An individual may be addicted to cigarettes if he/she experience one or more of the following signs:
- You continue to smoke despite the desire to quit.
- You have made a serious, but unsuccessful, attempt to stop using tobacco or permanently reduce the amount you use.
- Your attempts to stop smoking have led to physical withdrawal symptoms, including a craving for tobacco, anxiety, irritability, restlessness, difficulty concentrating, headaches, drowsiness, and stomach upset.
- You develop a “tolerance” for tobacco. Smoking the same number of cigarettes produces less effect over time, making it necessary to increase the number of cigarettes you smoke to achieve the desired sensation.
- You have continued to use tobacco even when you have a serious physical problem (such as cardiovascular or respiratory disease) that you know is worsened by tobacco.
Clinical Studies have shown that the following steps will help you in your goals to quit smoking:
- Set a stop smoking date
- Elicit the support from family and friends
- Learn new skills and behaviors to deal with your cravings
- Develop a strategy for coping with temporary withdrawal symptoms
- Prepare yourself against difficult times and/or situations
- Get a prescription for a prescription medication to stop the nicotine cravings
Prescription Medications to Stop Smoking
Medicine has come a long way in developing prescription medications to allow individuals to stop smoking. Prescription medications when taken properly will all but alleviate the cravings for nicotine. Some of these medications also allow individuals to stop smoking without the weight gain that is so often present when someone attempts to stop smoking. Zyban represents the most prescribe prescription medication by physician to help their patients stop smoking.
Setting a quit smoking date
- Setting a quit smoking date is an important part of your commitment to smoking cessation. Preparing for your actual quit date increases the probability of your success.
- Pick a stop date that is appropriate i.e. do not pick a date prior to an important deadline or other commitment. Select a day when you are in control of your own schedule.
- Prior to starting your stop date tell your relatives, friends and co-workers about your decision to quit smoking – make the commitment.
- Make a list of all the reasons you want to quit. Post these reasons where you will see them frequently every day.
Elicit the support from family and friends
Clinical studies have shown that you have a better chance of being successful in your efforts to quit smoking if you have support. You can get support in many ways:
- Tell your family, friends, and co-workers that you are going to quit and want their support. Ask them not to smoke around you or leave cigarettes in your view.
- Discuss your decision to stop smoking with your health care provider (for example, doctor, dentist, nurse, pharmacist, psychologist, or smoking counselor).
- Get individual, group, or telephone counseling. The more counseling you have, the better your chances are of quitting. Programs are given at local hospitals and health centers. Call your local health department for information about programs in your area.
Learn new skills and behaviors to deal with your cravings
Once you have quit smoking you will have definite cravings for a cigarette. These cravings not only involve nicotine but the smoking habits i.e your hands and mouth, as well as using the lighter, matches, and other items associated with smoking. Individuals should develop substitutes keep their mouth and hands busy. Some individuals use toothpicks, stress balls, sugarless gum, drink lots of water, computer games are also an excellent distracter.
Remember these cravings only last a few minutes at a time and they will taper off in a few weeks!
Finding appropriate distracters can also help you get your mind off any temporary uncomfortable feelings you may incur:
- Try to distract yourself from urges to smoke, talk to someone, exercise, involve yourself with a task.
- Change your normal routine, drink a coke in the morning instead of coffee, take a different route to work, eat breakfast in a different area, pick up something interesting to read and eat breakfast in a different place.
- Find ways to reduce your stress, have a massage, take a hot bath, exercise, watch a movie.
- Reward yourself, plan something enjoyable to do every day.
- Drink a lot of water and other fluids.
- Practice deep breathing.
Develop a strategy for coping with temporary withdrawal symptoms.
Most withdrawal symptoms only last a few weeks; however, they can be uncomfortable while you are experiencing them. The following strategies can help you deal with the craving for nicotine:
Some individuals never have any symptoms or the symptoms they experience are very mild. Other individuals have a tougher time dealing with withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, sleeplessness, difficulty concentrating, tiredness, and gastrointestinal problems. If you feel irritable, try the breathing technique of taking a few short breaths. Next, participate in an activity that is relaxing (you should make a list of these activities prior to quitting).
