How To Quit Smoking? 5 Ways And A Step-by-step Action Plan

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How To Quit Smoking? 5 Ways And A Step-by-step Action Plan
How To Quit Smoking? 5 Ways And A Step-by-step Action Plan

Video: How To Quit Smoking? 5 Ways And A Step-by-step Action Plan

Video: Can a smartphone app help you quit smoking? 2022, December
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Addiction implies not only constant replenishment of nicotine, but also rituals: go out for a smoke break, take a cigarette along with a glass of wine, pat yourself on your pants in search of a lighter. These are all habitual neural pathways that the body does not easily interrupt when a person quits smoking. Therefore, it is important to get rid of both physical and psychological dependence.

The material was checked by evidence-based narcologist, psychotherapist, cognitive-behavioral therapist Ilya Kisler

Why Quit Smoking Immediately

According to statistics, in 2017, more than 8 million people died from diseases associated with tobacco smoke worldwide, of which 1.2 million were from passive tobacco use [1].

For comparison: during the COVID-19 epidemic, 2.1 million people died as a result of the disease [2]. At the same time, for every death from tobacco smoking there are about 30 patients who suffer from diseases associated with this habit. Harmful substances provoke the development of more than 15 types of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [3].

Tobacco smoke, which is composed of 4000 chemical compounds, weakens the immune system and thus negatively affects all organs of the body. It can provoke infertility and impotence, and also negatively affects the quality of sperm, which can subsequently lead to birth defects in the embryo. Also, smoking weakens bones and teeth, which makes them more fragile, provokes the development of rheumatoid arthritis, type 2 diabetes, gastrointestinal diseases, including ulcers [4].

As soon as a person quits smoking, the body begins to recover instantly. Already a day later, blood pressure normalizes and blood circulation improves, after two days a person can better distinguish tastes and smells, and after a month the walls of the lungs are regenerated.

Modern ways to quit smoking

There are several methods of smoking cessation that can help you survive during the most difficult early days. They will only work if the person is motivated to cope with the addiction.

Nicotine replacement therapy

Patches, inhalers and chewing gum that contain nicotine deliver it to your body in a much more gentle way than cigarettes.

Pros: They help to smoothly get rid of addiction, gradually reducing the dose and without exposing the body to shock.

Cons: Do not make up for the "smoker's ritual" when a person is used to picking up a cigarette after coffee or during a break at work.

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Allen Carr's books

The method is not about prohibiting certain actions, but about developing motivation. Allen Carr, who once smoked several packs a day and then became one of the leading British and world experts on smoking cessation and other addictions, consistently explains not only those disadvantages that relate to health, but others that are associated with psychology … In particular, he points to the substitution of the concepts "I like to smoke / I am addicted to smoking", drawing the reader's attention to the fact that addiction is a weakness.

Pros: Allen Carr gradually prepares the reader for change. So, for example, he says that smoking while reading his book is okay, but you need to stop immediately after turning the last page.

Cons: A person can stretch out reading for a long time, quit the book at some point or simply not follow the instructions of the author.

Meditation

Can be a supportive practice in stressful conditions of smoking cessation. It has been proven that after a few hours of exercise, people calm down, their self-control increases and their mood rises.

Pros: Helps you not think about tobacco. Reduces the urge to smoke a cigarette.

Cons: requires regularity [5].

Photo: Unsplash
Photo: Unsplash

© Unsplash

Hypnosis

The most important thing in preparation is desire. People who bring their loved ones to coding usually get the opposite effect. A person does not give in to the doctor's instructions, but, on the contrary, after the procedure flaunts that nothing takes him.

Pros: If hypnosis is successful, the habit can be broken very quickly.

Cons: There is no scientific evidence yet that hypnotherapy is the best and 100% effective way to quit smoking [6].

Cognitive behavioral psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is based on working with dysfunctional thoughts and irrational beliefs of the patient. For example, such: "To relieve stress, I must definitely smoke", "It is almost impossible to talk in a smoking team and at the same time not smoke myself", "Quitting smoking is very difficult, and I cannot do it."

The method gives excellent results in combination with nicotine replacement therapy, some specialists also use hypnosis.

Pros: The person has support and a "guide" that will bring him out of withdrawal states.

Cons: Price. However, it will pay off by saving on cigarettes.

Electronic cigarettes won't help

People often switch to e-cigarettes in an attempt to reduce nicotine addiction. Alas, as recent studies show, this is far from a harmless device. Such devices support ritual behavior and contain nicotine [7].

E-cigarettes are not recognized by WHO as a nicotine replacement therapy [8].

Evidence-based medicine also calls into question acupuncture. This technique involves inserting needles under the skin to relieve withdrawal symptoms. For those who may find this process unpleasant, there are simulation needles that do not pass into the tissue. According to clinical studies, such therapy does not provide the desired result [9].

Photo: Unsplash
Photo: Unsplash

© Unsplash

What else won't help you quit smoking

Smoking blends often contain tobacco and other harmful substances. Homeopathic care also raises questions. So far, there is no reliable research on whether naturopathy helps.

What you need to know before quitting smoking on your own

According to the European Journal of Social Psychology, it takes 18 to 254 days to form new habits. It all depends on the age and the ability of neurons to create new pathways. In fact, they like to run on already trodden paths, which is why it is so difficult for us to say goodbye to our usual demeanor [10].

However, it is possible to deceive your brain with nicotine addiction.

