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How do you write advice on how to stop smoking? I think that probably everything under the sun has already been written about this subject either in the form of leaflets or posters in the NHS or in the multitude of books that you can buy. I have read more leaflets than you would believe for ideas and inspiration on how to quit, searching for that magic piece of advice that would make me never want to smoke another cigarette in my life.Fully aware that reading these leaflets did nothing for me in my quest to abandon the evil cancerstick, I am somewhat hesitant to write yet another piece of advice on the subject. However, having not smoked one cigarette over the last month, I feel that I am in a relatively good position to share how I did it and hopefully it will help someone who wants to come off them but is struggling, or make someone who still loves smoking at least think again and possibly make them think about coming off them.
My BackgroundI have been smoking "fulltime" since I was about 17 or 18. By fulltime I mean smoking 20 or more a day- I had the odd smoke when I was younger but it wasn't a regular thing. I started for all the normal reasons- peer pressure, I liked the taste, it makes you look cool/older. I started smoking more and more, thinking "it's no problem, I can stop anytime I want." Inevitably, I didn't stop and found myself, seven years on, still puffing away and turning into a heavier and heavier smoker. Nothing too different than any other smoker reading this, I would imagine.
My AdviceI'll start off my advice with the biggest cliche in the book. I don't want to write an opinion littered with cliches, but I feel that this one is THE essential part of giving up smoking - "You have to want to give up smoking in order to succeed."
When I look back at all of the efforts that I have made at giving up cigarettes, I can see one major difference between then and now. When I had my last cigarette a month ago, I didn't decide to TRY to give up smoking, I decided that I WAS going to give up smoking. I have TRIED to give up smoking more times than I can count. What I discovered this time was that when you try to do something, you leave yourself an excuse for failing. If you decide to try something and you fail, you can still tell yourself "Oh well, at least I tried."When you tell yourself that you want to try to quit smoking, you are expecting to fail. In my case, I told myself this because I didn't really want to quit smoking. I knew from reading leaflets that you had to want to quit in order to succeed, but if I am completely honest, I would have to admit that I loved smoking and never really wanted to give it up. I may have wanted to want to give it up, if that makes any sense, but I never really decided that I was going to give it and therefore I failed when I "tried". I did everything that I could think of to try to inspire myself- followed the guidelines in the leaflets, made lists to remind myself why I was quitting, added up the money that I would save if I quit, tried to use shock tactics on myself by reading about the diseases that you get from smoking and the percentage chance that you will get them unless you quit, using patches and chewing gum and inhalers, etc, etc, etc.
None of this worked. I believe that it didn't work simply because after doing all of this I still didn't really want to quit smoking badly enough. I was only trying to quit, not actually quitting. A month ago I decided that I was going to stop smoking. I wanted to stop smoking. I haven't smoked since then.There were some other things that helped me through when I was trying to stop. Before you read these and say "Hold on, I thought you said that all of these things didn't stop you from smoking, and that all you need is willpower, and now you're listing them as things that you should do..." It's true, doing the things below didn't stop me from smoking. I would have gritted my teeth and stopped even if I had not been able to do the things below. What they did do, however, was make it much easier to stop. They are not a substitute for willpower and the desire to stop, but they go along with it fairly nicely.
1. Nicotine Replacement (Patches, chewing gum, inhalers, etc.) I used chewing gum for the first week when I stopped. I think that the companies who sell this stuff don't make it clear enough that these treatments are not miracle cures. Watching the adverts on TV you would swear that all you have to do is slap on a patch and you'll never get another craving, and you'll live happily ever after. B****cks. I personally think that these nicotine things are more psychological than anything else, as you only get a tiny fraction of the nicotine that you get from a cigarette. Saying that, I do think that it helped as it gives you some sort of substitute for a cigarette. It will only work, however, after you get it into your head that it is a substitute in the loosest sense of the word, and is nothing like smoking at all.2. Pick a date, any date. I think it takes a bit of time to build up your resolve to stop smoking. I set a date a month beforehand, but I was determined that I was going to stick to my date and quit on it. I don't think that it works to say "I will quit after this packet", simply because you probably haven't spent enough time considering a decision to do a very difficult thing and are less likely to stick by your decision.
3. Change of routine. For some people this may be possible, for others it may not. I actually left the job that I was in because it was too engrained in me that breaktime was smoketime, and quitting at my old job helped a lot. Some people might say that this is extreme, but just pause and ask yourself a question - "Is my job worth ten or fifteen years off my life?"
Going to the pub may be another habit that has to go in order to get rid of cigarettes for good. I have been to the pub once since I stopped, but I was fortunate enough to be able to go to a pub in the Republic of Ireland where the smoking ban means that you have to stand outside in the rain to have a ciggie, which sort of lowers the appeal.
After eating is a time that many people, including myself, find hard when quitting. I started drinking a black cup of coffee with tree spoonfuls of coffee and three spoonfuls of sugar instead. Not too nice and it gives me the jitters, but it did the trick for me. I have heard of other people who have taken up hobbies like knitting to get through the hard times.
5. Be prepared for the withdrawals. You will feel terrible at times. You will want to hit someone, shout at someone, or simply scream. Again, remember that this feeling will only last for a few seconds and that it will be the worst one that you ever have- the next one will probably be easier.6. Get used to the idea that you will always have moments when you will want a cigarette. I managed to quit once before, only to take a notion a few months later that I would be able to have one cigarette and still not go back on them. It is essential that you are aware that you will probably have cravings for the rest of your life. They will not last for long and they will not be overly difficult to say no to, but they will be there. Giving in to one of these urges means that you might as well not have bothered stopping- you will end up smoking as many as you did before. You just have to tell yourself to wise up and remind yourself of all the hard work that you put into getting where you are.
7. Don't give up. Not many people quit the first time. Goodness knows how many times I said I would quit. Sometimes I lasted a few hours, sometimes a few days, once I even lasted two months. It's never a bad time to give it another go, no matter how many times you have tried before.
I have tried stopping quite a few times, and there are a few things that should definitely be avoided."Cutting Down"
Lights and Silk Cut.
This is similar to cutting down the amount that you smoke, but you smoke weaker cigarettes instead of cutting down the number of cigs. Again, you will probably start working your way back up to the stronger cigarettes in no time. I have actually read that they can be worse for you than normal cigarettes because you tend to suck harder to try to get the same amout of nicotine from them.
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