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Methods of Optimizing Success with Quitting Smoking

Harry Mills, Ph.D.

Positive Thinking

It is important to be firmly committed to your decision to stop smoking. That is why the stop-smoking date and the preparation period are so important. Many other people have made the decision to quit and have been successful, and you can too. Think positively, “I can stop smoking, I will stop smoking, and I will do it now.” Studies have shown that positive thinking, even when you may not feel positive, can actually improve your mood, which will make it easier for you to continue on the road to quitting. Always think of quitting in terms of one day at a time, or, if that is too difficult, take it one hour at a time. Remind yourself that it will get easier.

Dealing with Withdrawal

The fear of experiencing nicotine withdrawal keeps many people from quitting smoking. Withdrawal symptoms can include irritability, cravings, difficulty focusing, sleep disturbances, anger, frustration, depression, restlessness, headache, tiredness, and increased appetite. Nicotine replacement can reduce the severity of the physiological symptoms while gradually reducing the nicotine levels in your body. Remember that nicotine replacements do not subject your body to the risks associated with tobacco use, and are therefore an effective tool to help you quit smoking. If you are interested in nicotine replacements, be sure to see your doctor to make sure they are a safe choice for you.

During withdrawal you may have problems sleeping, and you may even have nightmares. Prepare yourself so that you can keep your mind occupied if you can’t sleep. Stock up on books, magazines, or movies to help you get through the night. Drinking herbal teas or eating some carbohydrates at bedtime may also help you to fall asleep. Keep in mind that 24-hour nicotine replacement patches can sometimes contribute to sleeplessness. If you are using a 24-hour nicotine patch and you experience difficulty sleeping that persists beyond several days, switch to 16-hour patches.

Physiological withdrawal symptoms start within a few hours of smoking the last cigarette. Although withdrawal symptoms peak in most people in two or three days, they can potentially last from a few days to several weeks. Once the physiological withdrawal is complete and your body no longer craves nicotine, you no longer need to worry about dealing with the symptoms. Believe it or not, it is not usually the physical addiction to nicotine that drives people back to tobacco use, but the psychological and behavioral components of the smoking habit.