There are various options that can be used to help in managing or alleviating the physical discomfort experienced during smoking cessation.
Before embarking on your journey to quit, you should be aware there are methods and aids that can assist in dealing with the cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
Do note that some smokers succeed in quitting without using any of these, while others use all of them and still fail. So, don’t make the mistake of thinking they are the magic pill that will make you quit forever, as they won’t.
All they will do is help you to handle the extremely difficult moments in the initial phase when you stop and your body is adjusting to not having the nicotine it is used to.
The solution to quitting smoking is not a nicotine patch. This is a common misconception that causes smokers to eventually fail in their attempt to give up. Smoking cessation aids merely help you to deal with specific areas of the challenge. They should not be regarded or used as the primary element in your quit smoking plan.
Instead, use nicotine replacement products only as an alternative way to provide your body with nicotine while you abstain from tobacco. It should be one part of your plan, one aid to address the urge to smoke, and not the central part of your strategy to stop smoking for good.
Okay, so you know you’re going to crave for a smoke once you stop, what can you do about it?
- Gradually Cutting Down
- Don’t Think About It
- Pleasurable Alternatives
- Nicotine Replacement Therapy
- Tobacco Substitutes
- Alternative Treatments
1. Gradually Cutting Down
If you’ve been smoking 20 cigarettes a day for the last 10 years and you suddenly stop, you will inevitably feel a much larger physical effect compared to someone who only smokes once or twice a day.
One good way to dampen the withdrawal symptoms for heavy smokers is to gradually cut down to only a few smokes a day before stopping completely.
This will help your body to adjust to lower levels of daily nicotine intake, and make it easier to break the chemical dependency when you stop.
2. Don’t Think About It
One of the best ways of controlling the negative physical effects of smoking cessation is to stop yourself thinking about it if you can.
Although withdrawal symptoms are generally triggered by a physiological reaction, the urge to smoke is also caused by the thought of having a smoke and the perceived pleasures associated with it.
Instead of going through the discomfort and having to find a way to resolve it, you should avoid it if possible by keeping yourself busy and your mind occupied during the challenging first few days to two weeks.
Make lifestyle modifications to address times when you’re likely to crave for a smoke. For example, if you normally need to have a cigarette after a large meal when you’re overly full, try to eat smaller portions instead.
3. Pleasurable Alternatives
A good way to stop yourself smoking when you’re quitting is to consume something pleasurable that diverts your mental and physical attention away from wanting to smoke.
Most people find chewing gum to be an effective option as it is sweet and keeps your mouth occupied. Others prefer some other type of candy, chocolate or anything that can be used to distract them from the urge to smoke.
4. Nicotine Replacement Therapy
The most widely used way of managing the physical effects of quitting smoking is nicotine replacement therapy (NRT).
Instead of getting nicotine into the body by smoking, NRT offers a range of other alternatives such as:
- Nicotine Patches
- Nicotine Gum
- Nicotine Lozenges
- Nicotine Sprays
- Nicotine Inhalers
If it’s the lack of nicotine in your body that is causing the discomforts when you abstain from smoking, then any of these options should help to address the problem.
There’s a range of medication that are supposed to assist smokers in dealing with the physical effects of smoking cessation.
Some of them are anti-depressants (Bupropion) while others (Chantix/Champix) are specifically designed to reduce withdrawal symptoms and lower the urge to smoke.
Although it is claimed that they help to increase abstinence rates, unfortunately, many of the studies done are funded by the pharmaceutical companies who make them, so it is difficult to assess how effective they really are.
However, there are side effects for most of them so you should think carefully and consult your physician before opting to use medication as an option to help deal with the effects of stopping smoking.
6. Tobacco Substitutes
In recent years, electronic cigarettes have emerged as another nicotine delivery device that has helped lots of smokers deal with the effects of quitting tobacco.
Shaped like a cigarette, they offer a fairly realistic smoking experience, where the act of inhaling the vaporized nicotine is a close substitute to the real thing.
However, since no rigorous peer reviewed studies have been conducted on them yet, e-Cigarettes have not been formally accepted as a safe and effective nicotine replacement therapy.
7. Alternative Treatments
Depending on how you’ve decided to give up smoking, and the treatment option you’ve chosen, you may experience different levels and types of physical effects.
Some people claim that alternative smoking cessation programs (such as acupuncture, hypnosis and aromatherapy) are more effective than others in helping patients to manage the withdrawal symptoms, but the data is inconclusive.
When combined with nicotine replacement therapy, some alternative quitting approaches produce better results in containing the side effects from abstinence.