Stop Smoking Remedies
This article was written by a stop smoking counselor (an ex-smoker) who has been helping smokers stop for more than 20 years. The advice in it comes from their experience. If you follow the steps set out here, you will be following a path trodden successfully by thousands of smokers before you.
This section takes you through the stages involved when you quit smoking. It will help you make up your mind, prepare to stop, stop smoking and stay stopped. And it answers the most common questions smokers ask about how to stop smoking.
If you follow the stages carefully, and use the ideas and advice, you will stop smoking. If you don’t stay stopped, don’t worry. Go back to stage one and start again.
The Stages To Stop Smoking
The first stage – preparing to stop – can take anywhere from days to years, and is the most important step. If you really want to stop smoking, and you prepare, you can stop smoking.
Once you’re prepared, you’ll be ready to move on to the following stages. These are stopping and staying stopped. You will first change your behavior by stopping smoking, then your mental attitude, thinking of yourself as a non-smoker.
Prepare to Stop Smoking
Stopping smoking is a choice. When you have finished preparing to stop you will:
- be sure you want to stop
- know why you want to stop
- be ready to stop
- have an action plan.
One of the keys to success is wanting to stop.
Key reasons to stop smoking:
- I want to improve my health.
- I don’t want my children to become smokers.
- It’s not fair to people I work, live, and go out with.
- I could do with the money.
- It smells, makes the house dirty, and clings to clothes.
- I’m afraid of getting cancer.
- It’s anti-social.
- I don’t like being addicted.
Problems or excuses?
"This isn’t the right time"
There are bad times to stop – for example when you’re under particular stress. But it’s easy to use this as an excuse not to stop smoking.
"It’s too late – the damage is probably done"
If you stop smoking before you get seriously ill, you’re likely to remain healthy. The risk from smoking builds up, so the sooner you stop the better.
"I may put on weight"
Some people put on weight when they stop, and some don’t. For those that do, the average weight gain is only a few pounds.
Try not to eat more when you stop. And try not to eat high calorie food you wouldn’t normally eat. If you need to, you can lose weight when you’re confident you have kicked the habit.
"Doesn’t smoking help me cope with stress?"
There is no evidence that smokers are less stressed than non-smokers. Nicotine is a stimulant. It only seems to make you feel calm. When your nicotine level falls you feel edgy because of withdrawal. So you smoke to boost your nicotine level. This relieves the withdrawal, making you feel less stressed. What felt like stress was actually caused by craving. You can give up.
JB of Portsmouth:
"My stress level was through the roof and I was thinking about cigarettes all the time, but in the end I thought “It’s not going to beat me.” It was hard, but I did it."
"But I haven’t got any will power."
Will power is not fixed. It’s like muscle power – you can build it up. There is probably something that you’re very determined about. Did you give up sugar in your tea? This is will power.
"What are withdrawal symptoms and how long will they last?"
When you stop smoking you are withdrawing from nicotine and from a powerful habit. It takes time to clear the drug from the body and break the habit.
During this time your system is suffering withdrawal symptoms. They can include hunger, disturbed sleep, depression, lightheadedness, irritation, poor concentration, craving, and others. The good news is that if you’re determined to stop, they will go, usually in about a month or so. Nicotine replacement therapy can also help.
Some key questions:
"Is smoking really dangerous?"
Around 5000 British people die in road accidents each year. Smoking kills 120,000.
"Should I cut down gradually or stop smoking suddenly?"
Some smokers cut down gradually because they’re afraid to stop. Cutting down means that you’re constantly working out when you can have the next cigarette. And it can make withdrawal symptoms worse. If you can manage it, stop smoking completely on day one.
"Is it worth stopping?"
Yes. Within weeks you will have better breathing and cleaner clothes, and the risk of serious disease starts going down immediately.
Understand your habits
Smoking is strongly linked to certain times and situations - the first smoke of the day, drinking tea or coffee, when the phone rings. To break the link between the situation and smoking, change your habits. For example, try an orange drink instead of coffee for a while.
Anticipate your problems
Which situations will be difficult?
Don't wait for them to happen. Plan how you will cope.
Make a plan
Now draw up your action plan for the next few weeks.
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Make time at the beginning of the day to review your action plan.
Be sensible about alcohol. Don’t worry if this doesn’t sound much fun. Temporary changes will get you through withdrawal. Then you can go back to normal – without cigarettes.
- If you need to put something in your mouth try sugar free chewing gum, or something healthy and non-fattening.
- If you need to do something with your hands, find something to fiddle with - a pencil, a coin anything but a cigarette.
- Try drinking juice or eating fruit when you feel like having a cigarette.
One day at a time
This is a cliché. But it’s worth the effort to adopt this attitude. Each day congratulate yourself on having made it so far. Make your goal to get through today without smoking.
