Everybody knows the truth – smoking is bad for your health. At best, long-term cigarette use can lead to infertility, breathing difficulty and greatly decreased lung capacity. In the worst-case scenario, smoking kills – studies estimate that one person will die as a result of smoking every 8 seconds. That’s two people since this article began. If you are ready to begin the process of quitting, this article offers tips on how to stop smoking today.
When it comes to changing a long-term habit, success is largely dependant upon good preparation. It’s no good making an impulsive decision to quit, only to return to smoking after a few days. To that end, set a clear, realistic ‘stop smoking day’ and mark it on your calendar. Become familiar with the fact that you are going to become a non-smoker. Some people decide to cut down the number of cigarettes they smoke per day as they get closer to their date, but the most important thing is to be ready for the day when you will stop.
To a large degree, your smoking habit is a chemical one. When nicotine enters the body, it affects an area of the brain that makes you feel relaxed and comfortable. When this area of the brain does not get the nicotine supply it has become used to, you may be left feeling irritable and frustrated. One solution is a form of nicotine replacement such as a patch or gum that contains a small amount of nicotine. Whilst this is never ideal for long-term use, it is certainly preferable to smoking a cigarette that contains tar and a range of dangerous chemicals. Alternatively, tablets are available that affect the part of the brain that craves nicotine. Pills like Champix not only reduce cravings but also make the act of smoking less enjoyable.
We already know how to stop smoking using a pharmaceutical tool, but it is important to remember that your habit is only part chemical. As well as the addictive nature of nicotine, you no doubt have a routine of smoking. For some people, they smoke when they are stressed or nervous. Others smoke when they are at the pub. Whatever you habit, there is no reason that you need to stop it – in fact, keeping to your normal routine can make your transition to non-smoker easier. Do you usually have a cigarette break at work? Step outside, breathe in the air, and have your break at normal – this time, without the cigarette.
Nobody knows how to stop smoking better than a doctor and seeking the advice of a medical professional can be the difference between another failed attempt to quit and a successful, lifelong change. Doctor’s can offer pharmaceutical treatments that might help, as well as more detailed, specific advice that is tailored to your unique needs and lifestyle. Best of all, if you’re embarrassed to face the judgement of your usual doctor, you can now get advice online, as well as a prescription for the medicine that may help.
At the end of the day, kicking the habit is most effective when you have seriously decided that the time is right for you to quit. Unless your mindset towards smoking changes significantly, it’s easy to fall into the trap of having a cigarette ‘just this once’, or ‘because I’ve done so well for the past week’. Take a long, hard look at the reasons you are deciding to quit and hold them in your mind. Write them down, stick them on your wall, repeat them to yourself every morning – whatever it takes to remember that smoking is a problem, not a reward.
Gradually, newer and healthier habits will begin to form and resisting cigarettes will be easy. There’s no instant fix on how to stop smoking, but with time and effort you can be free from your dangerous chemical addiction.
Dr Paul Conley is an experienced GP who works in a busy NHS doctors’ surgery in Hampshire. He qualified in Medicine from Southampton University Medical School in 1980 and has spent over 30 years in the UK and other English speaking countries. His regular GP practice covers the whole spectrum of medical disorders, from managing long-term conditions such as diabetes and heart disease to treating acute illnesses such as chest infections.
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