It is truly a difficult thing to quit smoking. Many people will report that they have tried to stop smoking multiple times. In fact when trying to quit smoking, relapse into smoking again is almost always expected.
So why is it so difficult? Nicotine withdrawal is difficult, uncomfortable and distressing. Headaches, nausea, anxiety, irritability and agitation, symptoms of depression, anger, over-eating, weight gain and insomnia are really common. These effects can occur off and on for lengthy periods of time. After the physical effects have worn off, people are also left dealing with the psychological aspects of smoking addiction. The coping strategies, routine behaviors, sounds, smells, coffee, alcohol, stress management, going to work and socializing may have all been taken over by smoking. People are forced to acknowledge how much they depend on smoking to handle even the smallest of daily routines.
Health professionals encourage people to quit smoking at every given opportunity. Even the smallest 3-10 minute chat with a health professional can create up to an 8% increased chance that a person will quit smoking, so smokers are regularly confronted by this issue. Most people have a rational side that can identify the huge benefits to quitting, but what happens next? How does intention become action? How can this action be maintained? And how does this lead to new habits and an easier way of living while trying to quit smoking?
It is always best to have a plan to quit. The more detailed the plan, the easier it will be to follow under difficult conditions and the more effective it will be. Health research has provided the following tips:
- People who understand why they want to quit and how important it is to their overall well-being are motivated to take action.
- Going “cold turkey” is not a very effective way to quit smoking.
- Social support, especially in the form of counseling for smoking cessation, is very helpful–and more helpful than a self-help book–especially if it helps solve day-to-day struggles with smoking.
- Medications can help manage cravings. Nicorette products (such as gum and lozenges), nicotine patches and Zyban (bupropion) are found to be effective in managing the physical symptoms of nicotine withdrawal and also lessen the psychological intensity of what people need to cope with.
- People who find new coping strategies to replace the old smoking-related ones are more likely to be successful in their efforts to quit.
- Strategies for managing stress without smoking are an important part of a successful plan.
- Avoiding situations that would lead to smoking, such as drinking coffee or alcohol, make it less likely that people will give in to smoking again, especially in the initial phases of quitting.
- Trying many times to quit does not prevent people from quitting in the long term.
- People with mental health problems find it more difficult to quit smoking than other people. People who are trying to quit who have mental health problems require close monitoring and additional support for both their mental health and their plans to quit smoking.
Quitting is the most effective way of preventing serious illness in people who smoke. Health care professionals have been busy researching the best things to do and plan in order to reach that goal. It is no longer the case that people cannot quit smoking for life. Planning action and trying to quit again and again appears to be the key.
By Doukessa Lerias