…the recent U.S. Public Health Service's (USPHS) guidelines are:
ask about tobacco use,
advise to quit,
assess willingness to make attempt to quit,
assist with treatments, and
The major emphasis in this model is a clear statement advising the smoker to quit. …There is substantial evidence from randomized trials that brief advice based on these models is effective….even 3 minutes of such advice done in a systematic and diplomatic manner increases quit rates by a factor of 1.3 to 1.7 Journal Of General Internal Medicine, 2003.
1. Beating Fear
Most people actually write down their fears and then they take a little bit of time to actually write down when that fear has occurred…to your “non-surprise” you will find that the fear is actually far worse and far less frequent than you first thought. But you probably knew that, hence “non-surprise”. I think we all know deep down that our fear is not really what it seems to be.
Sometimes relaxation techniques have had great success in calming people down, setting a baseline and then for them to approach a fear without “hyping” up the fear to extreme amounts- they put that fear into perspective.
Remember that we actually need fear, but that is rational fear, it has been with us since Humans were born and it is something that has kept up alive because we have rationalized the situation and then acted upon it. Irrational fear is just that…it is fear that needs not be present with us.
Did you know that all irrational fears have a name, but rational fears do not? Arachnophobia is the fear of spiders. We are taller than spiders and stronger yet we have a fear of them. Maybe it came because there were dangerous fears in the past where there were more dangerous spiders, but no more.
If you think that fear is gripping you and you want to quit, then set up a timetable to actually quit. This is a proactive way to quit because you start to set goals with a destination in mind (go back through the chapter about Quit Day). Technically you prepare for the fear and you bring in counters for that fear. If you give yourself a month to quit then write out a plan to quit and sign yourself to it…literally sign the document. Then take it day by day. Find your snack box, find your devices that you plan to occupy your hand with.
Reducing your cigarette amount is a huge bonus for you and is a successful factor in quitting. This is how it’s done:
So drop one cigarette per day or every 3 days. In this way you wean yourself off cigarettes slowly rather than in one big leap (in some people the big leap actually works). Every success story has a plan.
2. Remove brand loyalty and switch brands. Low tar etc are good but can be pointless and most smokers suck more powerfully and they smoke more because of the thought of a “healthy cigarette”. Jumping between brands removes the best taste and changes up your tastes so that you can not recognize taste with a cigarette.
3. Remember that journal that we made that had in it when and what time your smoked? Get it and change the times you smoke. Remove the schedule and the almost robot like timetable when you do smoke. This develops in your mind that you don’t need the amount of cigarettes that you previously thought that you did. Also find when you last have a cigarette of the day and then delay it for an hour. Move the morning one an hour later. Again we are jumbling up our times, we are preparing ourselves to quit.
4. Smoke when it rains rather than take shelter, smoke standing up rather than sitting down. Wherever you are comfortable smoking, change it. If you are comfortable smoking in a group, smoke by yourself. In this way smoking doesn’t become as pleasurable as it once was. Then just keep on changing the comfort zone.
5. Play hide and seek with your cigarettes. Before you go to bed put them in a place where it is out of sight and then hunt for them in the morning. Putting them again in a comfortable position for yourself just adds to the comfort of smoking. If smoking became a time wasting exercise and makes you late for work, they don’t become that comfortable anymore.
6. Don’t buy packs in bulk. Buy one pack. When you have one pack you tend to use less or are a bit more conservative on when you smoke and who you give them out to. If you have packs at home then you become more generous with your smoking and increase smoking- this is also the case if you need someone to take you to the convenience store to get you some. Walk it, cycle it and then the ease of buying decreases.
7. Do not smoke all of the cigarette. I have seen and heard people quickly finishing a smoke before they come in, or even saving the end to finish later. Putting out a cigarette is a powerful statement because you are telling your body and mind that you do not need the cigarette and you can wilfully destroy it at anytime that you like. Then put the butts into an old glass jar and see what they look like jumbled up together. Smokers do not like this subconsciously because they have trash cans with lids and other devices that removes the cigarette from the smokers view. Visually seeing the problem reinforced the terrible problems that it is.
8. If you smoke 20/ day on average, give yourself a goal of 15/ day on one day and see how you cope. You will find that the fear of giving up is not that bad at all, especially when you realize that a drop in the number of cigarettes is harmless. If you are feeling daring go without smoking for one day and trial your quit day. Remember that you will get urges but counter those urges as we will discuss and have discussed. Use the time to evaluate how you have done and where you can make adjustments to your plan, e.g. didn’t take a book or counter measures for the other hand.
But don’t put that fear demon in your head that says “1 month time are you sure you can do it, I doubt that you can” and now this becomes your fear- the fear that you might not quit on that date. It’s OK it occurs. But if you don’t try then you will never set a date, you will just never know. If by the date you don’t quit but you have managed to cut back on your smoking by half then celebrate that fact- reinforce the fact that you have done a GREAT thing…then plan again. Tweak the plan where needed and then go for it again and get the other half removed. Sometimes we get into a safe zone “I done it, now I can have a break, it’s too much”. It never is too much at all. Get back into focus and then remember your achievements, remember your goals and remember what you are going to do once you have achieved this one main goal (your bucket list of good stuff to do, e.g. run in the park with your kids or have a meal with your partner).
