So smokers need to be prepared for challenging times. Among the most challenging are the times when they feel they desperately want (most say “need”) a cigarette…this minute!
Smokers need tools and techniques for preventing those “I gotta-have-one” moments, and for dealing with them when they do happen…without smoking.
So, it’s good to work towards a realistic or achievable path to non-smoking, but also to plan for some bumps along the way. Most smokers lapse2 – that is, they have occasions when they smoke a few puffs or a whole cigarette.
Smokers who lapse are usually disappointed with themselves, and may feel like they’ve lost the whole battle, but a lapse doesn’t have to derail their quit attempt altogether.3
How to have a successful quit – top tips
Avoid strong cravings by changing your routine and avoiding places you used to smoke.4
Cravings are often triggered by cues, which might include places where you usually smoked, seeing someone light up, or other triggers. Think about what your triggers are and try to avoid them when you’re first quitting smoking.4
If you do have a strong craving … do something about it! Leave the situation for a few minutes to cool off, or think about why you want to quit…anything that helps you get over the craving.
Using nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) has been proven through numerous clinical studies to help smokers quit successfully.5
NRT has been proven to double a smoker’s chances of quitting smoking (compared to placebo) and can relieve cravings and withdrawal symptoms without exposing you to the carcinogens and toxins from cigarettes.6
Not only that, the nicotine patch can help you recover even after you’ve had a lapse.3 A new study published in the journal Addiction shows that smokers who continue to use the nicotine patch after lapsing can recover abstinence..3
Lastly, reward yourself along the way – example, use the money you save from no longer buying cigarettes to buy yourself a treat at the end of the week.
If you relapse
Don’t get discouraged. Make a new quit date and consider some resources that are available to help get you back on track.
Click on CommittedQuitters.com or call 1-800-Quit-Now; these services can help you develop a personalized quit plan, giving you access to many different types of cessation information and services (including free support and advice from an experienced cessation counselor, a personalized quit plan and self-help materials, strategies to help you deal with cravings, and the latest information about cessation medications).
Remember, quitting is possible. Don’t get discouraged if you lapse, or even if you relapse. It can take up to nine times to quit successfully and support is available to help you become smoke-free.7 Start your journey today.
1National Institutes of Health. “How Does Nicotine Act in the Brain” Available at http://www.nida.nih.gov/researchreports/nicotine/nicotine3.html
2 Brown, Richard, et. al. Clinical Psychology Review. “Distress tolerance and early smoking lapse.” Sept. 2005. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1839854/
3Ferguson, Stuart, Gitchell, Joseph, Shiffman, Saul. “Continuing to wear nicotine patches after smoking lapses promotes recovery or abstinence.” Addiction. 2012.
4GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare. Way2Quit Media Resource Guide. The Straight Line on Nicotine Addiction and Habit Change.
5Stead, et al. Nicotine replacement therapy for smoking cessation. 2008.
6Fiore MC, Jaén CR, Baker TB, et al. Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence: 2008 Update. Clinical Practice Guideline. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Public Health Service. May 2008.
7Journal of Family Practice. Critical Insights into the nature of nicotine addiction: a summary of key learnings to date. April 2006.
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