YOU CAN DO IT..
you have tried to quit smoking and failed before, take comfort
in the fact that most smokers fail several times before
quitting successfully. Your past failures are not a lesson
that you are unable to quit. Instead, view them as part of
the normal journey toward becoming a nonsmoker.
information below will ease your way and help insure
that this is the last time you ever need to go through
the quitting process. You can do it!
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© 2010 by Patrick Reynolds
asked why you smoke, you might have said, "I just like to smoke!" or "It's
my choice to smoke."
The most important step to take is the
first step --
admitting you have an addiction.
tobacco companies have promoted the idea that smoking is a matter
of personal choice. As I see it, there really isn't as much choice
as they have suggested to their customers.
yourself, and be totally honest: Am I addicted to tobacco? Am
I truly making a freely made choice when I smoke?
might consider that you need to have a cigarette. Studies have
shown that nicotine addiction is as hard to break as heroin or
Anonymous' 12 Step program, which sprang from the venerable
Alcoholics Anonymous program, the first step is admitting to
yourself, "I'm powerless over tobacco." Making this
admission may seem trivial to you, but for many it is a very
significant part of completing the journey to becoming
telling smokers that smoking is a personal choice, the tobacco
industry has helped to keep its customers in denial about the
true extent of their addiction. If smoking is a choice, then
what's the rush to quit? The tobacco companies have used this
spin to help keep millions of customers buying their deadly products.
that you're smoking more out of addiction than choice will help
motivate you to go on to the next steps -- taking control of
yourself and becoming a nonsmoker.
admission will further serve you by helping you stay smokefree
later. In the months and years after you quit, when temptations
to smoke occasionally overpower you -- and they will -- remind
yourself, "I have an addiction and I'm powerless over tobacco." Saying
this to yourself in overwhelmed moments of desire will help give
you the strength to say no to "just one" cigarette.
you can make it for just five minutes without giving in, the
urge to smoke be controllable or disappear. In this way, you'll
be able to stay smokefree for life.
me there were two very distinct and
EQUALLY IMPORTANT phases
Phase One Quitting
Phase Two Staying smokefree
and not relapsing
Quitting with help
Real men ask directions
People who are the most successful at living life typically get plenty of help. For example, in business, a successful businesswoman or businessman gets a lawyer to write the contracts, an advertising agency to create the ads, a marketing executive to do the marketing, an accountant to do the accounting, a doctor when they're sick — people who succeed best get help, and lots of it. Even the very greatest novelists have editors they rely on for invaluable feedback. Real men ask directions!
eighty percent of smokers who quit do so without being in any
program and studies show that 95% of these self-reliant
quitters fail, and go right back to smoking within 12 months. It's the same rate
of recidivism as with heroin. So you may wish to consider getting some help this time
those who have repeatedly failed at quitting in the past, it's
comforting to learn that most smokers in fact fail several times
before stopping successfully. Your past failures are not a lesson
that you are unable to quit. Instead, they are part of the normal
journey toward becoming a nonsmoker.
certainly failed -- 11 times. Every time I failed, I lost a little
more faith that I could really quit. So each time I quit, it
got harder and harder to motivate myself to set a date. I had
begun to feel it was hopeless.
mission here is to restore your faith in yourself. You CAN quit.
Even if you've failed several times in the past, understand that
this is normal. You're not alone.
need to get your resolve up, and try again. YOU CAN DO IT!
help -- lots of it. Get into a good program, or better yet, a
combination of more than one.
your local branch of the American Cancer Society, or the American
Lung or Heart Associations. All have inexpensive and effective,
top of the line, physician-endorsed methods: nicotine
replacement and Zyban. The nicotine patch or gum are now
available over-the-counter at any pharmacy. The anti-depressant
Zyban and nicotine inhaler require a prescription.
A Cochrane Review study done in 1996 and updated in November, 2007, found that nicotine
replacement therapies like the patch, gum or inhaler increased chances of quitting by 50% to 70%.
Bear in mind,however, that with no program only 5% of quitters are still smokefree at the end of 12 months. A 50% increase in the quit rate would mean that 7.5% of those using NRT were successful after 12 months.
