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Why Do People Smoke And Why Is Quitting So Difficult?

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We are all aware of the dangers of smoking, yet this does not make quitting any easier. Whether you are a kid who smokes sometimes or a lifelong pack-a-day smoker, quitting may be extremely difficult.

Tobacco use is both a physical and psychological addiction. The nicotine in cigarettes produces a fleeting but addicting euphoria. The body experiences physical withdrawal symptoms and cravings when deprived of its usual nicotine fix. Due to nicotine’s “feel good” influence on the brain, you may turn to cigarettes as a quick and dependable way to improve your mood, alleviate stress, and relax. Additionally, smoking may be a coping mechanism for despair, anxiety, and even boredom. Quitting requires developing other, better coping mechanisms for these emotions.

Additionally, smoking is established as a regular practice. It may be habitual for you to smoke a cigarette with your morning coffee, at a break at work or school, or on your trip home after a stressful day. Or perhaps smoking has become an integral aspect of your relationships with friends, family, or coworkers.

To successfully quit smoking, you must treat both the addiction and the associated behaviors and routines. But it is possible. With the correct support and quit strategy, any smoker can drop the habit, even if they’ve failed several times in the past.

Your Personal Stop Smoking Plan

While some smokers are able to effectively stop by quitting cold turkey, the majority of individuals fare better with a personalized strategy to keep them on track. A solid strategy for quitting smoking tackles both the immediate problem of quitting and the long-term challenge of avoiding relapse. Additionally, it should be personalized to your individual needs and smoking behaviors.

Questions To Ask Yourself

Consider the type of smoker you are, the situations that call for a cigarette, and the reasons why. This will assist you in determining which strategies, approaches, or treatments may be most useful to you.

Are you a heavy smoker (more than a pack of cigarettes a day)? Or do you smoke for social reasons? Would a nicotine patch be sufficient?

Are there certain activities, locations, or individuals that you connect with smoking? Do you feel compelled to smoke after every meal and every coffee break?

Do you smoke when you are feeling worried or depressed? Or is your cigarette smoking related to other addictions like alcoholism or gambling?

Start Your Strategy To Quit Smoking With START 

S = Set a quit date.

Choose a day within the following two weeks so that you have sufficient time to prepare without losing enthusiasm. If you mostly smoke at work, stop over the weekend to give yourself time to acclimate.

T = Tell family, friends, and co-workers that you plan to quit.

Inform your loved ones of your intention to quit smoking and explain that you need their support and encouragement. Find someone who wants to quit smoking as well. You can support one another during difficult times.

A = Anticipate and prepare for the obstacles you will experience throughout your quit.

The majority of those who resume smoking do so within the first three months. Preparing in advance for frequent obstacles, like nicotine withdrawal and cigarette cravings, might help you endure.

R = Remove all smokes and tobacco items from your house, vehicle, and place of employment.

Remove any cigarettes, lighters, ashtrays, and matches from your possession. Wash your clothing and deodorize everything that smells like cigarette smoke. Shampoo the automobile, clean the curtains and rugs, and steam the furnishings.

T = Talk to your doctor about getting help to quit.

Your physician may prescribe medicine to alleviate withdrawal symptoms. If you cannot visit a doctor, you can purchase nicotine patches, lozenges, and gum over-the-counter at your local drugstore.

Identify Your Smoking Triggers

One of the finest things you can do to assist yourself stop smoking is to identify the events, activities, feelings, and people that trigger your desire to smoke.

Keep A Food Journal

A cravings notebook might help you identify your triggers and patterns. For the week or so preceding your stop date, keep a smoking journal. Notate the times of day when you get cigarette cravings:

  • What was the time?
  • How intense was the desire (from 1 to 10)?
  • What had you been doing?
  • To whom were you?
  • What were your emotions?
  • How did you feel when you smoked?

Do You Smoke To Relieve Unpleasant Feelings?

Many of us smoke to alleviate negative emotions such as stress, despair, and loneliness. When having a rough day, cigarettes may appear to be your only ally. However comforting cigarettes may be, it is vital to realize that there are healthier and more efficient ways to control negative emotions. These may consist of physical activity, meditation, relaxation techniques, or simple breathing exercises.