But what happens if you just let the date of quitting go without doing anything? Well sometimes you haven’t conquered the idea of quitting. You are just going through the motions because it is an acceptable norm. You need to go back and figure out WHY you didn’t start to quit. Were you worried, were you concerned, did you just not care? You need to get yourself ready mentally, if you don’t want to quit then figure out why. Figure out what is actually stopping you against stopping something that is a hidden burden upon yourself which has made it a part of your life.
Also date a day where you can start a hobby or even an exercise routine. Now again this could just be walking, but it could be swimming, or doing something that you wanted to do with you time. This could easily be reading, visiting places of interest, wood working or something. Giving your life more purpose is soul building and also enhancing your life to new levels. Some smokers even paint or craft with their time as it keeps their hands busy.
But one thing is noted, quitting smoking actually frees up your time to indulge in pursuits that you might not have been able to accomplish in the past. A hobby is a great way to deal with your time. Some business execs that we know of became hospital buddies (going into see sick patients who have no-one) some even teach at night-school. Some even started clubs to help the younger generation who live in deprived areas. If you always wanted to be a farmer, why don’t you start a market garden? If you always wanted to be an astronaut, why not visit space related places and research the topic, maybe giving insight on a website? These may seem fantastic bizarre ideas, but are they? Quitting smoking and quitting any drug needs to be rewarded and you need to realize that it is a big thing. You life has been given back to you and now, with more years in your life you need not waste it.
This means your ashtrays, your lighters and even that little chair and sandbox that is kept outside just for you, they all have to go. They are reminders of a past issue, they are temptation which you do not need.
How about if you partner is a smoker? If you can get them on board then great it is best for both of you, quit-smoking buddies work well, but if they don’t? Well they need to respect you, they need to remove all the items of their smoking and treat you like a non-smoker. Too many times have non-smoking partners come down with lung issues because of their smoking partners.
Never have your own rules. Never say on the calendar, on this day I will have 2 more, then I will quit or I will reduce more. Making up or going back on old ploughed ground is non-productive. Some people have even smoked one cigarette after they quit…that is not quitting, that is actually quitting the plan and defeating all your hard work and mental energies. It can’t be done.
But there are also contingency plans- what happens if you don’t have your non-smoking pieces with you…what do you do? If you are in traffic then put on the radio/ CD etc and sing to the music. People watch in cars, what are they up to, even recite what your plans are for tomorrow or when you meet your partner at home?
Realize that after smoking there are emotions that can be present because of drug withdrawal and your body is trying to get itself back to normal. These can include tiredness, headaches, dizziness, difficulty sleeping and even trouble with concentrating and it is at these stages that people jump back to the safeguard of smoking. “It didn’t happen when I smoked and it does now, this sucks!”. This is why you need a plan to identify and recognize that these issues can be present and you are going to face them without the fear of them.
During four weeks all 2138 cigarette smokers attending the surgeries of 28 general practitioners (GPs)… Changes in motivation and intention to stop smoking were evident immediately after advice was given. Of the people who stopped smoking, most did so because of the advice. BMJ 1979
The 714 men in the intervention group were recalled for a series of personal interviews with a doctor. After one year, 51% of the intervention group reported that they were not smoking any cigarettes, and most of the others reported a reduction. Epidemiology & Community Health. 1978
Advice from doctors, structured interventions from nurses, and individual and group counselling are effective interventions. BMJ 2000.
One person who you may talk to is you family Doctor. You family Doctor may give you medical help if you need quitting aids, but sometimes they are not always needed or even work…ultimately will power is the key- a good mental attitude. However what the Doctor can do is give you more encouragement and more health related updates. They can tell you your lung function capability and how it improves over time. They can give you what we need to know- how our overall health is improving and how our actions are now changing what our future health will be.
Sometimes Doctors can refer you to cessation programs which actually double the chance of you quitting and staying free. If not, local health centers and groups can easily be found in minutes especially through online resources or through telephone directories. The programs are specifically designed for heavy smokers, so anyone who smokes 25/ day+ and who still has that little demon in their mind nagging away at them might find these programs useful.
All forms of nicotine replacement therapy are effective BMJ 2000.
Nicotine replacement therapy is effective in an estimated 13% of smokers who seek help in cessation; the effect is greater in those who are nicotine-dependent. Journal Of Internal Medicine 1995.
Do you need patches or gum? Some people do and some don’t. There is an oral fixation- just chew gum that fixes that. But nicotine patches and gum are meant to reduce the nicotine over time and w
The efficacy of the gum seems to be due to its ability to relieve withdrawal symptoms. Successful use of the gum depends on appropriate instructions, expectancies, and adjunct therapies. Journal Of American Medical Association 1984.
