Great America Smokeout, a day where Americans who smoke are encouraged to live a smoke-free life. The event has been running for over 40 years and is sponsored by the America Cancer Society (ACS) The event takes place annually on the third Thursday of November. To mark the day we are sharing Chris’s journey to quit smoking cigarettes and sharing some of the tips he found helpful.
It’s Hard But Worth It
Quitting smoking is hard, about as hard as quitting heroin (or so they say). And having the experience of quitting heroin and then smoking, I can say that this saying is pretty accurate! I was a little over 2 years clean and sober from drugs and alcohol when I decided to quit smoking cigarettes. I didn’t quit cold turkey, I used my vape to get myself away from actual cigarettes. This was NOT easy, the vape is very different from cigarettes. But with hard work, talking to someone when I wanted to smoke, and eating carrots like they were cigarettes I was able to get off the cigarettes.
About six months later I decided that I wanted to get off the nicotine that was in my vape juice, I gradually decreased the amount of nicotine until I was down to zero. Now I still vape, but without nicotine and not nearly as much. I know that it really is possible to quit cigarettes, no matter how hard it is, with hard work, a lot of willpower, and the support of people around you.
Ways To Quit Smoking
The American Cancer Society (ACS) has a site with a lot of resources on how to quit. There are multiple other methods that can be used to quit smoking, including electronic cigarettes, nicotine replacement therapy, and prescription drugs.
The first step is to decide what method you want to use, the one you think will work best for you and that you will be able to stick to. The other most important step to beginning to quit is to gather support, whether that is family, friends, stop-smoking programs, telephone helplines, or counselors. Once you’ve chosen your method, gathered your support network, you need to pick a quit day. Mark it in your calendar, and share that day with your friends and family so they can hold you accountable.
Another helpful thing is to remove all your ashtrays and cigarettes in your possession in your home, car, and work. The last thing to do before your quit date is to pick which method of quitting you wish to use and to get everything prepared for you to use it on your quit date.
The most important thing to do when you reach your quit date is not to give in to temptation, no matter what. This is hard, and you need to keep yourself busy so you can get through the rough days ahead. Whether you do that by exercise, a hobby, or anything else to distract yourself. Another thing that is helpful is to avoid situations where the urge to smoke is strong and to avoid people who are smoking. This doesn’t mean that you stop being friends with people who are smokers, just don’t be around them while they are smoking. The last suggestion is to change your routine. This is because smoking will still be a part of your daily routine, and the goal is to change those habits so smoking isn’t a part of it. These changes can be as simple as drinking tea instead of coffee or eat breakfast in the kitchen instead of the living room.
The 4 D’s
You also must be prepared to have cravings. These are just part of quitting.
The ACS recommends using the 4 D’s:
- Delay– just pause and wait 10 minutes, and repeat the 10 minutes if you need to.
- Deep breathe– slowly breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, and then if you need to ground yourself by finding 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can feel, and 2 things you can taste.
- Drink water– this will help flush your system of the nicotine as well as keeping you hydrated.
- Do something else– get up and move or do something you enjoy when you feel that urge to smoke. Some activities will trigger the urge to smoke, be prepared for that.
The Withdrawal Symptoms Will Pass
Remember that nicotine is a drug, and it will have both physical and mental withdrawal just like any other drug. These physical withdrawal symptoms include intense cravings, sweating, nausea, headaches, coughing, sore throat, insomnia, and weight gain. These symptoms typically peak around two and three days after quitting. But if you ignore them, they will eventually go away. The symptoms will most likely go way in two to four weeks, but some people still experience them for several months, however not as bad as in the beginning.
The mental withdrawals include depression, grief, a sense of loss, frustration, impatience, anger, anxiety, irritability, trouble concentrating, and restlessness or boredom. The hardest part for most people who go through nicotine withdrawals are the emotional effects, rather than the physical ones.
It Can Be Done
Overall, quitting smoking is difficult but it is possible. What I needed more than anything was to truly want to quit smoking. I could say that I had or needed to quit all the time, but I had to be truly ready to quit. I had to want it. And once I wanted it, I had to be prepared for the withdrawals, both physical and mental. I personally had to replace the habit with something else, I chose to vape to replace smoking, some might choose to eat a certain type of food to get over the habit so it’s all dependent on what works for you! You will need something to get through the cravings because they can hard to get through. One thing I learned when I got clean and sober was to set a timer, and that worked for quitting smoking as well. For example, if I had a strong craving, I didn’t think I could get through the craving, but I could get through 5 minutes. So I set a timer for 5 minutes and could get through those minutes, and then I reset the timer to go again. And eventually the craving will pass and you’ll be okay. That’s just my experience, and everyone has their own tricks on how to quit, take what works for you and leave the rest. But one more time- it is possible to quit smoking.
About The Author
Chris is a 23 years old college student, living with several chronic illnesses. He loves meeting and talking to new people, especially those who struggle with similar illnesses to his.