It takes practice and time to quit smoking, but it can be done, and the benefits of stopping smoking are worth the effort. There are many ways to quit smoking, such as the "cold turkey" method or a system to gradually taper off smoking. Each person is unique, and different strategies work better for different people.
Smoking cessation medications
Smoking cessation medications include nicotine chewing pieces (gum), the nicotine patch, nicotine inhaler, oral sprays, nicotine lozenges, bupropion, and varenicline. Research shows that when used as directed and combined with support groups or counseling, these medications can increase your chance of success. Speak to your doctor or pharmacist about which medications may be appropriate for you.
Support groups and counseling
Group programs usually involve meeting small groups of people who are all trying to quit smoking. Group support programs have proven one of the most successful methods for quitting smoking. Qualified health professionals lead some group programs, and these tend to be more effective. Contact your local public health department to locate any smoking cessation groups active in your community.
Individual counseling programs range from brief advice and counseling offered by a health care professional to intensive counseling available through specialty clinics. These clinics are not available everywhere, but are especially helpful for certain smokers. Talk to your doctor about whether individual counseling is an appropriate option for you.
Tips for quitting
The process of quitting smoking may be hard, but it can be done!
Here are some tips to help you quit:
- Develop an action plan to improve your chances of quitting. Writing the plan down will help you think more carefully about what you need to do and how you will approach it. Try the following:
- Pick a day as your "quit date," which is the day you intend to stop smoking. Write this date down.
- Make a list of the important benefits of quitting and read it over before and after you quit. Use this list while you are trying to quit to remind yourself of your reasons for quitting.
- List the situations in which you smoke and the reasons why you smoke – this will help you identify what "triggers" you to light up.
- List fun and healthy activities to replace smoking, and be ready to do these when you feel the urge to smoke.
- Avoid smoking triggers. Starting with your quit date, try to remove or avoid your smoking triggers. For example, if you associate coffee with smoking, try drinking tea or water instead. If you usually smoke at parties, find other ways to socialize with friends until you feel comfortable and confident about facing these situations.
- Don't carry matches, a lighter, or cigarettes.
- Each day, delay lighting your first cigarette by one hour. After the first cigarette, when you have your next craving to smoke, delay for another 15 minutes or half an hour. By delaying each cigarette, you take control.
- Familiarize yourself with possible withdrawal symptoms and how you plan to handle them.
- Get moving! Exercise is a great way to relax and feel good; use exercise rather than smoking to deal with stress. As you exercise, with each deep breath you take, you can start to repair some of the damage done to your body from smoking.
- Build your own support network. Enlist the help of a close friend or family member, your doctor, someone you know and respect who has recently quit, or someone who wants to quit smoking with you.