Serious Ways to Stop Smoking

Quitting smoking can be a tough challenge. It is an addiction that is both physical and mental. However, quitting smoking can be done. In fact, you will join the company of millions of Americans who are former smokers. It is one of the best things you can do for your health and the health of others around you.

Whatever your reason, you have taken the first step. Read below to help make a plan to quit for good.

The Mind and Body Connection

Smoking is addictive. This means that the chemicals in smoking have made changes in your body. When those chemicals are stopped it causes symptoms such as cravings, headaches, anxiety, nausea, and lightheadednes.

Nicotine plays a major role in smoking addiction. When you smoke, nicotine sets off pleasure signals. However, the longer you smoke, the more nicotine you will need for the good vibes.

Smoking is also a habit that is repeated many times each day. It often becomes a part of normal routine like having breakfast. Habits like smoking as soon as you wake or on your way to work become habits you do without thinking. This can make them harder to break. Consider that 1 pack of cigarettes can turn into 150 to 200 puffs a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. You can see how much the habit affects day to day life.

The Key to Quitting

There is no easy way to quit. Some steps may ease some of the challenges. Do not be discouraged if it takes more than 1 try before you kick the habit for good.

The key to quitting, is patience, perseverance, and having a plan.

How to Do It

Keep these points in mind when you quit:

Know Why You Are Quitting

Pick a reason that you believe in. It may be for your family or for yourself. If you do not believe in your reason, it is that much harder to quit.

Take it One Day at a Time

Don't think of not smoking for the rest of your life. Just focus on not smoking for just 1 day. Remember, it will get easier as the days move on. Nicotine will soon leave your system. The worst of the withdrawal symptoms will go away with it.

Taper Off

Some may choose to quit all at once. This may not work for everyone. You may want to start by decreasing the number of cigarettes you smoke each day. Decrease the numbers as time moves on. Once you reach 7 cigarettes per day, it is time to stop completely. Set a quit day and stick to it.

Change Your Environment

Think about the places and things that lead to smoking. Remove triggers when possible. Get rid of the ashtrays at home. Do not come back from lunch 15 minutes early to sneak in a cigarette break. Avoid places where smoking is part of the atmosphere.

Practice the Three D's

Delay; Deep breathing; Drink water.

When you feel like a smoke, delay. Try to do or think of something else. Take a walk or chew gum. Breathe deeply, and count to 10 slowly as you delay. Drink plenty of water. It helps flush the nicotine out of your body.

Keep a Diary

Each time you feel like a cigarette, write it down. Note the time of day, what you are doing, and how badly you want to smoke. Use a scale of 1 to 3, with 1 for the worst craving. A diary helps you to learn your triggers. It may help you make a plan to avoid them or prepare you for those you can't avoid.

Talk to Your Doctor about Medicine

Prescription medicine may help to ease cravings. They may also block pleasant feeling that cigarettes made. Talk to your doctor about choices that may be safe for you. The doctor may also suggest nicotine replacement tools. It may be patches, gum, lozengers, or nasal sprays. Many can be bought over-the-counter. They can help you ease off of nicotine without other harmful chemicals found in cigarettes. This allows you to gradually quit.

Other Support

Some are able to quit on their own. Others may find some of the following helpful:

A combination of these options may work best for you. For example, using a nicotine patch and going to group therapy may help you to become smoke-free for good.

Reward Yourself for Succeeding

Quitting is hard. You deserve a reward for meeting short-term goals. Smoke-free for 1 week, 2 weeks, or a month should be rewarded. Put aside money everyday that you would have spent on cigarettes. When the time comes, use that money for a reward!

RESOURCES:

American Lung Association
http://www.lung.org
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
http://www.cdc.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Cancer Society
http://www.cancer.ca
The Lung Association
http://www.lung.ca

References:

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Fauntleroy G. Smokers who quit gradually or cold turkey have similar success. Center for Advancing Health website. Available at:
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Fiore MC, Jaen CR, Baker TB, et al. Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence: 2008 Update. Clinical Practice Guideline. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Public Health Service. May 2008.
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How to handle withdrawal symptoms and triggers when you decide to quit smoking. National Cancer Institute website. Available at:
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How parents can protect their kids from becoming addicted smokers. Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids website. Available at:
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7/14/2011 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance https://www.dyname...: Leonardi-Bee J, Jere ML, Britton J. Exposure to parental and sibling smoking and the risk of smoking uptake in childhood and adolescence: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Thorax. 2011 Feb 15. [Epub ahead of print]
Last reviewed February 2018 by Michael Woods, MD, FAAP
Last Updated: 2/15/2018

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