A complete guide to help you Quit Smoking
Dr. Pradeep Vangala | July 28, 2020

We all know smoking is harmful to health, but that does not make quitting easier. Smoking is both physical and psychological addiction. Whether you are an occasional smoker or one pack per day smoker, leaving can be really hard.

Nicotine in your cigarettes creates an addictive high, which on elimination brings withdrawal symptoms and cravings. With a feel-good effect on your brain, nicotine becomes a quick way to boost your mood and destress. Smoking can be your way of coping with stress, anxiety, and depression. Quitting this habit means finding some healthier ways to deal with your stressful feelings.

Smoking might have been a daily ritual for you. To successfully quit this habit, you need to address your addiction and your daily routine that goes along with it. With the right plan and excellent support, you can kick this habit out of your life.

 

 

Quit Smoking Plan

A good plan should include short term challenges of quitting and long term challenges of relapse. To start with your quitting plan, first, analyze your habit. Know whether you are a heavy smoker, social smoker, or you smoke while stressed?

Set a date for quitting within a week or two. Tackle time to prepare yourself mentally. Tell your friends, family, and colleagues about your plan. This keeps you accountable, and people around you can support you and encourage you.

To avoid relapse, you should know about nicotine withdrawal symptoms and cravings for smoking. Out of sight is out of mind, throw away all your cigarette packets from home, car, or office space. A doctor can help you deal with withdrawal symptoms. There are nicotine patches, lozenges, and gums are available, which can ease your symptoms.

Understand Your Smoking Triggers

The best way to make a quit smoking plan is to understand your triggers, including certain feelings, activities, people, or situations. Maintaining a journal can also help you understand your triggering factors. Note down the time, circumstance, feelings, and the intensity of your cravings every day.

Understand the reason behind these cravings and find an alternative solution. For instance, when you are stressed, you can try relaxation techniques like breathing exercises or meditation.

Tips to avoid triggers:

  • Try snacking on healthy nuts or chewing gums to overcome your cravings.
  • Avoid friends groups who smoke, tell them about your quitting plan.
  • Replace your cigarette with a healthy fruit or chewing of gum.

Nicotine Withdrawal Symptoms

Once you quit smoking, you will experience several nicotine withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms last for a few days to several weeks, and it varies from person to person.

Common symptoms include;

  • Nicotine cravings
  • Anxiety and frustration
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Restlessness
  • Increased appetite leading to weight gain
  • Headaches
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Persistent cough

Although these symptoms are unpleasant, it is essential to remember they are temporary. Within a few weeks, the nicotine gets flushed out of your body. Discuss with your family and friends about your feelings and symptoms and ask for their support.

How to Manage Your Nicotine Cravings

Even after avoiding all the triggers, you may have cravings for smoking. The good news is these cravings don’t last long. You will be tempted for five to ten minutes, and it will pass on. Having some strategies to manage these cravings can help you cope well with it.

  • Distraction is the key - try to take your mind off from these cravings. Watch TV or make a phone call to your friend to distract yourself.
  • Focus on all the benefits - of not smoking and remind yourself why you started.
  • Change your surroundings -get away from your tempting zone.
  • Celebrate your wins - reward yourself when you get over each craving.

Therapy to Help You Quit Smoking

There are various medications and combinations of treatments available to help you quit smoking. You may have to try a few methods to quit smoking and avoid the possibility of relapse successfully.

Behavioral Therapy

This includes in-person counseling, telephone counseling, and self-help materials by skilled health professionals. According to the Public Health Service guidelines, you should undergo at least four in-person counseling sessions. Therapy delivered by various types of providers, including physicians, nurses, psychologists, social workers, and cessation counselors, can be effective in modifying your behavior(1).

Medications

FDA has approved bupropion SR, varenicline, and NRT (nicotine replacement therapy) as effective drugs to treat nicotine dependence in adults.

Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) - It involves replacing nicotine with nicotine substitutes such as nicotine patches, gums, lozenges, or spray. It helps to relieve some withdrawal symptoms by releasing a study dose of nicotine in your body. This enables you to overcome your psychological addiction and allows you to focus better.

Bupropion SR - It is an antidepressant drug that is also used as a smoking secession aid. Sometimes NRT can be combined with bupropion for a better outcome.

Varenicline - It works by reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms by blocking the binding of smoked nicotine. It has a low risk of causing depression, hence advised as a short term therapy.

Alternative treatment - These include vaping, prescription medications, and motivational therapies.

How to Deal With Relapse

Many people fail several times before quitting the habit of smoking altogether. Instead of feeling guilty, turn these relapses into a rebound by learning from your mistakes. Analyze what made you smoke again, the triggering factor, and make new plans to avoid such relapses.

It is easy to make an excuse and go back to smoking. But you need to choose whether you want to make excuses or try harder and get rid of smoking. Look back on your journey without smoking and stay motivated.

Online Consultation

Online consultation can help you plan your quit smoking strategy, and recommend some coping techniques. You can also avail prescription medication to start your quit smoking journey.

If you are ready to take the step to quit smoking, we can help you. Get yourself evaluated here to get physician-prescribed medications that will help you cope with cravings and overcome nicotine withdrawal symptoms.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.I have cut down a lot, is it ok if I smoke once or twice a day?

The only thing you can do for your better health is to quit smoking altogether. There is no safe amount allowed for smoking. You may find it hard in the beginning, but once you overcome nicotine withdrawal, quitting becomes achievable.

2.How will my health improve after quitting?

After quitting, your body starts receiving more oxygen that makes you feel more energetic and less stressed. Your cough will go away, and your throat will not have any irritation. Your body will slowly start repairing the damages done by smoking. You will be at a lesser risk of heart attack and stroke.

3.Are e-cigarettes a good option to quit smoking?

The FDA does not recommend e-cigarettes as a healthy option. These e-cigarettes might expose you to several other chemicals that may cause harm to your health. Instead, consult a doctor and follow a recommended procedure to start your quit smoking journey.

4.Is it true that quit smoking leads to weight gain?

Yes, smoking acts as an appetite suppressant, and when you stop, you will crave more food. This may result in weight gain. By following a healthy diet plan and exercise routine, you can manage your weight. When you stop smoking, it brings many health benefits, and some weight gain can be managed.

5.All my friends and colleagues smoke; this makes it harder to quit. What can I do?

You can not force everybody to quit, and it is your personal decision. Telling your friends, family, and colleagues about your decision to stop smoking should be your first step. This way, you can stay away from the smoking zone and can ask people not to smoke around you. You may encourage others as well by being firm with your decision.

Final Words

There is no doubt about how harmful smoking is to your health. A big problem with quit smoking is high relapse rates. Getting assistance from a health professional to educate yourself can ease the process of quitting. Several people have quit smoking successfully, and you can too.

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