Most of the world is now aware that smoking is one of the major causes of preventable disease and premature death. It has been linked to lung conditions, stroke, heart complications and a plethora of cancers. Many smokers are keen on dropping the habit. It isn’t easy though.
In spite of the apparent health risks, roughly 20 percent of US adults are regular smokers. Nicotine is addictive and giving it up is hard. Fortunately, it isn’t impossible and there are more ways of quitting smoking today than ever before. We look at some of them below.
Nicotine Replacement Therapy
Addiction to cigarette smoking is caused by its nicotine. It’s why smokers who try to quit will experience withdrawal symptoms such as insomnia, nausea, intense cravings, tingling limbs, mood swings and confusion.
Nicotine replacement therapy or NRT is an addiction management technique that provides the smoker with low amounts of nicotine without the toxic chemicals that accompany tobacco smoke. This in turn eases the withdrawal pangs. NRT is available in lozenge, inhaler, spray, patch and gum form.
Over a period of 2-3 months, the nicotine the person is exposed to is progressively reduced until it is no longer needed.
Varenicline is a prescription drug that stimulates dopamine production. Dopamine is an organic chemical that controls the pleasure and reward centers of the brain. Smoking raises the body’s dopamine levels artificially so when smokers drop the habit, they are likely to experience anxiety and depression before their dopamine levels return to normal.
Varenicline blunts the nicotine withdrawal symptoms by counteracting the low dopamine levels. It also blocks the addictive high that comes with nicotine thus lowering the risk of relapse.
An electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) is a device that allows users to inhale nicotine vapor without the hazardous byproducts of tobacco such as carbon monoxide and tar. It works in a similar way as NRT but goes further in the sense that it mimics the smoking. It’s the way to go especially for those who feel solutions that stop the actual act of smoking will be too disruptive to their routine.
A number of studies have shown that the average smoker has lower concentration levels of vitamin B and C when compared to a non-smoker. Many smokers identify stress as a major trigger for cigarette craving. Vitamins B are anti-stress vitamins and can therefore counter bad moods.
Vitamin C is a strong antioxidant that can shield the lungs from damage caused by tobacco smoke. Ergo, taking vitamin supplements can be an additional weapon in the war against smoking addiction.
Use Apps to Track Habits
The smoking reflex is often triggered by certain cues. Research has consistently demonstrated that repeatedly performing a given action in a specific setting leads to an automatic activation of the action whenever the said person is in a similar setting.
For instance, if you smoke immediately after taking your coffee in the morning, your body will automatically crave smoking whenever you take your morning coffee. Fortunately, this law of repetitive actions doesn’t apply to bad habits only. You can replace your negative habits with positive ones simply by repeating positive actions in the same context.
A tracking app is one of the best ways to do that. Such apps would track your nicotine craving and identify what actions trigger them. This information can be used to develop and track new healthy habits.
List of Benefits
Quitting cold turkey is not something everyone will be able to do. However, it’s probably the first approach you want to try out before moving to other methods. You are more likely to succeed with a cold turkey approach if you develop a list of the benefits. This will motivate you every time you are tempted to fall back into the habit.
Some of the reasons that could drive you include improving health, saving money, looking better, smelling better, setting a positive example to your kids and reaffirming your self-control. This list shouldn’t be static. Read it every day and think about new benefits of dropping the habit.
Clean Your Home
Once you decide to quit smoking, take time to clean up and re-organize your home. Clean the carpet, steam the furniture and wash your clothes. Get rid of your lighters, ashtrays and all other smoking paraphernalia. Do a thorough review of your home and pay attention to even seemingly harmless items like wall paintings.
The smell of tobacco or the sight of smoking facilitators can trigger a relapse. Let your home be the clearest statement that you are making a clean break with your past.
Take up a healthy activity such as cycling, running or brisk walking. Vigorous exercise is an effective way to spark dopamine release while providing all the benefits that come with keeping fit. Physical activity also speeds up the body’s self-healing process. Your overall health will improve and it will take away your time and focus from your usual smoking routine.
Quitting smoking is a challenging journey. The above techniques will help you lay the right foundation to ensure your quest to break from the habit is successful.