It’s great that you’ve made the decision to quit. Smoking can’t fit your values, priorities, and goals such as living longer, living better and being a good role model for your kids. You are choosing to make a positive change for yourself! Quitting starts with the first action you take: developing a quit plan. Here you will find steps, advice, and a supportive resources to help in planning and making your quit attempts. Always remember that you can be successful. You will be able to quit, as long as you keep your goals in sight, your head held high, and your “eye on the prize”!
i. DEVELOPING A QUIT PLAN
Your first step to quitting is to develop a quit plan. Here are key elements of a successful quit plan as outlined by the STAR acronym.
1. Set a quit date. It is important to set a quit date as soon as possible. Giving yourself a short period to quit will keep you focused and motivated to achieve your goal. Choosing your birthday or some other meaningful day is a good idea, but you don’t have to always follow suit. You can start quitting today!
2. Tell your friends, family, and coworkers. It is important to share your goal to quit with those you interact frequently.
• Ask them for support. They can support you by reminding you of your goal to quit and encouraging you to not give in to temptations like cravings. By telling your friends, family, and coworkers you might also inspire those of them who smoke to create a quit plan with you. Having a “quit buddy” is a great way to keep both of you accountable and on track to quitting.
• Ask them for understanding. If you have friends or family that smoke, it is a good idea to ask them to refrain from lighting up when you’re around!
3. Anticipate challenges to the upcoming quit attempt. Quitting smoking is no easy feat, so you are brave and courageous for committing to this goal! It’s important that you anticipate triggers and challenges in the upcoming attempt, particularly during the critical first few weeks.
4. Remove tobacco products from your environment. It’s important to minimize exposure to smoking cues. If the tobacco products are still around, you will be more tempted to pick them up and smoke. It’s best to rid yourself of such temptations by making a smoke free house, avoiding smoking areas, and asking your peers to not smoke around you. If you live with other smokers who are not yet ready to quit, ask them to smoke outside the home and cars to best achieve your smoke-free environment.
ii. STRATEGIES AND SKILLS TO OVERCOME COMMON BARRIERS AND CHALLENGES TO QUITTING
In order for you to develop and implement your quit plan successfully, it is important that you familiarize yourself with the common challenges and barriers to quitting and effective coping strategies and skills. The challenges to quitting are typically classified into three categories: physical addiction, behavioral and social connections, and psychological or emotional connections.
1. PHYSICAL ADDICTION
Nicotine, a harmful chemical in tobacco products, is an addictive substance. It affects the dopamine systems in your brain similar to that of heroin and cocaine: nicotine increases the number of nicotinic receptors in the brain. As a smoker, your brain and body become used to functioning on certain level of nicotine. Your nicotine level will drop dramatically one or two hours after your last cigarette (whether it’s for quitting or simply the natural break between tobacco smoking), and then you will crave nicotine (cigarettes) unless you get laser therapy. When you quit, it is important to remember that, the absence of nicotine in your brain will make you feel uncomfortable and cause withdrawal symptoms unless you get laser therapy. . Nicotine withdrawal symptoms refer to a group of physical and mental changes that may occur from suddenly stopping the use of tobacco such as headaches, coughing, cravings, increased appetite or weight gain, mood changes (sadness, irritability, frustration, or anger), restless, decreased heart rate, difficulty concentrating, influenza–like symptoms and insomnia. Laser treatment take care of craving and withdrawal symptoms. The good news is that these symptoms are normally temporary (2-4 weeks) and will subside as your body learns, again, how to function without the high levels of nicotine. There are also effective methods available to help you overcome them. Just because you quit smoking does not mean you will experience all, if any, of the withdrawal symptoms. But it important to prepare yourself for the possibility. There are two ways to deal with nicotine withdrawal symptoms: cognitive-behavioral therapies and physical therapies. In the following tables, you will find more information on how to use cognitive-behavioral and physical coping mechanisms to overcome nicotine withdrawal symptoms.
1 Cognitive-behavioral therapies
Cognitive-behavioral therapies can effectively help smokers alleviate withdrawal symptoms. Table 1 provides you some suggested cognitive or behavioral interventions. Withdrawal symptoms Cognitive-behavioral therapies Headaches If you are experiencing frequent headaches, make sure you are getting enough sleep, eating regularly, and partaking in physical activity. These lifestyle changes should help keep headaches at bay and/or lesson their severity. Coughing Staying hydrated is key to manage any coughing you may experience. A spoonful of honey, warm teas, juices, inhaling vapors, and avoiding dairy are common “remedies” to deal with coughing.
