Weaning Off Cigarettes
Continuing with tips how you can weaning off cigarettes:
- Once you've smoked your limit for the day, try to avoid your usual triggers. If you always light up when taking a coffee break with your coworkers, skip your usual break routine and, instead, take a walk or catch up on your reading. If you enjoy a cigarette at the dinner table after your meal, get up from the table as soon as you finish eating. Cigarette smoking is a habit as well as an addiction, and habits can be broken.
- If a craving hits, and you've already smoked that day's limit, close your eyes and count slowly down from ten to zero, breathing deeply with each count. If that doesn't work, call a friend or take a walk – even if it's just to the end of your driveway. The trick is to find some diversion until the craving passes. And it will.
- If you're concerned about gaining weight as the result of quitting, keep healthy foods within easy reach. Those vegetable sticks will not only keep your hands busy but will also help you deal with the hunger that often results when the appetite-suppressant action of cigarettes is no longer at work. Also drink plenty of water and eat plenty of fresh fruit.
- Exercise. It will not only fight weight gain, but will also help calm your nerves. And it will keep both your hands and your mind busy, providing a healthy distraction from any cravings. In fact, exercise can support your quit-smoking efforts in many ways.
- If the sight of other people smoking makes you want to reach for a cigarette, and you've already had your limit, make a mental switch. Instead of focusing on the great time the smokers appear to be having, think of how those cigarettes are flooding their bodies with toxins. Now picture your empty wallet, and remember what it's like to wake up with a smoker's cough. Finally, reconnect with your core values and use those values to strengthen your resolve.
- Don't be concerned if you find yourself coughing a great deal as you slowly cut down on your smoking, or even after your Quit Date. This is actually a good sign, as your body is ridding itself of the tars and toxins that have accumulated through years of smoking. The cough won't last long, but while it's there, keep your throat as moist and comfortable as possible by drinking plenty of fluids and using throat lozenges.
- Resist the urge to have "just one more cigarette." Once you've had your day's limit, don't give yourself the option of having another cigarette, or you will keep sliding. Similarly, don't "reward" yourself with more cigarettes after successfully tapering for a few days. If you want this method to work, your schedule must be unidirectional. In other words, you must gradually and continually decrease the number of cigarettes smoked, without allowing yourself any increases. Remember the reason for tapering off: You're trying to get your brain used to gradually decreasing levels of nicotine. If you lessen the amount of nicotine only to increase it again, the method won't work.
In addition to using the above tips and guidelines, remember that any withdrawal symptoms you feel, whether severe or mild, will lessen as your body gradually becomes accustomed to lower amounts of nicotine, and finally is cut off from cigarettes entirely. In the meantime, you have to hang in there, stick to your schedule, and when cravings or withdrawal symptoms get bad, access your core values. Try not to look ahead when following your schedule. Take it one day at a time, sticking to your cigarette allotment for that day. Gradually, you will realize that you have been sticking to the schedule for days, and then for weeks, until you are finally free of cigarettes.
HOW WELL DOES IT WORK?
Smoking is an addiction, and the addiction is different for every person. For that reason, the withdrawal process is more difficult for some smokers than it is for other. And, of course, some people approach the tapering method with strong resolve, while others – whether consciously or unconsciously – use it as an excuse to put off quitting.
You've learned that most people who quit, quit cold turkey. There is evidence that the slower, "gentler" tapering method is not as effective as the cold turkey technique. But if this is the right method for you – if you need to temper the withdrawal symptoms through gradual tapering, but have the discipline it takes to adhere to a schedule – it really doesn't matter what the studies indicate. The fact is that many people quit smoking by tapering off.
RISKS AND DISADVANTAGES
Like quitting cold turkey, the tapering method poses no risks to your health simply because nicotine withdrawal poses no risk to your health. Yes, you will probably experience withdrawal symptoms using this method, but they will not be dangerous.
On the other hand, many people feel that tapering has several disadvantages. The first is one shared with the cold turkey technique: The tapering method offers no help or support through medications or other forms of aid. For some people, the nature of this technique makes the withdrawal symptoms relatively mild so that no help is needed from pills, patches, or other quit-smoking tools. But others find the withdrawal symptoms too distressing and the cravings too tempting.
Some people also feel that the tapering method merely prolongs discomfort. They liken it to pulling off a bandage slowly and torturously, rather than briskly ripping it off. Either way, you're going to feel discomfort, but would you rather feel it all at once, or endure a lesser degree of pain for a longer period of time? Only you can answer that question.
Some smokers say that as soon as they put a cigarette in their mouth, they begin to crave the next. For them, each cigarette increases the desire to smoke and continues the cycle of addiction. If this is true of you, a slow, gradual withdrawal may be impossible. Instead, quitting must be an all-or-nothing proposition.
The tapering method has one more disadvantage. Some people find that since they are allotted only so many cigarettes per day, when they do smoke, they inhale harder and deeper. Although the method still may work, be aware that this habit results in a temporary (although not dangerous) increase in blood carbon monoxide levels.
Like quitting cold turkey, quitting through gradual tapering is available to everyone. Armed with resolve, a calendar, and a pencil, you can draw up a plan and start moving toward a smoke-free life today.
Is tapering right for you? Now that you know the pros and cons of this method, you may be able to answer this question. Can you put together a realistic plan and stick to it? Will smoking several cigarettes every day make the quitting process easier for you, or more difficult?
Perhaps you can discover if tapering is right for you only by trying it out. But before you pull out your calendar and start jotting down your schedule, it may make sense to consider the other options presented in this blog. Studies have shown that for many people, a combination of techniques is needed for success. You might, for instance, combine tapering with electronic cigarettes. An added quit-smoking method could further temper your withdrawal symptoms, help keep both your spirits and your motivation high during the tapering process and beyond, and ultimately enable you to live a smoke-free lifestyle. To learn more, you can check out Weaning Off Cigarettes.