Smoking is considered the leading cause of preventable illness and death in Canada. The list of harmful effects of smoking is long. And yet, smokers still make up over 15% of the population.
Are you thinking of quitting smoking? Congratulations! That is one step in the right direction! In order to improve your chances of sustainable, long-term success, it is important that you understand what’s ahead when you stop smoking.
5 stages to quitting smoking
When you quit smoking, you will experience different stages: precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action and maintenance.
- During the precontemplation stages, you have not yet thought about quitting smoking and even deny that cigarettes cause any harm to your health.
- When you reach the contemplation stage, you start thinking about quitting smoking—but you are not yet sure how you can do it.
- Next is the preparation stage. You decide to stop smoking and look for different available programs and treatments.
- Then, you take action. You smoke your last cigarette and start actively applying cessation skills. It is at this stage future ex-smokers need the most help and support.
- 5) The final stage to overcome is maintenance. Ex-smokers are more capable to predict and manage cravings. However, they must always be careful not to relapse.
Are there any tricks to quitting smoking?
Before taking action, smokers should put together a plan to help them overcome the challenges to smoking cessation. Here are some tips to curb the cravings.
1- Try nicotine replacement therapy
Nicotine substitutes reduce the urge to smoke and help to mitigate withdrawal symptoms. Nicotine gum and lozenges are very useful to quickly stop a strong urge to smoke.
Talk with your pharmacist. They can suggest, and prescribe under certain conditions, treatments to allow you to resist tobacco cravings. There are also treatments that can be prescribed by your doctor. Book an appointment with your healthcare professional to determine the options that are right for you.
2- Plan for alternatives during situations that trigger your urge to smoke
Smokers often associate the pleasure of smoking with very specific situations. By identifying your triggers, you can plan on how to react. For example, if you like smoking a cigarette after a meal and with a cup of coffee, why not try drinking tea or herbal tea instead? Alternately, you could simply get up from the dinner table and focus your mind on something else.
3- Ask for the support of your loved ones, especially those who still smoke
Being able to rely on a support system can make all the difference when you get the urge to light up. Your loved ones can help to divert your attention on something else.
If you have a lot of family members and friends who smoke, ask them to respect your journey by not smoking in your presence or offering you cigarettes.
4- Drink alcohol in moderation
Alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking often go hand in hand. While you don’t have to completely quit drinking, be mindful about much alcohol you consume every week. It is difficult to control your urge to smoke once you drink too much alcohol.
5- Reward yourself
It important to reward yourself for your progress. Quitting smoking has numerous positive effects on your health. You’ll quickly notice the signs your lungs are healing and your lung capacity is improving: you’ll experience less coughing and shortness of breath. That is a definitely a huge reward! Smoking cessation also does wonders for your bank account: imagine how much money you are saving!
6- Don’t give up
Don’t forget that becoming a non-smoker is a long journey. Most people cannot simply quit from one day to the next or on their first try. If you have quit smoking—but relapsed with one or two cigarettes—don’t beat yourself up over it. Remember you are actually closer to your goal than you think. Use this experience to learn how to avoid temptation next time. Envision the future as a non-smoker, one day at a time.
Adopt a positive attitude regarding your progress and be proud that you are a non-smoker. This healthy mindset will go a long way in helping you overcome days that you find more difficult days. If you have started smoking again, think about when you will want to quit again. Don’t give up your dreams and simply set another date to quit smoking. You CAN become a non-smoker.
If you are ready to take up the challenge and have developed a good action plan, keep your eye on the unbelievable benefits of smoking cessation! And if you need an extra helping hand to increase the likelihood of stubbing out your cigarette for good, consult with a healthcare professional!