If you experience difficulties sleeping, avoid caffeine late in the evening. Exercise in the late afternoon or early evening can help relax you so that you can sleep
Inability to concentrate is a common complaint of individuals who have recently stopped smoking, In order to alleviate these symptoms you should take a break from the activity and work on something less demanding. Attempt to set up a schedule that allows for more time to complete tasks that are difficult. Again, plan an exercise routine in the middle of the day, or some other kind of relaxing activity.
Constipation can be a problem for some individuals that use a cigarette in the morning to stimulate a bowel movement. Try drinking plenty of fluids and increase the amount of fiber i.e. grains, fruits, vegetables in your diet. If these symptoms persist consult with your local healthcare professional concerning over-the-counter remedies.
If you have additional withdrawal symptoms, remember, they are likely to subside a few weeks. You may also try the following techniques to help you relax through the critical periods:
Mental imagery is used by many individuals to accomplish their goals including professional athletes often use this strategy to prepare for an upcoming event.
Find an area were you could have peace and quiet without being disturbed. Begin by taking slow deep breaths. Picture yourself in a situation were you are a non-smoker. What are you doing? Are you outside in the mountains, breathing deeply, tasting the fresh air? Feeling confident? Are there other individuals with you? Are they family members that are proud of you for taking the initiative to stop smoking? What are their comments to you?
Take another deep breathe. Again, picture the scene in your mind. Notice the colors, shapes, textures lighting, etc. Envision what is going on around you while you notice how you look.
Again, breathe deeply. Focus on your image. Picture yourself effortlessly moving through your vision. You are content and proud of yourself for accomplishing your goals.
- What do you see?
- What do you taste?
- What do you smell?
- What do you hear?
Imagine how clean and refreshed your mouth feels after you have your teeth cleaned or after you have brushed your teeth.
Think about the imagery around you. Are you relaxed? Can you feel the fresh mountain air?
Think about what you hear. Are people talking to you, congratulating you for your success?
How do you feel? Are you content? Proud of yourself? Feeling like you have accomplished something important?
Take your mind forward and try to clearly picture everything you can about being a non-smoker. Then breathe deeply again and return to the present moment. Refer back to this image as much as you want. Take time to do this mental imagery again soon. The more you see yourself, clearly, as a non-smoker, accomplishing your goal the closer you are to success.
Ready to relax? Everyone needs a little down time. Here is an exercise that will help you unwind any time.
To begin, get as comfortable as you can (lay in your hammock or favorite chair. Take a very deep, slow breath. Feel the air go into your lungs and even fill up your stomach. When you exhale, breathe out slowly and comfortably. However do not hold your breath. Let one breath flow into another. Feel yourself inhale deeply, and imagine the oxygen going all the way to your toes and fingertips. Breathe slowly and deeply.
If thoughts come into your mind, just let them float by and return your focus to breathing. Whenever thoughts intrude, gently bring your focus back to breathing. Continue to keep your focus on breathing.
Some individuals use a couple of words or a short phrase to help them stay focused i.e “I am relaxed.” Think “I am focused ” repeat these phrases as you breathe in and slowly release the air. Say the words “I am relaxed” over and over with as you slowly take deep breaths and exhale slowly. Repeat this for at least 10 cycles. If you concentrate, you will really feel a difference in both your body and mind.
Prepare yourself against difficult times or situations
Most relapses occur within the first 3 months after quitting. Prepare yourself for difficult times so you may get through these situations without a setback:
- Smokers – avoid being around individuals that smoke.
- Weight gain – often individual’s will gain weight when they quit smoking; you need to eat a healthy diet and stay active especially during the first few weeks. Find non-caloric methods to satisfy your oral urges. Some individuals will use the weight gain as an excuse to start smoking again. Do not allow weight gain distract you from your main goal to stop smoking. Some individuals will use the weight gain as an excuse to start smoking again.
- Alcohol – avoid drinking alcohol, alcohol lowers your inhibitions and can often result in a setback.
- Situations or places –avoid certain conditions that may contribute to failure. For example, if you always have a cigarette following a heated discussion find a substitute –once again, go for a long walk. If you always have a cigarette while visiting your local bar, refrain from going to the bar for a few weeks until you get a handle on your new devotion to stop smoking. If you are feeling stressed, remember that you may have used cigarettes in the past to cope with uncomfortable situations. You now need to build new ways of coping.
Prescription medication, such as, Zyban can significantly reduce the cravings for cigarettes allowing individuals to stop smoking.