Dear Ann Landers, Several readers have written to say it was easier to get off cocaine than to give up cigarettes. I recently came across these tips written by Linda Greenhow, coordinator of the nicotine addiction program at the St. Helena Health Center in Deer Park, Calif. They may be helpful if you want to quit smoking. The information sounded good to me, and I would like to share it with you.
--Make the decision to quit.
--Set your quit date, and prepare yourself for the transition:
Become aware of your patterns of use, identifying trigger places, people and activities. Plan alternative responses.
Explore on paper your motivations for quitting. Carry a list of your top three reasons with you.
Start an exercise program to help manage stress, offset depression, combat urges and control weight.
Set up a social support system (a trusted individual who understands addiction, Nicotine Anonymous or an online support group).
Commit to "doing what it takes" to get through the short-term discomfort. Pharmaceutical support may be a consideration.
--Smoke your last cigarette, and say goodbye:
Dispose of all tobacco products and paraphernalia.
Drink lots of water to help eliminate nicotine from your system.
Take deep breaths to keep you centered.
Take action whenever an urge presents itself. Call your support people. Pray. Take a walk. Stretch. The urge WILL pass.
Envision yourself already smoke-free.
--Modify your lifestyle to support your smoke-free status:
Change your daily routines to avoid old triggers.
Develop a schedule of rewards for yourself to offset any sense of deprivation. Avoid high-risk situations, such as use of mood-altering drugs, being with smokers, being alone with tobacco present or getting too hungry, angry, lonely, tired, anxious or bored.
Develop new interests to give your life a positive focus, and re-direct your energy.
Commit time and energy to activities that reinforce and reward your new, non-smoking lifestyle. It is one of the toughest battles of all, and you deserve a pat on the back.