Best Ways to Quit Smoking
As any smoker knows, quitting smoking is not easy. Studies have shown that of smokers who try to quit smoking cold turkey, 90% will be smoking again within three months. This means that for ten smokers that try to stop smoking, only one will be successful. Before we review the best ways to quit smoking, let's review why it can be difficult to quit smoking.
Why Quitting Smoking Is Difficult
The problem with quitting smoking is that it involves breaking a physical addiction to nicotine and a habit. When a smoker has a cigarette, the nicotine in the tobacco creates a feeling of pleasure and relaxation for the smoker. As a result, the brain craves the effects that nicotine creates. Not only does the body "need" nicotine, the act of smoking is often a habit - a way to take a break at work, at meals, in the car, and with friends. Additionally, smokers often use cigarettes for psychological reasons. A smoker will often turn to a cigarette when they encounter stressful situations at work or at home whether it is a difficult boss or a fight with the spouse.
What is the Best Way to Quit Smoking
If smoking is so ingrained and if it is so difficult to quit smoking, what are the best ways to quit smoking? Let's review the options available:
- Prescription medications. These must be prescribed by a doctor and are approximately 30%-45% successful. That is only 20% more successful than a smoker that decides to quit cold turkey. The medication is designed to "break" the brain's desire for nicotine. The problem is that prescription medications can be expensive, the success rate isn't much higher than smoker's who don't use the medication, and it involves a doctor's visit that also costs money.
- Nicotine substitutes. Commonly delivered through a patch or through gum, these are helpful in transitioning a smoker away from cigarettes. This by itself is not the best way to quit smoking because they can be habit forming and they do come with a cost.
- Herbal supplements. Herbal supplements come with a cost, but they may be a better way to quit smoking than medications and substitutes because they don't require a visit to the doctor's office, and when used temporarily, they are not habit forming like the patch or the gum. Even better, all of the products they contain are all natural, so a smoker isn't removing one artificial substance from their body through the use of another artificial substance.
The best ways to quit smoking are those that, when combined, keep a smoker from falling back into the habit. This means that the best way to quit smoking is going to depend on the individual and their unique situation. However, it is important for a smoker to understand that the best way to quit smoking will address the physical addiction and the habit. A smoker has a variety of tools to break the habit:
- Set a goal and write it down. The best way to quit smoking is to make a plan and have a date when you will quit smoking.
- Gradually reduce your nicotine intake. Once you have set an end date, develop a plan to reduce the number of cigarettes you smoke each day until you are down to zero. Even better, plan when you will have each cigarette and then over the course of several weeks, reduce the number of cigarettes smoked.
- Understand when and why you smoke and then work to gradually reduce the number of times you smoke each day and in each setting. Many smokers find that it is best to keep a journal of the times, places, and the number of cigarettes they smoke so they better understand their habit.
- Get help. One of the best ways to quit smoking is to enlist the help of family and friends. Ask them to help you avoid situations where you are tempted to smoke, be patient with you as your body goes through withdrawals, and even serve as a barrier between you and cigarettes.
- Lastly, be patient and accept setbacks. If you fall off your plan one day because of a stressful day at work or home, start the next day back on the plan and don't give up
- Write down why you want to quit smoking. Smoking reduces your life expectancy and the quality of life you have, so remember why it is important for you to stops smoking.
Ultimately, the best ways to quit smoking are those ways that work best for you. It is also important to remember that the best ways to quit smoking will break the physical desire to smoke and the habit of smoking.
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