The nicotine itch is the easiest one to scratch. A decade of smoking equates to around 150,000,000 cigarettes with each puff a positive reinforcement of a dangerous habit. Ex-smokers experience the itch for the rest of their lives. But in the UK alone, one million smokers quit between 2014-2017. That shows you that just because it is difficult, does not mean it is impossible.
If you are reading this, the chances are you are thinking about quitting. Perhaps you have already started your journey, or perhaps you have been unsuccessful so far. The benefits of kicking the habit are not hard to find, but that does not make quitting any easier. Every smoker has their own, personal addiction so it makes it sense that every journey toward cessation is different. Here are a few tips, techniques and recommendations to help quit smoking when all else fails. Use what works, and throw the rest away.
Whatever you might think about vaping, it has proven to be an exceptionally effective cessation tool for smokers. Of the 3million vapers here in the UK just 3% of them were not previously addicted to cigarettes. Dig deeper, and there is a wealth of scientific evidence that corroborate the use of e-cigarettes as a useful tool for quitting smoking. The NHS featured e-cigarettes on the homepage of its STOPTOBER campaign for the first time this year, adding weight to the growing number of voices in support of vaping not smoking.
So what makes vaping such an effective cessation method? It mirrors the experience, addictive elements and social factors associated with smoking without causing excessive damage to the user. Although E-liquids do usually contain Nicotine, they do not contain Carbon Monoxide, Arsenic, Ammonia, Acetone, Hydrogen Cyanide or many other of the 7,000 harmful toxins present in cigarettes. A Nicotine dependency is no great thing, but there are healthier ways of getting a fix than smoking. Vaping is one of them.
Learning the mechanics of addiction and how they influence your decisions can be a valuable tool in smoking cessation. Allen Carr’s Easyway to Stop Smoking is a personal favourite of this author and is written by a highly decorated British pyschologist. The book focuses on how smoking can change the way you think, act and engage with addiction. It is written by a 100-a-day man who successfully quit after 30 years with no gum, patches or therapy. Change your mindset, change your habits.
Cognitive Behaviourial Therapy (CBT) is the process of evaluating your thought processes and how they lead to negative behaviours. Similar to the Allen Carr approach, the theory goes that understanding triggers and removing them can help an addict to successfully recover. Done properly, CBT requires regular sessions with a therapist or group and can be taken with the NHS.
But even without professional help, you can learn the patterns of your behaviour by noting down the time, location and strength of your cravings throughout the day. Perhaps you smoke because you feel low self-esteem, anxiety, boredom or drink alcohol? Some of these triggers you may be able to cut down on, others you may be able to avoid completely. CBT can be extremely effective in the first few weeks of cessation when cravings are at their strongest.
These pyschological techniques really gained popularity in the eighties and nineties with their zero effort maximum success promise. Hypnotherapy can be rather expensive and is rooted in the idea of subconscious drives to smoke which can be re-programmed to prevent smoking. Likewise, the concept of ‘flooding’ involves taking excessive amounts of the addictive in short periods until you are sick. The idea being that this creates negative associations to overcome the positive ones you have reinforced. There are numerous success stories from these methods, although a miracle cure is not one I personally believe in.
Quitting smoking requires a sustained effort, heaps of willpower and dogged determination to be successful .There is no quick fix. But when all else fails, the methods listed here may come in handy. Give them a try, if it works keep doing it, if it does not work try something else. It won’t be easy, but nothing that’s worthwhile ever is.