Giving up for good

One of the keys to success is wanting to stop. The following checklist identifies some of the reasons why smokers want to stop. This is your checklist. Print it out, tick your reasons for stopping and try to add some more of your own. Keep it handy over the next few weeks.

  • I want to feel better.
  • I don't want my children to become smokers.
  • I don't want to feel out of breath.
  • I could do with the money for other things.
  • It smells, makes the house dirty, and clings to clothes.
  • I want my breath to smell fresh.
  • I don't want premature wrinkles.
  • It's not fair to the people I work, live, and go out with.
  • I'm afraid of getting cancer.
  • It's anti-social.
  • I don't like being addicted.
  • I want to live to see my children grow up.

Click here to download this checklist as a PDF file.

Many smokers think that smoking helps them cope with stress. In fact, nicotine is a stimulant and it only seems to make you feel calm because you are addicted to it. When your nicotine level falls you feel edgy because of withdrawal effects. Smoking boosts your nicotine level and this relieves the withdrawal, making you feel less stressed. What feels like stress is actually caused by craving.

When you stop smoking you are withdrawing from nicotine and from a powerful habit. It takes time to clear the drug from the body and break the habit. You may get irritated and find it difficult to concentrate but these symptoms don't last more than a few weeks. Nicotine replacement therapy can help you through this stage.

Smoking is strongly linked to certain times and situations - the first smoke of the day, out socialising with friends who smoke, drinking tea or coffee. To break the link between the situation and smoking, change your habits. For example:

  • If you have a cigarette first thing in the morning get up and have a shower instead.
  • If you like a cigarette with a cup of tea or coffee change your drink to fruit juice or some other soft drink (without added sugar).
  • If you like to smoke when you're chatting on the phone move the ashtray.
  • If you enjoy a cigarette after a meal, clean your teeth after eating if possible.
  • Pubs are often difficult places to be when you're trying to give up so it may be better to try and avoid them and socialise somewhere else for the first few weeks.

When you first stop smoking you still think of yourself as a smoker. Under stress your automatic reaction is still to reach for a cigarette. But in time your mind 'catches up' and this reaction stops. Usually it takes about three months. It is quite rare for the craving to last much longer than this.

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