by John R. Polito, Nicotine Cessation Educator
Tired of the same old quitting tips? How will you navigate the up to 72 hours needed to reach peak withdrawal and again reside inside a nicotine-free body? The below cold turkey tips are vastly different from the advice rendered by those advocating months of using worthless and ineffective nicotine replacement products, nicotine that undercuts success and is costing lives.
1. The Law of Addiction - "Administration of a drug to an addict will cause re-establishment of chemical dependence upon the addictive substance." It's rooted in studies finding that lapse equals relapse for nearly all quitters.
Nicotine dependence is real drug addiction. While most walk away from trying to cheat when quitting feeling like they have gotten away with it, you cannot cheat the design of brain circuitry whose job it is to make activating events nearly impossible in the short term to forget. It won't be long before your brain is wanting, plotting or even begging for more.
The natural insecticide nicotine has de-sensitized and rewired your brain, causing it to grow millions of nicotinic receptors in at least eleven different regions. Although nicotine's arrival is accompanied by alertness, not intoxication, numbness, euphoria or a racing sensation, the wanting you'll feel for that next fix flows from the same dopamine pathways as the wanting felt by the alcoholic, heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine addict.
Treating true addiction as though some nasty little habit capable of manipulation, modification or control is a recipe for relapse and an early grave. Fully accept who you are. It can be your most liberating moment ever. Accept that there is no such thing as just one, that one will always be too many, while thousands never enough.
Remember, half of adult smokers continue to smoke themselves to death, each an average of 13-14 years early (U.S. male & female rates). Smoking's secret deathline -- a point beyond which the damage done makes regaining full life expectacty impossible -- is approaching. It's time to bring an end to quitting games. Nicotine dependency recovery truly is all or nothing. And there's one rule which if followed makes failure impossible, no nicotine today!
2. Measuring Victory - Forget about quitting "forever." Like attempting the seemingly impossible task of eating an entire cow (steer), it's the biggest psychological bite imaginable. Why not eat one juicy steak at a time instead? Adopt a realistic and do-able victory yardstick that celebrates freedom an hour, challenge and day at a time. If you insist on seeing success only in terms of quitting forever, then on which day will you celebrate? Who is coming to that party?
3. Emotional Recovery - Chemical dependency upon smoking nicotine is one of the most intense, repetitive and dependable relationships you've likely ever known. It has infected almost every aspect of your life and thinking. Be prepared to experience a normal sense of emotional loss when quitting which transports you through six very different phases: (1) denial, (2) anger, (3) bargaining, (4) depression, (5) acceptance, and (6) complacency. This emotional journey is normal and a necessary part of recovery.
4. Do Not Skip Meals - Each puff of the stimulant nicotine was your spoon releasing stored fats and sugars into your bloodstream via your body's fight or flight pathways. It allowed you to skip meals without experiencing wild blood-sugar swing symptoms, such as an inability to concentrate or hunger related anxieties. Why add needless symptoms to withdrawal? Instead, learn to spread your normal daily calorie intake out more evenly over the entire day. Try hard not to skip breakfast or lunch. It's not about eating more food but less food more frequently.
Drink plenty of acidic fruit juice the first three days. Cranberry is excellent and a bottle will cost less that a pack of cigarettes. It will help to both accelerate the up to 72 hours needed to remove the alkaloid nicotine from your bloodstream, and help stabilize blood sugars. Take care beyond three days as juices can be rather fattening.
5. Avoid All Crutches - A crutch is any form of quitting reliance that you lean upon so heavily in supporting recovery that if quickly removed would elevate risk of relapse (a person, product, service or activity). If you feel the need to lean upon a quitting buddy be sure that your buddy is either a sturdy long-time ex-smoker or a never-smoker.
With the exception of using extreme care with alcohol during early withdrawal, you do not need to give up any activity when quitting except for using nicotine. Likewise, successful long-term quitting is not dependent upon you engaging in any new activity either. Contrary to the junkie-thinking which an endless cycle of urges and wanting forced you to invent, you will quickly adjust to doing everything you did as a smoker, and doing so as well or better as an ex-smoker.
6. Crave Coping Techniques - You have conditioned your mind to expect the arrival of nicotine when encountering various times, places, activities, people, events or emotions. You should expect to experience a short yet possibly powerful anxiety episode lasting up to three minutes the first time you encounter each crave trigger.
Don't fear or hide from your triggers but confront and extinguish each of them. You'll find that most are re-conditioned by a single encounter during which the subconscious mind does not receive the expected result - nicotine. Welcome and embrace every episode as each reflects a beautiful moment of subconscious healing, and the reclaiming of another aspect of life.
One crave coping technique is to practice slow deep breathing while clearing your mind of all needless chatter by focusing on your favorite person, place or thing. Another is to say your ABCs while associating each letter with your favorite food, person or place. For example, "A" is for grandma's hot apple pie, and "B" is for ..." It's doubtful you'll ever reach the challenging letter "Q."
