Quitting smoking is not easy. It requires discipline and self-control, which is why many fail to quit—especially on their first attempt. Smoking quit rates reveal that people who tried to stop four or more times in the past are 2.6 times more likely to quit successfully than those who don’t. Given this, going through several quitting periods is normal before succeeding. However, that doesn't mean you should give up on kicking the habit—it just means you need to find strategies that work for you. If you’re currently on a quitting journey and are looking for additional guidance, here are some tips to help you through the process:
Try doing more physical activities
This may come as a surprise, but exercise can benefit your quitting process. It can reduce withdrawal symptoms, such as sleeplessness—since your body isn’t used to not receiving tobacco—and feelings of depression. Because your brain has become dependent on cigarettes, halting smoking can reduce your dopamine levels, making you feel down. Exercise addresses these by relieving stress and adjusting your circadian rhythm to help you sleep. Moreover, it releases endorphins to counter feelings of depression. Some outdoor physical activities you can do to get up and stay active include biking, walking, hiking, and swimming. You can even invite your friends for motivation and better distraction from smoking. This way, you prevent withdrawal symptoms from tempting you to smoke again. Besides assisting your quitting process, exercising is beneficial for regaining your health and improving your cardio, especially as your body recovers from smoking.
Take advantage of smoking cessation products
Smoking cessation products are tobacco-free and contain nicotine to help you deal with withdrawal symptoms. Some popular options are nicotine pouches and patches. Nicotine pouches are temporarily placed in the mouth for nicotine absorption. You can get these in nicotine doses ranging from 2 to 8 mg. If you’re planning to stock up on nicotine pouches since you’re unsure how long quitting will take, you might ask: do nicotine pouches expire? Pouches don’t have best-before dates, but they can lose “freshness.” To prevent this, store them in cool, dry places and avoid getting moist-type pouches that can dry up. Meanwhile, nicotine patches stick to the skin and are available in 7 to 21 mg doses. Since they’re not ingested, you may wonder if nicotine patches are effective. They are—as long as you use them properly by replacing patches daily and wearing the dosage that addresses your needs.
Consider taking smoking cessation medicines
Smoking cessation medicines work by preventing you from feeling the pleasurable effects of smoking and aiding withdrawal symptoms. FDA-approved medications include Bupropion and Varenicline. Bupropion reduces your cigarette cravings, assisting you in functioning as usual—even without smoking. Depending on your situation, you’ll be prescribed 1-2 tablets daily. Meanwhile, Varenicline stops the brain from feeling the pleasant effects of cigarette use. That means even if you do smoke, it won't bring you the same enjoyment as before—and that can discourage you from smoking again. The dosage for Varenicline involves taking 0.5 and 1 mg tablets once or twice daily, depending on your prescription.
Surround yourself with support
Quitting can be physically, mentally, and emotionally draining. Surrounding yourself with support can motivate you to push through quitting for good. If you inform your family and friends of your plans, they can offer moral support and keep you accountable for cessation goals. You can also subscribe to a texting program like SmokefreeTXT, which sends daily motivational messages to those quitting cigarettes. Finally, try joining smoking cessation support groups. Those run by organizations like the American Lung Association and the Tobacco Initiative can give you avenues to receive and share experiences and tips from fellow quitters. With a support system, you can stay on track, get motivated, and finally quit cigarettes. Smoking cessation is no easy feat. Fortunately, it’s not an impossible goal as long as you practice discipline, get support, and try cessation products and medicine.