In this article I will tell you how to stop smoking without using nicotine substitutes and other harmful substances. I am a former smoker myself.
The article will consist of five parts. In the last part, I will offer you to pass a free Quit Smoking Program. But before passing to it, you’d better read the first four parts. The information presented here will help you achieve freedom from cigarettes in the right way.
The idea of this series of articles is not only to help you overcome the nicotine withdrawal symptoms, but also to explain to you how to live a life without cigarettes, not to feel tempted to smoke even in a smoking company and return to this harmful habit never again.
Nicotine is able to wait
As you know, resisting the temptation to smoke throughout your whole life is the biggest challenge for every former smoker. It is not so difficult to quit smoking. The hardest thing is not to smoke again, when you achieve the freedom from cigarettes.
If a person has once smoked, his brain has already memorized the fast and affordable pleasure associated with a cigarette, and it is sure to remember the possibility of having this pleasure in moments of stress, boredom, or when being in a smoking company, even if the person has not smoked for several years.
Therefore, the smoker who wants to get rid of the habit forever has to face two tasks:
- Overcome the nicotine withdrawal symptoms. Not to be tempted to smoke a cigarette during a few days/weeks when he achieve the freedom from cigarettes, despite the strong desire
- Not to smoke throughout his life
Usually the sources, which offer quick and easy ways to get rid of nicotine addiction, pay attention only to the first task, ignoring the second one, which is more important and difficult.
Therefore, many smokers, who have managed to cope without cigarettes during a few months or years, start smoking again and again.
In this post, I will provide you with recommendations, which will help you to accomplish both of these tasks successfully.
I will start with task 2. I will show you how to get rid of psychological cigarette addiction, which can manifest itself throughout your life, and then pass to task 1. Before you quit smoking, you have to be sure that you can live a good life without cigarettes.
Being in love with cigarettes
I quit smoking three years ago. Before that, I was smoking 6 years, about a pack of cigarettes per day. Someone will find this period not considerable, but during that time I had a strong nicotine addiction, and it seemed to me that I cannot live my life without cigarettes.
I could say that I was in love with cigarettes. For me, smoking was not an annoying habit, but a philosophy of pleasant life rituals! I liked to start my day with a cigarette. I liked to do smoke breaks at work, it relaxed and gave me strength.
Cigarettes helped me fill the pauses in conversations, to endure the long wait and to relax. They accompanied me during walks, during my leisure and assisted me during some stress.
Cigarettes were my friends and helpers. For a long time I did not even think about quitting smoking. But then, everything has changed.
I quit smoking almost three years ago. During this time, I have never felt a strong desire to smoke; I have never slipped. I calmly communicate with smokers and do not feel any temptation to smoke, while I am in their company.
For me, to quit smoking was not very difficult. I can say that it was easy, though the process was followed by some discomfort in the beginning.
I do well without cigarettes, I have never missed this habit and I am happy not to be the subject to this destructive addiction. I am sure that I will never have a cigarette in my mouth.
My experience helped me formulate the principles that helped me quit smoking and, I hope, they will help you too. I want to tell you about all this in the article. Later, I will tell you about how I quit smoking.
Fear of life without cigarettes
When I smoked, I felt some fear when thinking that I would have to give up my helpers-cigarettes for the rest of my life! It was not so terrible to overcome the withdrawal symptoms during several weeks. Suppose I would overcome it.
But, what would I do in times of stress or anxious waiting? Who would rescue me, when I’m bored or when I want to relax during the work?
The experience of watching myself and other smokers helped me understand that the main causes of harmful addiction formation are in ourselves: in our character, in our personality’s properties, in our habits.
In order to get rid of the addiction completely, you shall eliminate those causes. The thought did not possess originality; moreover, it is terribly obvious. But, nevertheless, most smokers miss it and therefore cannot quit smoking.
Why bad habits are habits?
Many drugs, including alcohol and tobacco, cause physical addiction. Nicotine activates the production of neurotransmitter, dopamine. Dopamine is responsible for the formation of desires, such as hunger or sexual desire.
Dopamine does not allow us to forget that we have not eaten for a long time, and does not allow us to die of hunger. We are willing to do a lot of things for our basic needs satisfaction. Dopamine creates a persistent call to action, and we think that there is nothing more important than the satisfaction of any desire.
Neurotransmitter is also a kind of chemical reward, which we receive, when we reach the subject of our desires. Thanks to it, we feel pleasure, if we fill the stomach when we are hungry or, if we drink a glass of water when we are very thirsty.
Many drugs, which cause physical addiction (heroin, alcohol, tobacco), make our brain produce dopamine. When the addiction occurs, our brain tells us that getting a dose of narcotic substance is a basic need, as necessary as the need for food and water.
