When it comes to smoking, it's OK to be a quitter
The third Thursday of November — this year, Nov. 19 — is the Great American Smokeout. If you’re ready to kick the habit, great! But first, figure out why you want to quit. Having a clear reason will help you stay focused on the goal. Think about questions like: What do you dislike about smoking? What things do you miss while smoking? How will it help your health? How will it help your family?
Some ways to kick the habit:
Replace the craving. Smoking is both a psychological habit and a physical addiction, so you need to replace both of these things to avoid cravings.
A nicotine patch, lozenge or gum, when used as directed, can replace the brain’s craving for nicotine.
To replace the psychological habit, chew gum, nibble on carrots or drink more water. These actions help keep the mouth busy. Throw out smoking triggers like ashtrays, cigarettes and lighters to avoid temptation.
Get a little help from your friends (and counselors). Quitting smoking is even harder if you try to do it alone. Friends, family and counselors can create a support network for you to reach your goal.
Your friends and family can help by removing temptation. Ask them not to smoke around you and have them hold you accountable — especially if you relapse.
A counselor or therapist can help by providing coping strategies, creating cessation plans and offering advice to make your quitting journey more successful.
Physical and virtual support groups connect you with other people who are going through a similar experience. This boosts confidence and helps you see that you aren’t alone in your quitting experience.
Try medication. If you need extra support to quit, your doctor may prescribe medications that can help.
There are two prescription medications that are FDA-approved to aid in quitting smoking. These medications help block the effects of nicotine on the brain. Talk to your doctor about whether these medications would be right for you. They may recommend combining multiple methods of treatment.
Don’t give up. It’s not uncommon to relapse — especially if you’ve been smoking for a long time. But don’t get discouraged and give up on quitting. Rather than going “cold turkey,” try reducing the number of cigarettes you smoke each day until you’re ready to try quitting again.
Nicotine withdrawal is at its worst for the first 3 months, so getting through that time is the hardest. Above all, remember that permanently quitting is a process, not a single task, so don’t give up if you struggle.
Finally, don’t forget to reward yourself when you meet your goals — even smaller goals, like throwing away your lighters.