Perhaps you’ve been smoking only a short time; perhaps it’s been decades. Maybe you’re finally sick of being a slave to that skinny little white tube of tobacco. Do you wake up coughing? Are you winded after a short hike? Find yourself disgusted with the realization that a year’s worth of smokes could have taken you on a really nice vacation? Are you sick of heading outside in the rain to huddle under an awning for a few drags of chemicals?
You may be tired of your family telling you that you smell like an ashtray. Perhaps your doctor has told you that your lung capacity is weak. Or worse, that the big C of cancer has caught up with you after years of playing dodge ball with it. Whatever your reasons may be, if you have made the important decision to finally throw your cigarettes away once and for all, you can do it.
Here are four of the most popular ways to do away with that nasty, dangerous habit for good:
The old cold turkey technique is a tough one, but many swear by it. Basically you pick a day, chuck your smokes out the window, and remain miserable until the nicotine is out of your system. Withdrawal from nicotine can range from feeling nauseous and shaky to irritable and hungry. People who have done it this way say it’s best if you can lock yourself alone into your house, where no one notices that you haven’t showered or changed clothes in days and have stacked up an impressive amount of ice cream cartons in the recycle bin. But you just may emerge a changed person, so it’s worth it.
Nicotine gum is produced by a couple of different companies and available in a generic form as well. The idea here is to pop a piece of the gum into your mouth and chew every time you have an urge or craving for a smoke. The gum contains a small amount of nicotine, which eases the cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Recently candy-coated and mint-flavored varieties have shown up on the market, which are purported to actually taste like gum, as opposed to the original gum, which some people have announced tastes like wet cardboard. A few people who have successfully stopped smoking using this method have reported getting hooked on the gum and think that is a satisfactory exchange. Hey, you may not be getting the tar and smoke into your lungs, but the nicotine is still there, so don’t get too comfy blowing those bubbles.
Stick it to ’em
The nicotine patch is a small self-sticking bandage that you place on your arm or leg. It contains a controlled, timed-release amount of nicotine that enables some to comfortably avoid the cravings and withdrawal symptoms by heading them off before they begin. Depending on the strength of nicotine needed, you’ll wear the patch between 12 and 24 hours a day, placing a new patch on a different area of skin each time. Successful users of this technique say it kept the withdrawal symptoms at bay so well that it was relatively painless to stop smoking. One thing to keep in mind if you use a patch: if you smoke while wearing it, it is possible to experience a nicotine overdose. Always read and follow the manufacturer’s directions for any smoking-cessation product to the letter.
Takin’ it Slow
Cutting down the amount of cigarettes you smoke each day, until you simply do away with them, is another method that has worked for some. This method requires a firm plan in place, or you’ll find that in stressful situations you may say to yourself, Well, just this once, I can have an extra one.
No, you can’t. Set your daily goal (X amount of cigarettes) and don’t let yourself deviate from it. When you feel an urge to light up, crunch on a carrot stick, celery, or chew a piece of gum. Need another urge-killer? Keep a rubber band on your wrist and snap it against your skin to remind yourself of the importance of what you are accomplishing. Write down every reason you can think of to quit and refer to it often. Got kids? Place pictures of them nearby so you can tell yourself you are doing this to live longer for them.
No matter which method you choose, remember that you may need to try them all and see what works for you. Studies indicate most smokers are not able to stop smoking on the first, second, or even third try. Consider yourself in good company if you fall off the wagon and have to try again. Often it takes many, many tries before this monkey is bucked off your back. Quitting smoking is never truly easy, but once it’s gone for good, you won’t believe how wonderful it feels. And if you still need a little more encouragement, consider this: your body’s healing process begins just twenty minutes after your last cigarette. Twenty minutes. Twenty minutes from right now, you could be on your way to a longer, healthier, happier life.
You can do it!