So you’ve made the decision to quit smoking? Congratulations! Quitting smoking is one of the best health changes you can ever make. The benefits of cutting this toxic habit are numerous.
Within minutes of your last cigarette, your blood pressure and pulse return to normal. After a few days, your heart attack risk drops and lung function begins to improve. Over time, your risk of stroke, cancer, and smoking-related illness returns to that of a person who’s never smoked. You won’t stink anymore, your sense of smell will improve, you’ll save a fortune, and your skin will look better. Sound good?
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Let’s get started. We’re not going to lie — quitting sucks. Some former smokers even liken the process to losing a good friend. How tough it will be to quit depends on a few different things, like how much you smoke, how many of your close friends, family and co-workers smoke, and your triggers for lighting up (having an alcoholic beverage or taking a work break, for example).
There are many different ways to go about quitting the habit. Some work better than others, so you need to decide which technique works best for you. It might require some trial and error. Here are the main methods of smoking cessation:
Statistics tell us that only 4-7% of people who try this method are successful at quitting. And 90% of smokers have tried stopping cold turkey — not very promising odds. Most people need additional support when they quit, in the form of the following methods.
Formulate a “quit plan” by choosing a date in the future (not too far out… you need time to prepare but don’t procrastinate too much). Tell your friends and family that you are quitting, and consider announcing it on social media. The more people who know your intentions, the more accountable you’ll be. Identify what triggers you to smoke, and decide how you will cope when these triggers arise. Get rid of lighters, ashtrays, etc.
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Nicotine Replacement Therapy
This method involves the use of nicotine gum, patches, inhalers, sprays, or lozenges. Nicotine replacement therapy has one of the highest success rates, and works best when you have plenty of support from your friends and family.
There are two drugs commonly used to help people quit smoking (Buproprion-Zyban and varenicline-Chantix). But these drugs must be prescribed by a doctor, and they often come with bad side effects.
Use any combination of the above techniques to boost your odds of successfully quitting the habit. For example, formulate a quit plan and use a nicotine replacement aid when cravings are just too strong to bear.
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Once you’ve quit smoking, don’t get cocky and expose yourself to triggers unnecessarily. And if you relapse, don’t beat yourself up. The risk of relapse is completely expected in strong addictions like smoking.
Just smoke as little as possible until you feel ready to quit again. Quitting at any age can add years to your life, and is worth every minute of trouble and difficulty.