Treatment Centers offer aversion therapy -- self-administering
a mild electric shock from an ordinary 9 volt battery as one
smokes a cigarette. They claim a 95% initial success rate,
and 50% after a year. I used this therapy successfully, and
will come back to this later.
a How to Quit Smoking Book, or a motivational cassette tape program
in a bookstore, and listen to the tapes in your car. Every little
addition, visit our Quitlinks page,
for to see the results of recent studies on which quit products
to a live human being free
1-800-QUIT NOW for free support with a trained counselor,
who will talk to you whether you are ready to quit or just
thinking about it. This number will forward to your State's
tobacco cessation program, which offers live phone support
in your area. When you call, a friendly staff person will offer
a choice of free services, including self-help materials, a
referral list of other programs in your community, and one-one-counseling
over the phone.
is also the National Cancer Institute's Smoking Quitline, 1-877-44U-Quit,
offering proactive counseling by trained personnel.
the great free meetings
at Nicotine Anonymous
joining a small group of other quitters appeals to you, then
try a Nicotine Anonymous meeting.
It's likely there's one near you where you live. It's a 12-step
program based on AA; they're nonprofit and meetings are free. You can find a local meeting near you, and if there isn't one, you can learn how to start one at the Nicotine
Anonymous website. (A for-profit company trademarked "Smokers'
Anonymous". Instead, you want the FREE program -- Nicotine Anonymous).
Their site notes, "Nicotine Anonymous® is a fellowship of men and women helping each other to live our lives free of nicotine. We share our experience, strength and hope with each other so that we may be free from this powerful addiction. There are no fees. Our primary purpose is to offer support to those who are trying to gain freedom from nicotine."
Sorry, but there's no magic pill
count on any of these programs to make it a breeze. None of them
will do that -- but they WILL absolutely reduce your distress by 15% to
50%, depending on how addicted you are psychologically, vs. physically -- and that may well make all the difference this time around.
not promising it will be easy -- it will likely be difficult for a few days or weeks. So get your resolve
and willpower up, because you'll need it. Remember, you CAN do it.
ask, "Does this program work?" Rather, ask yourself, "Am I willing
to DO the work?"
You know how to work, don't you? I'm betting
that you do.
Wealthy people may have a harder time than you
come from a wealthy background, and at one point it occurred
to me that wealthy folks may have a harder time quitting
smoking, alcohol, or dieting. Why? Because they're used to
getting whatever they want, whenever they want it. Those who are not wealthy have much stronger "self-denial muscles."
If you count
yourself among the affluent, you might wish to consider an inpatient
treatment center. You'd reside in a hospital for up to a week
with a group of other people who are also quitting.
two excellent inpatient programs are offered, at The
Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN (they have a second location
as well), and St. Helena
Hospital in California's Napa Valley. At the St. Helena they offer a 5 day or 10 day inpatient program. You may call them at 866.359.3296.
are your self-denial muscles? Pretty good, no doubt! Let's see: are you able to easily put off getting a brand new car, or going
to a $60 per head restaurant? How about postponing that vacation
in Monte Carlo, Aspen, or Florida? Good! If you can do those
things, chances are good you won't need an inpatient program,
and you'll have all the self-denial muscles you'll need to quit
smoking. But you'll need to flex them. And yes, it might hurt
A Note About
teens, if asked, would say that tobacco ads have no influence
over them. However, new studies tell us that advertising plays
a greater role than even peer pressure in getting teens to smoke.
one recent study shows that the three most heavily advertised
brands are the same three brands most often smoked by teens --
Camels, Marlboros and Newport. It's no accident. Cigarette ads
clearly influence our teens. Tobacco ads may not influence your
conscious mind -- but they do influence the unconscious mind.
is the unconscious mind? In a famous study, the Russian scientist
Pavlov rang a bell every time he fed his dog -- and eventually
the dog would salivate just on hearing the bell -- even though
there was no food there. The dog had made an unconscious association
between the ringing and dinner, and began to drool!
ads reach our unconscious minds. These ads create an unconscious
association between the addiction of cigarettes and strong, positive
images of attractive, healthy people, sports like tennis or mountain
climbing, beautiful country scenes, cowboys gathered around a
campfire or on horseback, masculinity and manhood, being feminine
and womanhood, being a 'real person,' and so on. As of 2000,
the tobacco industry has been spending over $5 billion annually
to advertise its deadly products. That's a lot of bell ringing!
And it's not lost on our kids.
smoker's unconscious mind also makes repeated pleasant associations
with the act of smoking -- watching the smoke slowly curling,
putting a cigarette to the lips, languidly inhaling and exhaling,
absently handling a cigarette -- all these are very much a part
of the psychological addiction to tobacco. Quitters often feel
as though they are losing a best friend.
therapy sends negative associations to the unconscious mind as
the quitter smokes cigarettes. This clinically proven method
helps to undo the years of daily positive associations with smoking.
It helps to reduce future psychological cravings for cigarettes.
