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30 Great American Smokeout
Cold Turkey Quit Smoking Tips

by John R. Polito, Nicotine Cessation Educator

30 Great American Smokeout Cold Turkey Quit Smoking Tips 1. The 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 powerful puff and you'll be faced with again enduring up to 72 hours of nicotine detox, by far the most challenging period of recovery. Brain scans show that just one puff of nicotine activates up to 50% of nicotinic-type acetylcholine receptors. Although most quitters walk away from trying to cheat when quitting feeling like they've gotten away with it, they soon find their brain wanting or even begging for more. There is only one rule that if followed provides 100 percent odds of success ... no nicotine just one hour, challenge and day at a time, to stick to your original commitment to "Never Take Another Puff!"

2. Be Honest With Yourself - "I am a REAL drug addict." Until ready to admit who we are we're playing games. You are a nicotine addict and it is every bit as real and permanent as alcoholism. We cannot cure or kill our chemical dependency but only arrest it and live comfortably ever after. Yes, just one rule ... no nicotine today!

3. Just One Day at a Time - Forget about quitting forever, the biggest psychological bite imaginable. Instead, adopt a manageable "one day at a time" recovery philosophy.

4. Physical Withdrawal - Unless replenished, every two hours the amount of nicotine remaining in your bloodstream declines by half. When quitting, all nicotine, 100 percent, will have passed from the body within 72 hours of ending all use. Physical nicotine withdrawal peaks in intensity within 3 days and within 2 to 3 weeks the brain physically re-adjusts to functioning without nicotine.

5. Subconscious Cue Extinguishment - You've conditioned your subconscious to expect a new supply of nicotine upon encountering specific times, locations, activities, people or emotions. The process of reconditioning and breaking or extinguishing these use cues peaks during the first week, at about day three. All but infrequent or seasonal use cues are extinguished within a few weeks.

6. Emotional Recovery - Chemical dependency upon nicotine was probably the most intense and repetitive relationship we've ever known. Be prepared to experience a normal sense of emotional loss. Expect to travel through and experience six different emotional phases: (1) denial, (2) anger, (3) bargaining, (4) depression, (5) acceptance, and (6) complacency.

7. Conscious Thought Fixation - Recovery's final layer, thought fixation, is the least intense yet longest. The rational thinking mind finds itself fixating on old nicotine use memories. With each passing day such thoughts gradually grow fewer, shorter in duration and generally less intense.

8. Withdrawal Symptoms - As strange as it sounds, withdrawal symptoms are good not bad. What truer signs of healing could there be? Within reason, it is fairly safe to blame most of what you'll feel during the first three days on recovery. After that, if at all concerned get seen and evaluated as cigarettes with 4,000 chemicals may have been masking a hidden condition.

9. Record Your Motivations - In the heat of battle it's normal for the mind to forget many of the reasons that motivated us to commence recovery. Imagine being able to reach for a loving reminder card or letter listing all your core motivations when experiencing a crave episode.

10. Don't Skip Meals - Nicotine was our spoon, releasing stored fats and sugars into our bloodstream. It allowed us to skip meals without experiencing blood-sugar swing symptoms such as an inability to concentrate or hunger related anxieties. Eat small, healthy and often.

11. Three Days of Natural Juices - If your diet allows, drink extra natural acidic fruit juice the first three days. Acidic juices not only aid in more quickly eliminating the alkaloid nicotine from the bloodstream, they help stabilize blood sugars and avoid needless blood-sugar swing related symptoms.

12. Weight Gain - It's normal to want to use food as a substitute dopamine pathway stimulation crutch, in an attempt to satisfy nicotine wanting with food. But still, you'd need to gain at least 75 extra pounds in order to equal the health risks associated with smoking one pack-a-day. If feeling compelled to eat more, consider eating low calorie vegetables and fruits. If concerned about weight gain add a bit of extra activity and calorie burning to your day.

13. Stress Related Anxieties - Contrary to popular thinking, smoking nicotine does not relieve stress but only nicotine's own absence. Nicotine is an alkaloid and stress is an acid-producing event capable of quickly neutralizing the body's nicotine reserves. It's hard work being a nicotine addict as we added early withdrawal to every stressful event.

