World No Tobacco Day Quit Smoking Tips
Saturday, May 31 is World No Tobacco Day. It's a wonderful opportunity to share with smoking friends and loved ones a list of tried and true quit smoking tips. It's a beautiful way to say I care. If they should break free it will likely add years to their life.
Seventy percent of surveyed smokers say they want to quit, with up to 40% annually making a serious attempt of at least 24 hours. Sadly, what most don't know is how to succeed. The keys are so illusive that half are expected to lose an average of 13 years of life.
Print and share or e-mail the below quitting tips list with friends and loved ones who smoke. Let them know that it's World No Tobacco Day. Let them know you care. This PDF copy can be saved and attached to your email or printed and shared.
- Law of Addiction - The Law of Addiction states, "administration of a drug to an addict will cause re-establishment of chemical dependence upon the addictive substance." Yes, just one puff after quitting and within ten seconds up to half of your brain's dopamine pathway receptors will become occupied by nicotine. While you'll likely walk away from relapse thinking you have gotten away with smoking just once, your brain will soon be wanting for more. Just one puff and you'll again face up to 3 additional days of nicotine detox. We're simply not that strong. There is one rule that if followed provides a 100% guarantee of success to all ... no nicotine just one hour, challenge and day a time.
- Be Honest With Yourself - Nicotine dependency is every bit as real and permanent as alcoholism, enslaves the same brain dopamine pathways as illegal drugs and may be harder to beat than heroin. It's why roughly half of adult smokers smoke themselves to death. Treating true addiction as though some nasty little habit capable of manipulation, modification or control is a recipe for relapse. There's no such thing as just one puff. Nicotine dependency recovery truly is an all or nothing proposition.
- Treat Your Addiction as a Disease - Nicotine dependency is a disease and "wanting" disorder in which hijacked dopamine pathways leave the smoker convinced that smoking that next cigarette is as important as eating food, and that quitting would be akin to starvation. Nicotine stimulated and then de-sensitized brain dopamine pathway receptors, which in turn caused the brain to grow millions of extra receptors, a process known as upregulation. One cigarette per day, then two, then three, the longer we smoked, the more receptors became de-sensitized, the more that we're grown, and the more nicotine we needed to smoke in order to achieve the same effect. While we can fully arrest our disease, and live comfortably for the balance of life, there is no known cure.
- Enhancing Motivation - Having trouble getting started? Visit WhyQuit.com and meet Noni, Bryan, Kim and Deborah, or watch short determination fueling movie clips. If you don't have Internet access visit your local library.
- Education is Power - While at WhyQuit visit Joel's Library. There you'll find more than 100 free video quitting lessons, Joel's Jukebox, Joel's free quitting e-book "Never Take Another Puff," and more than 100 short quitting articles on every quitting topic imaginable.
- Quit Cold Turkey - Contrary to the marketing hype of those selling a growing array of quitting products, more smokers will quit smoking cold turkey this year than by all other quitting methods combined. It is fast, free, safe, productive and effective. How effective? While FDA approved quitting products are twice as effective as placebo within clinical trials, they have failed to prevail over cold turkey quitters in almost every real-world quitting method survey conducted to date. Why? Because placebo isn't a real quitting method and clinical trials were not blind as claimed. You cannot hide withdrawal from experienced quitters. They're experts at knowing exactly how it feels. While you may have already tried cold turkey, did you understand the keys to success? Combining cold turkey with education and understanding will likely make this experience your calmest and most productive ever.
- Don't Delay - Jump in the Pool - Contrary to normal thinking, two studies found that unplanned attempts are twice as likely to succeed as planned ones (2006 UK study and 2009 U.S. study). Why allow anticipation anxieties to slowly mount and build as we await some future quitting date to arrive? Jump into a pool filled with knowledge, understanding and support.