In this way, the Schick-Shadel
Treatment Centers aversion therapy program makes the quitting
process a good deal easier.
most addicted smokers, the addition is about half mental, half
physical. Studies show that the ratio varies with each individual.
The physical portion of the addiction is to nicotine. As to the
mental or psychological aspect, a smoker's conscious mind says,
'I will stop smoking -- no problem.' But the unconscious mind
has been conditioned for years that cigarettes give pleasure,
and that's all it can focus on. The unconscious mind says, 'Gimmie
a cigarette -- now!' It only recognizes what feels good. It demands
a cigarette, without regard to right or wrong, and ignores the
conscious mind's intentions. Aversion therapy is one way to help
the process of quitting, the new habit of being a nonsmoker forms.
The ex-smoker's unconscious mind gradually gets used to being
a nonsmoker, as the urges to smoke slowly fade away.
conclusion, get the info and support you need to make the stopping
process a little easier. DO NOT try to go it alone. Get help,
and plenty of it.
Go cold turkey,
or gradually cut down?
is a personal choice. Do whichever you think will work best for
you. Smokenders is a
gradual quit program. I wasn't one of those who could quit
by slowly cutting down although that works best for some.
I always went cold turkey.
always quit on a Monday -- a regular workday, when work would
occupy my thoughts. My usual routine tasks were familiar and
helped get me through the first few difficult days, which were
always the most difficult part for me.
I tried quitting during a vacation. I found there was little
to do, except to obsess all day long over having a smoke. I failed
that time. The positive stress of being on vacation actually
added to my stress in quitting. More about positive stress in
the crucially important section which follows.
Make Your Own Plan at
One of the most effective and best researched programs we've found is www.BecomeAnEx.org, a free resource for tobacco users who want to quit. Here smokers can continue to smoke while they create free, personalized quit plans which track the triggers that lead them to light up, such as alcohol, parties, or a difficult boss. And when they do quit, and those cravings start to mount, a live virtual support group will be there to help. This extraordinary, brilliant program was developed using the latest research by the American Legacy Foundation, the group created with $2 billion of the $240 billion settlement of the lawsuits by the States against Big Tobacco. Add the Become An Ex program to your arsenal in your battle against tobacco.
But the most important information by far follows just below, in Phase Two.
Staying smokefree and
is the most valuable secret I
can share with you, and probably the most important information
on this page.
the urges to smoke have become more and more infrequent, overwhelming
surprise attacks are sure to come, a few weeks and months into
your new smokefree life.
these nearly out-of-control urges came (and they always engulfed
me in unexpected moments), I
learned that if I did my deep breathing (see above), and if I
could just HOLD ON for 5 minutes -- the overpowering urge to
smoke would completely pass.
is by far the single most important thing I learned -- the hard
way -- about how to quit successfully.
I didn't know this, I failed 11 times. I finally stopped for
good on my 12th try, in Spring 1985. It's the key to what has
empowered me to stay smokefree for the past dozen years or so.
know that out-of-control, very nearly irresistible urges to have "just
one" are going to take you by surprise, like a sudden gale
that seems to come from nowhere. This will happen one or more
times in the coming months.
time it does, do your deep breathing (see above), hold on for
5 minutes -- you can do it -- and the urge will completely pass.
convinced that this is the single most important secret to quitting
A NOTE TO
If you live with a smoker, or are close
friends with one: don't be a NAG about their smoking
habit! (You can make noise about their smoking in the
house or near you, because their second hand smoke hurts
you but don't nag them to quit. There's a BIG
three times a year you can ask your loved one briefly VERY
briefly to please quit smoking -- in VERY loving and warm
tones. (Try surrounding your request with HONEST complements,
keep it BRIEF, and they might be more open to hearing you.
if you speak up more than three times per YEAR, then you're a
yukky, obnoxious NAG. Ick! And your beloved smoker will be so
ANGRY with you that they'll keep smoking just to spite you. You'll
be defeating your very purpose.
ask nonsmokers to honor their smoking loved ones, and treat them
if your loved ones are nagging you, don't fall into the old trap
of hurting yourself by continuing to smoke out of your anger
toward them. Instead, let them know how you feel.
