The hardest challenge that smokers face is deciding to quit smoking and stay quit. Smokers that try to quit typically have a 50-50 chance of quitting for good. The success rates of different programs are extremely dependent on a number of variables that differ by individual. By shedding light on some common misconceptions that contribute to the failures of cessation programs, we hope to educate smokers on how to properly approach quitting by focusing on quitting for the long haul.
The Problem: Smokers trying to quit are usually misinformed when it comes to their application of nicotine replacement products. Although 25 percent of smokers who use medical “cures” can stay smokefree for over six months, individuals tend to rely too heavily on these products or do not use them correctly (American Cancer Society). Furthermore, 75 percent of people who opt for nicotine replacement alternatives do not know the correct nicotine dosage that their body type needs nor use nicotine patches for the recommended amount of time (NY Times). The improper application of nicotine replacement products is due to lack of training, cost, taste of nicotine gums, and the user’s concern of digesting nicotine.
The Solution: Only 4 to 7 percent of smokers are able to quit cold turkey without any aid. So, what do we do? While on the road to a smokefree lifestyle, it is important to determine what preventative techniques work best for YOU. Some people may need to go the medical route, which is fine. In the past, studies have shown that using nicotine replacement alternatives in combination with others have proved to be successful prevention methods (Ask Doctor K). But medications are not the only option, nor are they necessarily the best alternative for curing nicotine addiction. Societal changes, behavior therapies, increased prices on cigarettes, and supportive therapies have also been very strong prevention tools that help keep ex-smokers smokefree. For 20+ alternative ways to quit, take a look at this slideshow, courtesy of Reader’s Digest.
The Problem: Smokers in pursuit of quitting tobacco for good tend to go into the process without being in the right state of mind. Quitting tobacco is a major undertaking, and if you don’t go into your program fully committed and willing to do anything to become smokefree, chances are you won’t succeed. Many individuals underestimate the intensity of physical withdrawal and succumb to relapse.
The Solution: Before you start your program, determine your definition of success. When one decides to quit they should strive to quit for the long run. Once you know why you want to quit (and stay quit), determine how you will become successful. Give yourself personal time to get comfortable with the idea of quitting and then focus your energy into your efforts. These steps, provided by Smokefree.gov, will help you get into the appropriate mindset when you are ready to take your pledge to quit.
The Problem: It’s important to note that quitting is not easy and everyone will face personal hindrances. Some smokers are thrown more obstacles than others. Longer-term smokers have a harder time quitting because they are, physically and mentally, more reliant on nicotine. Women may also have a harder time quitting because nicotine has a stronger effect on their mood. Smokers with excessive stress, anxiety, and fear of weight gain also struggle with abandoning the habit due to their psychological attachment to the addiction.
The Solution: When attempting to quit, be sure to surround yourself with a sturdy support system. Whether it’s family, friends, or an organization, you are more likely to succeed with extra hands on deck to keep you focused on your goal. You must be willing to go to the extreme in order to stay smokefree, and remember to give yourself [healthy] rewards when they are due. Start here to find a support group in your area.
Quitting is a process, not an event, that differs in duration from person to person. 20 percent of long time ex-smokers will have an occasional craving for a cigarette. It’s during these times that knowing why you quit smoking is most important. By surrounding yourself with a solid foundation, staying motivated, and creating a personal quit playbook, you will be able to put down the butts and reap the benefits a more active lifestyle.
Image Source: Dart Board (Phenomenal Fitness)
Tyler Lobo is a Marketing Coordinator for We-Care.com, handling relations with external sales and marketing professionals to help develop and implement growth opportunities for We-Care. Tyler has always been inspired by philanthropic thought leaders. His favorite quote is, “Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do” (Steve Jobs, 2011). When Tyler’s not at the office you can catch him running at charity races throughout the Tri-state area and New England. Tyler holds a Bachelor of Arts from Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut.