Its important to understand the two different parts of this addiction as they serve two different needs of smokers.
- Habit:All smokers feel that they need that smoke when they are bored, tensed, angry and so on. Actually its just a habit or something that is routinely practiced that it becomes part of their thought process. It is similar to other habits like nail biting.
- Nicotine Dependence:Smokers feel the urge to smoke as and when nicotine levels in their body come to a low. Contrary to many other addictions like alcohol, hallucinogens, etc. smokers seldom get any high by smoking. They smoke just to feel normal. Its the irony associated with this addiction.
To quit smoking, one needs to deal with the above two parts of this addiction separately. Its best to get over the Nicotine Dependence first and later attack the Habit part.
Steps to Quit Smoking:
- Replace Cigarettes:Replace your regular cigarettes with as mild cigarettes as you can get your hands on. Usually the nicotine in each such cigarette should be less than 0.5 mg. When you replace your cigarettes, you will experience nicotine with-drawl symptoms for a week or so. The first few days can be testing but stick to your new cigarettes. The habit part of your addiction will help you get past this phase.
- Decrease Frequency:After around two weeks with your new low nicotine cigarettes, decrease the frequency at which you smoke and try to immerse yourself in some other favorite activity like watching tv, going to movies, going shopping, reading gadget news or what ever that interests you. Even now you will have to deal with nicotine dependence but at a very minimal level and its more about cutting the habit. Tell yourself every day that you can do it.
- Quit:After you reach about three cigarettes per day, pick a memorable day and call it quits.
Few drugs are also available to help you quit smoking.
- Bupropion - TCA with nicotine receptor binding properties
- Varenicline - Partial agonist of nicotine receptor
These drugs act on the nicotine receptors in the body and help by decreasing the nicotine with-drawl symptoms. Other therapies like nicotine patches, nicotine gums, etc. also help in reducing the with-drawl symptoms. Consult your family physician for a detailed discussion of the therapies available.
Finally its more about your desire to lead a healthy life and your will power that matters most when you decide to quit smoking.