Tobacco is one of the most widely used legal psychoactive substances (technically drugs), along with alcohol, in the world. However, the habit of smoking has been shown to be harmful to human health, causing various alterations and facilitating the onset of serious problems such as pulmonary emphysema and lung cancer or generating possible alterations in the fetuses. .
For this and many other reasons many people decide to quitBut they find that it is not as easy as not to smoke, because they have to cope with the anguish that it will cause not to have access to a substance to which they have a certain addiction and which have been integrated. in their everyday life. day. How to quit smoking? In this article, we leave you with 13 psychological keys that must be taken into account in order to do this.
Thirteen keys to quitting smoking
Quitting smoking is not easy. Most people who do this start in their teens and develop the habit of smoking in very different situations and settings. It is therefore a very established habit among most smokers. There are a multitude of smoking cessation strategies and programsSome are more successful than others. However, they mainly share a number of keys or stages, with some of the most notable being the ones we’ll see below.
1. Analyze your consumption habits
One of the first steps to quitting smoking is to recognize how addicted we are to tobacco. In this sense, the first thing we need to know is how much we smoke. You can do a simple self-registration to complete daily, And assess after a week how many cigarettes are smoked.
It may also be helpful to think about the situations that trigger this use and to think about why they are doing so.
2. A decisive balance
Whether a person quits smoking depends in large part on whether they are willing to do so. In other words, we’re not going to quit if we don’t want to. A good way to motivate yourself to do this is raise the pros and cons of smoking or quitting, Realistically.
Consider what smoking brings and its short- and long-term implications (both for oneself and for the environment) and contrast it with the benefits of quitting the habit or replacing it with other alternative activities is an interesting step to motivate us to change. The aspects usually evaluated are the improvement of health, the lower probability of suffering from cancer or respiratory problems, the non-poisoning of relatives, the risks to the fetus in the event of pregnancy or the financial expenses that would cease to be used. . in the purchase of tobacco.
Of course this strategy alone does not guarantee anything; it must be combined with other. After all, nuna addictions are a purely rational phenomenon.
3. Set goals and make a plan
We finally decided we wanted to quit smoking and got motivated to do so. It is a process that can be very short or very long depending on the person, their characteristics and the type of drinking habit they have. Anyway it is advisable to plan the next steps and set short- and medium-term goals that can lead to the achievement of the ultimate goal: to quit smoking.
4. Consider using items to aid in detoxification
Although not really necessary, many people find it helpful to use methods that reduce nicotine withdrawal. Examples are chewing gum and nicotine patches.. However, it should be borne in mind that these mechanisms are basically intended for physical abstinence, having little effect on the psychological.
5. Start by reducing the amount
Deciding, for example, that from tomorrow we will quit smoking after having smoked four packs a day for twenty years is not impossible, but for most people it is not sustainable. We are faced with a habit that has been established throughout life, and changing habits usually requires a process of gradual adaptation.
Therefore, it is recommended, rather than stopping immediately, to start by reducing the daily amount of cigarettes in a gradual and tolerable way for the subject. This can be combined with the gradual rebranding to others that contain less nicotine. Record the maximum number of cigarettes you will allow per day and respect this limit, it is advisable to ration them. The reduction must be real and significant: In other words, if you smoke 50 per week, do not go to 48, but for example to 35.
And these cigarettes are the totals: they count both yours and those that other people may offer you. In fact, it is recommended that you do not accept other people’s cigarettes, as it is easier for the quantities to get out of hand and can furthermore set a precedent for accepting them in the future.
6. Inform your surroundings
Quitting smoking is a bit tricky for many people. Communicating the decision to quit smoking in the immediate environment is a good way to facilitate the consideration and understanding of the smoker’s situation by the smoker, as well as the probable increase in irritability. The support of this environment it can help and quit smoking.
7. Evaluate alternative behaviors and behaviors
We need to be aware that when we reduce the amount or quit smoking, we will face times when it will be difficult to keep pace. Usually, those who start to quit are generally more nervous and tense, as well as irritable. It is necessary and very useful to consider practicing alternative behaviors to smoking, and especially if they are incompatible.
For example, some people decide to shower, chew gum, or eat (the latter reason some people typically gain weight after quitting) to resist the discomfort and craving for consumption that causes the absence of cigarettes.
Exercise is a very stimulating activity which is beneficial and very useful for almost everyone in general, and which can also help us quit smoking. Exercise is likely to be difficult for the person who quits smoking early, as playing sports requires a greater need for oxygenation and people who smoke (since smoking damages and blocks the pathways). respiratory) tended to get tired before.
But it is also a source of motivation to stay away from tobacco: over time, breathing capacity will increase and, with the habit of exercising and the endorphins and the relaxation it generates, the urge and desire to use tobacco will decrease. It is also behavior that is partly incompatible with the habit of smoking (as it makes it difficult to exercise properly).
9. Strengthen yourself
Quitting smoking, as we have said many times, is difficult. That’s why it’s convenient grow stronger as we achieve our goals. Such reinforcement should be an enjoyable activity that we do not usually do, and can be reflected in a therapeutic contract that the person enters into with himself. It can range from dinner to the movies or the movies, to a short trip or a getaway.
10. Seek professional help
Treating addictions like smoking is complex and many people cannot leave it alone. Go see a professional who gives more specific instructions it can be helpful and can also be a source of support and motivation to quit smoking.
11. Control exposure to places associated with smoking
Quitting smoking can be more difficult to achieve if we are surrounded by stimuli that continually remind us of this habit. For example, surrounding yourself with smokers or inhaling other people’s smoke can trigger the desire to smoke. Although exposure to certain stimuli is inevitable, we must try limit our exposure to them.
12. Be aware of the risk of relapse
We are at a point where we may have quit smoking. Okay, but we also have to keep in mind that there is a risk of relapse. In fact, the first few weeks without drinking can be difficult, but the highest risk of relapse usually occurs after three months without drinking. In addition, events such as weddings and parties, or stressful situations, they can generate an increase in the desire to consume. These factors should be taken into account and it may be helpful to consider ways to respond if you feel the urge to smoke.
13. Eye! To fall is not to fall
Once we have quit smoking, this last key is essential to keep in mind (and it is applicable to both quitting smoking and quitting other drugs). And it is possible that at some point there will be a one-off consumption, a drop. After that, many people consider the attempt to quit smoking to be a failure. But this should not be the case: We will only talk about a relapse if the habit of consumption is restored. This is not to downplay the importance or to allow yourself a cigarette from time to time, being a bit of a must to avoid, but not to criminalize and to consider lost all the progress made so far.
- Batra, A. (2011). Treatment of tobacco addiction. Deutsches Arzteblatt, available at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3167938/ Spanish Association Against Cancer (2014). Guide to quitting smoking. AEC, Madrid.