories about your reasons behind quitting. Another important thing to consider while quitting is to do it completely, not just "cut down." Studies have shown that people who only "cut down" their number of cigarettes per day end up smoking just as much as before, if not more overall over time. Even if you "cut down" you are still smoking, and even a few cigarettes a day will continue to decrease your overall health.
What products are recommended to help quit smoking?
There are many products to quit smoking on the market. Some of these are nicotine replacement products, also known as nicotine replacement therapy. Nicotine replacement therapy helps a lot of clients quit smoking because it gives them the nicotine their body craves without the harmful effects of smoking cigarettes or using smokeless tobacco. Over time, these nicotine replacements require the person using to cut down and lower their amount of nicotine per day until the body stops craving it all together and the person can comfortably go without.
However, nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) doesn't always work. For some clients, smoking is equal parts nicotine dependency and a habit. They enjoy having that cigarette with their morning cup of coffee. They've gotten used to smoking with their co-workers as a social aspect during lunch hour, and other factors that really vary from person to person. This is why talk therapy, support groups, and distractions work. Some of our clients have said that using the "distraction method" is helpful. How the distraction method works is whenever you crave a cigarette you do another enjoyable activity or alternate activity to take your mind off of smoking. Useful distractions will vary from person to person, but here's a list of some of our clients' favorite distraction methods.distraction actions
- Take your dog for a walk.
- Put in your favorite movie.
- Cook your spouse's favorite meal for dinner.
- Take a hot bath.
- Go to the gym.
- Take yourself out for a nice dinner (after all, you're saving money by not smoking).
- Go find a crunchy snack (carrots, crackers, chips, popcorn) and have that instead.
- Write a friend a letter or e-mail.
- Go for a run or a bike ride.
- Visit somewhere you haven't been for a while.
- Go for a long drive.
- Read a book.
- Just breathe!
- Drink a cold glass of water or milk.
- Put in your favorite CD and DANCE!
- Do any household chores, like the dishes or vacuuming.
- Learn a new project or activity that you've been wanting to do.
- Do a Sudoku or crossword puzzle.
- Read a story to your kids.
- Play a computer or video game.
- Play a card game.
- Take some pictures.
- Go kiss your significant other.
- Brush and floss your (much whiter now) teeth.
- Take a day trip.
- Do some laundry.
- Go swimming.
- Run through the sprinkler, just like when you were a kid.
- Mow the lawn.
- Go see a movie in theaters.
- Channel your thoughts into something positive and constructive.
- Make a list of things you're thankful for.
- Write in your diary/journal.
- Walk around the mall and window-shop.
- Go to a comedy club or non-smoking bar.
- Get a massage.
- Call a friend for support.
- Take a very long shower.
- Chew gum.
- Make your own list of favorite activities to help ward off cravings, and do them in the future.
Not all of these will work for everyone, but distraction is a helpful method to trick the mind into not focusing on smoking or craving that cigarette. Stay strong, and remember: you are not alone, and you can quit smoking for good.