Top Tips On How To Quit Smoking
It takes a smoker an average of five to ten attempts to successfully quit smoking. But with good strategies and perseverance, giving up should be an attainable goal for everyone.Here are Top Tips On How To Quit Smoking.
We all know how dangerous smoking is to our health. But despite all the warnings, the nagging from friends and family, around 700,000 Victorians continue to regularly light up.
It’s easy to imagine the smokers among us have their heads in the sand, but statistics show at least 82 per cent of them are keen to quit – and about 50 per cent actually try to quit each year. On average, a smoker will make five to ten attempts at quitting before they finally put down the cigarettes for good. But this is different for everyone – some people can give up first try, while others try many times.
So what’s the big deal? Why is it so hard? We talk to Dr Sarah White, director of the Victorian anti-smoking initiative QUIT, to get some ‘hot tips’ on giving up – and staying smoke-free.
Battling three demons
When you try to quit smoking, you’re not just fighting one addiction – but actually doing battle with three. According to Dr White, there are three distinct and separate parts to our craving for cigarettes: a nicotine addiction, an emotional addiction, and a habitual addiction.
Cigarettes are a method for delivering nicotine into our bloodstream. When you decide to give up, you can wean yourself off your nicotine addiction with patches or other nicotine delivery systems.
The emotional addiction, however, is much harder to break. This is the reason why most people continue to smoke, and it can be extremely complex. We use cigarettes for many reasons: to reward ourselves, to console ourselves when things are going badly, to calm ourselves down, to take time out.
As Dr White notes: “People trying to quit need to find another way to deal with stress, and another way to reward themselves.”
Thirdly, there is the habitual addiction. This relates to when and where you smoke – the ‘signposts’ of your habit. Perhaps you always have a cigarette with your morning coffee, or after lunch. Maybe one or two on the way home. Or when you have a drink. These habits are hard to break.
The medical profession describes smoking as “a chronic relapsing condition” – which basically means that for many people, the urge never completely goes away. This is why it can be brutally hard to quit.
Set yourself a date
QUIT and the Better Health Channel can suggest numerous strategies that have helped Victorian smokers to give up. From electing a ‘quit date’ and throwing away all temptations, to replacement therapies and online coaching – there are so many ways to make today’s cigarette your last.
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Dr White says it’s always worth getting some professional help at the outset. A call to Quitline [on 13 7848] can offer a great start to your quitting journey, “For the cost of a local call, you can double your chances of success.” QUIT also offers free personalised online coaching and a free text messaging service to help you keep on track.
Three weeks to a new you
The good news about quitting is that, while the first two weeks can be very difficult, by week three you should have started to rewrite your habits – and saying no will steadily become easier.
The bad news is that you need to get through that frightful fortnight first. When you give up, you’ll inevitably suffer from some of the side effects of abruptly stopping nicotine – including irritability, frustration, restlessness, and difficulties in concentrating.
During this critical phase, it’s worth considering one of the many ‘nicotine replacement products’ that deliver nicotine to your bloodstream in an ever-decreasing supply. As well as highly effective nicotine patches (some of which are discounted under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme), other products that can help include nicotine gum, lozenges, inhalators and mouth sprays.
Change routines, change habits
The more you know about your own smoking habits, the easier it’ll be for you to work out new habits.
Dr White says that, for heavier smokers, this can mean a complete change of routine. “For at least three weeks, it’s worth putting yourself in a place where there are simply no temptations.”
For example, if you habitually have a cigarette at morning tea, take your morning tea in a place where you’re not permitted to
smoke. Take an apple to eat on the way to the train station instead of having that after-work smoke. Read More