If you are considering quitting, here are some things to keep in mind:
Treatment programs are effective
It can be difficult quitting smoking without formal support from a certified tobacco treatment specialist, who can help you break through both mental and physical barriers and provide you with access to tools that may make the quitting process easier.
“Research shows that joining a formal smoking cessation program and using nicotine replacement products increase your chances of long-term success tenfold,” Dietrich says.
Nicotine replacement eases nicotine withdrawal
Nicotine replacement products help smokers give up cigarettes and slowly step down from the most addictive chemical found in them. These products (which come in many forms, including patches, gums and lozenges) often help reduce the side effects associated with quitting and have been shown to increase the chance of quitting success.
“While many of these products are sold over the counter, it’s a good idea to discuss the best products for you with a certified tobacco treatment specialist and your family doctor before purchasing them,” Dietrich says. “These professionals can also help you find ways to get these products at a reduced cost if your insurance plan doesn’t cover them.”
Be prepared for side effects
Quitting smoking can cause a few side effects, including irritability, restlessness, trouble sleeping and concentrating, increased appetite, weight gain, depression and anxiety. It’s important to be aware of these before starting your quitting journey and know that you can always talk to your health care team or family members and friends for support.
Exercise and relaxation techniques – such as yoga, deep breathing and meditation – can also help reduce these side effects and keep you feeling your best physically and emotionally.
Avoid triggers and keep your mouth and hands distracted
“Smoking can become habitual, so if you have a specific location or situation that you associate with smoking, it’s best to try to avoid it as much as possible,” Dietrich says. “If a particular place is unavoidable, or if you are having a particularly intense craving, try keeping your mouth occupied with healthy snacks, a toothpick or some sugar-free gum. Also, if you miss having something in your hands, hold pencils or other items to keep them busy.”
Don’t be discouraged if you relapse
Quitting smoking can be a difficult process, and it’s not uncommon for people to have setbacks on their journey to becoming smoke-free.
“If you slip up and have a cigarette, try not to be too discouraged. It’s a setback, but it doesn’t have to be the end of your journey,” Dietrich says. “Try to identify what caused you to slip, and if you aren’t involved in a program, consider looking into your options and other resources.”