It is no secret that an addiction to cigarettes is one of the toughest habits to break. While there are some people who can quit by the strength of will power alone, the vast majority of the smoking population requires the assistance of cessation aids and numerous attempts before quitting cigarettes for good. But with medical reports and statistics piling up over the years detailing the dangers of nicotine, the need to stop smoking has become more of a trend than smoking ever was.
According to some figures, there are still over 1.1 billion people in the world who smoke cigarettes. In the United States alone, nearly 20 percent of the population still claims an affinity for cigarettes, though that number has decreased by more than half since 1965. But as society puts more of a focus on healthy living and positive lifestyle choices, in addition to entire cities across America outlawing smoking in public places, people are finding the motivation to quit the habit.
Quitting cigarettes requires more than will power for most people, though. The addiction to tobacco is not only physical but mental and emotional. Smoking a cigarette becomes part of life for the addicted, and many need to completely readjust their lifestyles in order to successfully kick the habit.
The first order of business to quitting the habit is to set a date for the last cigarette, which allows the person to get rid of extra packs of cigarettes, lighters, and ashtrays, as well as begin cleaning clothes, blankets, curtains, and any other household items that retain the smell of smoke. It is important to begin the first day of non-smoking with a fresh environment and little to no remnants of the smoking lifestyle.
Setting the date also allows the person to stock up on items that may help during the first 72 hours, when nicotine still resides in the body and the cravings for a cigarette will be the strongest. A person may choose to stock up on items like nicotine gum or patches to gradually let the body know that the process has begun. It also may be helpful to gather items that will help the oral fixation, such as straws or toothpicks, chewing gum, candy or lollipops, and snack items like carrots, celery sticks, and grapes. It may also be helpful to buy extra mouthwash and dental hygiene items to keep the mouth smelling and feeling fresh.
In addition to sharing the plan with family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors, it can also be helpful to start a journal. While it will be helpful to lean on everyone involved in daily life for encouragement and support, a log of thoughts and feelings may help put the process in perspective, especially if the journal focuses on the motivations for quitting.
A complete change in daily routine might be necessary. If smoking with coffee in the morning was a habit, there may be a need to start the day with water or juice instead. If smoking after meals was the norm, it might be helpful to immediately go for a walk after meals. Some form of exercise should be integrated into daily life as well, since the body will be craving some form of adrenaline that could be found in the healthy feeling that exercise provides.
After the first few days or weeks, it can be motivational to figure out the amount of money saved from not buying cigarettes and use it to buy something fun. Whether it is something that can aid the new, healthy lifestyle or simply something rewarding, it can further prove that cigarettes were more than a physical threat to one’s life but a financial strain as well.
The most important thing to keep in mind when quitting cigarettes is that the person has more control than the cigarette or the tobacco in it. Self-control is an asset, and remembering that you are in control of your life is the key to quitting. The assistance of others and cessation aids may be integral to success, but ultimately it is the person that is in control of habits and lifestyle choices. But if it so happens that a cigarette works its way into the person’s hands and he or she falls off the wagon, there is no reason to give up the process entirely. One mistake does not ruin the plan, and resuming the quitting process should be automatic.
It took time to become addicted to smoking, and it may take time to quit the habit. But your body, mind, pets, friends, and family will be forever grateful if the process of quitting is successful.