In response to my post A New Resolve for the Resolution, I received a number of emails requesting more information on how I quit smoking. Cigarette smoking is one of the worst things that you can do to your body so if I can write a post that can help anyone quit, it is absolutely worth writing.
Quitting smoking is one of the most difficult habits to break – I’ve even heard people claim that heroin is easier to give up. That might be true, but I don’t know that for certain. What I do know is that smoking encompasses much more than just an addiction to nicotine.
There are a great deal of psychological and emotional aspects associated with smoking that need to be addressed. Therefore some analysis and introspection is necessary before trying to quit. Begin by answering the question “why do I smoke?” Be honest with yourself about your reasons.
I began to smoke when I was 13 years old. I first began because I thought it was cool. I liked how it looked and the image that it portrayed. It is important to understand this because these were the driving factors that kept me smoking for 20 years.
These reasons created additional habits. Whenever, I would walk into a social setting, I would immediately light up. Smoking gave me confidence and a feeling of security – it became my crutch. Later, smoking became a form of weight control as I opted to put a cigarette in my mouth instead of food.
After understanding why you smoke the next step is to identify when you smoke. In the course of a normal week, pay attention to the times when you smoke and how much you smoke a day. For me it was about 1 pack per day, beginning at 10am with my morning coffee. I enjoyed smoking after meals and of course whenever I drank and always in my car. Believe or not I also enjoyed smoking a cigarette after working out.
The next step is to break the pattern. For this, I recommend two – three weeks before moving on to the next step. During this time period, do not smoke during times that you have identified as your normal smoking times. However, you are permitted to smoke more if you want, just not during the those designated times. For example, if you always enjoy one cigarette after you eat now you must wait an hour. You can have as many as you want, but just not during those time slots. After several weeks your smoking patterns will be broken.
I believe that quitting anything brings with it a certain about of inherent pressure – like when an alcoholic celebrates sobriety day-by-day – the pressure that mounts is so great, that it makes me want to have a drink. So in order to successfully quit, pressure must be removed from the equation.
After the pattern of smoking is broken, it is time to slowly decrease the dependency on nicotine. This will be achieved by reducing the overall number of cigarettes you smoke in a day. You can chose any number you want, but limit yourself to that number for several weeks, until body adjusts to the decrease in nicotine.
Once you are comfortable, decrease again. Take as long as you need between further reductions. Continue to reduce until you have completely weaned-off the nicotine addiction.
If you asked me how long it’s been since my last cigarette, I couldn’t even tell you exactly. But it has been over 10 years. The reason that I do not know is because I don’t give it any power and I don’t celebrate it. But what I can say with 100% certainty is that I will never smoke again.