14. Quitting for Others - We cannot quit for others. It must be our gift to us. Quitting for a child, spouse, parent, friend, a developing fetus, employer or doctor creates a natural sense of self-deprivation that eats away at our underlying resolve and eventually results in relapse.

15 Attitude - A positive can-do attitude is important to both the conscious thinking mind and the primitive impulsive mind which controls the body's fight or flight panic response. The more needless fears you dump, the more healing you'll sense.

16. Patience - Years of satisfying rapidly falling blood-serum nicotine levels conditioned us to be extremely impatient. Baby steps, just one hour, challenge and day at a time and then celebrate the full and complete victory just experienced.

17. Keeping or Carrying Smoked or Smokeless Tobacco or NRT - Get rid of all nicotine delivery devices, including replacement nicotine products. Keeping cigarettes when quitting is like someone on suicide watch carrying a loaded gun. Why play games with your life?

18. Caffeine/Nicotine Interaction - Nicotine doubles the rate by which the body depletes caffeine. Expect your normal blood caffeine level to double if no intake reduction is made after quitting. Reduction is not a concern if you could handle a doubling of your normal caffeine intake without experiencing symptoms. Consider a modest reduction of up to half if troubled by anxieties or difficulty sleeping.

19. Crave Episodes Less than Three Minutes - In contrast to conscious thought fixation (the "nice juicy steak" type thinking that can last as long as you have the ability to maintain focus), no subconsciously triggered crave episode will last longer than three minutes.

20. Time Distortion Symptom - Cessation causes significant time distortion. Although crave episodes only last a couple of minutes, the minutes can feel like hours. Keep a clock handy.

21. Crave Coping Techniques - One crave coping method is to practice slow deep breathing while briefly clearing your mind of all needless chatter, while focusing on your favorite person, place or thing. Another popular three minute coping exercise is to say your ABCs while associating each letter with your favorite food, person or place.

22. Embracing Craves - Another coping technique is to mentally reach out and embrace your craves. A crave cannot cut you, burn you, kill you, or make you bleed. Try to be brave just once. In your mind, wrap your arms around the crave's anxiety energy and then feel as it slowly fizzles and dies while within your embrace. Yes, another trigger bites the dust and victory is yours!

23. Confront Crave Triggers - Within two weeks, you'll begin to realize and notice that everything you did while nicotine's slave can again be comfortably done without it, and often better. Meet, greet and defeat your triggers. Don't hide from them.

24. Alcohol Use - There's one exception. Research suggests that alcohol use is associated with roughly 50% of all relapses. Be extremely careful with early alcohol use during the first couple of weeks.

25. No Legitimate Excuse for Relapse - Recognize that nicotine use cannot solve any crisis.

26. Avoid All Crutches - A crutch is any form of recovery reliance that is leaned upon so heavily that if quickly removed would likely result in loss of support and relapse.

27. The Smoking Dream - Be prepared for the possibility of extremely vivid dreams as tobacco odors released by healing tissues meet an enhanced sense of smell and taste. A sign of healing, they are good not bad.

28. Only One Rule - There was always only one rule. If you take a puff, you have to go back. One equals all, lapse equals relapse, one puff will always be too many, while thousands never enough!

29. Knowledge is Power - Become smarter than your addiction is strong. Transform cold turkey into smart turkey. Visit WhyQuit.com.

30. Relapse - There are only two good reasons to take a puff after quitting. You decide you want to go back to your old level of consumption until it either cripples or kills you, or you decide you really enjoy withdrawal and want to make it last forever. So long as neither of these options appeals to you, consider living an amazingly simple alternative - no nicotine just one day at a time. Never Take Another Puff, Dip or Chew!


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Learn More About Smart Turkey Quitting

  • WhyQuit.com's coffin bannerWhyQuit.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. Visit Turkeyville, Facebook's most popular quit smoking support group!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's small link banner 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.

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Article written November 17, 2010 and page last updated December 29, 2013 by John R. Polito