- Measuring Victory - Forget about quitting "forever." Like attempting the seemingly impossible task of eating an entire cow, it's the biggest psychological bite imaginable. Instead, work hard at adopting a more manageable one hour, challenge and day at a time (one steak at a time) philosophy for measuring success. If we insist on seeing success only in terms of quitting forever then on which day will we celebrate? Who's coming to that party? Celebrate each victory as it occurs. Baby steps! Just one hour, challenge and day at a time!
- Recovery Layers - Recovery layers include healing on physical, emotional, subconscious and conscious levels. Initially, the amount of nicotine remaining in the bloodstream is reduced by half every two hours. One hundred precent of nicotine will have exited your body within 72 hours. Physical withdrawal will peak in intensity within three days as receptor re-sensitization is rather quick. But it can take up to three weeks to feel that brain function is back to normal. During this time the brain is down-regulating and restoring the number of dopamine pathway receptors to levels seen in non-smokers. Subconscious recovery involves the mind encountering, enduring and extinguishing nicotine use cues, the times and events during which we conditioned it to expect more nicotine. Unless we hide in a closet, we'll meet, greet and defeat most subconscious use cues within the first week, leaving only remote, infrequent or seasonal cues. Conscious recovery and overcoming thoughts of wanting to smoke is the longest yet least intense layer of recovery. Over time, such thoughts gradually grow fewer, shorter in duration and less intense. Within a few months "wanting" will become the exception not the rule, as you will gradually start to develop an expectation of going entire days without once wanting to smoke nicotine.
- Withdrawal Symptoms - Within reason, it's fairly safe to blame most of what you'll feel during the first three days on quitting. But after that you need to listen carefully to your body and if at all concerned give your doctor a call.
- Possible Hidden Conditions - Each puff of smoke contained more than 500 gases and 3,500 chemical particles. One or more of these 4,000 chemicals may have been masking an underlying health problem such as a thyroid condition (iodine), breathing problems including asthma (chemicals causing bronchiodialiation), or even chronic organic depression (nicotine). Cigarette chemicals may also have been interacting with medications you were taking and a medication adjustment may be necessary. Stay alert and, again, if at all concerned contact your physician or pharmacist.
- Emotional Phases - Chemical dependency upon smoking nicotine is one of the most intense, repetitive and dependable relationships you've ever known. It has infected almost every aspect of your life. Be prepared to experience a normal sense of emotional loss during recovery. Expect to navigate six different emotional phases: (1) denial, (2) anger, (3) bargaining, (4) depression, (5) acceptance, and (6) complacency.
- Don't Be Intimidated - Yes, while true that nicotine dependency is a permanent disease and mental "wanting" disorder, fully arresting it is entirely do-able. In fact, here in the U.S. we have more ex-smokers than current smokers. Although it may not be easy it's certainly double. In fact, it's impossible to fail so long as all nicotine remains on the outside.
- Record Your Motivations - It's normal to quickly suppress and forget many of the reasons that motivated us to stop smoking once in the heat of battle. Consider writing yourself a loving reminder letter of them and carry it with you. Make it your first line of defense - a motivational tool that you can pull out and read during moments of challenge. As with achievement in almost all human endeavors, the wind beneath our wings isn't strength or willpower but robust dreams and desires. Those dreams are fueled by an accurate memory of what life as an actively feeding nicotine addict was like. Keep those dreams vibrant and on center-stage and no challenge will be too big to handle.
- Do Not Skip Meals - Nicotine is a stimulant which activates the body's fight or flight response. Each puff acted as a spoon, releasing stored fats and sugars into our bloodstream. It allowed us to skip meals without experiencing wild blood-sugar swing symptoms such as an inability to concentrate or hunger related anxieties. Don't make recovery harder than need be. Don't skip meals. Instead, learn to again properly fuel your body by spreading out your normal calorie intake more evenly over the entire day. Eat smaller, healthy and often.
- Three Days of Natural Juices - If your diet and health permit, drink natural fruit juices the first three days. Cranberry is excellent. The acidic juices will not only aid in more quickly eliminating the alkaloid nicotine but will help stabilize blood sugars. Take care beyond three days as juices can be rather fattening.