Finding non-smoking alternatives to dealing with tough emotions is a significant component of quitting smoking for many individuals. Even after cigarettes are no longer a part of your life, the painful and unpleasant emotions that formerly drove you to smoke will persist. Devote some time to contemplating how you will deal with difficult events and the annoyances of daily life that might typically cause you to flame up.

Tips For Avoiding Typical Triggers

Alcohol. Numerous individuals smoke while drinking. Try switching to non-alcoholic beverages or exclusively drinking in smoke-free establishments. Try munching on almonds, chewing on a cocktail stick, or sucking on a straw as an alternative.

Other smokers. Others who smoke When friends, relatives, and coworkers smoke around you, quitting or avoiding relapse can be extra challenging. Discuss your decision to quit smoking so that others know they cannot smoke in the car with you or at a coffee break with you. Find nonsmokers to have your breaks with at work or find alternative activities, like going for a walk.

Finishing a meal. For some smokers, the conclusion of a meal is synonymous with lighting up, and the notion of quitting may feel intimidating. However, you may try substituting something different for that time after a meal, such as a piece of fruit, a nutritious dessert, a square of chocolate, or a stick of gum.

Managing Symptoms Of Nicotine Withdrawal

As your body withdraws from nicotine, you will likely suffer a variety of physical symptoms if you quit smoking. Typically, nicotine withdrawal begins within an hour following the last cigarette and peaks two to three days later. Depending on the individual, withdrawal symptoms might last from a few days to a few weeks.

The following are typical nicotine withdrawal symptoms:

  1. Cigarette cravings
  2. Anger, irritability, or frustration
  3. Anxiety or apprehension
  4. Having trouble concentrating
  5. Restlessness
  6. increased hunger
  7. Headaches
  8. Insomnia
  9. Tremors
  10. Enhanced coughing
  11. Fatigue
  12. Constipation or stomach discomfort
  13. Depression
  14. Slowing heart rate

Remember that these withdrawal symptoms are just transitory, however, how terrible they may be. In a few weeks, they will improve as the poisons are removed from your system. Inform your friends and family that you will not be your regular self and request their understanding.

Manage Cigarette Urges

While avoiding smoking triggers can help minimize your desire to smoke, it is unlikely that you can completely escape cigarette cravings. Fortunately, cravings normally only last between 5 and 10 minutes. If you are tempted to smoke, tell yourself that the urge will pass quickly and try to wait it out. It is helpful to be prepared in advance by developing coping mechanisms for cravings.

Divert your attention. Call a buddy, do the dishes, put on the television, or take a shower. It does not matter what you do as long as it takes your mind off of smoking.

Recall your reasons for quitting. Focus on your reasons for quitting, including the health benefits (such as a reduced chance of heart disease and lung cancer), your improved looks, the money you’re saving, and your improved self-esteem.

Get away from an alluring environment. What you are doing or where you are maybe cause the appetite. If so, a change of location can be transformative.

Reward yourself. Consolidate your successes. Whenever you overcome a craving, reward yourself to maintain your motivation.

Momentary Coping With Cigarette Urges

  • Find an oral replacement – Keep other items on hand to consume when cravings strike. Try gum, carrot, or celery sticks, sunflower seeds, or mints. Or, you may use a drinking straw.
  • Maintain mental activity by reading a book or magazine, listening to your favorite music, doing a crossword or Sudoku problem, or playing an internet game.
  • Maintain your hands active – To meet this desire for tactile stimulation, squeeze balls, pencils, and paper clips are suitable replacements.
  • Brush your teeth – the sense of having just brushed your teeth might help reduce cigarette cravings.
  • Drink water – Consume a big glass of water slowly. In addition to alleviating cravings, staying hydrated reduces the severity of nicotine withdrawal symptoms.
  • Instead of starting a cigarette, you should light a candle or some incense.
  • Go for a stroll, perform some jumping jacks or pushups, experiment with yoga poses, or sprint around the block.
  • Try to relax – Take a warm bath, meditate, read a book, or use deep breathing techniques to calm yourself.
  • Enter a location where smoking is prohibited, such as a public building, store, mall, coffee shop, or movie theatre.

