So how did you get here? Some where,
at some point, you were introduced to cigarettes. You
probably thought, like so many others, that there is
no way you’re going to get addicted. You may have
even turned your back on smoking, only to find yourself
lighting up again. Even though some tobacco companies
don’t want you to believe it, the truth is, cigarettes,
especially nicotine, are addicting.
So what happens when you light up?
Shortly after your first inhale, nicotine
and other components of cigarettes travel to the brain.
You almost immediately experience what some would describe
as a ‘rush’. This is caused by the nicotine
stimulating the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands are
responsible for secreting epinephrine or adrenaline.
Your blood pressure, respirations and heart rate begin
to increase. Nicotine also helps the brain release dopamine.
Dopamine is the chemical in your body responsible for
When the cigarette habit first starts,
you may find that you’re a ‘light smoker.’
A pack of cigarettes can last several days. After repeated
nicotine exposure, a tolerance level develops and requires
more and more exposure to experience the same feelings.
At this point, your body is physically dependent on
Research indicates that a nicotine addiction
is right up there with other powerful addictions such
as heroin and cocaine. According to the American Cancer
Society, nicotine that is inhaled from a cigarette reaches
the brain faster then drugs that enter the body intravenously!
Quitting smoking is not hard, it is
staying quit that is the difficult part. This is why
you need a plan. You already understand that you’re
dealing with a highly addictive substance that your
body is dependent on, you also have to include in your
plans that you’re emotionally addicted. Smoking
has probably been a big part of your life for some time
What is the first thing you think of:
When you wake in the morning? After you eat? When you’re
on the computer? Drinking coffee? Socializing with friends?
Talking on the phone? Driving in your car? Watching
TV? Before you go to bed?
Cigarettes have probably been like a
best friend to you-always there when you need them.
They’ve made you feel better when you’re
over stressed or depressed. To be successful at quitting,
for good, you’re going to need to find a new friend,
a new healthy way to deal with stressful events or boredom.
This all requires a plan.
First you need to figure out which way
you think you want to try. Some people try to cut back
and others stop altogether or go ‘cold turkey.’
People have been able to quit both ways, but giving
up altogether keeps the temptations to smoke slightly
less because the cigarettes are not available.
Look at your calendar and pick a quit
date. This will be the first day you say goodbye to
cigarettes. Don’t pick a day that is surrounded
by stress. Mark the date and make it special. Use colorful
ink or tickers. This is a big day for you!
Make a list of all the benefits of not
smoking. This will come in handy on your big quit day
and the days to follow when cravings hit. You can think
of your own to add, but just to get you started: your
skin, hair, breath and clothes will no longer smell
of foul cigarettes. The money you spend on cigarettes
will stay in your pocket and go towards things you really
want/need. You will no longer be sabotaging your health
and the health of those around you. Food will start
to taste better and you’ll be able to smell things
better. You will regain control over your life instead
of being controlled by nicotine.
Plan and be prepared for withdrawal
symptoms, but don’t obsess over them. Not everyone
experiences withdrawal symptoms. Some of the more common
ones: insomnia, irritability, lack of concentration,
increased hunger, headaches, dizziness, fatigue, nervousness
and severe cravings. The height of withdrawal symptoms
is generally the first 72 hours after you quit. Three
days to someone who is quitting smoking can feel like
an eternity. Time can almost feel like it is standing
still. This is where the planning comes in. Figure out
what you are going to do when the cravings hit. Most
people generally find a way to occupy their time. Going
for a jog, taking a nap or shower, keeping the house
stocked with healthy snacks and gum, going to places
where smoking is prohibited such as the mall, movies
or the library.
Several days before your quit date,
take care of things so that you don’t have to
visit any places where cigarette purchases can be made.
Fill up your gas tank and buy all your groceries.
Talk to your friends and family and
let them know your desires to quit smoking and your
quit date. Let them know you need their support but
you don’t need negativity.