Can’t Quit Smoking? Switch Gears!


Anyone who has been smoking for a long time and has tried quitting without success will know that it requires some forethought, such as:

  • When will I quit?
  • Which method will I use (cold turkey, NRT, hypnosis, acupuncture, meditation)?
  • If I go for NRT, which product will I use (Champix®, Chantix®, patches, gum, lozenges etc.)?
  • What kind of support system will I use (friends, family, doctor, Internet forums etc.)?
  • What will I do instead of smoking?
  • How will I fight the nicotine cravings?
  • Will I still be able to socialize with smoking friends and colleagues?
  • Will I be able to drink alcohol and stay strong?

These are just a sampling of some of the more common questions that people ask themselves when quitting. You probably have your own list of concerns. If this is the first time you are attempting to quit, you may be drawn toward online resources on the topic, especially as there is so much information out there on the Internet. You may have bought one or many of the available books. There is a wealth of ideas and opinions about how to quit, which methodology to use, which products work best, and how to manage your life after having put down that last cigarette. There are even statistics showing which method works best. However, bear in mind that these are just ideas, opinions and statistics! I’m not dismissing their value because the more informed you are, the more choices you will have to prepare yourself and manage quitting. Knowledge is power!

What is important to realize is that what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another, even if the ideas, opinions and statistics show certain trends. For example, if 80% of people quit by going ‘cold turkey’ and it didn’t work for you, it means that you are part of the 20%. But, that is all. It doesn’t mean that you can’t be part of the 80% during another attempt, and it doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with being part of the 20%. Perhaps you need to try nicotine replacement therapy or another method of quitting. Similarly, you may have chosen to quit at the wrong time. For example, during a period of high stress at work or a relaxing holiday (both situations cause people to want to smoke). You may have had a few drinks and temporarily lost your ambition to stay quit. You may have had a ‘quit buddy’ who started smoking again, causing you to cave in. There are so many things that can go wrong!

If you have attempted to quit but haven’t succeeded, then take the time to understand what went wrong. Was it the method you used, or the fact that you had a few drinks? The two are not necessarily directly linked. Just because you went cold turkey at the time doesn’t mean that the method was the problem, nor was drinking definitely the problem. You need to delve deep into the cause at that moment in time. It could be that the sight of other smokers made you want to smoke too. Perhaps you were cajoled by one or more smoking friends into having just one cigarette. Maybe it was at that party when your quit buddy decided to succumb. There are so many combinations and iterations of what could cause a relapse that it would be impossible to talk about all of them here. My point is for you to try to understand the circumstances of the relapse and to question yourself about the underlying cause. If you can pinpoint the cause, then chances are that you can avoid those situations in future, particularly when you quit again.

By building up this self-knowledge, you will be better armed for your next attempt. It doesn’t matter whether you choose the same method or a different method, use the same or a different product, the same or different support system, drink or not drink, or which activities you choose in lieu of smoking. If you ask around, people will give you ideas and opinions and the statistics will continue to show the same trends. Use this information to your advantage, judging it carefully to determine if it suits your style of quitting. If it doesn’t, then don’t try to force it. Everyone is different, and it doesn’t matter whether you are in the 80% or the 20%. What matters is that you keep track of what worked well and what didn’t work and switch gears for the subsequent attempt!

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill.

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