Preventing Weight Gain After You Stop Smoking

As smoking functions as an appetite suppressant, many of us are concerned about gaining weight after we quit cigarettes. You may even be using it as an excuse to continue smoking. While it is true that many smokers gain weight within six months of quitting, the average weight gain is just five pounds, and this initial weight gain reduces with time. It is also crucial to realize that carrying a few more pounds for a few months will not be as detrimental to your heart as smoking is. However, weight gain is NOT inevitable after quitting smoking.

After quitting smoking, your senses of smell and taste will be enhanced, making meals more appetizing. If you substitute the oral satisfaction of smoking with unhealthy comfort foods, you may also gain weight. Instead of mindless, emotional eating, it is crucial to discover other, healthier methods to deal with negative emotions such as stress, worry, or boredom.

  • Nurture yourself. Instead of resorting to smoking or food when you feel overwhelmed, nervous, or sad, you should discover other strategies to rapidly calm yourself. For instance, you may listen to cheerful music, play with a pet, or enjoy a cup of hot tea.
  • Eat nutritious and varied meals. Consume a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats. Avoid sugary foods, soft drinks, fried foods, and processed foods.
  • Learn to eat with awareness. Emotional eating is typically automatic and almost thoughtless. It is simple to consume an entire container of ice cream while watching television or using a cell phone. But reducing distractions when eating makes it simpler to concentrate on how much you’re eating and tune into your body and how you’re feeling in reality. Are you truly hungry, or are you eating for another reason?
  • Drink lots of water. Six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water will help you feel full and prevent you from eating when you’re not hungry. Additionally, water helps remove pollutants from the body.
  • Take a stroll. Not only will it help you burn calories and maintain a healthy weight, but it will also ease the tension and agitation associated with smoking withdrawal.
  • Snack on delicacies without remorse. Good options include sugar-free gum, carrot and celery sticks, sliced bell peppers or jicama, and carrot and celery sticks.

Medication And Therapy To Help You Quit

There are several strategies that have helped people successfully break the smoking habit. You may be successful with the first approach you attempt, but it is more likely that you will need to try many methods or a mix of therapies before you find the ones that work best.

Medications

Medications for quitting smoking can alleviate withdrawal symptoms and lessen cravings. They are most successful when taken as part of a complete, physician-monitored program to quit smoking. Discuss your alternatives and if an anti-smoking drug is good for you with your doctor. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized the following options:

  • Nicotine substitution treatment. Nicotine replacement treatment consists of substituting cigarettes with nicotine gum, patch, lozenge, inhaler, or nasal spray. It alleviates certain withdrawal symptoms by giving modest, consistent amounts of nicotine without the tars and toxic gases present in cigarettes. This treatment helps you concentrate on overcoming your psychological addiction and makes it simpler to develop new behaviors and coping abilities.
  • Non-nicotine medicine. Without the use of nicotine, these drugs help you quit smoking by lowering cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Only short-term usage is indicated for medications like bupropion (Zyban) and varenicline (Chantix, Champix).

What You Need To Know About E-cigarettes (vaping)

Although some individuals find that vaping can help them quit smoking, the FDA has not authorized vaping as a smoking cessation treatment. In addition, recent news articles have connected vaping to serious lung illness, generating numerous concerns regarding vaping’s safety. Here is what you should know:

  • In the United States, electronic cigarette products are not regulated by the FDA.
  • Vaping is “not safe for kids, young adults, pregnant women, or individuals who do not already use tobacco products,” according to the FDA.
  • It might be difficult to determine exactly what is in e-cigarettes.
  • Some e-cigarette liquids include nicotine, which has several adverse health consequences. It can cause high blood pressure and diabetes and is especially harmful to children and adolescents’ growing brains.
  • There is no evidence available on the long-term health impacts of vaping.
  • Federal and state officials urge avoiding vaping until additional information is available.

Alternative Therapies

There are various alternatives to nicotine replacement treatment, vaping, and prescription drugs for quitting smoking. These consist of:

Hypnosis – This is a well-known method that has proven effective for many smokers attempting to stop. Forget what you may have seen from stage hypnotists; hypnosis works by inducing a completely relaxed state in which you are receptive to ideas that enhance your commitment to quit smoking and heighten your aversion to cigarettes.