The 4Ds Strategy to Deal with Smoking Cravings
1) Delay: set a time limit before you give in to smoking a cigarette. Delay as long as you can. If you feel that you must give in to your urge, move on to step
2) Deep breathing: take 10 deep breaths to relax yourself. Try to mediate with deep breathing to relax yourself from within until the urge passes. If the urge does not subside, move on to next step.
3) Drink water: drinking water is a healthy alternative to sticking a cigarette in your mouth. Water also helps flush out toxins to refresh your body. If you still crave for cigarettes, move on to next step.
4) Do Something else to distract yourself: read, go for a walk, listen to music, watch TV- engage in any hobby other than smoking!
In addition to behavioral therapies, there are also physical therapies available to help overcome
nicotine withdrawal symptoms. There are two major types of medication available that may be able to
relieve withdrawal symptoms: nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs) and non-nicotine replacement therapies.
NRTs include things such as nicotine gum and patches, whereas non-nicotine therapies include medications
like Bupropion and Varenicline. Table 2 can help you better understand the available dosage, proper usage
and side effects of the aforementioned medications.
Weight gain is one of the most common roadblocks and side effects responsible for derailing smokers trying to quit. It is
true that when you quit, you are likely to have a larger appetite and be tempted to replace cigarettes with food. However,
you can avoid weight gain by making healthy eating choices (fruits, vegetables, and other healthy snacks) and drinking
lots of water, which will also help you make an important step towards a healthier lifestyle as well!
Try focusing on positive thoughts about quitting or filling your head with happy, uplifting music to drown out the negative
thoughts and emotions that you are experiencing. Remind yourself of all the benefits of quitting smoking; think of how
much better you will physically feel, think of all the extra energy you will have.
Restlessness The best way to deal with restlessness is to get up and move around! Engage in physical activity, go for a walk!
See the NOTE below
The best way to deal with difficulty in concentrating is through your mind. Yoga, meditation, and mental imagery are
great ways to focus on concentrating and regain your abilities to function normally. Think of it like exercising for you
mind! The only way to improve concentration is to practice it! (Also see the NOTE)
As is with any case of the flu, or common cold, the best “medicine” is rest and hydration. Keep drinking water and
making sure your body is getting enough sleep.
Insomnia Relaxation methods and regular exercise are good for overcoming your sleeping problem. Common practices to
overcome insomnia also include counting sheep, guided meditation, and self-guided imagery.
NOTE: All symptoms can be managed with a healthy lifestyle. Make sure you are eating and sleeping enough, take a multivitamin, exercise,
make good eating choices, develop relaxation mechanisms (whether it’s utilizing a stress ball, deep breathing, yoga, or something of your
own creation!), and reward yourself with things such as a new book or a hot bath to not only help relax you, but to also distract you from
your current urges and cravings.
Medication How to use Side effects and
Nicotine gum (over the
counter): delivers nicotine
through the lining of the
(available as 2mg, 4mg)
-Based on cigarettes/day (cpd)
2. EMOTIONAL/PSYCHOLOGICAL CONNECTIONS
You may not have realized this, but, as a smoker, you link cigarettes and smoking with certain emotions,
thoughts, and beliefs. Part of quitting involves breaking those subconscious connections. Some common
links that smokers form include smoking when they feel stressed, happy, sad or angry. In fact, using cigarettes
to cope with these feelings is misguided. It does not help solve the source of your problems.
In addition to linking emotions or feelings with smoking, it is also common to link certain beliefs with
smoking. These beliefs include, and are not limited to:
• “Smoking helps me relax.”
• “Smoking isn’t really harmful!”
• “It’s cool to smoke!”
• “It keeps my weight down.”
In order to avoid being derailed by such emotional or psychological roadblocks, it is important to remember
and remind yourself of the risks of smoking and the benefits of quitting. You can create positive self-talks
based on the benefits of quitting such as “Quitting smoking can save my life” and “quitting smoking can
save me money”, to help you break the connections between quitting and negative beliefs.
Medication How to use Side effects and
Nicotine patch (over the
counter): Delivers nicotine
through skin (available as
24hr delivery in 7mg, 14mg,
21mg, and 16hr delivery
in 5mg, 10mg, 15mg)
Dosing: (24hour patch)
> 40 cpd: 42 mg/day _
21-39 cpd: 28-35 mg/day
10-20 cpd: 14-21 mg/day