Nicotine is a very addictive drug – as addictive as heroin or cocaine. That’s why quitting smoking is so difficult. Often it takes two or three tries, but each time you try to quit you learn about what helps.
Five Keys to Quitting
1. Prepare Yourself
- Set a quit date.
- Dispose of all cigarettes and ashtrays, and don’t let people smoke in your home.
- Review past attempts to quit and think about what worked and what didn’t.
2. Share Your Goal With Others
- Tell family, friends, and co-workers that you’re planning to quit and ask for their support. Request that they not smoke around you or leave cigarettes in your presence.
- Talk to your healthcare provider, and take advantage of counseling services, whether individual, group, or telephone counseling.
3. Learn New Behaviors
- Distract yourself from urges to smoke by talking to someone, going for a walk, or getting busy in some other way.
- Change your routine by taking a different route to work or drinking tea instead of coffee.
- Avoid obvious pitfalls such as drinking alcohol or being around others who smoke.
- Reduce stress by taking a hot bath, exercising, or reading a book.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved several prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications that can help you stop smoking and lessen the urge to smoke.
- Prescription: Chantix, bupropion SR, nicotine inhaler
- Prescription or OTC: Nicotine patch
- OTC: Nicotine gum, lollipop
CAUTION: Use medications only as directed, and talk to your healthcare provider about taking any medication, especially if you are pregnant, trying to become pregnant, are breastfeeding, are under age 18, smoke fewer than 10 cigarettes a day, or have a medical condition.
5. Anticipate Challenges
- Don’t be discouraged if you relapse. Most people try several times before they finally quit.
- You may gain some weight (usually less than 10 pounds), but don’t let it distract you from your goal.
- Try to eat a healthy diet, stay active, and drink plenty of water and low-caloric fluids.
- Don’t let depression or a bad mood get you down; plan something enjoyable to do every day.