- Weight Gain Concerns - It's normal while dopamine pathway receptors are still down-regulating to attempt to satisfy "wanting" for nicotine by stimulating those pathways by eating extra food. Weight gain from using food as a replacement crutch can be demoralizing. If you must, consider reaching for healthy foods such as vegetables and fruits instead of candies, chips and pastries. If concerned about weight gain, consider a moderate increase in daily activity or exercise. Within 12 hours of quitting, blood carbon monoxide levels return to normal, gifting you the ability to engage in increasingly longer periods of physical activity and the ability to build cardiovascular endurance. You may also experience a substantial increase in overall lung function of up to 30% within 90 days. Should you gain a few extra pounds, keep in mind that you'd need to gain at least 75 extra pounds in order to equal the health risks associated with smoking one pack-a-day.
- Stress Related Anxieties - Recognize that contrary to popular thinking, smoking nicotine does not relieve stress but only its own absence. Nicotine is an alkaloid, while stress is an acid-producing event which cause the kidneys to accelerate elimination of nicotine from the bloodstream. As smokers, we often added the onset of early nicotine withdrawal to stressful events. One of recovery's many gifts is often a new found sense of calm during crisis.
- Quitting for Others - We cannot quit for others. It must be your gift to you. Quitting for a child, spouse, parent or friend creates a natural sense of deprivation that will ultimately result in relapse. If quitting for another, how will you respond the first time they disappoint you?
- Attitude - A positive can-do attitude is important. We are what we think. Take pride in each hour of healing and freedom and in each challenge overcome. Celebrate the full and complete victory each reflects. The next few minutes are all that matter and each is entirely do-able. Yes you can!
- Patience - Years of smoking nicotine conditioned us to be extremely impatient, at least when it came to satisfying the "want" born of our addiction. As deprived addicts, we could inhale a puff of nicotine and have it arrive and satisfying dopamine pathway wanting within 10 seconds. Realize the importance of patience to successful recovery. Baby steps, just one hour, challenge and day at a time and then celebrate the new found patience you just demonstrated.
- Keeping Cigarettes - Get rid of all nicotine delivery devices, cigarettes, cigars and old replacement nicotine products such as the gum, patch or lozenge. Keeping a stash of nicotine around makes as much sense as someone on suicide watch keeping a loaded gun handy, just to prove they can. Toying with a 50% chance of depriving ourself of 5,000 sunrises isn't a game. Fully commit to going the distance and seeing what it's like to awaken to new expectations of a nicotine-free life.
- Caffeine/Nicotine Interaction - Amazingly, nicotine somehow doubles the rate by which the body depletes caffeine. Studies have found that blood-caffeine levels will rise to 203% of their normal baseline if no caffeine intake reduction is made when quitting. Although not a problem for most light to moderate caffeine users, consider a modest caffeine intake reduction of up to one-half if troubled by anxieties, jitters or experiencing difficulty relaxing or sleeping.
- Subconscious Smoking Triggers - We conditioned our subconscious mind to expect nicotine when encountering specific locations, times, events, people or emotions. Be prepared for each to trigger a brief crave episode. Take heart, most triggers are reconditioned and extinguished by a single encounter during which the subconscious mind fails to receive the expected result - nicotine. Yes, crave episodes are a good thing not bad as there is a reward at the end, the return of another aspect of a nicotine-free life. Don't hide from use cues and reclaiming life, go after it!
- Crave Episodes Less than Three Minutes - In contrast to conscious thought fixation (the "nice juicy steak" type thinking that can last as long as we have the ability to maintain our focus), subconsciously triggered crave episodes normally do not last longer than three minutes.
- Time Distortion Symptom - A recent study found that nicotine cessation causes the mind to distort time. Although crave episodes won't last longer than three minutes, to a quitter the minutes can feel like hours. Keep a clock handy or wear a watch so as to provide you with an honest perspective on time.
