How To Quit Smoking
Do you know what is the first step to quit smoking? It is your commitment. Congratulations! It is evident that you seriously want to quit smoking, and hence you are reading this article. As you may already know, smoking tobacco is one of the most harmful addictions known to mankind. If you are not aware of the dangers of tobacco smoking, which is unlikely, please read our article on Smoking.Is It Easy To Quit Smoking?
The key ingredient of tobacco is Nicotine, one of the most addictive chemicals. Nicotine reaches your brain within seconds of inhaling tobacco smoke and makes you feel relaxed. You might have observed that smoking is not only habitual but is ingrained alongside your other daily activities and may have become the way you connect with your social circle. Thus, when you try to quit smoking, you will have to face multiple challenges:
- Deal with withdrawal symptoms and triggers
- Change your habits and routine
- Find healthier alternatives to make you feel relaxed and stay connected
Though it sounds a challenging task, it is easily achievable with the right guidance and support. Even if you have tried to quit in the past and failed invariably, by combining multiple strategies that is convenient to you, you will definitely be able to quit smoking.Getting Started
Before you start, list down:
- How severe is you addiction, on a scale of 1 – 10
If you are smoking more than a box, you may need external support to actually quit smoking.
- The activities/place/people/emotions that you associate with smoking, such as, smoking when you drink coffee, smoking with your school buddies when you hangout with them, and smoking whenever you are stressed out.
You might have tried to quit smoking on your own. Though it is not the most effective way, if your addiction is severe, these tips will help you more efficiently try once more:
- Start as soon as you decide to quit smoking. If you smoke more during weekends, start quitting on a Monday. If you smoke more during work, start during weekends. The urge to smoke is the strongest, at places where you smoke often; avoiding that will help you not to relapse.
- Keep everyone around you informed about your plan to quit smoking. You may even have a quit buddy. This also will help you lessen the urge to smoke in places that you associate with smoking.
- Remove all tobacco products, lighters, matchboxes, ashtrays, etc. from your vicinity.
- Remove the smell of tobacco smoke from dresses, mattresses, car, drapes, furniture, etc. by vacuuming, steaming, or cleaning.
When you quit smoking, as your body withdraws from Nicotine, you will experience a lot of physical discomforts such as:
- Cravings for smoking
- Anxiety/nervousness/ Restlessness/ Depression
- Inability to concentrate
- Increased coughing, more phlum production and hence increased stuffiness at the chest
- Increased appetite
- Constipation or upset stomach
- Decreased heart rate
Withdrawal symptoms are mostly unpleasant, however, they are temporary. You may experience them as early as 30 minutes from your last smoke and it may last for several weeks, the duration varies from person to person. However, these discomforts gradually eases out as your body gets rid of the toxins.Handling Triggers
Once you start quitting, you will understand the triggers/cravings better. Revisit the list you have prepared earlier, analyze, and list down.
- How severe is your craving on a scale of 1 to 10
- The time/activities/people/place when the craving was intense.
When you fear that you are going to relapse, tell yourself that you will pull for another 10 minutes and distract yourself immediately. Turn on the TV or call a friend and have a long chat, so that the thought of smoking gets out of your mind. Try some ‘out of the routine’ activities to handle your triggers and cravings, such as:
- Try brushing your teeth; the fresh feeling in your mouth will help you reduce the urge to smoke.
- Try drinking plenty of water; it will help ease the craving, in addition, will keep you hydrated; with more water intake, your body will get rid of toxins faster and hence the withdrawal symptoms fade away sooner.
If your social circle is a trigger, keeping your family, friends, and acquaintances informed about your quitting plan is the most important thing to start with.
- Choose a time when they do not smoke
- Ensure that your circle includes non-smokers as well
- Choose non-smoking zones to meet people and dine.
Plan healthier replacements for all your triggers and cravings, namely:
- Find an oral substitute, such as:
- Chewing a gum/mint/candy
- Munching some roasted nuts/carrots/celery
- Sucking a straw used for drinking
- Chewing on a cocktail stick
- Eating a bowl of fruits/desert
- Find a substitute to keep your mind calm, such as:
- Deep breathing techniques
- Sensory relaxation techniques
- Read a book/magazine
- Listen to music
- Solve Sudoku/puzzle
- Play games online
- Take a warm bath
- Find a substitute to keep your hands and fingers busy, such as:
- Clean the dishes
- Squeeze a ball
- Play with fidget stress release toys
- Doodle with a pen or pencil
- Become physically active, try activities such as:
- Brisk exercises such as jumping jacks or push ups
- Go for a walk/jog/run
While quitting smoking without effort is a commendable effort and successfully helped a few in their efforts, there are plenty of support mechanisms and alternative therapies, nicotine replacement therapies, and medications that are available to try. Based on the severity of your addiction and cravings, you may choose either one or a combination of these treatments to achieve your goal.Alternate Therapies
If you do not want to opt for nicotine replacement therapies and prescription medications, our doctors @Shanghai SKY Clinic will be able to help you try one of these alternate therapies:
- Hypnosis: This therapy will help you relax your mind, strengthen your intention to quit smoking, and embed a negative feeling towards smoking.
- Acupuncture: This therapy will accelerate the release of endorphins, pain relievers produced by your body, and thus calm your mind. In addition, acupuncture helps you effectively handle withdrawal symptoms.
- Behavioral Therapy: Our psychotherapists will work with you to identify your triggers, suggest new coping mechanisms, and lay out a strategy to break your routine.
- Motivational Therapy: Self-help groups, books, and websites, where you can find a lot of motivation to quit smoking.
Do not replace smoking tobaccos with e-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco. Scientific studies have proved that smoking e-cigarettes or vaping has still contain nicotine that could increase blood pressure, onset diabetes, damage the brains of children and adolescents, and lead to lung cancer. Smokeless tobacco or chewing tobacco is much more dangerous than smoking tobacco, as by chewing tobaccos you absorb 3-4 times more nicotine than smoking.Medications
Medications help you effectively manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings. There are two different types, non-nicotine medication for a short time and nicotine replacement therapy, the more effective and long-term support for those who want to quit smoking.Non-Nicotine Medication
These prescribed medications help ease the withdrawal symptoms and reduce the cravings. However, they are recommended for short-term use only.Nicotine Replacement Therapy
This therapy is the most effective way to help you break the nicotine addiction, deal with withdrawal symptoms and help you focus on learning new behavioral skills and coping mechanisms. In this therapy, nicotine from tobacco smoke is replaced by nicotine substitutes, such as, Nicotine Gums, Patches, Lozenge, Inhalers, and Nasal Spray. These substitutes constantly and consistently release a limited amount of nicotine into your body. Thus enabling you to handle withdrawal symptoms without the exposure to other dangerous ingredients of tobacco smoke.
Shanghai SKY Clinic has a proven track record of helping people who struggled to quit smoking for years together in their past. If you have tried and relapsed in the past, it is not a failure. Reach out to us, talk to our doctors, and find the best possible combination of treatments that could work best for you.
The above article serves only as a reference. Kindly refer to your primary care provider for complete consultation and treatment.
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