Deciding that you are now ready to quit smoking is only half the battle. Knowing where to start on your path to becoming smoke-free can help you to take the leap. We have put together some effective ways for you to stop smoking today. Quitting smoking is not a single event that happens on one day; it is a journey. By quitting, you will improve your health and the quality and duration of your life, as well as the lives of those around you.
To quit smoking, you not only need to alter your behaviour and cope with the withdrawal symptoms experienced from cutting out nicotine, but you also need to find other ways to manage your moods.
Prepare for quit day: Once you have decided to stop smoking, you are ready to set a quit date. Pick a day that is not too far in the future (so that you do not change your mind), but which gives you enough time to prepare.
There are several ways to stop smoking, but ultimately, you need to decide whether you are going to:
- quit abruptly, or continue smoking right up until your quit date and then stop
- quit gradually, or reduce your cigarette intake slowly until your quit date and then stop
Here are some tips recommended by the American Cancer Society to help you to prepare for your quit date:
- Tell friends, family, and co-workers about your quit date.
- Throw away all cigarettes and ashtrays.
- Decide whether you are going to go “cold turkey” or use nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) or other medicines.
- If you plan to attend a stop-smoking group, sign up now.
- Stock up on oral substitutes, such as hard candy, sugarless gum, carrot sticks, coffee stirrers, straws, and toothpicks.
- Set up a support system, such as a family member that has successfully quit and is happy to help you.
- Ask friends and family who smoke to not smoke around you.
- If you have tried to quit before, think about what worked and what did not.
Daily activities – such as getting up in the morning, finishing a meal, and taking a coffee break – can often trigger your urge to smoke a cigarette.
On your quit day:
- Do not smoke at all.
- Stay busy.
- Begin use of your NRT if you have chosen to use one.
- Attend a stop-smoking group or follow a self-help plan.
- Drink more water and juice.
- Drink less or no alcohol.
- Avoid individuals who are smoking.
- Avoid situations wherein you have a strong urge to smoke.
You will almost certainly feel the urge to smoke many times during your quit day, but it will pass. The following actions may help you to battle the urge to smoke:
- Delayuntil the craving passes. The urge to smoke often comes and goes within 3 to 5 minutes.
- Deep breathe.Breathe in slowly through your nose for a count of three and exhale through your mouth for a count of three. Visualize your lungs filling with fresh air.
- Drink watersip by sip to beat the craving.
- Do something elseto distract yourself. Perhaps go for a walk.
Use NRTs: Going cold turkey, or quitting smoking without the help of NRT, medication, or therapy, is a popular way to give up smoking. However, only around 6 per cent of these quit attempts are successful. NRTs can help you to fight the withdrawal symptoms associated with quitting smoking.
- skin patches
- chewing gum
- nasal spray (prescription only)
- inhaler (prescription only)
If you have decided to go down the NRT route, discuss your dose with a healthcare professional before you quit smoking. Contact your healthcare professional if you experience dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, fast or irregular heartbeat, mouth problems, or skin swelling while using these products.
Consider non-nicotine medications: The FDA have approvedtwo non-nicotine-containing drugs to help smokers quit. These are bupropion (Zyban) and varenicline (Chantix). Bupropion and varenicline are non-nicotine medications that may help to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Talk to your healthcare provider if you feel that you would like to try one of these to help you to stop smoking, as you will need a prescription.
Bupropion acts on chemicals in the brain that play a role in nicotine craving and reduces cravings and symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. Bupropion is taken in tablet form for 12 weeks, but if you have successfully quit smoking in that time, you can use it for a further 3 to 6 months to reduce the risk of smoking relapse.
Varenicline is used for 12 weeks, but again, if you have successfully kicked the habit, then you can use the drug for another 12 weeks to reduce smoking relapse risk.
Risks involved with using these drugs include behavioral changes, depressed mood, aggression, hostility, and suicidal thoughts or actions.
Seek behavioral support: The emotional and physical dependence you have on smoking makes it challenging to stay away from nicotine after your quit day. To quit, you need to tackle this dependence. Trying counseling services, self-help materials, and support services can help you to get through this time. Behavioral support can range from written information and advice to group therapy or individual counseling in person, by phone, or online.
Try alternative therapies: Some people find alternative therapies useful to help them to quit smoking, but there is currently no strong evidence that any of these will improve your chances of becoming smoke-free, and, in some cases, these methods may actually cause the person to smoke more.
Some alternative methods to help you to stop smoking might include:
- herbs and supplements
- yoga, mindfulness, and meditation
E-cigarettes: E-cigarettes are not supposed to be sold as a quit smoking aid, but many people who smoke view them as a method to give up the habit. Studies have found that e-cigarettes are less addictive than cigarettes, that the rise in e-cigarette use has been linked with a significant increase in smoking cessation. The gains from using e-cigarettes may not be risk-free. Quitting smoking requires planning and commitment – not luck.
Source: Medical News Today