Friday, August 03, 2007

How to stop smoking cigarettes

The simplest way to answer the question of how to stop smoking cigarettes is to say, just don't smoke anymore! That is a bit of a fickle response though because if it were that easy, no one would bother to ask how to stop smoking cigarettes would they?

The reason why cigarettes are so hard to stop smoking is because of nicotine addiction. Many smokers and healthcare professionals believe that smoking is a 'habit'. I can assure you and them that this is not the case. Biting your fingernails is a habit, smoking tobacco is the manifestation of an addiction to nicotine.

One of the common answers as to how to stop smoking cigarettes is to turn to nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) such as nicotine patches or nicotine gum. This in my opinion is possibly the stupidest course of action to take. The reason I think this is because of what I have already said about addiction and habit. I also think it is stupid because any drug addiction treated with more of the same drug just seems silly.

When you are told how to stop smoking cigarettes using NRT, you are basically told you have to overcome the habit of smoking and then you have to overcome the addiction to nicotine. Stop smoking then stop using the patches.

What I can tell you is that there is no need to use the patches to try and overcome the 'habit'. There is no habit in smoking. It is all the result of addiction. The only reason you keep smoking is because you are addicted to nicotine. It has nothing to do with you needing to put a cigarette in your mouth. Children need soothers but adults do not!

Another common response smokers are given when they ask how to stop smoking cigarettes is to turn to a 'wonder' drug such as zyban or chantix.

Zyban and Chantix have respectively 16% and 22% success rates. (Chantix does not have the 44% Pfizer like to suggest it has by the way.) The problem with both Zyban and Chantix is that they break the physical addiction to smoking. They stop nicotine working somehow (and by the way, the doctors don't know how!) but they don't change your emotional attachment to smoking.

Without dealing with both your physical and mental addiction to nicotine, you are highly likely to fall back into smoking once your prescriptions for zyban or chantix run out.

The other problems with these drugs are the side effects. There is the nausea, the chances of seizure and a whole host of others. I cover those in more detail in other articles on my blog.

So what is the answer as to how to stop smoking cigarettes? Well, in my humble opinion, it is achieved through adjusting your mental attitude towards smoking. It is achieved through understanding your enemy. In short, understand nicotine and how it has changed the way your body operates. One way this can be achieved easily and quickly with an open mind and a fresh look at smoking through an approach known as cognitive behavioural therapy.
Cognitive behavioural therapy works by looking at smoking in a different way. The relationship you have with cigarettes is often based on a series of misconceptions. It breaks your relationship with tobacco down into bite-sized chunks and deals with each misconception individually. It may seem hard to believe but just because you think you have a handle on smoking, doesn't necessarily mean you actually have!

People who use cognitive behavioural therapy to stop smoking often report 'seeing the light' or having an 'epiphany' about smoking when they complete the course. More often than not, they know they will never start smoking again after they have given up because the whole smoking relationship has been blown to pieces.

Finally, there are many ways to stop smoking and it is important that you find the one that works for you, so as ever, my most important piece of advice to any would-be quitter is, never stop trying to stop smoking.