Every smoker who wants to give up the habit requires tips for quitting smoking. I have a confession to make: I'm a smoker. I know what a stigma that carries, but let's don't judge – everyone has bad habits. The important part here is that I'm trying to quit. I'm trying very, very hard and it is very, very awful because quitting is very, very difficult. If you're going through this journey, just remember that it will get better. A lot of these tips for quitting smoking have helped me tremendously, and I think they'll really help you, too.
1. Skip the Cold Turkey
There are lots of tips for quitting smoking, many of them different, but if they're really worth your while, then they'll advise you of one important thing: do not go cold turkey. It doesn't make you stronger, it doesn't make you more admirable, and it doesn't make you a “better quitter.” It does make you irritable, angry, unpleasant, and much more likely to backslide. Plus, it can be dangerous because you're completely cutting out a stimulant that you've been addicted to for years.
2. Know Why You're Quitting
Why do you want to quit? You have to know your main motivation, because that will be what you hold onto when the going gets hard. Are you doing it for your overall health, because you want to get pregnant, or for the children you have now? Make sure you have an inspiration, and make sure it's strong.
3. And do It for Yourself
While quitting for your kids or your partner is a fantastic gesture, you ultimately have to quit for yourself. If you're giving up your habit because society loathes smokers or because your loved ones are pressuring you, you can do it … but you might come to feel resentful, especially in your worst moments. While these situations and people can act as motivation, make sure that, above all else, you're quitting because you know it's best for you.
4. Tell Your Loved Ones
Although you might be tempted to do this completely on your own, perhaps to avoid any judgments or lectures if you slip, don't do it. Your family, friends, and loved ones need to know you're quitting for a couple of reasons. They will support you, first of all, even if you have to drop some hints that browbeating won't help the situation. For another thing, you are going to be grouchy and unpleasant sometimes, and they deserve a warning!
5. Join a Support Group
As supportive as your loved ones will certainly be, you still need to talk to people who are going or have gone through the same things. Joining a support group, whether you do it locally or online, is incredibly helpful. There, you get knowledgeable support from people who understand your cravings. If you want, you can even get a sponsor to help guide you away from temptation.
6. Pinpoint Your Triggers
What makes you smoke? When do you smoke more often? Are you a social smoker who tends to light up after a few drinks? Do you smoke when you eat chocolate, when you're stressed from work, or when you're fighting with your partner? You have to know what makes you smoke more, because...
7. And Avoid Them at All Costs
Whenever it's possible, you have to avoid those triggers. You can't quit your job or your spouse, of course, but you can avoid situations with them that make you want to smoke. There are certain behaviors, habits, and activities you'll have to avoid for a while, especially when you're just beginning your journey.
8. Don't Drink for a Minute
A lot of people smoke when they drink. Even if they're at a no-smoking establishment, they'll go outside for smoke breaks. The two acts go together like coffee and cigarettes – I mean, coffee and doughnuts. I rarely drink, so this hasn't been a problem for me. If it's part of your modus operandi, try to avoid alcohol for a while. Even if you only have a couple of cocktails, your defenses and your inhibitions are down, so it's much easier to slip up and have a smoke.
9. Don't Punish Yourself for Backsliding
That being said, you will probably backslide at least once. Smoking is one of the hardest things to quit, so realize that from the get go. Even if you have excellent will power in every other area of your life, it might fail you here. And that's okay. Just start over again when you make a mistake. You're not a bad person or a failure; you're only human.
10. Get a Hobby
You have to distract yourself though. I've found that engaging in activities that make me use my hands a lot definitely work best. Knitting, crocheting, learning to play an instrument, drawing, writing – these are all great options, but you can do something physical as well. Basically, just make sure your hobby fully engages your mind and your hands.
