Butting Out: Five Keys to Successful Smoking Cessation

No smoking signAs the New Year approaches, many smokers are planning to quit and resolving that this year will be the one they finally kick the habit for good. Unfortunately, many will fail. Nicotine is highly addictive, and the fact people become dependent upon smoking in a variety of environments makes it one of the most difficult habits to break. No matter what method you use to quit smoking, you can count on having at least a few rough weeks. But people are much more likely to quit permanently if they establish a healthy plan.

Here are some keys to success:

Wanting to Quit
Many smokers quit because of pressure from family or friends, because they can’t smoke at work, or because they’re concerned about their health. And while these are valid reasons, they can also be a recipe for relapse. Most smokers have to truly want to quit in order to do so successfully, and no amount of pressure from children, doctors, friends, or family can force it to happen.

Social Support
Smoking is a highly social habit. People smoke while chatting with friends, while drinking at a bar, and while commiserating with coworkers. Successful quitters are able to get social support. Some common elements of helpful social support include:

•    Nonjudgmental encouragement from friends and family
•    Someone to talk to when you feel like smoking
•    Avoiding people who pressure you to smoke

Lower Stress Levels
Most smokers smoke more when they’re stressed. If they try to quit during a high-stress time, they’re more likely to fail. This doesn’t mean you should wait until your life is stress-free to quit smoking, but quitting during times of high stress can set you up for failure. Try quitting at a time when your job isn’t putting a lot of pressure on you and you’re not dealing with family problems. For many people, the New Year is an ideal time because they get time off from work and their families are still basking in the closeness and love of the holidays.

Replacement Behavior
Smoking is as much a habit as an addiction, and smokers can grow dependent upon having something in hand while they talk, work, or cope with stress. Establishing a healthy replacement behavior can help you stave off the desire to smoke. Some people replace smoking with overeating, but a better strategy is to chew gum, exercise, suck on a lollipop, or talk to a loved one. If you can manage to incorporate exercise or another healthy habit into your quitting plan, this New Year could be your healthiest one yet.

Medication and Nicotine Substitution
Nicotine replacement therapy includes patches, gums, and even inhalers. These supportive therapies can reduce your craving for nicotine, and many people find that the nicotine reduces their moodiness and some of the physical side effects that sometimes come with quitting smoking. Similarly, medication designed to help you quit can prevent depression, reduce your cravings, or interfere with nicotine receptors in your body. These treatments are not guarantees of success, but most people have better luck if they use medication or nicotine replacement as they try to quit. Talk to your doctor about the best options for your specific needs and health status, as all medications have some side effects.

References:

  1. Glynn, D. A., Cryan, J. F., Kent, P., Flynn, R. A., & Kennedy, M. P. (2009). Update on smoking cessation therapies. Advances in Therapy, 26(4), 369-382. doi: 10.1007/s12325-009-0022-9
  2. Kaufman, J. L. (2005). Smoking Cessation. JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, 294(19), 2434-2434. doi: 10.1001/jama.294.19.2434-a
  3. Mayo Clinic Staff. (2011, April 19). Smoking cessation: Creating a quit-smoking plan. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/smoking-cessation/SK00055

 

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  • Virginia

    Virginia

    November 30th, 2012 at 3:13 PM

    mY biggest problem with quitting has never been about wnating to quit but the fact that all of my really close friends are smokers too, so even when I want to, there is still much of it around it that it makes it impossible to follow through. What am I supposed to- cut off all contact with the only support that I have while I am trying to quit? I know that in this situation they aren’t much because they really kind of sabotage me, but I need people with me that I feel comfortable with and that’s hard when I have to cut off contact with those I am closest to. I really want to make this happen for me this time because I am tired of so much money luterally going up in smoke each week but I feel like I keep hitting this wall and I don;t know how to break free of the habit.

  • milton

    milton

    November 30th, 2012 at 5:13 PM

    @virginia:you can definitely have smoker friends and still quit.if their smoking prompts you to pick up that cigarette,try asking them to not smoke around you.if they are real friends and care about you they would oblige.its not that hard for them not to smoke around you,or you could keep away for those ten minutes everytime they light up.

  • TRAVIS

    TRAVIS

    December 1st, 2012 at 1:52 AM

    Well I picked up smoking at 19 and after 2 years I decided to quit. Reasons were many, health and money being the foremost. What I did is watched a lot of videos on how smoking affects your health and even some gore pictures of what happens to your lungs after long term smoking. And that was it! I quit soon after and although a year has passed I haven’t picked up a single cigarette! All the best to all those trying to kick this horrendous habit.

  • Sam

    Sam

    December 2nd, 2012 at 5:16 AM

    I thought that I read somewhere fairly recently that using nicotine replacement was holding many people back from being able to kick the smoking habit. Seems like it suggested that going cold turkey, while scary, was actually the ebst method.

  • gerrald

    gerrald

    December 4th, 2012 at 6:38 AM

    Not everybody can quit cold turkey, you know..Some people will require a gradual downgrade..what worked for me were e-cigarettes..find a good quality one and use it I’m sure that will help. Do not buy the cheap e-cigs at the gas station, get a quality one..you can slowly decrease the nicotine levels in the flavor used and finally throw out the e-cig and be totally free..worked for me and a lot of people I have read about and heard from.

  • NOBEL

    NOBEL

    December 6th, 2012 at 10:03 AM

    A very nice point on the gore pictures there, Travis, thank you for reminding me about it!

    The Australian government has recently made it mandatory to carry such gore pictures on all cigarette packs and even the brand name is written in a small and standard font.take out the glamour in smoking,shock people with the pictures,I am okay with that,as long as people are not dying by the hundreds of thousands each year due to something that is easily preventable!

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