Five Steps for Quitting Smoking

If you've ever tried to quit smoking, you know what a challenge it can be. It is hard because nicotine is a very addictive drug. Quitting is so difficult that people often try two or three times before finally being able to quit. But the benefits are well worth the effort, and it is one of the most important things you can ever do for yourself and your loved ones.

The following five steps will help you quit – and quit for good. You'll have the best chance of quitting if you use them together.

1. Get Ready

  • Set a quit date.
  • Change your environment.
  • Review your past attempts to quit.
  • Once you quit, do not smoke a puff.

2. Get Support and Encouragement

  • Talk to your healthcare provider.
  • Get individual, group, or telephone counseling support. The more support you have, the better your chances are of quitting.
  • Ask family and friends to not smoke around you.

3. Learn New Skills and Behaviors

  • Drink plenty of water and other fluids.
  • Distract yourself from urges to smoke.
  • Do things that reduce your stress.
  • Plan something fun to do every day.

4. Get Medication and Use It Correctly

Medications can help you stop smoking and lessen the urge to smoke. However, if you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, nursing, under age 18, currently smoking fewer than 10 cigarettes per day, or have a medical condition, be sure to talk to your doctor or other healthcare provider before taking medications.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved six medications to help you quit smoking:

  • Bupropion SR – prescription only

  • Nicotine gum – available over-the-counter

  • Nicotine inhaler – prescription only

  • Nicotine nasal spray – prescription only

  • Nicotine patch – available by prescription and over-the-counter

  • Varenicline Tartrate – prescription only

Ask your healthcare provider for advice, and carefully read the information on medication packages.

5. Be Prepared For Relapse or Difficult Situations

Most relapses occur within the first three months after quitting. Don't be discouraged if you start smoking again; remember, most people try several times before they finally quit. Here are some difficult situations to watch for:

  • Avoid drinking alcohol.
  • Being around a smoking environment or other smokers can make you want to smoke.
  • Many smokers will gain weight when they quit – usually less than 10 pounds. Eat a healthy diet and stay active. Some quit-smoking medications may help delay weight gain.
  • If you experience moodiness or depression, there are ways to improve your mood other than resuming smoking.

If you are having problems with any of these situations, be sure to talk to your doctor or other healthcare provider.

Sources: Heart-Healthy Firefighter ProgramCenters for Disease Control and Prevention

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