Stop Smoking For Good
Most of us have been fooled by the industry to believe that nicotine addiction is the problem that needs to be overcome in order to be successful. Drug companies are making a fortune with their gum, pills, and patches which do nothing more than make a prolonged withdrawal from nicotine. The truth is, that nicotine withdrawal lasts a maximum of 48-72 hours, and is only characterized by headache, some irritability, difficulty concentrating, and mild depression.
What you are really experiencing is the desire for the habit and the ritual. Most smokers have associated their smoking with various activities and cues. They use them to take a break and relax from the situations they are in. They are also very unconscious about their smoking and when they start to keep track of how many cigarettes they have the numbers dramatically decrease. Up to half of all cigarettes smoked are not remembered or realized by the smoker. It is an automatic behavior.
Consider the following informal study:
A group of 120 smokers (who smoked at least a pack a day) were divided into three groups. Each time they had a craving, one group would go have a cigarette, one group would have to sit in a room and refrain from smoking, and the third group pretended to have a cigarette by using a straw that resembled a cigarette.
Interestingly, there was almost no difference in reduction of craving between the smoking group and the pretending group. They both had dramatic reduction in craving and increased well-being. The other group however, rated increased craving and anxiety.
After getting the participants feedback we came to a few conclusions:
1. That smokers strongly associate their smoking to a feeling of distraction and taking a break.
2. That when they smoke, it is the only time they take time for themselves and breath deeply, invoking the relaxation response in their body. Remember, nicotine is a stimulant drug and does not promote relaxation.
3. Smokers tend to concentrate better when smoking. Stimulant drugs can improve concentration, and the mini withdrawal between cigarettes can cause the opposite. Concentration does tend to return after about a week of not smoking.
Based on these, we developed some strategies for quitting:
1. When you decide to stop smoking, make sure that you continue to take the same breaks of the same duration, at the same times that you would normally have a cigarette. During these mini breaks, do not eat, but do practice breathing as if you were smoking. You don't need a fake cigarette, but if it helps to have something to do with your hands etc. go ahead.
2. I don't recommend this, especially if you associated smoking with coffee drinking, but if necessary use caffeine to help you concentrate for the first little while. Use diet soft drinks or tea instead of coffee if you can because these have less caffeine and will be easier to get rid of when the withdrawal is done. This stimulant is not quite as strong and is better than using nicotine patches or gum because it is different. If you choose to do this, only do it for a few days and then cut it out gradually.
Accept that you might have a little, or maybe more than a little weight gain. This is a natural response even if you don't eat significantly more. My experience shows that very often within a year, your weight will start reducing on its own, once your body gets use to the metabolic changes. In the meantime, increase your exercise. See the sections on fitness and overall health.
The overall benefits will be worth it if you give it enough time. If you want more advice on quitting smoking click here.
This article was written in 2003 by Sean Harder creator and owner of WholeLifeGym.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sean has been a therapist and life coach for 13 years. He is published author and founder of WholeLifeGym.com.