- Crave Episode Frequency - Studies indicate that the "average" number of crave episodes (each less than three minutes) experienced by the "average" quitter on their most challenging day of recovery is six episodes on day three. That's a total of 18 minutes of challenge on your most challenging day. But what if you're not average? What if instead you established and must encounter twice as many nicotine use cues as the average quitter? That's 36 minutes of significant challenge. Can you handle 36 minutes of serious anxiety in order to reclaim your mind, health and as much life expectancy as possible? Absolutely! We all can. Be prepared for a small spike in crave episodes on day seven as you celebrate your first full week of freedom from nicotine. Yes, for most of us smoking was part of every celebration. Also, stay alert for subtle differences between crave triggers. For example, the Sunday newspaper is much thicker and may have required three cigarettes to read instead of just one.
- Understanding the Big Crave - The average quitter is experiencing just 1.4 crave episodes per day by day ten. After that they are soon going entire days without encountering a single un-reconditioned subconscious crave trigger. If a later crave episode ever feels far more intense don't be alarmed. It's likely that it has been some time since your last significant challenge and you've dropped your guard and defenses a bit. Don't panic! It can feel as though we've been sucker punched. If it does happen, see the distance between challenges as the wonderful sign of healing it reflects.
- Crave Coping Techniques - One coping method is to practice slow deep breathing when experiencing a crave episode. Try briefly clearing your mind of all needless chatter by focusing on your favorite person, place or thing. Another popular three minute crave coping exercise is to say your ABCs while associating each letter with your favorite food, person or place. For example, the letter "A" is for grandma's hot apple pie. "B" is for warm buttered biscuits. I think you'll find that you'll never make it to the challenging letter Q before the challenge peaks, victory is yours and you reclaim another slice of a nicotine-free life.
- Embracing Crave Episodes - Another coping technique is to mentally reach out and embrace each crave. A crave cannot cut us, burn us, kill us, or make us bleed. Try being brave just once. In your mind, wrap your arms around the crave's anxiety energy and then sense as it slowly fizzles and dies while within your embrace. Yes, another trigger bites the dust and victory is once again yours!
- Confront Your Crave Triggers - Recognize the recovery is a temporary journey of readjustment were we discover that everything we did as a smoker can be done as well as or better as an ex-smoker. Meet, greet and defeat your triggers. Don't hide from them.
- Alcohol Use - Research shows that alcohol use is associated with roughly 50% of all relapses. Be extremely careful with early alcohol use during the first few weeks. Using an inhibition diminishing substance and then intentionally surrounding yourself with smokers while still engaged in early withdrawal is a recipe for relapse. Get your recovery legs under you first. If you do use alcohol, once ready to extinguish your drinking triggers consider breaking the challenge down into manageable trigger segments. Consider drinking at home first without smokers around, going out with smokers but refraining from drinking, spacing drinks further apart, or drinking water or juice between drinks. Have an escape plan and a backup and be fully prepared to use both.
- Support Expectations - Don't expect family or friends who have never been chemically dependent themselves to have any appreciation of your challenges or the time required to achieve substantial comfort. It simply isn't fair to them or you. Turn to ex-smokers as mentors for the next 90 days or go online and visit free peer support forums such as WhyQuit's Freedom from Nicotine.
- No Legitimate Excuse for Relapse - Recognize that smoking nicotine cannot solve any crisis. Fully accept the fact that there is absolutely no legitimate excuse for relapse, including an auto accident, financial crisis, the end of a relationship, job loss, a terrorist attack, a hurricane, flood, tornado, earthquake, the birth of a baby, or the eventual inevitable death of those we love most. Picture yourself not smoking through each and every step needed to overcome the most difficult challenge your mind can possibly imagine.
- Conscious Thought Fixation - Unlike a less than three-minute subconscious crave episode, we can consciously fixate on any thought of wanting to smoke for as long as we're able to maintain our concentration. Don't try to run or hide from thoughts of wanting but instead place each under honest light. Flavor? There are no taste buds inside human lungs. Just one puff? For us nicotine addicts, one will always be too many and a thousand never enough. Treat nicotine dependency recovery as if it were no different than alcoholism. Don't debate with yourself about wanting "a" cigarette. Instead, ask yourself how you'd feel all the others, about going back to your old level of consumption or greater.
