If you’ve recently managed to quit smoking – first, congratulations, because it isn’t easy. Only about six percent of smokers are able to stop in any given year. Unfortunately, that means that the vast majority end up slipping, even though they think they are on the path to success. Your brain gets tricked into thinking that nicotine equals pleasure, and even after you’ve been smoke free for a while, it can be tempting to fall back into old habits. You’re going to have cravings, and you might slip and have a cigarette or two, but that’s normal, and there are things you can do to make yourself more likely to succeed.
First, know your triggers. Do you smoke for emotional release? It might be something you do when you’re stressed, angry, sad, happy, bored, or even when you’re coming down from an adrenaline rush after sex or a fight. If you can pin down the emotions that make you more likely to reach for a cigarette, you can come up with alternative ways of dealing with them. Do you miss having something to do with your hands and it makes you want to reach for a cigarette? Replace them with something else. Try a squishy ball, a fidget spinner, or even take up knitting. You might have to try different things before you hit on something that works.
Did you use any smoking cessation aids when you quit the first time? If not, give them a shot, because they can greatly increase your chances of success. There are nicotine replacement therapies you can try – like the gum, lozenges, and patches – or you can get a prescription medication from your doctor.
Don’t be afraid to ask for support. Odds are good that you know someone who’s been through this, and you can talk to them about the things that helped them quit. You can also try looking on social media or internet forums, or even downloading an app. There are hotlines you can call for support and advice, like 1-800-QUIT-NOW, which will direct you to a quit line in your state. You can also chat with someone online at livehelp.cancer.gov.
Remember, if you do slip up, don’t be too hard on yourself. You stopped once, and you can do it again. You aren’t a failure, and there’s no reason to think that your next attempt won’t be the one that sticks. Don’t tell yourself that you’ll try again next week – do it now. If you start smoking again, even for a few days, you’re going to undo all of your progress and probably find yourself going through withdrawal again.
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.