Clarify your Motivation for Quitting
You want to improve your life and you know that tobacco has robbed you of your stamina. Quitting smoking can give you new energy and a more positive attitude toward life. Your greatest accomplishment will be to take control your own destiny and not let yourself be influenced by tobacco advertisements and addictive drugs.
These are some things to consider as reasons for quitting smoking:
Strategies for Quitting
The ritualized behavior of smoking addiction has many features in common with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) which is an anxiety disorder in which people have unwanted and repeated thoughts, feelings, ideas, sensations, or behaviors. To quit smoking, you have to solve two problems: 1) you have to find out the psychological reasons why you smoke, and develop methods for dealing with all the aspects of your life so that you are not dependent on tobacco, and 2) you have to conquer your physical addiction to nicotine. An addict can choose to get treatment from regular rehab centers, or, if they can afford it, they can go to luxury treatment centers that have wonderful amenities.
Address the Psychological Issues
Your main strategy for quitting smoking will be to figure out what to do in all those situations where you smoke now. What are you going to do when you drink a cup of coffee? Just drink coffee. How about after meals or when you feel restless? If you don't have answers to these questions it will be a lot harder to quit smoking. Here are some techniques that will help:
Address the physical addiction
Nicotine is as addictive as many illegal drugs. If you are a heavy smoker or a heavy user of chewing tobacco, quitting suddenly will be very uncomfortable because of the withdrawal symptoms. You will be irritable, you will have headaches, insomnia, chills, and you may feel shaky or nervous. You may also have a dry mouth, feel your heart racing, or break out in a sweat.
Cold turkey is a food that requires little preparation, so to quit like "cold turkey" means to quit suddenly and without preparation. This method is most effective if you are not a heavy smoker. You can make a resolution to quit smoking when you go on vacation, for example. It will be easier to forget about smoking when you are in a new setting without the usual routine. Just make sure that before you go on vacation you discard all your tobacco, so that when you come back you will not be tempted to re-start. You can also choose the birthday of a loved one as a date to quit. This makes a very nice birthday present for someone who cares about you.
For about 30 years, the American Cancer Society has designated the third Thursday in November as a day for smokers across the United States to kick the habit. The goal of the "Great American Smokeout", as it is called, is to be tobacco-free by Thanksgiving, which is celebrated one week later by roasting a turkey. Each year during the Great American Smokeout, the American Cancer Society promotes local and nationwide activities that emphasize the benefits of not smoking. Some of these events include public appearances by celebrities who have quit, rallies, parades, athletic events and ceremonial cigarette burials and bonfires.
You can stretch the time of misery but reduce the degree of suffering by quitting gradually. Set a two-week time frame during which you will reduce tobacco use in half every two days. If you smoke 10 cigarettes per day, smoke only 5 cigarettes for 2 days, then 3 for 2 days, then 2 for 2 days, then 1 for 2 days, and congratulations! You have quit. During the time that you are reducing tobacco use make sure that you are busy and have things to keep you occupied to take your mind away from smoking. Once you have smoked your last cigarette, throw away your cigarettes and replace your pack with your special talisman to remind you of why you stopped smoking. Every time that you subconsciously reach for your cigarettes, you will remember your special reason for quitting.
Some additional things that may help you reduce your smoking are:
Some people prefer to quit by using transdermal or oral nicotine products that reduce the cravings for tobacco. The patches work slowly over many hours, whereas gum and lozenges act immediately and enable you to control the dosage, as needed. These products have the advantage of immediately eliminating the harmful smoke from tobacco, but they do not get rid of your addiction to nicotine unless you reduce their use over time. Instead of cigarettes, now you carry a pack of gum or lozenges. At some point you must wean yourself of this chemical dependency using the principles discussed above. The cost of these products is equivalent to a few cartons of cigarettes, but it is certainly worth it if you cannot quit by willpower alone. You can find these products at your local pharmacy, or you can order online.
There are several prescription medicines that reduce the withdrawal symptoms of nicotine addiction or block the stimulatory action of nicotine on the brain. These are some of of the most frequently prescribed medicines to support smoking cessation:
All of these medicines are usually prescribed together with behavior modification therapy and counseling support to help stop smoking cigarettes.
By procrastinating in choosing one of the above methods to quit smoking, you are basically choosing the ultimate alternative — to smoke until you die. Death is a 100% effective way to stop smoking. You may not necessarily die of cancer or emphysema if you smoke, but the statistics are not in your favor for living a long, healthy life. Here are some book recommendations to help you learn about the choice that you have made, and to put your affairs in order. You can find these books in your local library or you can order them online. You may need them sooner than you think.
When you have smoked your last cigarette, throw out all your tobacco products in the trash or burn them in a bonfire. Do not give them to another smoker, and least of all to a friend. Discarding your tobacco is a ceremony similar to a funeral that says goodbye to an old way of life and starts you onto a new path. The hardest adjustment will be learning how to handle your relationships with family members and friends who still smoke. By quitting, you will be breaking a bond that you had with them. They will need to learn to respect your need for a smoke-free environment, and this is not easy if you share living accommodations or meet in areas that allow smoking. You can do it!
Resources for Quitting Smoking
Smokefree.gov - Offers online step-by-step cessation guide, local and state telephone quit lines and publications which can be downloaded, printed, or ordered.
Center for Disease Control - Explains the hazards of smoking and offers resources for quitting and support. (Provides some links in Spanish).
QuitNet - Offers smoking-cessation resources plus tips and advice from counselors. (Provides some links in Spanish).