Quitting isn’t easy. Nicotine, the addictive ingredient in tobacco, is as addictive as heroin or cocaine according to the American Cancer Society. In fact, the average person attempts to quit around six to seven times before succeeding. Keep in mind- It’s never too late to stop smoking and reap some health benefits. Even if you quit smoking after the age 60, studies have shown that your risk of dying at any age is reduced by about 39% compared to a person who continues to smoke. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help yourself succeed and kick the habit for good. So plan your strategy ahead and never ever give up on giving up!
- Update yourself on the many health and other benefits of quitting – Quitting smoking is great for your health is so many ways. It lowers your risk for the smoking-related diseases and can add years to your life. The health benefits of quitting continue to grow the longer you stay quit. Some sites to refer to on the quitting benefits are: American Lung Association – ; CDC – ; American Cancer Society – ; American Heart Association – . You may need to type in the word “smoking or tobacco” in the search box.
Of course, there are also plenty of reasons to quit beyond just your health. Here are just a few: Extra money in your pocket, no more smoky smell, better tasting food, healthier looking skin and teeth, a better night’s sleep, and a sense of freedom from addiction.
- Write down your personal reasons to quit – You may want to post them in places you usually go to smoke.
- Set a quit date – Pick a day and time in the near future that you anticipate as a relatively low stress time. If you falter, give yourself some slack, change or review any quit plans if needed, and quickly pick another quit date.
- Get your friends and family on board for support even if they are smokers themselves – The more support you have the higher your chances of quitting. Supporters can help you with diversional activities. It will also help them know and accept why you may be having temporary mood changes.
- Identify your triggers and avoid them. Knowing your habits and what situations may set off a craving will help you plan ahead for distractions. This may require a change in some of your habits. You’ll be most tempted to smoke during the same times you do now.
- Anticipate how you are going to handle any cravings and nicotine withdrawal symptoms - Expect to feel a little off; anxious, cranky, sad, and possibly experience some sleep difficulties. Know that these are a temporary part of the process. Most withdrawal symptoms only last a couple of weeks or less. Cravings generally last no longer than 10 min so plan strategies to get you past them. Distract yourself to keep your mind off smoking. Keep healthy snacks around, start new hobbies, exercise or walk, call a supportive friend, etc. Focus on something else during the rough times. Practice the 5 D’s: Drink water, Delay, Do something else, Deep breathe, Discuss.
- Throw out all your cigarettes on your quit date, even that emergency stash - It will make it much easier to stay on course if a craving hits.
- Reward yourself whenever possible - You are saving so much money by not buying tobacco. Some people put their money they once spent on cigarettes in a reward jar as visual daily reminder. Plan on spending most or all of it on yourself. You deserve it!
- Talk to your doctor or cessation counselor about your quit plans – They may be a great resource in case cessation help through medications are needed, for support, and for questions.
- Missouri has online and phone counselors to help with smoking cessation also. Call them: 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or register online at: .
- Call help and support is also available at Ste. Genevieve County Health Department (883-7411).