“You should stop smoking.”
A study a few years ago showed that surprisingly few smokers actually hear those words from their doctor. We can speculate that their doctors assume “everybody knows that,” or expect a low success rate for the time spent, or wishfully think all smokers are already trying to quit. Well, it’s pretty darned hard to quit even knowing the dangers. Nicotine is an extremely addictive drug that triggers withdrawal discomforts even after a night’s abstinence. A cigarette delivers nicotine powerfully and directly to the lung circulation and to the brain relieving withdrawal and creating lots of powerful positive associations.
So what can a smoker do to help themselves?
Set a quit date. Most people who smoke may intend to quit “sometime” but never get around to it. Committing to a date can remove some of the emotion and anxiety surrounding stopping. Nicotine replacement can be started on the quit day. Don’t worry about continuing addiction; nicotine replacement methods enter the circulation much more slowly than cigarette smoke and are not as addictive.
Keep a positive attitude.
It is important to create a self image as a healthy nonsmoker. Starting an exercise program may help by making cessation efforts part of training (and may help prevent unwanted weight gain.) Remember that many folks smoke when anxious so the guilt about smoking may trigger the urge to light up.
Change your routine.
Figure out circumstances where you habitually smoke and do something different:
- Drink tea instead of coffee.
- Avoid alcoholic drinks.
- Go for a walk instead of coffee break.
- Get a new car!
Beware of “incremental” misperception of risk.
One cigarette may not seem harmful but sustains the habit. Once you are quit, even one cigarette triggers the return of addiction. Don’t be fooled by the inner voice of habit into making exceptions “just this once”.
With a little determination and strategy you may not need to hear those four little words ever again!