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The 7 steps to stop smoking

November 12th, 2008 | Tina | Health | No Comments »

As a smoker I was a late starter. While friends of mine started smoking at the age of 13, I was never the least tempted. My dad used to smoke on New Years Eve to light the fire works which was easier with a cigarette when there is an ice wind blowing (or maybe it was just a bad excuse for my dad who used to be a smoker for 15 years). Once when my sister and I was about 12 and 13 years old my dad gave us a cigarette to smoke to "show us how bad it taste" and we coughed and definitely thought it tasted bad really bad

Nevertheless, while living on a kibbutz in Israel I started smoking and managed to smoke for the next 11 years, but I don’t think I ever considered it something I would do all my life. I have stopped a few times in my life before – the longest period being 9 months. Now I have stopped again, but this time it is forever. You might think "yeahh right "until next time". But actually by now I have not smoked for nearly two years – so I think my advice to you about stopping to smoke is valid. Below I have lined up 7 steps which I found to be helpful when stopping to smoke or deciding that you will soon stop smoking:

    1. Never stick to the same cigarette brand all the time. As a smoker you of course have your favorite brand but this is also a major part of the addiction: the familiarity with a certain "smoky’ taste and the chemicals it contains. Try to buy a different brand it will not taste "nearly as good" (if you can actually say that cigarettes taste good in any way). In fact it will probably taste bad. Smoke it anyway – but only when you really crave the nicotine. This will reduce your smoking a lot.

    2. After smoking a brand of cigarettes that you don’t really like you will automatically cut down the cigarettes. However, most of us still continue smoking even if it tastes bad because we are addicted to the nicotine. But you will probably be able to cut down the amount of cigarettes you smoke. The benefit of not stopping completely from one day to the next is that you don’t suffer from nicotine withdrawal and insomnia (which makes it even harder to stop smoking). I started out by not smoking at work which meant that I would not smoke the whole day and then when I would come home from work in the evening I would smoke one or two cigarettes. But I would still smoke a lot when I would go out with friends socializing – especially if they were smoking.

    3. The next step is to stop the daily cigarettes and that was a bit hard. I was no longer craving the nicotine on a daily basis but it was more the ritual part of coming home and "relaxing" with a cigarette. I had to adjust my mind to the fact that relaxation is not related to cigarettes. Apart from the nicotine addiction, the major part of an addiction is the association with activities that is pleasant activities of course (like coffee with a cigarette, the after dinner cigarette, the relaxing cigarette, the social cigarette, the cigarette that goes together with drinks etc.). I am not suggesting that you give all of your associations up at one time I don’t think it’s possible. I prefer a slow path of changing habits and mind. Once I had quite the daily cigarettes and no longer associated relaxing and after-work with cigarettes I continued smoking for quite a while socially. Of course it would ideally be great to be able to stop from one day to the next (and not damage your body more) but I think it is equally important to do it in a way that makes the smoking stop last.

    4. I decided that smoking was only "allowed" when I was drinking alcohol. Now I am not a big drinker and I will usually not drink alcohol more than once a week at the most. But believe me even this step can be hard. Your addictive brain might try to pursued you to buy a drink (even from seven-eleven) just so that you can smoke a cigarette. Fight it. Try to observe how you are yourself justifying to continue polluting yourself .it’s quite ridiculous really. I did buy a drink a few times on a week day just to be able to smoke but the cigarette didn’t actually taste good so I would turn it out after smoking half. At this point in time you might already have been socially smoking for half a year and you are no longer addicted to nicotine or used to the taste.

    5. The fifth step requires that you stop buying cigarettes yourself. This means that you will have to ask other people for cigarettes. Perhaps you don’t have a problem with that but I personally don’t like to ask people all the time for cigarettes. So it will probably limit your smoking to 2-3 cigarettes on a big night out. Despite the small number of smoked cigarettes I always got a soar throat anyway after a night out because at this point in time your body is not used to the smoke either.

    6. Now you will have to make the crucial and hard decision to stop forever. And when I say forever, I mean until you die (from age hopefully). But I don’t go around announcing to people that I stopped and I suggest you don’t do that unless it is a promise you make to them and that it will put more pressure on you to keep the stop. Telling people that you have stopped will automatically make them ask you all the time how the cigarette stop is going you don’t want that. You don’t want to be reminded of cigarettes when you are trying your utmost to forget about them. It’s like having a bad break-up in a relationship and then people constantly reminding you of your loss .not fun at all.
    I made a clear promise to myself that I will never touch a cigarette again and that it is a sign that I have no strength and willpower at all if I smoke again (basically I am a loser). Perhaps you need to tell yourself other things but for me it is really important that I am in power "meaning the part of me that wants to keep me healthy is in control. Now there is never a good time to stop completely I am aware of that and you might be able to pursued yourself that only smoking 2-3 cigarettes when you socialize will not give you cancer. But how do you know? If you are genetically sensitive to smoke it might cause lung cancer, throat cancer or mouth cancer. Do you dare to take the risk? How much is your life worth? It is really sad that we only realize that our health is priceless when we get sick. I will bet you anything that if you ask a person who has got smokers lungs or lung cancer if they wish they had never smoked – they will all say ‘yes’. Who wants to be sick if they can chose to be healthy?I recommend stopping to smoke on a memorable date (like your daughter’s birthday or going somewhere important a date you will remember later). But then again don’t wait with stopping smoking until a memorable date comes up the sooner the better!! Your lungs take at least 10 years to regenerate and repair the self-inflicted damage .start today!

    7.I suggest that you try spending more time with friends who are non-smokers it’ will make life much easier for you in the beginning. However, it can also be a good idea to spend time with friends who smoke because you will notice how ugly your clothes smell afterwards.Try not to think about cigarettes and focus on the obvious advantages of being a non-smoker: Enjoy that every day you can smell flowers better, the food has more flavor, you don’t ruin the health of your loved ones by making them passive smokers, your clothes and fingers doesn’t smell anymore, you save lots of money and you don’t constantly feel guilty about destroying your own health. And most important: Keep the promise you made to yourself – after all it is your life which is at stake.

Good Luck!

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