How To Quit Smoking

About 34.1 million adults in the US are smokers. 

At the same time, over 16 million Americans live with a smoking-related disease. 

Smoking causes many health problems, including lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease, heart attack, stroke, increases the risk of diabetes, among others. 

Plus, secondhand smoke is also dangerous to other people. 

Regardless of how long you’ve been a smoker, it’s never too late to quit smoking. 

In this post, we’re going to show you how to quit smoking.

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How to quit smoking

For most people, the most effective way to quit smoking is to go cold turkey. 

That means a smoker stops smoking cigarettes or any tobacco product entirely, without gradually decreasing your smoking habit. 

Science confirms quitting cold turkey is a lot more effective than gradual cessation. 

Keep in mind cold turkey quitting means you don’t use nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) which includes a nicotine patch, nicotine gum, and nasal spray. 

Some people determine the quit date, mark it on their calendars, and then quit cold turkey. 

Others choose a quit day and gradually reduce cigarette smoking by that time. 

Many have a quit plan that guides them through the process.

If quitting cold turkey isn’t the right approach for you, there are other options. 

For many tobacco users, NRTs are an effective tool to quit smoking. 

Others need a medication called varenicline. They usually take this prescription medication for 12 weeks.

Counseling therapies are also helpful for people who want to quit smoking. 

Nowadays, there are various apps you can use to make this process easier for you. 

Top tips

You don’t have to choose the best approach to quitting smoking by yourself. 

A healthcare provider can help you out. 

It’s always helpful to have some tips and tricks that will help you make quitting smoking smoother. 

You may want to:

1) Join support groups and connect with other people who are also trying to quit smoking.

2) Write down all the reasons you’re quitting smoking and read them whenever you feel like you need motivation and willpower. 

3) Have realistic expectations. This process has ups and downs, but you will succeed as you go through them.

4) Identify smoking triggers and strive to avoid them.

5) Throw all your cigarettes, ashtrays, and other smoking-related items from your home into the trash.

6) If you slip and smoke a cigarette, you can still proceed to quit smoking. You don’t need to give up after a failed quit attempt.

7) Exercise regularly.

8) Eat fruits and vegetables.

9) Reward yourself for completing important milestones, e.g., six months without cigarettes, eight months, 12 months, etc.

10) Volunteer or help someone, and you’ll feel better about yourself too.

11) Go to smoke-free restaurants and other places.

12) Keep in mind smokeless tobacco is not a safer or harmless alternative.

13) Call a Quitline where a quit coach can help you do this successfully. 

Coping with withdrawal

Nicotine makes cigarettes addictive. 

Nicotine addiction is a big deal and a common issue worldwide. 

The biggest problem for most people who want to quit smoking is nicotine withdrawal. 

Occurring within 30 minutes after the last use of tobacco, nicotine withdrawal includes the following signs and symptoms:

  • Intense nicotine cravings
  • Sweating
  • Tingling in hands or feet
  • Nausea and abdominal cramps
  • Headaches
  • Constipation and gas
  • Weight gain
  • Depression
  • Anxiety and irritability
  • Insomnia 
  • Sore throat
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty concentrating 

These symptoms peak within two to three days after the last cigarette use. 

But they can be intense, especially cravings. 

For that reason, coping with withdrawal from tobacco dependence is crucial for successful smoking cessation. 

Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do to cope with withdrawal effectively.

These tips can help you out:

1) Practice mindfulness 

2) Keep your brain active by playing puzzles and other brain games 

3) Read a book or write 

4) Do something you find distracting yet productive

5) Practice deep breathing (take deep breaths, inhale, exhale, and focus on breaths only)

6) Get support from loved ones during this time 

7) Use nicotine replacement products, if your quitting approach allows it

8) The most important thing to remember here is that you shouldn’t be strict with yourself. 

Withdrawal symptoms you experience are not there to stay forever. You can overcome them with persistence and motivation.

Managing nicotine cravings

Did you know nicotine craving only lasts 15 to 20 minutes? 

While the urge to have a cigarette is intense, it’s shorter than you think. 

That also means you can overcome cravings. 

Before we focus on tips to manage nicotine cravings, let’s talk about their nature first. 

Cravings can be physical and psychological. 

Physical cravings are the body’s intense need for a cigarette, while psychological cravings refer to the mental and emotional urge to smoke. 

Some people smoke to deal with stress, tiredness, or for other reasons.

Here are a few tips that can help you manage cigarette craving quite quickly:

1) Take a short walk and breathe deeply.

2) Drink a glass of water.

3) Do guided imagery, i.e. a stress-reduction method where you close your eyes and imagine a calming situation or place that will distract you from cravings. 

Don’t pay attention to cravings at all. Focus on the situation you imagined.

4) Have a hobby that keeps you focused, but make sure it’s something you can do anywhere. That way, you have something distracting when cravings occur. 

A great example here is puzzle or knitting even. The options are endless.

5) Eat a snack, but choose something healthy such as apple slices, celery or carrot sticks, and other satiating, delicious, and healthy varieties.

6) Call or text a friend, talk about everything and anything, and your cravings will decrease. 

7) Ideally, you should avoid managing your cravings for nicotine with junk food and sweets. 

Conclusion

Quitting smoking is a complex challenge that requires strong willpower and motivation. 

Sure, it can be tricky, but with the right approach, you can quit smoking successfully. 

Remember, asking for help and support is always a good idea.

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Sources

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Current Cigarette Smoking Among Adults in the United States” https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/adult_data/cig_smoking/index.htm
  2. Smith DK, Miller DE, Mounsey A. PURLs: “Cold turkey” works best for smoking cessation. J Fam Pract. 2017;66(3):174-176. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5360817/

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