While it may be true that a nicotine addiction is difficult to overcome, there are simple practices that you can introduce into your daily routine that will significantly improve the likelihood of long-term success.
There’s a vast difference between wanting to quit and deciding to quit. Real commitment includes a definite decision to quit, with a practical plan of action.
2. One day at a time
The idea that an addict has to live the rest of their life without the cherished substance is oftentimes overwhelming and fear-inspiring. The rest of one’s life can seem like a long time and a huge commitment. This psychological hurdle often dooms the escape to freedom before it even gets off the ground. The key to avoiding this pitfall is to take only one day at a time. Make a fresh commitment every morning to be nicotine free. Tomorrow’s challenges and concerns cannot and must not be carried today
3. Get back on track immediately
If a slip-up occurs, recommit to the quitting process immediately and get back on track with your action plan. The sooner one gets back on the path to recovery, the less of a setback the slip-up will be.
4. Regular moderate exercise
Moderate exercise is one of the simplest and yet most effective ways to deal with nicotine cravings. Exercise provides a constructive substitute activity and results in the release of endorphins, the body’s internal feel-good brain chemicals. These offset the nicotine cravings by elevating mood, combating depression and reducing stress symptoms. Moderate exercise of 15–30 minutes can reduce nicotine cravings for up to 50 minutes afterwards.
Exercise also improves the body’s oxygenation and circulation, leading to improved healing and recovery overall. Regular moderate exercise will also help combat the weight gain often associated with giving up the use of tobacco products.
5. Surrender other substances
Tobacco use is often accompanied by the use of other addictive substances, such as alcohol, caffeine and illegal drugs. This relationship is more than incidental. While the precise mechanism of action can vary from substance to substance, the net effect of increasing dopamine in the brain is common.
Dopamine is the brain chemical responsible for the sense of reward and drugs can increase it to a “high”. However, this damages the reward pathway, causing cravings that lead to addiction as users seek a heightened experience.
When tobacco is used in connection with alcohol, caffeine or illegal drugs, the high is amplified, leading to increased damage of the reward pathway where the dopamine neurons are situated.
For the best chance of long-term recovery, it is important to quit using any substances that artificially stimulate and cause damage to the reward pathway. To optimise your chances of staying nicotine free, give up all substances including alcohol, caffeine and illegal drugs.
6. Drink plenty of water
Taken internally, water flushes out the toxins that are being removed by the liver and kidneys. It also ensures that the blood remains well-diluted, resulting in improved circulation and oxygenation, which is essential for optimum brain and body organ function. The more effectively you flush out your system with clean water, the faster your body will remove the poisonous tobacco toxins.
Most people need at least two litres of water a day to maintain healthy body function. While you are cleansing your body from nicotine, you may need to increase this amount to two-and-a-half or even three litres per day.
7. Natural remedies
Hydrotherapy is the science of using water to treat disease and invigorate the body. It can also alleviate cravings and boost the efficiency of the body’s immune system.
Medicinal charcoal actively draws impurities, toxins and poisons to itself. These harmful substances then become trapped inside the charcoal grains’ porous, cave-like indentations and tunnels. When the body eliminates the charcoal, the impurities that have become trapped inside its grains are also eliminated.
Charcoal tablets are available from pharmacies and supermarkets. Powdered charcoal, which is more effective due to its larger surface area, is usually only available from health stores. Simply mix one or two tablespoons of charcoal powder in a glass of water and drink it. Remember to drink plenty of additional water afterwards, since charcoal can cause constipation when taken with inadequate amounts of water.
A smoking addiction consists of at least two components: (1) a chemical dependence on nicotine, and (2) ritual. The ritual aspect refers to the behaviour patterns each smoker follows when lighting up a cigarette, such as reaching into the pocket for the cigarette pack, lighting up and the hand-to-mouth process of smoking.
When quitting, it’s helpful to become aware of these ritual behaviours and develop activities that can substitute for them. For instance, you could replace the box of cigarettes with a clickable pen. Whenever you feel the urge to smoke, you can retrieve the pen and click it a few times. Some people have found chewing on carrot sticks to be a constructive substitute for the ritual of lighting a cigarette. A short, brisk walk can also help.
9. Get rid of paraphernalia
The last thing that one needs when trying to quit smoking is to have reminders of the habit lying around in plain sight. Get rid of ashtrays, lighters, pipes, cigarette packs and whatever else you used to support the smoking habit.
The mere act of throwing your smoking paraphernalia away has a great psychological benefit. It gives you a sense of closure and a clean start. Also, because the tobacco products are not close at hand, there’s less chance you’ll yield during a moment of weakness.
10. Adequate sleep
One withdrawal symptom many people experience when coming off tobacco products is irritability. Going to bed after midnight seriously decreases the quality of your rest, which in turn causes irritability, because of a reduced amount of growth hormone being produced for your body’s rejuvenation.
By simply shifting your bedtime to include at least two hours before midnight, you’ll not only give your body a better quality of rest, but you’ll find that you’re able to better handle stress and be less irritable and quick-tempered.
11. Team up
One of the most helpful keys to beating tobacco addiction is to have an accountability partner—someone you trust and who you’ll be able to contact when you feel weak or need some encouragement to stay the course to freedom. This may be someone who has already beaten tobacco addiction. In any case, it should be someone who can also function as your prayer partner.
12. Divine help
While it’s true that an accountability partner or a support group is of great help to anyone trying to break an addiction, it’s of more value to rely upon divine strength and power in these situations.
God has pledged Himself to restoring human freedom and supplying power for victory. The Bible has many powerful promises to this effect. Cultivating a genuine and practical relationship with God will result in renewed power for daily living as well as a new outlook on life.
God understands your struggles, and He cares about you. He has the solution to your weaknesses and failings. By uniting your human weakness with His divine strength, victory will be yours!
Additional photos: warrengoldswain—istockphoto.com; Ilka-erika Szasz-fabian—Dreamstime.com; sswartz | CEFutcher—istockphoto.com
Are you addicted to nicotine?
- Have you ever tried to quit using tobacco products but couldn’t?
- Are you currently smoking because quitting is too hard?
- Do you ever experience strong cravings to smoke that you just can’t resist?
- Is it hard for you not to smoke in places where smoking is prohibited? or a comforting hug.
- When you haven’t smoked for a while, do you manifest any of the following symptoms: irritability, difficulty concentrating, restlessness, anxiousness, sadness or depression?
If you’ve answered yes to any of the above questions, you have a nicotine addiction.
Quitting smoking can be hard, but you’re not alone. Many free advice and support services exist, such as Quitline, to help smokers preparing to quit and recent quitters to stay smoke free. Contact them today.
Quitline New Zealand: 0800 778 778
Quitline Australia: 13 7848