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Conquering the Smoking Habit

by , health and fitness expert

Most smokers sincerely want to quit. Such a desire is normal, because of the survival instinct and also because it doesn't take long for an intelligent person to see smoking is a no-win proposition for everyone but the tobacco companies.

Smokers know cigarettes impair their health, ruin their skin, make their clothes, hair and breath stink, set a bad example for their children, annoy their acquaintances and cost a small fortune that could be spent on better things.

Nobody can force a smoker to quit. It's something each person has to decide for himself. It requires a personal commitment by the smoker. What kind of smoker are you? What do you get out of smoking? What does it do for you? It is important to identify what you use smoking for and what kind of satisfaction you feel that you are getting from smoking.

Many smokers use the cigarette as a kind of crutch in moments of stress or discomfort, and on occasion it may work; the cigarette is sometimes a sort of tranquilizer. But the heavy smoker, the person who tries to handle severe personal problems by smoking heavily all day long, is apt to discover that cigarettes do not help him deal with his problems effectively. In fact, it adds additional problems and only makes things worse.

Some tips on kicking the habit

  1. Stop buying cigarettes. Cold turkey is typically the most effective way to be free from the tobacco addiction.
  2. Start working out. Running, aerobics, or high-intensity weight lifting all boost a smoker's will to quit smoking.
  3. Spend more time in no-smoking activities, with non-smokers. This will reduce the amount of "reinforcement" from those who don't choose life over addiction.
  4. Make it a rule that nobody can smoke in your home and/or your car. Besides, smoking in these places damages them and lowers their value.
  5. Pick a month and declare it "no smoking month." Resume smoking when the month is up. Three months later, stop smoking again--this time, for good.
  6. Volunteer as an orderly at the local hospital, for 3 months. Ask to be assigned an area dedicated to smoking-related illnesses. This will definitely boost your motivation.
  7. Visit your library and check out one "quit smoking" book, tape, or video every other week. The continual reinforcement and good ideas will help you win.
When it comes to quitting, this kind of smoker may find it easy to stop when everything is going well, but may be tempted to start again in a time of crisis. Physical exertion, eating, drinking, or social activity in moderation may serve as useful substitutes for cigarettes, even in times of tension. The choice of a substitute depends on what will achieve the same effects without having any appreciable risk.

Once a smoker understands his own smoking behavior, he will be able to cope more successfully and select the best quitting approaches for himself and the type of lifestyle he leads.

Because smoking is a form of addiction, 80% of smokers who quit usually experience some withdrawal symptoms. These may include headache, light-headedness, nausea, diarrhea, and chest pains. Psychological symptoms, such as anxiety, short-term depression, and inability to concentrate, may also appear. The main psychological symptom is increased irritability. People become so irritable, in fact, that they say they feel "like killing somebody." Yet there is no evidence that quitting smoking leads to physical violence.

Some people seem to lose all their energy and drive, wanting only to sleep. Others react in exactly the opposite way, becoming so over-energized they can't find enough activity to burn off their excess energy. For instance, one woman said she cleaned out all her closets completely and was ready to go next door to start on her neighbor's. Both these extremes, however, eventually level off. The symptoms may be intense for two or three days, but within 10 to 14 days after quitting, most subside. The truth is that after people quit smoking, they have more energy, generally need less sleep, and feel better about themselves.

Quitting smoking not only extends the ex-smoker's life, but adds new happiness and meaning his life. Most smokers state that shortly after they quit smoking, they start noticing dramatic differences in their overall health and vitality.

Quitting is beneficial at any age, no matter how long a person has been smoking. The mortality ratio of ex-smoker decreases after quitting. If the patient quits before a serious disease has developed, his body may eventually be able to restore itself almost completely.

See also:

For help with drug abuse in general:

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