October 25, 2020

Quit Smoking: Cutting Back on Cigarettes and Managing Withdrawal

As with any addiction, quitting smoking is an exceedingly difficult process. Most smokers who have quit — including myself — had multiple failed attempts before finally kicking the habit. Strategies for how to quit smoking are legion, but above all, giving up cigarettes requires commitment and perseverance. And though I maintain that going cold turkey is the best way to quit, I don’t scoff at those who try to manage their habit and gradually reduce smoking.

The first thing you need to do to quit smoking, in true 12-step program fashion, is admit you are addicted to cigarettes. This means more than simply saying, “I am an addict.” It means understanding the role that tobacco plays in your life and facing up to the lies smokers tell themselves. Do you think that you can quit whenever you want? Or that you don’t really smoke enough to affect you health? Once you own up to these deceptions, you can recognize your problem and commit yourself to doing something about it.

Next, you need a plan. You must turn your vague desire to quit into concrete steps. There are dozens of ways to approach quitting, but every strategy that works has two main components: 1) reducing or eliminating cigarettes, and 2) managing withdrawal symptoms.

Reducing/Eliminating Cigarettes

The best way to reduce or eliminate cigarettes is, of course, to stop buying and smoking them. But most people who want to quit smoking don’t feel ready for that. Instead, they try to manage their habit by adopting daily cigarette limits, or scheduling smokes throughout the day or restricting themselves to lighting up only in situations where they feel they most need to, such as during the daily commute or in social situations. Some smokers will not buy packs of cigarettes, but will pay others fifty cents or a dollar for individual cigarettes, controlling smoking by making it more expensive.

These strategies, though they don’t provide long-term solutions, can provide useful lessons. Most smokers will not realize how much they rely on cigarettes until they skip a few. Any reduction, no matter how short-lived, is useful to help smokers confront their addiction and increase their commitment and persistence. So while going cold turkey will eventually be required, a cigarette-reduction strategy can be a useful first step.

WIthdrawal

Nicotine is a stimulant, and after years of having it present daily in your body, you will without doubt experience withdrawal symptoms, such as fatigue and irritability. Although many smokers find that substitutes such as the nicotine patch or gum can alleviate physiological withdrawal symptoms, they also discover that getting a nicotine fix isn’t enough — they need to replace cigarettes not just with a different form of nicotine delivery, but also with a new, less destructive activity. For instance, if you find yourself not knowing what to do with your hands when not holding a cigarette, some kind of manual hobby — knitting, whittling, video games, etc. — might be your key to quitting. As silly as it sounds, some smokers (myself included) have even found lollipops to be a workable substitute for the physical act of smoking a cigarette. Exercise is also important for strengthening heart and lungs weakened by tar and for alleviating fatigue.

You also need to be aware of the effects quitting can have on your relationships. Even though anybody who really cares about you will try to be patient and supportive, the irritability and even depression nicotine withdrawal causes can put a strain on professional and personal relationships. Furthermore, smokers tend to be friends with other smokers. If you are quitting and your smoker friends aren’t, you might find it all the more difficult. If quitting is causing problems with important relationships or with your job performance, then you ought to consider joining a support group where you can share coping strategies with others in your same situation. Lost vape and cigarette is something that you want to achieve. For you to become successful on it, you need to have a support system from your family and friends. Surely, if you feel supported, you will be more motivated to quit.

Whatever you do, it comes down, as I said before, to commitment and perseverance. Success does not come right away, but persistence pays off. Those who learn from their mistakes and pick themselves up after every failure are the ones who will succeed in kicking the habit for good. By constantly keeping in mind the two tasks of cutting your cigarettes and managing your withdrawal symptoms, while learning from the mistakes you will certainy make along the way, you will find yourself on the path to a smoke-free life. It’s not going to be easy, but the payoff — increased health, life-expectancy, and money in your pocket — are well worth it. Good luck!