Mark Twain said, “Quitting smoking is easy. I’ve done it a thousand times.”
Maybe you’ve tried to quit, too. Why is quitting and staying quit hard for so many people?
The answer is nicotine.

Tips for Quitting

Quitting smoking can be a long and difficult process. Every day you must make the decision not to smoke today. Saying quit is the final and most important stage of the process. Each day that you do not smoke is a small victory which adds up to a huge victory over time. Many of the methods that help you quit can help you gain that victory.

Smokers often say, “Don’t tell me why to quit, tell me how.” There is no one right way to quit, but there are some key elements in quitting smoking successfully. These 4 factors are crucial:

  • making the decision to quit
  • setting a quit date and choosing a quit plan
  • dealing with withdrawal
  • staying quit (maintenance)

For some, a concern about weight gain can lead to a decision not to quit. But the weight gain that follows quitting smoking is generally very small. It is much more dangerous to continue smoking than it is to gain a small amount of weight.

Smokers often mention stress as one of the reasons for going back to smoking. Stress is a part of all our lives, smokers and nonsmokers alike. The difference is that smokers have come to use nicotine to help cope with stress. When quitting, you have to learn new ways of handling stress.

When smokers try to cut back or quit, the absence of nicotine leads to withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal is both physical and mental. Physically, the body reacts to the absence of nicotine. Psychologically, the smoker is faced with giving up a habit, which requires a major change in
behavior. Both must be addressed in order for the quitting process to work. There are many things you can do to help you through the withdrawal process.

Withdrawal symptoms can include any of the following:

  • dizziness (which may only last 1-2 days in the beginning)
  • depression
  • feelings of frustration and anger
  • irritability
  • sleep disturbances, including having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep and having bad dreams or even nightmares
  • trouble concentrating
  • restlessness
  • headaches
  • tiredness
  • increased appetite

These symptoms can lead the smoker to start smoking cigarettes again to boost blood levels of nicotine back to a level where there are no symptoms.
If a person has smoked regularly for a few weeks or longer and abruptly stops using tobacco or greatly reduces the amount smoked, withdrawal symptoms will occur. Symptoms usually start within a few hours of the last cigarette and peak about 2 to 3 days later. Withdrawal symptoms can last for a few days to several weeks.