Most everyone realizes that tobacco products are highly addictive. This is due, in part, to the nicotine found in these products, which acts upon the brain to cause cravings and a physical dependence on tobacco products. What some do not realize, though, is that smokers also have a mental or emotional dependence on cigarettes and other tobacco products. This means that smokers have daily habits, rituals, or routines that compel them to smoke. Many times, smoking is associated with positive rituals, or it is seen as a method for reducing stress during trying events.
While the physical addiction to nicotine can be overcome through the use of medications, nicotine replacement products, and other methods of smoking cessation, the mental addiction can be harder to shake. Smokers will often come in contact with activities or situations in which they would normally smoke, triggering cravings. Fortunately, there are several ways to avoid this trap.
If you Need to Start Slowly
One way to avoid triggers is to reduce the number of them. This can be done by figuring out what your triggers are before you try to quit, and by gradually making it so these situations, activities, or places are no longer triggers. For instance, some smokers enjoy lighting up while having a cup of coffee. This can be combatted by drinking coffee, and then waiting a few minutes before lighting up. Each day, the time between having the coffee and following it up with a cigarette can extend. Eventually, the smoker will no longer associate coffee with smoking.
The same is true for smoking with meals or during any other specific time of day. For instance, if you normally smoke on the way to work, try lighting up when you’re almost at the office. Then, wait until you exit your car the next day. Keep extending the timeline until you are no longer smoking before work.
Enlist the Help of Others
Your loved ones want you to succeed, even if they smoke themselves. Ask if others would mind not smoking around you, so you won’t be tempted to smoke as a social activity. Friends can step outside to smoke, or refrain while you are together. You may even inspire others to quit with you, so you can form a team of support for each other.
Be Prepared for Triggers
There is no way to prevent all triggers. At some point, you will most likely encounter a trigger you didn’t realize was a smoking cue, or you will have to deal with triggers which cannot be avoided, such as stress. When these issues occur, make sure you have a plan for overcoming the urge to smoke. For instance, pull out a piece of gum when you’re dealing with job stress to distract yourself. Take deep breaths. If possible, get outdoors to enjoy the fresh air and engage in some sort of physical activity like sports, walking, or jogging. Most cravings begin to lose their grip after the first few minutes, so riding out the very beginning of a craving is the most important part of resisting the urge.
Triggers are primarily moments you have created that gives you “permission” to smoke. NRTs are another viable option for negating these triggers. If the trigger is unavoidable, not using cigarettes may also seem unavoidable.