How To Quit Smoking: 7 Tips To Overcoming The Addiction

By BetterHelp Editorial Team|Updated April 4, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Ann-Marie Duncan, LCMHC

Quitting smoking isn’t easy, but the benefits of stopping the habit are tremendous. Even if you have been smoking for years, it’s never too late to stop, and in this article, you will learn how you can start taking back your life from your addiction to smoking and living a happier, healthier, and smoke-free lifestyle.

Why You Should Quit Smoking

Finding a reason to stop smoking will be essential to keeping you motivated to commit to cessation. Everyone will have their own personal reason to try to put an end to the habit, and you will need to find a goal or source of motivation that you feel strongly about and stick with it, even though the physical withdrawal stage, which often lasts for around a week.F

There is a good chance that you were aware of the dangers of smoking before you picked it up, and health reasons are by far the most common reason why people choose to stop. Smoking is the leading preventable cause of disease and death in the United States, and it’s most likely similar in other parts of the world as well. [1]

Smoking tobacco tends to be associated with lung cancer; however, it is actually connected to many different cancers such as the throat, mouth, esophagus, stomach, and colon, to name a few. Nonetheless, health concerns with smoking do not end at cancers – it also increases the risk of cardiovascular and lung diseases, such as emphysema, which is chronic and incurable.

Aside from disease prevention, quitting also provides other positive health benefits, like better breathing and oxygen distribution and blood flow, reduced cholesterol and blood pressure, denser bones, stronger immune systems and wound healing, and even better vision.

These positive health changes can also lead to other benefits that you can enjoy, such as better skin, a cleaner mouth, and a better sense of taste and smell. Regarding smell, the scent of smoke lingering on you and your clothes will no longer be an issue, and you’ll smell better to those around you.

Financial reasons for quitting smoking are also very common amongst quitters. By stopping, you can save a lot of money and use it towards things that actually benefit your life. As of 2020, the average cost for a pack of cigarettes is $6.28 in the United States, and while this doesn’t sound like a lot at first glance, it can add up. [2]

For example, if you buy and smoke a pack of 20 cigarettes every day, you will spend approximately $188 each month on this habit. At this rate, in one year, you will spend $2,292, and in 10, it will be $34,318. [2] Therefore, the financial benefits when you quit smoking should never be underestimated, especially since the cost of cigarettes is much higher than this in many parts of the United States. Use this tool to see how much smoking costs you.

Lastly, many people who think about quitting smoking are thinking about their friends, family, and significant others. Ultimately, stopping will benefit you the most, but knowing that they’ll make the people that are important to them proud is enough to make them follow through and quit smoking.

Think about what’s most important to you, and use that as your foundation to quit. As you continue to read, you’ll learn some useful strategies that you can use to make the process easier and increase your chances of successfully quitting and staying away from it.

1. Think About A Plan

Although many people may swear by the cold turkey method, which can still be a viable tactic, you can improve your odds of quitting by coming up with a well-thought-out plan that you can commit to.

Going cold turkey means that you drop the habit right then and there, even if it means throwing away an unfinished pack of cigarettes. It works, but it tends to be harsher in regard to withdrawal symptoms and cravings. On the other hand, if you go with a plan, you can minimize the negative, but temporary, effects of quitting smoking.

2. Set A Date

One of the first parts about creating a quit plan is to set a date for yourself and stick with it. Many people like to use this time to gradually cut back on how many cigarettes they smoke, which can reduce the nicotine levels in the blood, and make withdrawal and cravings a little more bearable.

Try not to create a date that’s too far in the future; the sooner you can start, the better. You can have some time to prepare since it’s important that you feel ready to quit smoking, as it’s not optimal to keep postponing dates. However, if you delay for too long, you may lose the drive and motivation to quit.

3. List Out Your Triggers & Avoid Them

Almost all smokers have triggers that make them compelled to light up a cigarette. There are everyday triggers like drinking coffee, having a large meal, going on breaks, and driving that can make people want to smoke, but you’ll also need to be aware of your emotional and social triggers as well when you quit smoking.

Emotional triggers can be considered things like boredom, stress, anger, sadness, but it can also be associated with happiness, satisfaction, and pleasure. For instance, a cigarette first thing in the morning or after some coffee is a common trigger because it can make the smoker feel good.