How to quit smoking yourself

  • Give yourself a date when you say goodbye to tobacco. Two weeks before the X hour, you can start preparing. For example, give up ritual cigarettes in the morning and for coffee. It makes sense to keep track of at what moments you smoke, because you really want to, and when it's just a habit - while walking, driving, listening to your favorite song, after eating. All these patterns need to be broken down one by one.
  • Tell everyone. With a firm decision, it is advisable to notify all friends and acquaintances. It is possible through social networks. If a lot of people know that you quit, it will be more difficult for you to admit to them that you failed.
  • Set a goal. For starters, you can tell yourself that you have not smoked for a week. The most difficult day will be the third day without nicotine, when its amount in the blood reaches a minimum. It is during this period that a person begins to experience withdrawal syndrome, which is accompanied by irritability, headache and increased appetite. You can prepare for this day in advance and figure out how to distract yourself. Relaxing practices can help. We wrote here about ways to relieve stress. Having passed the first "break", you need to set yourself a second goal. For example, hold out for ten days. And so gradually move towards the goal.
  • Borrow your hands. This will help break the ritual of the habit. It is advisable to have an object with you, for example, a spinner or a pencil. The perfect solution is a 1000 piece puzzle or jigsaw puzzle.
  • Be prepared for addiction replacement. The easiest option is to eat more. That is why, by giving up cigarettes, some gain weight. Over time, the nutritional process will normalize and the extra pounds will go away. During this period, it is best to have a bottle of water on hand or low-calorie snacks, such as chopped vegetables and fruits. As a substitute for the habit, you should be more active with your body, such as practicing yoga or running.
  • Do not scold yourself when you break down. You are not just fighting a habit, but an addiction. This is a disease that is not so easy to overcome on your own. So if you've smoked a cigarette, it's important to praise yourself for lasting so long and set your next goal.

Apps to quit smoking

For those who find it difficult to cope on their own, there are applications that help to survive this period. Many of them are motivated. You need to indicate how many cigarettes disappear from your pack per day, the date when you are going to quit, and then look into the application every time you want to take a drag. The amount of time and money you have not spent will be displayed here. For example, if you smoke a pack a day, and it costs around 100 rubles, then the annual savings will be about 40 thousand rubles.

But most importantly, the application will tell you what is happening to your body. So, after six hours the process of cleansing the lungs will begin, and after ten hours the body will get rid of half of the nicotine and carbon monoxide in the blood. The application "I don't smoke!" Was made according to this principle. (download from Apple Store, Google Play)

Photo: apps.apple.com
Photo: apps.apple.com

© apps.apple.com

Quit Genious will gradually help those wishing to give up cigarettes. This program is developed based on the methods of cognitive behavioral therapy. The main task is to help you gain control over your actions. Instead of forcing you to quit smoking right away, the app prompts you to set goals, such as smoking three cigarettes a day. After completing the task, you will find out how much money you saved, how many months you returned your life (download from Apple Store, Google Play)

Photo: apps.apple.com
Photo: apps.apple.com

© apps.apple.com

Smokkiten is a 222 day program. In the game, which was developed together with the Cancer Prevention Center, a person opens up new levels every day, receiving motivational messages (download from Apple Store, Google Play).

Photo: apps.apple.com
Photo: apps.apple.com

© apps.apple.com

Expert comments

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Ilya Kisler, evidence-based narcologist, psychotherapist, cognitive-behavioral therapist

With regard to nicotine addiction, we can safely say that you can often quit smoking on your own. In my practice, there have been cases when a patient had enough one session of cognitive-behavioral therapy, during which the patient's idea "I cannot quit smoking alone" was questioned. This is an irrational belief that can be refuted by facts, stories. Motivational counseling also helps well [11], during which the psychotherapist points out to the patient the discrepancy between his behavior and the goal that he sets for himself. The method is aimed at increasing self-efficacy.

In the case of the addition of an anxious component in withdrawal symptoms, both drug treatment (nicotine replacement therapy, anxiolytics) and protocols of cognitive-behavioral therapy or motivational counseling are necessary.

Dialectical-behavioral therapy, which has many self-help skills in its arsenal, both for anxiety and for mood swings, will also be of great help.

If the therapy is carried out correctly, then the risk of "overflow" of one dependence into another is minimal. An increased appetite in the first moments after giving up tobacco should be taken calmly, this is a normal reaction of the body.

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Irina Mulkidzhan, practicing psychologist

In our culture, smoking is often viewed as a bad habit. People who cannot quit tobacco are considered weak-willed, unable to force themselves to change even under threat of harm to their health.

From the point of view of a psychologist, everything is more complicated. Quite often the process of smoking is only the visible tip of the iceberg, in the underwater part of which the mechanism of addiction itself is concentrated - both psychological and chemical. And those who decided to quit, most likely, will have to deal with one and the other component: they are interconnected.

The deepest roots of the habit - taking a cigarette during stress - can form even up to 1.5 years. During this period, the baby begins to suck on a pacifier or a finger to reduce anxiety and relax, for example, in the absence of the mother.

Smoking can serve a variety of needs. Moreover, a person is far from always able to recognize them, since they were not only frustrated, but also pushed into the unconscious.

In the case when a person quits smoking by a volitional decision, the symptom may shift in the direction where it is possible to defuse vague, unconscious tension in a different way and find symbolic support. Often food becomes this support, the most accessible and individually suitable form of substitution of one addiction for another. People subconsciously perceive it as a symbol of belonging and love. Often, instead of emotional closeness, others offer food as the only form of care available to them. Having adopted the behavior of their elders, grown-up children retain their loyalty to such self-support. However, in this way a person again finds himself at the tip of the iceberg of his needs.

Practices of mindfulness, which are aimed at understanding and feeling yourself, your needs and motives, and your body, will help you figure it out. For example, psychotherapy, yoga, meditation. Having satisfied their true needs, a person is quite capable of forgetting the last time he held a cigarette in his mouth.>

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