We all know the health risks of smoking, but that doesn’t make it any easier to kick the habit. Whether you’re a teen smoker or a lifetime pack-a-day smoker, quitting can be really tough. The nicotine in cigarettes offers a quick and reliable way to boost your outlook, relieve stress, and unwind. To successfully quit smoking, you’ll need to not only change your behavior and cope with nicotine withdrawal symptoms, but also find healthier ways to manage your moods. With the right game plan, though, you can break the addiction and join the millions of people who’ve kicked the habit for good.
Why is quitting smoking so hard?
Smoking tobacco is both a physical addiction and a psychological habit. The nicotine from cigarettes provides a temporary—and addictive—high. Eliminating that regular fix of nicotine will cause your body to experience physical withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Because of nicotine’s “feel good” effect on the brain, you may also have become accustomed to smoking as a way of coping with stress, depression, anxiety, or even boredom.
At the same time, the act of smoking is ingrained as a daily ritual. It may be an automatic response for you to smoke a cigarette with your morning coffee, while taking a break from work or school, or during your commute home at the end of a long day. Perhaps friends, family members, and colleagues smoke, and it has become part of the way you relate with them.
To successfully quit smoking, you’ll need to address both the addiction and the habits and routines that go along with it. But it can be done. With the right support and combination of strategies, any smoker can quit—even if you’ve tried and failed multiple times before.
Your personal stop smoking plan
While some smokers successfully quit by going cold turkey, most people do better with a plan to keep themselves on track. A good plan addresses both the short-term challenge of quitting smoking and the long-term challenge of preventing relapse. It should also be tailored to your specific needs and smoking habits.
Questions to ask yourself
Take the time to think of what kind of smoker you are, which moments of your life call for a cigarette, and why. This will help you to identify which tips, techniques or therapies may be most beneficial for you.
Is it a very bad addiction (more than a pack a day)? Or are you more of a social smoker? Would a simple nicotine patch do the job?
Are there certain activities, places, or people you associate with smoking? Do you feel the need to smoke at every meal?
Do you reach for cigarettes when you’re feeling stressed or down? Or is your cigarette smoking linked to other addictions, such as alcohol or gambling?