How to Stop Smoking!
by Michele Carelse

As you read this, you are probably filled with anxiety with the very thought of being without that reassuring packet of cigarettes in your bag or pocket! You might have been smoking for years. Maybe this is the first time you are seriously considering "giving up" or perhaps you have done so before and failed. Whatever the case may be - don't be discouraged, you are one of millions!

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 their support.

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 like A.A.

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 another one!"

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 be No!

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).

Michele Carelse
Psychologist on the Web!
Online Counseling, Support Groups And Resource Center At Your Fingertips!

Find help and support with addiction issues at Arizona addiction recovery centers







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