11. Start Exercising
Exercise itself is important for several reasons. For one thing, you're doing this for your health, right? I'm not saying that smokers don't exercise, we do, but it's definitely harder. Get more active so that you can start improving your lung function – they'll thank you for it later. Exercise is also a distraction, and remember, you need those. Finally, exercising releases endorphins, and they will absolutely help you overcome your nicotine cravings.
12. Chew It out
I've never had any luck with nicotine gum but a lot of people do. It allows you to wean yourself off of nicotine gradually, plus you can pop a piece when you get a particularly bad craving. Even chewing regular gum is helpful, especially if you're just dealing with an oral fixation – and no, I don't mean the dirty kind!
13. Try ECigarettes
This option is sometimes controversial, but it's what I'm using and I'm currently down to half a cigarette a day, at the very most. You can't abuse this, though. eCigarettes work around a system wherein you begin with cartridges that generally contain 24mg of nicotine; I've never seen any atomizers that go higher than that, but I could be wrong. As you smoke with the cartridges, which contain less nicotine than cigarettes but give you the feeling that you're smoking, your craving for actual cigarettes decreases. As it does so, you move down the line, switching to 16mg cartridges, 11mg cartridges, and so on. Before you know it, you're able to stop completely – the fake cigs and the real ones. I'm almost there and I'm so proud of myself!
14. Slap on a Patch
Patches work for lots of people as well. In many states, you can actually get them for free through your health insurance, although you have to check in periodically to make sure that you're not smoking while on the patch. In other states, if you don't have insurance, you can still get them at low or no cost. They work a lot like eCigarettes, in that you work your way down the hierarchy, replacing your patches with ones that contain less nicotine.
15. Think about a Prescription
For some people, however, none of these methods work. Their cravings are too strong. In that case, there are prescription medications or treatments that may be able to help you. If all else has failed you and you still really want to quit, it's worth a shot.
16. Talk to Your Doctor
Naturally you'll have to talk to your doctor before you get a prescription. If you're having a lot of trouble quitting, you need to talk to your doctor anyway. He or she may have more helpful hints and can help you decide if a prescription treatment is the best course of action. Your doctor might even suggest one of the known antidepressants that can help you stop smoking, such as Wellbutrin.
17. How about Hypnosis?
Hypnosis is another somewhat controversial treatment option, simply because people experience varying degrees of success. That being said, a lot of people swear by it, so it might be worth a try. I don't know if I could be hypnotized, but it does work for many smokers. For that matter, people find hypnosis helpful for lots of bad habits, from overeating to nail biting.
18. Keep Stress at Bay
You're going to feel more stressed out when you're not smoking, that's practically a given. The littlest things cause stress and that's totally understandable. However, do your best to stay calm and avoid stressful situations when it's within your power to do so. Try to take up meditation, pamper yourself with massages or spa days, or hide away in your bathtub with a good book when you find yourself feeling edgy and irritable.
19. Put Something in Your Mouth
Back to that oral fixation thing, sometimes you just need to put something in your mouth. Man, that sounds filthy, but I really don't mean it that way – unless that helps, I don't know, it's up to you! Really, though, having a popsicle or a lollipop, munching on carrot sticks, or chewing on a toothpick might help, especially if you just miss having a cigarette between your lips. Try this method with your nicotine gum or patches for extra success.
20. Take One Step at a Time
Finally, just take things one step at a time. It might help if you think to yourself, “I can have a cigarette tomorrow.” Say that to yourself every morning when you wake up. That way, you can always have a cigarette tomorrow … but tomorrow, to paraphrase Annie, is always a day away. If you have to, take things one hour at a time. Sooner than you think, it will be one day at a time, then one week at a time. Remember, too, that the first three days are the worst; once you get past the first week, it's easier; after two, there's an end in sight.
It's hard to stop smoking. You know it's healthier and that you need to quit, but it's still difficult. A lot of it is psychological, but there are also physical problems because tobacco and nicotine are addictive, and quitting an addiction is painful. Are you a smoker? If you've successfully stopped, I'd love to hear your story.