Because of this, our body (when the addiction has formed) demands new doses of nicotine so persistently despite the fact that this substance brings it no good, and kills it.
It is a quite rough and simple explanation of the narcotic addiction mechanism. But a detailed examination of the issue was not a part of my task. It is important to understand that drug addiction is a deception of our receptors, of our brain.
Those new needs, which form both legal and illegal drugs, in fact, are not vital ones. These needs are not required by our body. They only disturb its work.
If so, then why do people still smoke, despite the knowledge of the nicotine evident harm?
If we were smoking only because of the desire to fill a new need, which is created by dopamine, then, there would be far less smokers and those who quit smoking, would return to the habit less often.
After all, if you know that cigarette cravings – is a deception, then, once you wean your receptors away from nicotine stimulation, the problem would seem solved.
But nicotine as a drug, which affects the biochemistry of our brain causing addiction, is not the only matter. The cigarettes themselves – smoking sticks, which we like to hold in hands, dragging on their bitter smoke – present a problem as well.
If the narcotic substance contained in tobacco were the only thing responsible for the addiction formation, then any smoker could satisfy his need for drugs by using nicotine patches or pills, which contain this substance. But it is not the case.
Smokers have a dependence on the smoking process, not only on the drug substance.
All drugs’ cunning lies in the fact that the drugs both create new needs and satisfy the existing desires, which did not find their satisfaction in other ways.
This is the most important point of the article. Further, I will speak about it in more details.
I would like to explain the statement at once by an example.
The reason I started smoking
At the time when I smoked a pack per day, I was very nervous and worrywart. I always wanted to go somewhere, to do something, to keep hands busy.
I felt a constant need to stimulate my sense organs: to eat nuts, to watch movies, to listen to music, to twist round in my seat, to talk. For me it was difficult to stay in silence and sit idle. I got bored at once and I wanted to do something during that time, to have something in my hands, to use somehow my sight and taste my receptors.
At that moment, cigarettes appeared in my life! They fitted perfectly into my life! I have always carried a pack of cigarettes about. Therefore, I could almost at any time get a cigarette, drag on it, hold it in my hands and “tickle” my receptors.
Cigarettes have saved me from boredom, held my attention and soothed my restless energy. They helped me relax and pull myself together. At that time I was stress-susceptible and, therefore, I needed some quick soothing agents.
Due to this I was suffering from depression and panic attacks; my mood was frequently changed; I needed some available and fast “discharge”, stabilization. Namely tobacco rescued me again.
As you can see from my examples, it often happens that cigarettes not only form new habits, but also meet the needs of the old ones, which have been present since first whiff!
Physiological dependence vs. psychological dependence
The addiction mechanisms associated with human needs satisfaction can be attributed to psychological dependence.
Namely because of this type of dependence, bad habits have such a strong influence on our lives and we find so much difficulty in breaking off these habits!
I gave you my own example not so that everyone could identify him/herself with it. Someone may find it familiar, but everyone is different and everyone has his/hers own reasons for smoking. The reasons could be different of mine.
But the following conclusion from this example is universal for everybody.
If you want to quit smoking, you should get rid not only of the physical addiction, but also of the habit’s psychological reasons.
As I said, everyone’s reasons might be different.
For someone smoking is an available way to get rid of stress.
Someone drinks alcohol, because he has no joy in his life.
All these are psychological aspects of the addiction. In this case, the addiction is the result of unsatisfied desires, character and habits.Therefore, it is not always right to hope that you will buy a nicotine patch, wait a couple of weeks and you will never return to cigarettes.
Physical addiction disappears fairly quickly. But, if you are used to satisfy any personality desire, such as the need to relax, with the help of cigarettes, then, there is a probability that you will return to the bad habit when you break it.
Imagine that we have removed all the objects from the Earth’s orbit: satellites, space debris, and even the moon. Despite the fact that the orbit has become free from bodies, the Earth’s gravity did not disappear, and it will continue to capture and hold on the planet’s orbit other bodies, which will appear nearby.
The same process can be associated with the desires and character properties. They will not disappear once you get rid of their object (in this case, of smoking). These desires will “attract” new habits, and can capture with their attraction the old weaknesses.
Therefore, in order to get rid of the psychological dependence on quitting smoking forever, you should:
- Find an adequate replacement for cigarettes
- Or, get rid of the psychological causes of tobacco addiction
The most effective method consists in a complex usage of these two approaches. You cannot always completely eliminate the addiction psychological causes, but you can weaken their influence and find safer and more effective ways of satisfying your needs.
Please pass to the next part of the article – Dealing With Tobacco Addiction. In this part i will tell you about my own experience of getting rid of bad habit of smoking.