This means you don’t need to worry about managing without smoking for the rest of your life. But this doesn’t mean don’t plan ahead. It is simply the frame of mind in which you should start each day.
DO think positive
There will be times when you feel tired and tempted to give in. Remember why you’re stopping. Be positive. If you remain determined, the difficulties will pass.
DON’T play games
A favourite is "one cigarette won’t hurt", or "I’ll just have one to prove I’ve kicked it". Recognise these games for what they are – a weakening of your resolve – and stomp on them firmly.
DO reward yourself after one week
DO take care
After the first few weeks, especially if you found it easy to stop, people may stop encouraging you, and even forget that you’re stopping. Don’t be complacent. Don’t allow yourself to be tempted. Be sensible.
DO reward yourself after one month.
More problems or more excuses?
If you’re faced with long empty periods, or just think you may feel this way without cigarettes, keep busy.
Be careful – alcohol can affect will power. Consider avoiding alcohol temporarily. Or avoid situations you know will be difficult.
People who offer you cigarettes – "oh go on, just have one"– may be jealous you’ve stopped. If they persist, accept one and break it up while they watch.
Try to learn to relax. You could try deep breathing. Even short periods of quiet and relaxation can reduce stress.
A new life
When you haven’t smoked for a few months and are feeling confident, you could look at other parts of your lifestyle (perhaps in relation to your weight for example, if it concerns you). When you stop smoking, it could be the beginning of a new life.
What if I start again?
It’s not the end of the world. Many smokers are caught in the ‘revolving door’ before eventually breaking free. Have a break, and when you’re ready, try again.
How long does it take to become a non-smoker?
When you first stop smoking you still think of yourself as a smoker. Under stress your automatic reaction is still to reach for a cigarette.
But in time your mind ‘catches up’ and this reaction stops. Usually it takes about three months. It is quite rare for the craving to last much longer than this.
N of Midhurst:
"You have to understand what’s going on in your head... when I want a cigarette I think “but wouldn’t it be awful to go through all that again ”... for one cigarette it’s just not worth it.’"
Free at last
One day you will wake up and realise that you went the whole of the previous day without even thinking about cigarettes.
Nicotine replacement therapy – or NRT – really does work.
You can try nicotine chewing gum, patches, inhalator or a nasal spray. All these products have been scientifically tested and the results show that they double your chances of stopping, so choose whichever one suits you best.
They can be bought over the counter from your pharmacist, except the nasal spray, for which you need a prescription. NRT products can help you stop smoking, even if you have tried them before. Ask your pharmacist for advice.
How does NRT work?
NRT works by getting nicotine into your system without the tar, carbon monoxide and other poisonous chemicals you get from tobacco smoke. It is these chemicals in tobacco that are most harmful, not the nicotine. But it’s the nicotine that is addictive. So while you’re becoming a non-smoker, you can still get nicotine from NRT. Once you‘re comfortable not smoking, you can cut out the NRT, gradually, if necessary
Is NRT safe?
NRT is much safer and much less addictive than cigarettes. It’s not a magic cure, but it will reduce the withdrawal symptoms and the cravings to smoke while you’re stopping.
Don’t worry about using too much. You can’t overdose on it. The worst that could happen is that you would feel sick. Follow the instructions in the package.
It’s important to remember that NRT isn’t meant to feel the same as smoking – it‘s meant to help you stop smoking.
Nicotine patches: these are available in different doses. If you smoke 10 a day or more start with the higher dose.
Nicotine gum: you can chew this gum whenever you feel a craving. Try the 2mg gum first, then if you still experience severe craving and withdrawal, try the stronger gum. The taste can be unpleasant at first but for most people this only lasts a week or so.
Nicorette inhalator : this is a plastic holder with nicotine cartridges that you put on the end. You draw on it like a cigarette and nicotine passes into your mouth.
If you still experience severe craving and withdrawal with the other NRT products, try the nasal spray.
Nicotine nasal spray: this is nicotine solution, which you spray up your nose. You can absorb nicotine through the nose quicker than with the gum or the patch, but it takes more getting used to, and can irritate the nose.
TJ of Roehampton:
"I tried stopping several times but I couldn’t cope with the withdrawal symptoms. Then the company I was working for gave us some nicotine patches and I found it quite easy to give up. They were really good."
Other stop smoking aids:
There are books on how to stop smoking available from bookshops, or try your local library.
Other stop smoking aids/courses can be found through advertisements, mail order, or in shops. These include dummy/herbal cigarettes, tablets, lozenges, filters, hypnosis, acupuncture, and others.
Have You Tried One Of These Home Remedies?
Do You Know Of Any New Stop Smoking Remedies?
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