Acupuncture – Acupuncture is considered to function by stimulating the production of endorphins (natural painkillers) that induce relaxation in the body. As a smoking cessation tool, acupuncture can aid in the management of nicotine withdrawal symptoms.

Behavioral Therapy – Nicotine addiction is tied to smoking’s routine habits or rituals. Behavior therapy emphasizes the development of new coping abilities and the elimination of undesirable behaviors.

Motivational Therapies – Self-help books and websites can provide a variety of motivational techniques for quitting smoking. A well-known example is the calculation of financial savings. Some individuals have found the drive to stop just by estimating the amount of money they will save. It may be sufficient to fund a summer vacation.

Smokeless Or Spit Tobacco Is NOT A Healthy Alternative To Smoking

Smokeless tobacco, often known as spittle or chewing tobacco, is not a safe substitute for cigarettes. It includes the same addictive ingredient as cigarettes, nicotine. In reality, the quantity of nicotine taken via smokeless tobacco can be three to four times that of a cigarette.

What To Do If You Slip Or Relapse

Don’t be too hard on yourself if you slip up and light a cigarette. Most smokers attempt to quit many times before they finally succeed. Turn your relapse into a rebound by learning from your error. Analyze what transpired just before you began smoking again, discover the triggers or obstacles you encountered, and create a new strategy to quit smoking that removes them.

  • It is also essential to differentiate between a slip and a relapse. If you start smoking again, it does not preclude you from quitting again. You may either choose to learn from the lapse and use it as motivation to try better, or you can use it as an excuse to resume smoking. However, the decision is yours to make. A slip need not result in a full-blown relapse.
  • You’re not a failure if you slip up. It does not exclude quitting for good.
  • Don’t let a misstep become a mudslide. Discard the remainder of the pack. It is essential to resume smoking cessation as soon as possible.
  • Review your quit log and be proud of the time you went without smoking.
  • Find the cause. What exactly caused you to begin smoking again? Determine how you will address this issue the next time it arises.
  • Learn from your past mistakes. What has been most beneficial? What didn’t work?
  • Are you taking medication to quit smoking? Call your physician if you resume smoking. Some medications cannot be taken if you are also a smoker.

Helping A Loved One To Stop Smoking

It is essential to realize that you cannot force a friend or loved one to quit smoking; the choice must be theirs. But if they do decide to quit, you may give support and encouragement and attempt to reduce the stress associated with stopping. Investigate the various treatment alternatives and discuss them with the smoker; nevertheless, avoid preaching or passing judgment. You may also assist a smoker in overcoming cravings by engaging in other activities with them and providing smoking alternatives, such as gum.

If a loved one relapses or stumbles, avoid making them feel guilty. Congratulate them on their smoking-free period and urge them to try again. Your assistance can make all the difference in your loved one’s ability to quit for good.

Helping A Teen To Quit

The majority of smokers take their first cigarette at age 11, and many become hooked by age 14. The usage of electronic cigarettes (vaping) has also skyrocketed in recent years. While the health effects of vaping are not yet completely understood, the FDA advises that it is not safe for adolescents, and we know that vaping increases the likelihood that adolescents will begin smoking cigarettes.

This might be concerning for parents, but it is essential to recognize the specific difficulties and peer pressure teenagers confront while attempting to quit smoking (or vaping). Although the choice to quit must come from the young smoker himself or herself, there are several ways you may aid.

Tips For Parents Of Teens Who Smoke Or Vape

  • Determine why your kid smokes or vapes; they may be seeking acceptance from their classmates or your attention. Instead of using threats or ultimatums, discuss lifestyle adjustments that will help people quit smoking.
  • If your youngster decides to stop smoking, be patient and encouraging throughout the process.
  • Set a positive example by abstaining from smoking. Smoking parents are more likely to have children who smoke.
  • Determine if your children have buddies who smoke or vape. Discuss with them how to refuse a cigarette or electronic cigarette.
  • Describe the risks to their health and the unattractive effects smoking can have on their appearance (such as bad breath, discolored teeth, and nails).
  • Create a smoke-free environment in your house. No smoking or vaping is permitted indoors at any time.

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