The most addictive drug, the one that causes more death and disease than all others combined, is sold in just about any supermarket. Tens of millions of smokers are slaves to their perfectly legal tobacco habits. Breaking free from cigarettes isn’t easy, but it can be done. Here’s how.
The pervasiveness of cigarette smoking is the result of decades of “lifestyle” advertising that flew in the face of damning medical evidence. Today the public knows the truth about this once-innocent habit. But the knowledge does little to help if you are already addicted.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, users of illicit drugs have a higher success rate than smokers when it comes to kicking their habits. If you are addicted, the thought of a tobacco-free future holds promise, but the thought of a day without cigarettes can be terrifying. The first several days after you quit will be filled with cravings, anxiety and nervous tension as your body purges itself of the poison it has grown so accustomed to. What should you expect during this critical period? What can you do to make sure your last cigarette really was your LAST cigarette?
Experts say breaking your routine is crucial. The physiological addiction is only part of the problem; there are also daily rituals performed around the act of smoking that must be eliminated. For example, you probably have a pattern at work that includes several smoke breaks throughout the day. Change the routine. Make sure you’re in the middle of something when your usual smoke breaks roll around.
Identify the triggers that set off the urge to smoke and avoid them. Smell is a very powerful trigger, so you’ll need to get rid of the cigarette odors in your house and car. A couple of air fresheners aren’t enough. You should clean your house top to bottom and take your car to a professional detailer.
Other triggers involve acts and environments. They vary from smoker to smoker; it’s up to you to recognize and eliminate them. If you can’t have a glass of wine without having a cigarette, you have to give up both. If you always smoke on your front porch, don’t go near it.