Another Doctor resource is anti-stress clinics. On average 60% of smokers are worried (fear) of how to cope with stress when they quit. Anti-stress clinics have been a great place for many years, and they do work. If you are stressed or even angry and the smoking “helps” then seeing one of these clinics is ideal because if you quit without dealing with the underlying factors then you will smoke again.
Sometimes those worry balls that you squeeze or a classical music CD played in the car that are recommended by many professionals, just aren’t enough and programs that deal and treat stress and anger are perfect because the program managers have seen the different types and stages of these emotions and can even get to the root cause which can be uplifting on so many levels. But this needs to be done before you quitting deadline because it may take some time for the root cause of stress and anger to actually appear and for you to deal with them. But remember it is not a defeating or even a wishy-washy exercise. Stress and anger issues are killers themselves and contribute to stroke and heart attacks throughout the population as a whole. Being constantly stressed or angry are not emotional states that you need to be in on a daily basis. You ultimately shouldn’t have to be there at all, there are ways to deal with those emotions so that you can lead a normal smoke free life.
You will notice people who quit and had a much worse habit than you
Some people will be very ill and still quit
That you are not the only one- we hear about quitters but we never actually see them
Here is a couple which I found online, just by typing in “quit smoking testimonials”.
1. It is now almost 8 months since I quit smoking and got a new lease of life. I was a heavy smoker on 40 to 50 cigs a day for 24 years. I finally got sick of coughing and wheezing. I used zyban for 2 weeks; I stopped using it as it made me feel unwell. After that it was learning & awareness from web sites like this one, which developed into motivation, effort and enthusiasm to quit and stay that way.
2. I failed well over 50 times to quit smoking. Or rather I took up smoking after I had quit some 50 times; so I failed at least 50 times. I succeeded once. Today I am smoke free. All because I learned one thing: to keep my eyes on the goal at all times.
3. I lost all desire to smoke after liver surgery.
4. I was fed up with everyone telling me to reward myself with the money I saved ( one of the reasons I quit was because I couldn't afford it) so I thought of an even better reward, for every seven days I went without cigarettes, I gave myself a whole day off from the house work.
Sometimes you read of people relapsing quite quickly back into smoking. That is because they thought it was going to be simple- you just stop right? But that, as we have seen clearly, is just not the case. The physical issue is the cigarette but there is a mental issue ever present, and if you become cocky then relapses occur and it is the main component of relapses. Being in denial of the bigger picture of what smoking actually is and has done to you.
Try and join or have access to a Quitline- which is a telephone line run by either councillors or ex-smokers which help you in your time of need. It has also been found that these telephone hotlines increase quitting lengths. If your area doesn’t have a Quitline then turn a friend or a partner into one. With their permission ask if to phone them whenever you feel that need. They should then be a person to talk to and a person to share the burden. Again this increases quitting lengths and also reduces the setbacks that can occur.
It takes time to learn to smoke and it takes time to learn to not smoke. Sometimes we give ourselves terrible pressure to quit smoking and we deem ourselves a failure when we don’t or relapse. That’s OK. Don’t beat yourself up about it- deal with it.
It is just not the case that you are quitting smoking- you are actually quitting a certain lifestyle, a certain diet and even a different circle of friends- so you may falter but that is OK- learn how to patch it up and redo your efforts. Sometimes we do fall down, sometimes we do take a beating, but we must get up, we must finish what we started.
I quote Bruce Waynes (Batman) dad who said:
“Why do we fall? So that we can get back up and try again”
It maybe a movie quote but it encompasses what we are talking about.
Don’t like that quote? Here’s another one:
“Only those who are asleep make no mistakes”. Ingvar Kamprad- Founder of Ikea.
Getting up and believing in yourself through adversity is what separates the successful people from the ones who talk the talk but never walk the walk- bar none. In the 1970 when there was an oil supply shortage, everyone went into close-down mode. Little funding was going to start-up firms, people were panic buying…so all was lost right? It was at this time of adversity where 2 guys set up 2 firms, one was Bill Gates and the other was Steve Jobs.
If you make a mistake, admit it and move on. Tell that inner demon voice to shut it and to say that “You made a mistake. Who doesn’t? I have got up and I am carrying on anyway”. Reinforcement of positive attitudes to yourself extinguishes that inner voice. It never shuts it down completely, it just pushes it down further. Now and then it finds a way out and you have to be firm with it again and push that voice back down to where it belongs.
One thing that we must remember is that there is plenty of talk about withdrawal symptoms and how bad they are, but they do actually pass. Scientifically they pass 72 hours past your final cigarette. That is the time it takes for your body to remove, naturally and automatically, all the nicotine from your body. So therefore within 3 days symptoms subside and you are guaranteed symptom free within 10 days after your last cigarette. Unfortunately some smokers smoke again to relieve the symptoms, that however has the opposite effect as nicotine gets replaced and the symptom time is reset a little bit and you have to go through it again.
Patients who were totally abstinent reported less severe craving overall for cigarettes than those who only reduced their cigarette consumption by an average of 60%. Also, the craving of totally abstinent dropped off more sharply as abstinence proceeded. Human Pharmacology 1976.7. So Far...The Best Treatment Methods Around