How to Quit Smoking: A Guide

Making the decision is easy, but reaching your goal is quite a challenge. This's why this guide to quit smoking will be of great use to you.
How to Quit Smoking: A Guide

Last update: 17 January, 2023

If you’re reading this guide on how to quit smoking, it’s because you may have the intention of doing so. That’s indeed a big step, so we want to encourage you. Most smokers don’t realize that they have an addiction problem. Many say they can quit when they want, but this is nothing more than a big lie.

In fact, scientific studies on cigarette addiction cite the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which states that nicotine is one of the most addictive drugs, along with cocaine and heroin.

The reason is that this substance has a direct impact on the brain that takes only 10 seconds to arrive through the smoke. By stimulating various neurophysiological pathways, such as the dopaminergic pathways, addiction is generated.

When we discontinue its consumption, there’s a decrease in dopamine levels in the nucleus accumbens and, therefore, we experience withdrawal syndrome.

How to go from desire to action in order to quit smoking?

A woman crying into a pillow.
This process can be very frustrating.

Without a doubt, if the desire to quit smoking isn’t enough, you’ll need to take action in order to materialize it. This happens because, in addition to being a stimulant, nicotine is a depressant.

After giving you a feeling of excitement and alertness, it makes you feel depressed or fatigued, so you want to start using again. This is why when you stop smoking, these are the most predominant symptoms.

Yes, this can seem overwhelming and can be scary. Still, you’re neither the first nor the last person to face this process. It’s something that’s possible to achieve, and we’ll leave you with two tips that will help you take the first step:

1. Make a commitment to yourself

Take a pencil and paper, write a commitment in which you state your desire to quit smoking, and write the reasons that motivate you to do so. Leave it in a place that’s visible and where you can read it whenever you feel like you’re failing. You can also add new motivations.

2. Seek professional help

Depending on the number of years you’ve been smoking, you may need some extra help. You can start with your family or circle of friends, so tell them about your wish.

Additionally, you could consult with a mental health professional to identify the causes that lead you to smoke or attend a support group where more people share their motivation and achievements on this path. In fact, online therapy’s an excellent option.

How to quit smoking

After the first step of going from desire to action, we’ll continue with other tips that will help you overcome this addiction that has devastating consequences.

Studies have shown that tobacco kills up to half of the people who consume it prematurely. In addition, it causes problems associated with cardiovascular disease, cancer, COPD, and diabetes, among others.

Set a timeline

Use a calendar to set milestones and dates. It’s important that you be realistic and consider that this is a slow process. Even so, you must set a date by which you propose to quit smoking and work day by day to make that happen.

If you wish, you can have a celebration with your loved ones to celebrate that you’ve overcome your addiction.

Get rid of all your cigarettes

How are you going to quit smoking if you’re seeing cigarettes all over the place? Having temptations on hand will hinder your process. This is why you should throw away cigarettes and associated items such as ashtrays and lighters. You can do this in your home, office, or any space where you spend time.

The excuse of keeping them in case a visitor smokes shouldn’t exist, as it’s best for no one around you to smoke–at least in your personal or professional spaces.

Eliminate the smell of cigarettes from your clothes

You may not realize it, but when you smoke, your clothes, hair, and hands take on a permanent cigarette smell. If you smoke indoors, the smell could also permeate your furniture, curtains, pillows, and sheets. Yes, you may not believe it, but it’s true.

Therefore, it’s important that you wash all your clothes. Take all of them out of your closet and drawers and wash them. Do the same with bedding and household whites. The smell that remains in your spaces can make you miss smoking too much and cause you to relapse.

Identify what makes you want to smoke

A woman talking to a therapist.
This may require the support of a professional.

Many things can be hiding behind the habit of smoking. Some people smoke to control their anxiety, others in order to stay alert after lunch, or there may be much more complex psychological reasons.

Identifying the reasons, motives, or circumstances that lead you to smoke will allow you to break the connection. An example of this is when you smoke after lunch. Instead, have some flavored water or a soda that helps eliminate the heavy feeling.

Establish new habits away from smoking

Smoking’s often closely related to alcohol. You’re at a party, there are alcoholic beverages, and also a great desire to smoke. If you’re in the smoking area, there’s nothing to stop you from lighting a cigarette and saying goodbye to your intention to quit.

If you’re starting to quit, you probably don’t have the will to be in this place. This is the reason why you should establish habits that are far from this environment.

You should apply it in other spaces like the terrace at work or any other area where your co-workers gather to smoke. Why spend time there if everyone will smoke while you’re trying to kick this habit? It’s better to go to the park or out for a walk.

Reward yourself

The consumption of nicotine generates addiction, among many reasons, because it stimulates the secretion of dopamine. Establishing a reward system stimulates this neurotransmitter.

So, every time you hit an important date on your quitting schedule, give yourself a treat: Buy something you want or celebrate with your loved ones.

Withdrawal symptoms

Willingness to quit smoking falters when withdrawal symptoms are accentuated. This happens, especially, in those people who’ve been smoking for a long time and are classified as addicts. Among these withdrawal symptoms, we find the following:

  • Headaches
  • Stomach aches
  • Mood changes
  • Depression or sadness
  • Fatigue or lack of energy
  • Dry mouth and sore throat
  • Anxiety and an uncontrolled desire to eat

How to manage withdrawal?

This wouldn’t be a guide to quitting smoking if it didn’t have recommendations for managing withdrawal. Following these tips can help you fulfill your purpose:

Occupy your mind

Keeping your mind busy will prevent you from thinking about smoking. Organize your week so that your activities keep you busy and prevent you from thinking that you should be smoking at the moment.

You can try exercising, going for a walk, singing, dancing, or doing whatever activity keeps you busy.

Start gradually

The schedule that we talked about before will be very useful to control withdrawal. Many smokers decide to quit smoking and completely cut off consumption. This makes withdrawal hit much greater.

In smokers of many years, there can be a decompensation of the body, so they should go from smoking a pack to only half, then to a quarter, one per week, and never again.

Use a nicotine replacement

If you start to see that the strategies that we’ve recommended in this guide to quit smoking don’t work, don’t give up. You can always consult your doctor so that they can prescribe aids that facilitate the process. Among them, you can find chewing gums, patches, inhalers, or nasal sprays.

Don’t self-medicate, but do ask for a suitable treatment that leads to a happy ending: Quitting smoking.

Repeat this guide in order to quit smoking when you need to

Quitting smoking, as we already said, depends on many factors. This may cause you to relapse, and you should be aware of it. It’s not bad and it doesn’t mean you’re condemned to addiction. Feel free to repeat the steps in this guide to quit smoking over and over again.

It’s not about breaking your personal commitment to quit smoking right off the bat, but it’s not about feeling bad and abandoning the process because of a relapse either. Finally, remember to establish your own commitments and do it at your own pace, fulfilling what you set out to do and being aware that you’re saving your life in many ways.

Este texto se ofrece únicamente con propósitos informativos y no reemplaza la consulta con un profesional. Ante dudas, consulta a tu especialista.