In my opinion, not enough recognition is given to the fact that nicotine
dependency is a serious addiction! Many people see cigarette smoking
as a "Bad Habit" and feel that smokers should be able to "just stop"!
Although there are many gums, sprays and patches available to help the
person gradually wean him/herself off the cigarettes, most smokers are
expected to "go it alone", be crabby for a few weeks and then be fine!
If they fail, the insinuation is that they are weak, indulgent, inconsiderate,
etc. The medical and moral support and understanding given to other
substance abusers (e.g. alcoholics, crack addicts, etc) is usually not
forthcoming for those who are struggling to overcome nicotine dependency.
Hopefully, this article will fill that gap a little. Nothing will make
it easy, but, if you are serious about giving up and follow the advice
given here, you will find that you stand a better chance of being successful.
1.Think about why you want to give up.
Like all addictions, YOU are the one that must want to quit. If you
are quitting because someone else wants you to or is pressurizing you
to, your chances of success are greatly diminished. YOU must want to
do it, for reasons that are YOURS.
2.Choose your "G.U.S" (Giving Up Smoking) day.
Select a day, not more than a month or less than a week away and decide
that this will be the day that you will stop. Tell everybody around
you about it to make it more difficult to back down! The day before,
SMOKE AS MUCH AS YOU CAN! You need to get that feeling of "Yeugh - I've
smoked too much!" to help you get started. At the end of the day, THROW
AWAY all remaining cigarettes. Sometimes it is useful to have a little
ceremony where you burn or bury your last cigarettes and say "Good Bye"
to smoking. It has been your friend as well as your enemy!
3.Ask your friends and family for help. Tell them that you will probably
be crabby and unpleasant, but that this will pass and you really need
4. Get a nicotine substitute to help you to control the withdrawal symptoms.
People have different preferences, but many find the sprays or the chewing
gums more helpful, because they work by taking something into the mouth
and give you something to "do" when you crave a cigarette. These aids
can be expensive, but compare the price with what you would spend on
cigarettes and it's a bargain!
5. Spend some money on replacing smoking with exercise. The mistake
many people make is to try and take smoking away from themselves and
to put nothing in its place. The result is either failure, or a replacement
"addiction" like overeating. Spending money on the exercise has the
psychological benefit of convincing you that you have spent your "smoking
money" already! Another benefit is to your health and to your feelings
of being in control and it really does help with the withdrawal symptoms!
So - join a gym, take up a sport, start up jogging or aerobics, buy
a home exercise machine - whatever works best for you. Don't try and
leave out this step, even if you are not an exercise person. In my opinion,
it is THE most important help you can give yourself! If you feel you
are going crazy, get up and go to the gym, for a walk, for a run - anything
except have a cigarette!
6. Join a Support Group, if you can. You can either join a formal support
group of people who are giving up smoking, or start your own. It makes
use of the peer counseling and support principle used in many programs
7. Understand the withdrawal symptoms! Some of these include a craving
for cigarettes (of course!), lack of concentration, impatience, irritability,
tearfulness, insomnia, dry mouth or excessive saliva. They are physiological
withdrawal symptoms and are your body's attempts to make you go and
get a cigarette. (just like hunger!) They will last for up to a month
and then begin to fade day by day. After that, you will still crave
cigarettes for anything up to five years or longer (yes, its true!),
but the cravings will be more psychological in origin. So if you have
tended to smoke when you are bored, anxious, concentrating, angry, etc.,
this is when the thought of a cigarette will pop into your mind. But
it will not be as severe a craving as when you are still undergoing
physiological withdrawal and will decrease with time.
8. Regard yourself as a Non-Smoker. Sit in non-smoking sections of public
places. If you are offered a cigarette, say "No thanks - I don't smoke".
If you do "slip up" and have a cigarette, don't say "Oh No, I failed
- I'm a smoker again". Tell yourself "One cigarette doesn't make a smoker
- I am a Non-Smoker, who had ONE cigarette and I am not going to have
9. If you are tempted to start smoking again, sit down with a pen and
paper. List all the benefits of not smoking and all the disadvantages
of smoking. And think about the fact that every time you stop smoking
and then start again, you are making it more difficult for yourself
next time around. Decide to go for a walk first and then ask yourself
if you really want to do this to yourself! Hopefully the answer will
10. Reward Yourself! Make a note of the day of the month that you give
up and CELEBRATE IT! Celebrate a weekly anniversary for the first month,
then a monthly anniversary for the next year. After that, celebrate
the day you gave up smoking EVERY year. Believe it or not, a large number
of smokers start again after one or two years. Just when you begin to
relax and think you are over the addiction, it sneaks up on you!
So there you have it! The rest is up to you! Good Luck! (You can use
these techniques for any addiction, even gambling, sex or internet addiction).
Psychologist on the Web!
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