- Reward Yourself - Consider putting aside the money you would have spent buying cigarettes and treat yourself to something you really want after a week or a month. Save for a year and go on a vacation. Even if unable to save, reward yourself by quickly climbing from that deep smoker's rut and spending time in places where you couldn't smoke, such as movies, libraries and no smoking sections of restaurants, by engaging in activities lasting longer than an hour, and by ever so slightly pushing your normal limits of physical endurance in order to sample the amazing healing happening within.
- Fully Commit To Going the Distance - Don't be afraid to tell people around you that you've quit smoking. Fully commit to your recovery while taking pride in each and every hour and day of healing and freedom from nicotine, and each challenge overcome. Shed your fears of success.
- Avoid All Crutches - A crutch is any form of quitting reliance that we lean upon so heavily in supporting our recovery that if quickly removed would likely result in relapse. Why lean heavily upon a quitting buddy who quits at the same time as you when their odds of successfully quitting for a year are relatively small? If you want to lean on someone make it either a long-term ex-smoker or a never user.
- The Smoking Dream - Be prepared for extremely vivid smoking dreams as tobacco odors released by horizontal healing lungs are swept up bronchial tubes by rapidly healing cilia (sweeper brooms) and come in contact with a vastly enhanced sense of smell. See it as the wonderful sign of healing it reflects and nothing more. It has no profound meaning beyond healing.
- See Marketing as Bait - Your quitting means thousands of dollars in lost profits to the tobacco industry. They do not want to lose you. Flavor, pleasure, taste, price, see store tobacco advertising and the hundreds of neatly aligned packs and cartons for what they truly reflect - bait. Behind the pretty colored boxes and among more than 600 cigarette flavor additives is hidden what many dependency experts consider earth's most captivating chemical.
- It's Never Too Late - Regardless of how long you've smoked, how old you are, or how badly you've damaged your body, it's never too late to arrest your dependency, become its master, and commence the most intense period of healing that your mind and body have likely ever known. New chemical assaults upon every living cell in the body are about to come to an end. Every cell we haven't yet killed will clean up nicely.
- Study Smokers Closely - They are not smoking nicotine to tease you. They do so because they must, in order to replenish constantly falling blood-serum nicotine levels that decline by half every two hours. Most nicotine is smoked while on autopilot. What cue triggered the public feeding you're now witnessing? Watch acid-producing events such as stress or alcohol quickly neutralize their body's nicotine reserves. Witness their endless mandatory cycle of replenishment.
- Thinking vs. Wanting - There is a major distinction between thinking about smoking and wanting to smoke. Don't confuse the two. After years of smoking you should expect to notice (especially in movies) and smell smokers but it doesn't necessarily mean that you want to smoke. As for thoughts of wanting, with each passing day they'll gradually grow fewer, shorter in duration and generally less intense. Eventually they will grow so infrequent that when one arrives it will bring a smile to your face as it'll be your only remaining reminder of the amazing journey you once made.
- Non-Smoker or Ex-Smoker? - What should you call yourself? Although normal to want to be a non-smoker there's a major distinction between a never-smoker and an ex-smoker. Only the ex-smoker can grow complacent, use nicotine and relapse.
- Complacency - Don't allow complacency to destroy your healing and glory. The ingredients for relapse are a failing memory of why we quit and of the early challenges, rewriting the law of addiction to exempt or exclude ourselves, and an excuse such as stress, celebration, illness, finances, war, death, or even a cigar at the birth of a baby.
- Relapse Prevention - Remember, there are only two good reasons to take a puff once you quit. You decide you want to go back to your old level of consumption until smoking cripples and then kills you, or, you decide you really enjoy withdrawal and you want to make it last forever. So long as neither of these options appeals to you, staying here on the free side of the bars while keeping our dependency arrested on the other is as simple as - no nicotine just one day at a time ... Never Take Another Puff!
WhyQuit's basic "how to quit smoking" video
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