Monday, January 31, 2011

How to prepare yourself for quitting smoking?

“It's easy to quit smoking. I've done it hundreds of times.”
Mark Twain

You have heard and read a million times that smoking is bad for your health and the health of those around you. You may even believe the reports that more people die from tobacco use than from all cases of HIV, illegal drug use, alcohol abuse, motor vehicle accidents, suicides, and murders combined. I trust the researchers saying that smoking damages your repertory system, causes lung cancer, and robs your body of oxygen by replacing it with toxins like carbon monoxide. And yet, even after hearing these statistics, many people (including myself) still have a hard time finding the motivation to quit smoking. We, long-term smokers, know that it is a tough battle that demands many months and often years of abstinence from smoking and cutting down. It's a long journey that we should be prepared for. If we try jumping in and going cold turkey without preparing ourselves, we may miserable fail in our attempts, and will feel even worse about our smoking habit.

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So, motivation goes first. For some, new life events, both positive and negative, may offer a kick start towards making a decision that enough is enough. That might be a newborn baby in the home, being pregnant and wanting a healthy baby, early signs of lung cancer, or the onset of heart disease. For others, that might be related to the illness of a heavy smoker in your neighborhood, or meeting a new girlfriend or boyfriend, who hates nicotine smell from your mouse, no matter how hard you work to get rid of it before the date. For third group, the decision might come totally from a different way, like economic hardship to buy cigarettes when they lose their job during recession. People are different, motivation factors have various significances for individuals, so whatever works…

No matter what is the conscious or even subconscious reason for you to quit smoking, it should be your decision. Nobody can make it for you, even thou it make look obvious based on the health reasons or opinion of your family members.

When you made a decision, stick with it and develop a life project on how to reorganize your life to make that happen. For somebody, that may be easy; for somebody, that may be tough. But, be sure that you can make it. Millions people did that before, so why you can be exception?

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So, make a plan and move towards a new smokeless life step by step. These steps are very individual, and we will list just basic general preparation approaches.

Age and Motivation

A study presented by American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP) showed that motives for quitting smoking vary with age. The study found that smokers over age 65 reported quitting smoking due to physician pressure and stress due to a major health problem, while smokers under age 65 reported cigarette cost and tobacco odor as main reasons for quitting.

Ms. Reichert and colleagues from the Center for Tobacco Control at North Shore-LIJ compared health status and motives and obstacles for quitting smoking between 1,909 smokers under age 65 (younger smokers) and 143 smokers over age 65 (older smokers) who were attending a 6-week comprehensive cessation program. Older smokers were more likely than younger smokers to have a recent hospitalization, comorbid cardiac disease, cancer, and/or chronic obstructive lung disease/asthma. Regarding motivation, older smokers cited pressure by their physician and stress of a major health problem as main reasons for quitting. Younger smokers attributed their reasons for quitting to the cost of cigarettes, tobacco odor, and general health concerns.

"If the cost of cigarettes hasn't made the older smoker quit by now, they are not as likely to be affected by the rising costs as much as younger smokers may be," said Ms. Reichert. "On the other hand, younger smokers may not have experienced health effects from their smoking, but they may have felt the impact of the cost of cigarettes/cigars."

Questions to ask yourself

To successfully detach from smoking, you will need to identify and address your smoking habits, the true nature of your dependency, and the techniques that work for you. These types of questions can help:
  • Do you feel the need to smoke at every meal?
  • Are you more of a social smoker?
  • Is it a very bad addiction (more than a pack a day)? Or would a simple nicotine patch do the job?
  • Is your cigarette smoking linked to other addictions, such as alcohol or gambling?
  • Are you open to hypnotherapy and/or acupuncture?
  • Are you someone who is open to talking about your addiction with a therapist or counselor?
  • Are you interested in getting into a fitness program?
Take the time to think of what kind of smoker you are, which moments of your life call for a cigarette, and why. This will help you to identify which tips, techniques or therapies may be most beneficial for you.  

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Basic preparation steps

  • Decide positively and firmly that you want to quit. Try to avoid negative thoughts about how difficult it might be and think about all the benefits you will achieve.
  • Develop strong personal reasons in addition to your health and obligations to others. For example, think of all the time you waste taking cigarette breaks, rushing out to buy a pack, hunting for a light, etc.
  • Prepare mental inventory of all your personal reasons why you want to quit smoking. Every night before going to bed, repeat one of the reasons several times.
  • Begin to condition yourself physically: Start a modest exercise program; drink more fluids; get plenty of rest; and avoid fatigue.
  • Talk to your friends who quit smoking before on how they were able to make it, read the supporting literature, and consider the therapeutic or medical assistance if you believe your addiction is too strong to fight it without the professional help. Although some people choose to quit smoking cold turkey (without any kind of nicotine patch or pill), you might find these things useful, although some people fear that they'll become addicted to the patch.
  • Set a target date for quitting - perhaps a special day such as your birthday, your anniversary, or the Great American Smokeout. If you smoke heavily at work, quit during your vacation so that you're already committed to quitting when you return. Make the date sacred, and don't let anything change it. This will make it easy for you to keep track of the day you became a nonsmoker and to celebrate that date every year.

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