The great motivational speaker
and family therapist John Bradshaw has said,
"America is a nation of
addicts. We're addicted not just to one thing, but often to
several like cigarettes, food, television, music, drugs,
sex, even work. Each of these things is a kind of drug -- because
each temporarily gets your mind off of your pain."
is right. He's talking about both current pain, such as anger,
loneliness, or sadness --- and emotional pain we've carried with
us since childhood, such as unmet childhood needs, like an absent
father or abusive mother.
life is painful. It's supposed to be that way. All of us are
faced with grief, loss and struggle. And it's by our struggles
that we define and strengthen our character.
my live talks and video for youth, I revive the ancient practice
of initiation. As I initiate them into
life, I let teens know that sometimes life will be painful.
when those moments come, you need to take the ADULT path," I
tell the students, "and stay with the difficulty
-- and not go lighting a cigarette, raiding the icebox, taking
drugs, blasting music or switching on the TV -- or, going to
work for too many long hours. All these are just ways of avoiding
painful feelings and numbing them out."
you stay with your pain, you'll begin to see what's causing it.
And when you're ready, you can take a step to solve the problem.
FEEL -- AND
example: grieving your sadness to completion is the most effective
way to heal it --rather than burying it, or carrying it with
you deep inside for years. This is a core part of psychotherapy,
and it works.
same is true of anger let your anger out in reasonable,
mild little bits here and there, as you go along, right as things
come up. This is better than letting it build up, and later exploding
helpful -- and healing -- to let your feelings out verbally,
as you quit smoking. Better words should come out of your mouth,
in loud complaining tones, than extra unneeded calories going
worry, if you ask for support and tolerance, you'll get it. A
great outlet for this is Nicotine Anonymous meetings. There you'll
get plenty of support -- and hugs too, if you ask for them. Don't
isolate, and do lean on others.
for men, this is a sign of STRENGTH. Not going to a support meeting
could be construed an act of fear, and therefore cowardice. So
be brave, and seek support from others. It's a sign of a strong
man in my book. Real men do ask directions!
true that smoking is mostly very enjoyable, even comforting,
for you. Let's not lie about it. Quitting will be like losing
a great, dear friend -- and you may find yourself grieving a
bit. That's only natural, and it's okay.
if you don't quit and "grieve" now, this great "friend" of
yours will probably turn on you and kill you one day. It's statistically
equivalent to playing Russian Roulette with not one, but two,
bullets in the gun: if you smoke, you have a 40% chance of dying
due to the habit. Not to mention continuing to put up with having
to go outside most times you smoke.
coming decades, we'll look back on smoking as a thing of the
last century. We know that statistically, only children and teens
begin the habit. As our government passes laws making it increasingly
difficult for youth to obtain cigarettes, and as Uncle Sam limits
the advertising of tobacco more in the future, teens will not
start smoking in such huge numbers. Finally, one day smoking
will be no more. No more deaths, no more disease, no more grieving
families around the world.
to the wonderful world of nonsmokers. You can do it!
of insanity is...
the same behavior over and over again,
expecting different results.
realizing that with the help of one or more programs, I could
stay off cigarettes for one to three months.
I did that 11 times.
Phase Two --
the period starting a few weeks after going cold turkey -- the
urges to smoke would greatly diminish, even disappear. But it
was vital that I came to realize that any time from a week to
a year after quitting, I was sure to get an occasional surprise
ATTACK during which I was suddenly OVERWHELMED with the
desire to smoke.
these attacks would sneak up on me during moments of stress positive
stress (out with friends, partying, or on a vacation) or negative
stress (while immersed in an angry, sad or lonely moment you
know about those.)
these surprise attacks I would always rationalize, "I could
have just one. Just one
I haven't had one for three months so
what's the harm of having just one now? I want it SO BADLY!" And
I would take ONE, and ZAP! The next day I'd have "just one
more," and before I knew it I was once again a full-fledged
smoker, 100% addicted again, back up to a pack a day within just
two or three weeks.
THE SECRET IS
Hang on for five minutes.
finally stayed smokefree in this way:
the surprise attacks came a few weeks or months after quitting,
I told myself, "Hang on for five minutes and this
out-of-control urge to smoke will pass."
11 failed attempts, I looked back and I realized that several
times in the past, surprise attacks were ALWAYS the critical
moment in which I would inevitably become re-addicted, as "innocent" as "just
one cigarette" might seem.
I wrestled with myself thinking about this during an attack,
I thought, "Okay. Relief is about four minutes away..."
I was dying for a smoke okay, so now it was just THREE
more minutes to hold on for... Now TWO...
sure enough, at the end of five minutes the urge would
be all gone, and I would be quite proud of myself for holding
on (plus I got to deny my smoking friend his pleasure in seeing
me light up like him).
It's harsh, but --
a baby gets to relieve itself whenever it feels like it. Adults
know how to delay gratification. It's time to remember you're
an adult. Grow up!
That said, a very warm welcome now, to the sometimes quite difficult world of adults!