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» How Do I Quit Smoking?

How Did I Do It? > Health > How Do I Quit Smoking?
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Every smoker knows they should quit. It’s hardly even worth listing the reasons to quit, but dying the slow, painful death of lung cancer, emphysema, skin wrinkles and reduced self esteem certainly top the list.

And while nicotine is one of the most addictive drugs known to human kind, I believe that force of habit may actually be the more powerful reason that quitting is so hard. Once the habit is ingrained, facing the thought of quitting seems about as torturous as having bamboo shoots driven under your fingernails!

For those of us who smoke (yes I will raise my hand and admit my own addiction), smoking is something we look forward to perhaps more than almost anything else; you think about having a cigarette before you go to sleep and think about having your first smoke in the morning even before your head hits the pillow.

Learning to quit smoking could be the most difficult challenge of your life. Photo by Sean....
Learning to quit smoking could be the most difficult challenge of your life. Photo by Sean....
Deciding to Quit Smoking

If you really want to quit, there is only one real way to succeed; you have to make up your mind that you are going to quit and then take action. It’s really that simple. Sure, you can use nicotine patches, gum, hypnosis and all the rest, but without the will to quit, none of these gimmicks will succeed.

The choice is yours and yours alone. Nobody can force you to quit but you. And it may be one of the most difficult decisions you ever make … at least if you actually stick with it. Not for a month or a year, but truly once and for all decide to quit and never reverse course.

Ways to Help Make the Decision to Quit Smoking

Every smoker is different, but for some a good starting place is to actually write down, in vivid detail, all the reasons you want to quit smoking; to feel better, get more dates, save money, etc. Write them on post-it notes and stick them up all over the house. Print them out on a poster and pin it up on the wall, anything to keep the reasons in your face!

Set a Date to Quit Smoking

Pick some special date to quit. It could be your next birthday, the 1st day of the next month, whatever works. But set the date and commit yourself to going cold turkey on that date. Smoke up until then, but once you get to the committed date, there can be no turning back if you really want to quit.

Redirect Your Need to Smoke

Redirection is one of the most effective ways to quit; ask anyone who has succeeded and they will probably tell you that once they quit smoking, they found something else to focus their attention on … hopefully more, not less healthy. It would not be good to quit smoking and start, say, drinking heavily or eating a lot more.

Pick something like exercise, chewing gum or a new hobby to help redirect your attention. Forming a new habit will help you avoid falling back into the old smoking habit. I have one friend who chews like 2 packs of gum a day now; that’s what it took for him to quit smoking for good.

Dealing with Nicotine Withdrawal

Most smokers who determine to quit underestimate the challenges of nicotine withdrawal. This is why the patches, gum and all the other gimmicks are so popular. The problem is that you have to get past it sooner or later. You will feel fatigue and irritability; you may even get the shakes. Be prepared and be ready to test your determination. For the most part, nicotine withdrawal only lasts a week or two and then it’s behind you!

Resist Triggers to Start Smoking Again

Here’s the scenario most of us who smoke have already faced before: You determine to quit and you do actually quit for some period of time; a day, a week, a month or even several years. And then it happens; you have a bad day or break up a relationship, lose your job, a friend or loved one dies, etc.

And you tell yourself, just one, that’s it; I gotta’ have a smoke, but just one and that’s it. But it rarely ever is; once a smoker, always a smoker! All it takes is succumbing to the desire in your weakest moment and you are likely to relapse before you even know what happened.

Some people claim that it gets easier with time, but I don’t subscribe to that belief. I once quit for well over a year and then one day I was with friends, having a drink or two and somebody lit up. I thought “Man, it would be great to have a smoke right now,” and that was it. Within a week I was right back to smoking as if I’d never quit. Really, it can happen that easily.

Smoking Cessation a Day at a Time

Relapse is actually very common. Probably for every ten smokers who quit, only one of them goes successfully and never relapses. How you deal with it if and when it happens to you can make all the difference. If you get down on yourself about a relapse and tell yourself you just can’t do it, then that’s probably going to be your own truth. You feel ashamed, like you are a loser who just doesn’t have the self determination and wherewithal to quit.

But if you can accept that you are only human and prone to make mistakes, you can pick yourself up again and quit, even if you relapse several times. There is no shame in suffering a relapse; it’s actually very natural and happens to many smokers who quit.

The main thing to remember is what I started off with; only you can decide to quit and, if you have a relapse, only you can decide to start over again. The only thing that really matters is not giving up on your commitment to quit. Take it a day at a time but don’t ever stop trying to quit and stay that way.

BTW – Just so I don’t come off as a hypocrite; for the record at the moment I have relapsed and have not successfully determined to quit again. Hopefully somebody here will leave comments and help me find the will to try again soon!

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