Patient Information: Smoking
How to quit and quit for GOOD!
This site guides you through the process of stopping the addictive habit of smoking. It gives tips on fighting temptation, tells you what to expect and assists you through the day - by - day process of becoming and remaining a non-smoker.
Preparing yourself for quitting...
- Decide positively that you want to quit.
- List all the reasons you want to quit.
- Develop strong personal reasons in addition to your health and obligations to others.
- Begin to condition yourself physically: Start a modest exercise program; drink more fluids; get plenty of rest; and avoid fatigue.
- Set a target date for quitting. Make the date sacred, and don't let anything change it.
Knowing what to expect...
- Have realistic expectations - quitting isn't easy, but it's not impossible either.
- Understand that recovery symptoms are temporary. They usually last 1 - 2 weeks.
- Know that most relapses occur in the first week after quitting, when withdrawal symptoms are strongest and your body is still dependent on nicotine.
- Know that most other relapses occur in the first 3 months after quitting, when situation triggers - such as a particularly stressful event occur unexpectedly.
- Realize that most successful ex-smokers quit for good only after several attempts.
When someone quits smoking, the body may have a difficult time adjusting to the absence of the chemicals normally gotten from the cigarette smoke. Each person will react differently. The following includes a list of recovery symptoms and activities that might help the discomfort of the symptom:
- Dry mouth, sore throat, gums, or tongue. This is due to the chemical changes in your mouth. Sip ice-cold water or fruit juice, or chew gum. Mouthwash, salt water rinses or extra vitamin C may help.
- Headaches. This occurs because of the dilated blood vessels in your head due to the increase in oxygen levels. Take a warm bath or shower. Try relaxation or meditation techniques.
- Trouble sleeping. Resisting the urges to smoke can be tiring and emotionally draining. Decrease caffeine intake, especially after 6:00 p.m. Adopt an exercise program. Try relaxation or meditation.
- Irregularity. When cigarette use is eliminated, intestinal movements may decrease because of the absence of nicotine, which acts as a stimulant on the body. Increase fiber in your diet with grains, fruits and vegetables. Drink 6 - 8 glasses of water.
- Fatigue. Keep a regular bedtime schedule. Take time to relax (15 minutes at a time) during your day.
- Hunger. Food tastes better because the taste buds are no longer numbed by tobacco smoke. Eat breakfast every day. Eat three balanced meals a day. Drink water or other low-calorie liquids. Eat low-fat, low-calorie snacks.
- Tenseness, irritability. Internal and external stress caused by quitting smoking is bound to upset almost any smoker. Forewarn family and friends about your decision to quit. Ask them to be understanding. If possible, try to avoid stressful events, situations or other problems that might only make matters worse. Develop an exercise program. Walking is an excellent choice. Take a warm bath. Tell a friend about your frustrations.
- Coughing. This may seem to be a negative sign, but it is actually a positive sign that the lungs are beginning to rid themselves of accumulated mucus and tar. Sip on a hot liquid. Suck on cough drops or sugarless hard candy.
Just before quitting...
- Drink lots of fluids to flush the nicotine out of your system.
- Have the carpet cleaned or use a rug deodorizer to rid the smell of stale smoke.
- Plan a visit to the dentist to have your teeth cleaned.
- Practice being a non-smoker by visiting places where smoking is not allowed.
- Restrict smoking to only one area of your house/office.
- Quit smoking in your car.
- Get up from the table after eating and don't have that "after meal" cigarette.
- Reduce your caffeine intake.
- Stock your house/office with alternatives to smoking, such as carrot sticks or celery stalks, sugarless gum or mints, toothpicks or plastic straws to chew on, or anything that will help you.
On the day you quit...
- Throw away all your reminders of smoking, including ashtrays, lighters, and matchbooks.
- Visit the dentist and have your teeth cleaned to get rid of tobacco stains.
- Make a "ciggy bank" with the money you save from not smoking.
- Brush your teeth immediately after meals instead of sitting at the table and wishing for a cigarette.
- Take up that hobby that you have been wanting to do for the last several years.
- Keep very busy on the big day. Go to the movies, exercise, take long walks, go bike riding.
- Remind your family and friends that this is your quit date, and ask them to help you over the rough spots of the first couple of days and weeks.
- Drink lots of water on the big day to flush your body of nicotine.
Ways to Quit:
- Change to a brand that's low in tar and nicotine a couple of weeks before your target date. Do not smoke more cigarettes, inhale them more often or more deeply, or place your fingertips over the holes in the filters.
- Cut down the number of cigarettes you smoke. Smoke only half of each cigarette. Postpone lighting your first cigarette 1 hour. Decide on a number of cigarettes that you can smoke in a day's time.
- Don't smoke "automatically". Smoke those cigarettes you really want. Don't empty your ash trays. Change your daily routine, break up your smoking patterns. Smoke alone.
- Make smoking inconvenient. Keep cigarettes locked in the glove compartment of your car when you drive. Set up "no smoking" zones in your home/office. Only buy one pack of cigarettes at a time. Keep cigarettes in an inconvenient place.
- Make smoking unpleasant. Smoke only under circumstances that aren't especially pleasurable for you. Collect all your cigarette butts in one large glass container as a visual reminder of the number of cigarettes you smoke and the unpleasant smell.
The key to living as a nonsmoker is to avoid letting your urges or cravings for a cigarette lead you to smoke. Do not kid yourself, even though you have made a commitment not to smoke, you will sometimes be tempted. Look for "usual" tempters or triggers to smoke -- feeling #0000FF, talking on the telephone, drinking coffee or alcohol or watching someone smoke. Anticipate these triggers and prepare to avoid them.
Know when you are rationalizing. Two very common rationalizations are "needing" cigarettes to control stress and fear of weight gain. Really think about why you're trying to talk yourself back into smoking. What's your real motivation? And is resuming smoking the only response available to you? Are cigarettes what you really need, or do you need better mechanisms for managing your time or dealing with people. Use the same tactic you used when you were a smoker. Plan ahead for these times of rationalizing your actions to smoke. Plan for these times before they happen. Rely on the coping mechanisms that have worked well for you: delay, deep breathing, change your current tasks, take a brisk walk, call a non-smoking friend. Always be prepared with the "arsenal" developed for those oral cravings or hand holding needs.
You have made an important decision. Reward yourself for not smoking and remind yourself that what you are doing is important.
Peer Review Status: Internally
Peer Review Date: 2004