Many smokers quit smoking but relapse. These relapses can prove frustrating and difficult to overcome.
Relapses most often occur within the first week after quitting. This is when withdrawal symptoms tend to be strongest. However, these symptoms usually get easier over time.
- Eliminate your cigarettes.
Quitting smoking is the best thing you can do for your health. It will reduce your risk of lung cancer, heart disease, and other ailments, and it may even help you look and feel younger.
There are many options for quitting if you’re ready. You can download an app, use counseling, or talk to your doctor about medication. Online support and support groups are also available.
Before you quit smoking, think of a strong reason that will motivate you to quit. You could use it to protect your family and/or to lower your chances of getting other conditions.
You may also want to think about how the smoke affects you. Cigarette smoke can be toxic and can contaminate your breath, hair, and clothes.
After a long time of smoking, your skin can become itchy and irritated. Wash your skin frequently with soap and water or an alcohol based hand sanitizer.
The odor of cigarette smoke can also remain on furniture and wall-to–wall carpeting. There are cleaning products that can eliminate this smell permanently.
Baking soda is one the most effective odor-absorbing cleaning agents on the market. Sprinkle a little bit of baking soda on fabric surfaces such as sofas and rugs. Let it sit for several hours or overnight.
A second way to get rid of cigarette smell is to wash your hair or spray it with dry shampoo. These methods can help remove odor from your hair, including the under layers.
By covering your neck and chest with clothing, you can avoid being exposed to secondhand smoke. It is a good idea to ask your friends and family not to smoke in your home or car.
- Change your routine.
When you’re trying to quit smoking, it’s important to find ways to replace your normal habits with healthier ones. Changes in your coffee routine, walking around the block or giving up smoking altogether can help you quit.
A strong support network can make a big difference. Get together with friends who are also trying to quit and ask them for tips on how to keep you motivated. It can also be helpful to keep reminders of your goal close by. You can put ‘No Smoking’ signs anywhere you have easy access to, such as your wallet, purse or car.
Try distracting yourself if you find it difficult to resist a craving. You can go to a public place that doesn’t allow smoking, or you can take a break from work for 10 minutes while doing something else.
Or, you could give yourself a’smoke-free’ reward whenever you succeed in avoiding a craving. This could be a piece, a glass of water, or even a trip to the gym.
Psychological psychologist Diane Beneventi, Ph.D., advises that it is important to concentrate on non-smoking and not to revert back to smoking whenever the urge strikes. This will help you avoid relapse.
Begin by listing your habits (cues and routines) and then deciding how to change one or more of them. For example, if you usually smoke with your morning coffee, switch it for water or decaf. Alternately, if you smoke during lunch, you can substitute a salad with raw carrots or nuts.
You may also find it helpful to write down your top three worst triggers for you (where and when you usually smoke) so you can make plans to eliminate them. This is the most difficult step, but it will make quitting much easier.
- Break the link.
Breaking the link between smoking and drug and alcohol abuse is one of the best ways to quit. This includes changing your routine, substituting something else for cigarettes, and finding a support system.
Choosing the right medication to help you quit smoking is another important step. Talk to your doctor to determine the best prescription for you. The sooner you get treatment, the better your chances of lasting recovery. It is also a good idea not to allow other substance abusers to become your enablers. Talking to a mental health professional and a health care provider is the best way to get help. This is especially true for those who have a medical condition that could be a trigger.
- Substitute something else.
During the first few weeks of quitting, it may feel like you’re in a state of withdrawal. This is normal and will pass quickly. You can resist the urge to smoke by substituting chewing gum, drinking water, or going for a walk.
You might also think about nicotine replacements like patches, gum, and lozenges. These work by delivering nicotine to your body, which reduces withdrawal symptoms and cravings and can be tapered off easily as your addiction declines.
Other treatments include acupuncture and laser therapy. Acupuncture uses thin metal needles to stimulate pressure points on your body, which can help control the cravings that often come with giving up smoking. It might also be helpful for people who have had side effects from other quit-smoking methods.
Talk with your doctor to discuss a quit-smoking drug. One option that has shown the best results is Varenicline (Chantix). Bupropion (Zyban or WellbutrinSR) is another option. It works by altering the brain’s hormones and can help you quit smoking. You can also get a vaporizer or inhaler, which are devices that deliver a diluted nicotine smoke-free vapor through your nose or mouth.
- Find a support group.
You’ve probably tried to quit smoking before. Many people need several attempts before they are able to successfully stop for good.
A support system is a great way to help you stick with your plan. Find a local smoking cessation program offering counseling and medication. These programs can be found at hospitals, community centers, work sites, and health departments.
Counseling can also help you to identify and deal with stressors and triggers that could be triggering your cravings. Once you know what makes you want to smoke, you can learn healthier ways to deal with those feelings, such as meditation or other stress-relieving activities.
It is important to have a support network when quitting. This could be a group of friends who will cheer your on or a free phone call to a hotline. Find someone to remind you why and how far you’ve come.
To help you through the withdrawal phase, you can also use nicotine replacement products such as patches or gum. These products can be helpful. If they are not working, you can reduce or eliminate them.
People who relapse often experience cravings. They can be more intense than the withdrawal symptoms that you are experiencing after quitting. But they will eventually go away.
You can combat cravings by getting outside and doing vigorous exercise, especially if your goal is to lose or control weight. If you are struggling with a craving, you can do squats, deep knee bends and pushups. You can also run in place and walk up and down stairs.