Nicotine addiction is a tough battle and often takes multiple quit attempts until you finally quit for good. In observance of the American Cancer Society's Great American Smokeout, which takes place today, here are the top 10 steps you can take to quit.
1. Set a Quit Date: Pick a day that's about two to three weeks away. This gives you time to prepare for your quit. It can be a special day like your birthday, your anniversary, or just the first day of the month. Don't pick a day that has built-in stress. If the holidays are hard for you, avoid picking one of those days. Taking time to get prepared is helpful for most people, but if you feel like you're truly ready to quit, do it today.
2. Don't Quit Alone. Many people keep their quit a secret to save themselves from the embarrassment of a failed quit attempt. Get the support of someone you can count on, and maybe even tell them you might not succeed. Their support will make a world of difference when you're feeling alone in your quit attempt.
3. Know Your Nicotine Replacement Options: Remember, nicotine is not what causes cancer and other diseases; it's the chemicals that come from burning a cigarette that are deadly. Using nicotine replacement like the patch or gum or a medication like Zyban or Chantix doubles your chances of succeeding. Each type of medication has its advantages. Talk with your health care provider to help decide the best option for you.
4. Get Smart About Your Smoking: Keep track of your quit attempt in a journal or a notebook to help learn what works for you and what doesn't. It will help you figure out what your most difficult times of day are, and which situations tripped you up. Write down your reasons for quitting and the reasons you continue to smoke. Calculate how much money you spend on smoking. Having all this information written down in one place will help you know your smoking habit inside and out so you can quit smart.
5. Identify Your Triggers: Coffee, driving, talking on the phone, socializing with friends, stress -- in the past, all of these activities may have included a cigarette. Eventually, these activities become triggers that make you want to smoke. Before your quit day, figure out how you'll deal with each of these triggers -- especially stress -- without reaching for a cigarette.
6. Change the What, Where, When, and How You Smoke: As you near your quit day and you know what your triggers are, change the times of day that you smoke, and where you might smoke your cigarettes. Other small changes you could make are throwing away your lighter and using only matches, holding your cigarette in a different hand, and changing your brand -- anything to break up your routine.
7. Spring Clean: Throw out all the stuff that reminds you of your relationship with cigarettes. If you have ashtrays and lighters, throw them out. Wash everything that smells of smoke, your clothes, your walls, your curtains. Make your home, your car, everything about you about being a non-smoker. Drown all your cigarettes in a big screw-top jar (and later when you feel the temptation to smoke, take a whiff of that jar and you'll remember why you decided to quit).
8. Get Support: Get advice from people who've done it before from quit communities like BecomeAnEX.org or a clinic that specializes in helping with quitting. Experts at a quitline like 1-800-QUIT-NOW can help coach you through a quit attempt.
9. Quit Day... and Beyond: This is what it all comes down to. Adjust your behavior to address triggers and write down everything; information can be your best friend when quitting. If you use a medication, use it for the full length of time that is recommended. Be ready for cravings and don't put yourself in slippery situations where you might relapse. The first few days will be hard, but you'll reach a point where it starts to get easier.
10. If You're Gonna Do It, Do It! Whether you quit today or two weeks from now... whether you use medication or muscle through a quit attempt without it... whether you quit with loads of support or quietly on your own, commit to it! 100 percent! Own it, celebrate it, it's your decision! It will be hard, there will be ups and down, easy days and hard days, but every single ex-smoker will tell you it is worth it.
Visit BecomeAnEx to make your free quit plan to re-learn life without cigarettes.