Why Quit Smoking?
Smoking is bad for health. It causes physical disorders (cancers, heart attacks, early ageing etc.), psychological disorders (poor concentration, irritability, poor sleep) and sexual disorders (erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, low sperm count etc.)
How easy is it to quit smoking?
Smoking is tough to quit. The bad news is that, will power alone helps only 3% people to quit smoking per year, the good news is by using proper treatment quit rate can go upto 60-70%.
SO TAKE A DECISION TO QUIT SMOKING NOW
Once you have decide to quit, following steps should be followed to successfully quit smoking
How to stop smoking?
A. Set a QUIT DATE: This is the date when you will completely stop smoking. It should be preferably within the next two weeks, it would be better if some important date (such as birthday of self/spouse/children, anniversary, a holiday or beginning of month) is chosen as quit date.
B. Start NICOTINE FADING till the quit date, which means start cutting down on cigarettes smoked to about half of current use till the quit date
C. Start Anti Nicotine Medicines immediately so that they have started showing results by the quit date.
D. Inform close family members/friends about your plan of quitting on the QUIT DATE. It puts psychological pressure and enhances chances of quitting.
E. Perform Ceremonial Gestures, the night before the quit date: All items associated with tobacco, such as ashtrays, old boxes etc should be thrown away, preferably in presence of close family members and friends.
F. Stop smoking on the quit date and start Nicotine gums/patches/lozenges.
Alright so the quit date has come and you have stopped smoking. Now, it is important to use nicotine gums/patches/lozenges to reduce the withdrawal symptoms and stay away from the cigarettes. Its important to use these in a proper way.
How to use nicotine gum/patches/lozenges properly?
Most of the people tend to use nicotine gums/lozenges in an improper way and hence do not get benefited by it. The following steps should be followed:
A. After putting nicotine gum in mouth, chew it softly till a taste/tingling sensation appears. Usually 10-15 chews are enough to bring this taste/tingling sensation.
B. Once you experience the taste, park the nicotine gum between your gums and cheek. Nicotine gets absorbed from the inside of your cheek.
C. When the taste/tingling sensation disappears, again chew the gum till the taste/tingling sensation reappears and repeat the process.
D. Don’t swallow the saliva, as it can cause loss of effect and also may result in side effects like burning sensation in throat or stomach.
E. Don’t eat or drink anything while gum is in mouth and 15 minutes before and after.
F. If you experience, too strong a taste, it means that you are chewing too vigorously or too many times.
G. Use nicotine gums at a fixed interval and not in response to craving for cigarettes.
(If you are using nicotine lozenges, don't chew it. Just park it between gum and cheeks and allow it to dissolve. Keep on moving from one side to another till its completely dissolved in approximately 20-30 min)
How often should nicotine gum/lozenge be used?
Follow the dosage recommended by your doctor.
A rough guide is being provided here
A. If you smoke more than 20 cigarettes per day, use 4 mg nicotine gum/lozenge.
B. If you smoke less than 20 cigarettes per day, use 2 mg nicotine gum/lozenge.
The following is the suggested frequency:
Week - Gums used
1-6 weeks - 1 gum every 1-2 hrs
7-9 weeks - 1 gum every 2-4 hrs
10-12 weeks- 1gum every 4-8 hrs
What is the role of medicines?
Highly effective medicines such as Varenicline and Bupropion have been introduced and help in smoking cessation. Meet your doctor and get yourself a prescription.
So, you have stopped smoking but at times the cravings are too intense and you feel tempted to smoke, learn how to deal with craving.
How to deal with cravings?
Even with treatment, one may feel craving for cigarettes after quitting. Cravings tend to get better with time. Following ways can help in managing craving:
A. Delay: Craving or urges tend to come in waves of 3-5 minutes. If you can stop yourself till then, craving gets much weaker.
B. Distract: Try distracting yourself by listening to a song, going for a walk, calling a friend etc.
C. Drink: Drink lots of water and fluids.
D. Deep breaths: Deep breathing with closed eyes and focussing on your breath helps in decreasing craving.
E. Discuss: Discussion with a close family member/friend about how are you feeling also helps.
Quitting is not enough, we have to ensure that we don't start smoking again. We need to know all about relapse and how to prevent it
What can trigger relapse (return to smoking)?
Triggers for relapse are often easy to predict and if proper steps are taken, one can avoid the relapse.
Following are the common triggers:
A. Watching others smoke: If you are hanging out with your smoker friends, it may result in intense craving and a relapse
B. Feeling too happy, sad or stressed out: Strong emotions whether positive or negative may too result in craving
C. While having alcohol
D. Feeling bored
E. Feeling the need to improve concentration or while studying
How to avoid relapses?
Following steps will help:
A. Avoid: The most important strategy is to avoid the activities that you think may result in relapse. E.g. If you think that during an upcoming party everyone will be smoking and you may too, avoid it.
B. Don’t test yourself: People often make the mistake of experimenting with themselves. E.g. After quitting, one may be be tempted to think that “i will accompany my friends when they are smoking but wont touch a cigarette myself and lets see if i can stop myself”. This person is quite likely to fail in his experiment and may have a relapse
C. Alternatives: Use alternatives such as chewing gums, mouth freshness or saunf etc for some oral gratification
D. Alter: Substitute cigarette smoking with some other activity. E.g If you used to smoke cigarette after dinner, try going for a walk after dinner or if you used to smoke cigarettes before going to toilet, try drinking a glass of water before going to toilet
E. Exercise regularly and remind yourself regularly that you have quit for a reason
F. Reward yourself: From all the money that you save after quitting, buy yourself something nice.
If despite the above steps, you are finding it difficult to quit, consult a trained psychiatrist.