When you think about the addictions that are the hardest to quit, most people’s minds probably jump to things like heroin or cocaine, which we know can cause some serious withdrawal symptoms. However, unless you’ve gone through it yourself, many people have no idea how difficult it can be to stop smoking cigarettes. Smoking can become not just a habit but a social activity, a way to relax, and even a part of your identity. That’s not even taking into account the physical aspects, because there is such a thing as nicotine withdrawal, which can cause restlessness, trouble sleeping, problems concentrating, irritability, anxiety, depression, and even symptoms similar to having a cold. Luckily, there is help out there for those who want it. Smokefree.gov, an initiative from the National Cancer Institute, can help you build a personalized plan to quit smoking.
First, choose the date you’re going to quit. It might sound strange, picking an arbitrary day to stop, but you actually need to put some thought into this. Try to pick a day within two weeks or so, so that it’s not too far in the future and you don’t talk yourself out of quitting. However, don’t decide you’re going to stop tomorrow, because you’ll need some time to prepare yourself.
Next, think of your reasons for quitting. These might include improving your health, preventing future health problems, ceasing to exposure your loved ones to secondhand smoke, saving money, or even just improving your appearance and smell. Keeping these goals in mind can help you stay on the right path.
Know your triggers. At first, you might need to avoid them completely, but later you can develop ways to cope with them. Triggers might include feelings like stress, boredom, or sadness. There can also be social triggers, like going to a bar or club, or attending a party where other people are smoking. Smoking can also be something you do just by habit, while you’re watching television or with a drink at the end of a long day.
Learn how to fight cravings. Do you smoke because of emotional or mood problems? You can learn other ways to cope, and you might want to consider seeing a therapist for help. If you need to keep your hands busy, you can find something else to fidget with. If you’re used to hanging out with the same group of smokers every day on breaks from work, you might want to consider staying inside or taking a short walk instead. If you find yourself getting irritable and anxious when you’ve gone too long without a cigarette, consider nicotine replacement therapy. There are a wide variety of gums, patches, lozenges, and other products to choose from that can relieve withdrawal symptoms.
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are support groups, Facebook pages, mobile apps, quit lines, and of course, your friends and family to turn to when you need it.
If you or a loved one need help with quitting drugs or alcohol, consider Asana Recovery. We offer medical detox, along with both residential and outpatient programs, and you’ll be supervised by a highly trained staff of medical professionals, counselors, and therapists. Call us any time at (949) 438-4504 to get started.