Updated September 2020.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Tips From Former Smokers, it’s really hard to quit smoking. In fact, people who have successfully overcome their nicotine addiction say that it’s one of the hardest things they’ve ever done in life.
Why is smoking so addicting? This is because the more you smoke, the more nicotine you need in your system to feel “normal”. It’s a difficult cycle that can be hard to break.
When you do finally overcome the initial withdrawal phase, the cravings for tobacco do not go away. Often, they are present for many years, which is why it’s important to have an ongoing support team to stay tobacco-free.
Despite the challenge, there are many motivations to quit, including:
- Your chances of having cancer, heart attacks, and many other diseases will decrease.
- Improve your health and appearance. Quitting smoking improves the appearance of skin, fingernails, and teeth.
- Keep more money in your wallet.
- Smell and taste food better.
- Prevent harmful secondhand smoke.
- Set an example for your family; it takes a lot of strength to quit.
Quitting smoking is easier when you have people in your life supporting you. Tell your family or friends that you're planning to quit and explain how they can help. You can also talk to your doctor about quitting or get help from a board-certified doctor online.
For former smokers, there are many activities, emotions, and situations that can trigger the urge for a cigarette. If you reach out for help in advance and build a strong support team, you will feel empowered when triggers do arise. There are also ways to avoid triggers altogether, which will set you up for success. On days when you know the urge to smoke will be strong, think about the following:
- Go to smoke-free places like a movie theater, shops, or restaurants.
- Spend time with nonsmokers.
- Keep your hands and mouth busy with a snack, chewing gum, a game on your phone, or a stress ball.
- Breathe deeply and practice stress-relieving exercises such as yoga.
- Remind yourself why you quit. Who did you quit for and how is your life better?
Remember you can talk to a physician anytime on Amwell. Rest assured that you are never alone on your journey to live smoke-free.