Your social triggers will involve others around you and can be some of the hardest to overcome because it’s sometimes not feasible to avoid everyone who smokes. Being nearby or seeing people who smoke, breathing in the scent, going to social gatherings where there may be smokers, like bars and family gatherings, can trigger the desire to smoke. If you have friends and family who smoke, it’s a good idea to explain that you want to quit and that they should try not to have cigarettes lying out in plain sight and to never offer you one, and hopefully, they respect your decision.

4. Get Rid of Reminders

Expanding on the topic of triggers, you’ll want to go through your house or vehicle and throw away any extra packs of cigarettes, as well as all of the lighters, matches, and ashtrays that you might have sitting around your home.E

Some people like to throw away old clothes, where the smoke usually lingers, and have fresh, brand new clothes prepared instead, but if this isn’t feasible, you can do your best to clean them, either by yourself or via dry cleaning. You can also consider cleaning all of the furniture in your house if you smoked indoors.

5. Take Action To Manage Your Cravings

When you quit smoking, the urge to smoke can be quite powerful and pop up frequently, but luckily, there are a lot of things you can do to make cravings pass. Find ways to distract yourself during this challenging time with hobbies and activities that you like or by chatting with others, even better if it’s someone who has been in your shoes.

Try practicing deep breathing techniques and incorporating various forms of physical activity into your daily routine to reduce the tension, stress, and anxiety as well as s like drinking water and juice to stay hydrated and ease the effects of nicotine withdrawal.

You can also find ways to try to keep your hands busy and manage the oral fixation that comes with smoking. Some options you can try for either of these is to write, do crossword puzzles, chew on gum, carrot sticks, or place a toothpick or straw in your mouth to stimulate the same hand-to-mouth sensation as smoking without actually doing it.

6. Consider Nicotine Substitutes

Millions of successful quitters have used nicotine substitutes or nicotine replacement therapy as a way to get through the toughest part of the quitting phase – the withdrawal that happens in the first few days when you stop smoking.

Although nicotine is responsible for the addiction from cigarettes, smoking cessation products that utilize gum, patches, lozenges, inhalers, and nasal sprays deliver a small, controlled dose of nicotine that’s just enough to help ward off withdrawal symptoms and cravings. It’s safe when taken as directed, and medical experts highly recommend this route. [3]

Nicotine replacement therapy products can typically be found over the counter at your local drugstore or pharmacy, but if you need additional help, certain medications can also be prescribed by a doctor. Always consult a medical professional beforehand, if you’re exploring the option of using a substitute.

7. Find A Support System

Even though you are the one who is quitting, you don’t have to go about the battle all by yourself. There are many ways to find the help and support that you need during this time, especially during the first week or so, where your urge to smoke will be at its highest.

You will feel many different and undesirable emotions and uncomfortable physical symptoms, but it’s important to remember that these feelings are temporary, and they will pass, and getting help from others can make it go by much easier.

Aside from your friends and family whom you can talk to, there are quitlines that you can call where you can connect to a coach who can help you create a solid plan to quit smoking. Support groups are also available where you can interact with people who are in the same situation as you, where you can encourage each other.

Lastly, counseling and therapy can be extremely helpful not only in the early quitting phase but also helping you to keep you smoke-free after the nicotine has completely left your system. You may experience many different emotions still, such as missing the habit, but these are still the psychological effects of withdrawal. Many people who successfully quit have reported that they’ve had mental cravings for months after their last cigarette.

A counselor or therapist can assist you in finding ways to help you keep your emotions in control, so you don’t give in to the urge to light up a cigarette after a stressful event. There are many strategies that can be utilized to manage stress and anxiety, and at BetterHelp, you can connect to licensed professionals who can give you the tools to help you stay quit.

Conclusion

Quitting smoking itself is rewarding because you know that you will have a more positive, smoke-free future ahead of you after going through a tough period but keep in mind, some of the benefits will begin not long after your last smoke, even if you might not be able to realize it because of the withdrawal symptoms. Hopefully, these tips will make that journey to stop smoking easier for you so you can enjoy life smoke-free and reap the benefits of it.

References

  1. Simon, S. (2020, January 2). How to Quit Smoking. Retrieved from https://www.cancer.org/latest-news/how-to-quit-smoking.html
  2. National Institute of Health. (2020). How Much Will You Save? Retrieved from https://smokefree.gov/quit-smoking/why-you-should-quit/how-much-will-you-save
  3. National Institute of Health. (2020). Using Nicotine Replacement Therapy. Retrieved from https://smokefree.gov/tools-tips/how-to-quit/using-nicotine-replacement-therapy
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