16 Helps for Quitting Smoking Cold Turkey

Are you one of the millions of Americans that can be classified as a legal drug addict? Are you among the population who are willingly jeopardizing their health in return for momentary physical satisfaction that leaves you desiring more? Can you identify with Mark Twain in saying, “Quitting smoking is easy. I’ve done it a thousand times”? If so, there is hope for a brighter future. Smoking addiction is such a difficult habit to break because it is both physical and psychological.

Nicotine is a drug found in tobacco. Physically, nicotine is just as addictive as heroin or cocaine. Within the first few puffs of smoke, the nicotine level is spiked in the bloodstream. Nicotine releases dopamine, a chemical that helps you feel good. This chemical relaxes the body, but the effects wear off quickly. This causes the smoker to crave another cigarette, and so the cycle continues. The negative consequences of smoking are perhaps better known than ever. Helpguide states that “half the people that smoke today will eventually be killed by a smoking-related illness.”1 On an encouraging note, half of smokers have already quit.

Psychologically, smoking is a means of overcoming depression, anxiety, and boredom. It is an ingrained habit for anyone who has smoked for any period of time. It is also a social activity. Perhaps a group of co-workers meet at a regular time for a smoke break. Without it, their routine is thrown off. Any habit is difficult to break, but one that has gripped the mind the way smoking does only adds further complications.

Smoking has a variety of unpleasant results such as odor, discoloring of the skin, bad breath, and dirty teeth. Topping the list of reasons to quit smoking are the health concerns. Cancer, lung disease, strokes, heart attacks, and blindness do not exhaust the list of dangers caused by smoking. According the American Cancer Society, “Based on data collected in the late 1990s, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that adult male smokers lost an average of 13.2 years of life and female smokers lost 14.5 years of life because of smoking.”4 Additionally, quality of life is decreased as a result of this habit. Breathing problems may be the most apparent side effect of smoking that hinders a happy life. Parents may not endure as long playing with their children at the park, and teenagers may not be as functional playing sports with their friends.

Withdrawal Symptoms

It is no wonder that quitting smoking is such a difficult feat to accomplish permanently. The body experiences several unpleasant side effects as the supply of nicotine is cut off from the body. These symptoms include but are not limited to irritability, frustration, increased appetite, headaches, insomnia, fatigue, depression, and decreased heart rate.

Immediate Benefits of Smoking Cessation

Though withdrawal symptoms may seem to overshadow any immediate benefits of quitting smoking, there are several attractive results of breaking the habit. Along with kicking the smoking habit comes the reduction in common illnesses such as colds or bronchitis. Quitting smoking not only provides long-term health benefits but immediate benefits as well. Results of smoking cessation within the first year alone include increased circulation, decreased coughing, increased breathing capacity, better lung functioning, and regular levels of carbon monoxide in the blood. Even more immediately, the quitting smoker will notice better breath, whiter teeth, better smelling clothes and hair, yellowness of fingers and nails going away, better tasting food, and a normal sense of smell.

16 Ways to Help You Quit Smoking

Though there are numerous medications and alternatives such as hypnosis and acupuncture, the majority of successful quitters quit cold turkey. Though intense withdrawal will occur, there is a shorter period of withdrawal, and this method offers the greatest chance of success. Since nicotine is a drug, the smoker must recognize that he or she is a drug addict and their task is not easy. The potential quitter must understand that after a period of smoking, the body requires a certain level of nicotine in the bloodstream or it will experience withdrawal. The lower the level, the greater the craving will be. For this reason, smokers who linger in quitting will experience perpetual cravings. Once the level of nicotine in the blood has dropped to zero, the body will stop craving this drug. Further cravings are due to former psychological dependence rather than physical addiction. The cold turkey quitter can expect to experience cravings for two weeks before all physical withdrawal ceases. The following are 18 ways to help yourself quit smoking cold turkey:

  1. Enlist the support of family and friends. Those who care for you will be an encouragement and strong motivators.

  2. Have accountability with another smoker trying to quit.

  3. Get informed and remind yourself of the harmful effects of smoking for both yourself and others.

  4. Understand your motives for both smoking and wanting to quit.

  5. Remove cigarettes and other tobacco products from your home and car.

  6. Set a quit date and stay busy on that date.

  7. Identify situations that trigger cravings and avoid them.

  8. Reward yourself with the money saved on cigarettes, or deposit the savings in a dedicated account and watch what would have been wasted money grow!

  9. Create a plan to control cravings and refer to it when strong cravings occur.

  10. Be active. Your physical stamina will improve with each passing day you stop smoking.

  11. Rely on gum, mints, hard candy, or toothpicks to replace popping cigarettes in your mouth.

  12. Don’t allow past failed attempts to quit discourage you. Remember the Mark Twain quote?

  13. Find other ways to relax. Read, pray, meditate, or listen to music.

  14. Focus on the short term; don’t worry as much about the distant future.

  15. Drink fruit juice to flush nicotine out of your system.

  16. Surround yourself with NO SMOKING signs and go only to public places where smoking is not permitted.

The time to quit is now. Even if like Mark Twain, you’ve already quit 1,000 times, perhaps the 1,001st time, with these 18 ideas will be the last time you have to quit smoking!

Lisa Masters, President
Signs America

1 http://www.helpguide.org/mental/quit_smoking_cessation.htm

2 http://whyquit.com/joel/Joel_03_02_cold_turkey.html

3 http://whyquit.com/joel/Joel_03_01_tip_sheet.html

4 http://www.cancer.org/docroot/PED/content/PED_10_13X_Guide_for_Quitting_Smoking.asp