19 April 2009

A Quick Kit for Smokers

More people than ever are kicking the smoking habit. The vast majority of ex-smokers - probably 95% - quit without using hypnosis, drugs, psychotheraphy or anything. They just quit. Just like my boo quit the habit. He had been smoking half of his life. He told me he will finally quit smoking. Just as simple as that. His first attempt was unsuccessful. Thank God the second try was good. He has never gone back to smoking for the last 7 months now.

As with most addictions, it turns out that people who cure themselves often do better than those who depend on therapy to change their habits.

There are many things you can do to make things easier. Donald M. Vickery and Judith Roman Eichner have this kit for smokers. The most widely accepted methods include four key steps: Setting a Quit Date, Preparing to Quit, The Actual Quitting and The Follow-Through. You don't have to use all the techniques given here, but the wary of picking only the easiest. You may be choosing failure.

Setting a quit date

Trying to ease our of the habit by smoking less and less over the months doesn't work well. The withdrawals from nicotine can be prolonged and painful. Switching to brands low in tar and nicotine doesn't help either. When they switch, many people compensate by smoking more cigarettes and inhaling more deeply.

A modified "cold turkey" approach seems best: Cut down for a few weeks, then stop. First, set a date for stopping completely - about 30 days off - and don't let anything change it. To motivate yourself, list all the reasons why you want to quit.
Examples:
* People who smoke may develop more facial wrinkles, and sooner, than those who don't.
* Smoking cuts your ability to taste and smell.
* You're sick of smoker's cough.
* Smoking causes cancer, emphysema, and heart disease.

Preparing to quit

Learn about your habit and how to cope with it. Use a smoking diary, a tally sheet, or both. Then practice techniques to cope with the desire to smoke, and actually start smoking less.

Everyday for a week, tally the number of cigarettes you smoke in the morning, afternoon, and evening and the daily total. AS you cut down, you'll see the numbers drop.

Another technique is to keep a diary of every cigarette you smoke, and why you smoke it. On a sheet of lined paper, draw five columns: "Time", "Need", "Place or Activity", "With Whom", "Mood or Reason". Then every time you smoke, record the factors that made you light up a cigarette. In the column marked "Need", use numbers to rate the cigarettes you feel you had to have ("5"), those you could easily have done without ("1"), and those in between ("2" to "4").

At the end of the day, review the diary to see if any patterns emerge. Perhaps you tend to smoke only with certain people, for example, or after meals, or when you're anxious.

On the day you quit

The trick is to focus on what you are doing rather than what you are not, and to build pleasures into the day.
* Reward yourself for stopping. But a treat, do something special to celebrate. (Keep rewarding yourself with little things - a paperback, a trip to the museum - after you've quit.)
* Make sure all your cigarettes are gone. Hiding them is cheating.
* Keep busy. Go to the movies, exercise, take long walks, go biking.
* Spend as much free time as possible in NO SMOKING areas.
* Have your dentist clean your teeth.

After you've stopped

Being unprepared when the urge strikes can lead to "panic smoking" - you have to smoke because you don't know what else to do. Most important, keep rewarding yourself for succeeding. Each day of not smoking takes effort and you deserve a pat on the back.

What happens next?

Soon after you have your last cigarette, usually within 12 hours, your body will begin to heal itself. Your levels of carbon monoxide and nicotine will drop rapidly and your heart and lungs will start to repair the damage caused by tobacco smoke.

Still, you may feel worse at first. Right after quitting, many people temporarily experience irregular bowels and sore gums or tongue. You may feel edgy and short-tempered. But take heart. These "withdrawal symptoms" won't last.

In a few days you will begin to notice positive changes in your body. Your senses of smell and taste will sharpen, your smoker's cough will lessen, your digestive will start to work normally again. You will feel clear-headed and energetic and will breathe easier. You will be able to climb a flight of stairs or a hill without wheezing. You will be free from the mess, smell, inconvenience, expense and dependence of smoking. And you will feel the pleasure of being more in control of your life.

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