7. Cessation Time Distortion - Studies show that nicotine cessation causes significant time distortion. Although no subconsciously triggered crave episode will last longer than three minutes, to a quitter the minutes can feel like hours, especially if they panic. Keep a clock handy to maintain honest perspective.
8. Caffeine/Nicotine Interaction - Amazingly, nicotine somehow doubles the rate by which the liver depletes caffeine. Yes, your blood-serum caffeine level will double if no caffeine intake reduction is made when quitting. Although not a problem for most light to moderate caffeine users, consider cutting caffeine intake by roughly half if troubled by anxieties or experiencing difficulty relaxing or sleeping.
9. The Smoking Dream - Be prepared for an extremely vivid smoking dream as tobacco odors released by horizontal healing lungs are swept up bronchial tubes by rapidly healing cilia and come in contact with a vastly enhanced sense of smell. See it as the wonderful sign of healing it reflects and nothing more.
10. Relapse - Remember that there are only two good reasons to take a puff once you quit. You decide that 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. As long as neither of these options appeals to you the solution is as simple as ... no nicotine just one day at a time, to stick to your original commitment to ... Never Take Another Puff!
The above tips are a sampling of the educational offerings available at WhyQuit.com, the Internet's oldest forum devoted to the art, science and psychology of cold turkey quitting. A free quitting resource staffed by volunteer professional cessation educators, WhyQuit carries the not-for-profit concept to the extreme of actually declining donations.
Visitors to WhyQuit will find our two free quitting ebooks, "Never Take Another Puff" and "Freedom from Nicotine - The Journey Home," the Net's largest collecton of original quitting articles, more than 200 free quitting videos and our two cold turkey quit smoking support groups, Turkeyville, Facebook's most popular quitting site, and Freedom, an education oriented message board Yuku group.
Imagine becoming vastly more dependency recovery savvy than nicotine's influence upon your mind, health and life. We hope you'll explore WhyQuit as knowledge isn't just power but a quitting method. Here's a sampling of what you'll find.
WhyQuit's basic "how to quit smoking" video
Read our free quitting e-books
Read both and watch knowledge destroy quitting anxieties!
Learn More About Smart Turkey Quitting
- WhyQuit.com - WhyQuit is the Internet's oldest forum devoted to the art, science and psychology of cold turkey quitting, the stop smoking method used by the vast majority of all successful long-term ex-smokers. Left to right, WhyQuit is organized under three headings: (1) Motivation, (2) Education and (3) Support.
- "Never Take Another Puff" - Imagine a free 149 page stop smoking ebook that's registered more than 4 million downloads and was written by a man who has devoted 40 years, full-time to helping smokers quit. Never Take Another Puff (NTAP) was authored by Joel Spitzer, the Internet's leading authority on how to stop smoking cold turkey. It is an insightful collection of almost 100 articles on every cessation topic imaginable.
- "Freedom from Nicotine - The Journey Home" - Written by John R. Polito, a former 30-year heavy smoker and WhyQuit's 1999 founder, Freedom from Nicotine (FFN) is a free nicotine dependency recovery book that documents the science underlying nicotine dependency and successful cessation. Whether hooked on cigarettes, e-cigarettes (e-cigs), bidis, kreteks, a pipe, hookah or cigars, on dip, chew, snuff or snus, or on the nicotine gum, lozenge, spray, inhaler or patch, FFN provides a comprehensive yet easy to follow road-map to freedom from nicotine.
- Turkeyville - Visit Turkeyville, Facebook's most popular quit smoking support group. The group's primary focus is the first few days and helping new quitters get started. Yes you can!
- Joel's Library - Joel's Library is home to Joel Spitzer's "Daily Quitting Lesson Guide." The Guide walks new quitters through the first two weeks of smoking cessation, recommending daily videos to watch and articles to read. Joel's Library is also home to more than 100 original short stop smoking articles, to his free ebook Never Take Another Puff, and to his collection of more than 200 video stop smoking lessons.
- Nicotine Addiction 101 - WhyQuit's guide to understanding nicotine dependency.
- Freedom - Looking for a deadly serious and highly focused education oriented support group? Home to Joel Spitzer, Freedom is the Internet's only 100% nicotine-free peer messageboard support forum. Explore Freedom's hundreds of thousands of archived member posts on how to quit smoking.
- Nicotine Cessation Topic Index - An alphabetical subject matter index to hundreds of nicotine cessation support group discussions, article and videos.
- 40 Quitting Tips - Key cold turkey nicotine cessation tips on how to stop smoking, vaping, chewing or sucking nicotine into your body and bloodstream.
Knowledge is a Quitting Method!
Article written October 3, 2005 and page last updated January 15, 2014 by John R. Polito© 2005 WhyQuit.com