Saturday, August 2, 2008

Quitting Smoking is Not a One Time Event

Every smoker has heard from friends and family, "I don't know why you just don't put that cigarette down and walk away?" What these well meaning people believe is that quitting is a one time event but it's not, it's a process that a smoker moves through. It's like going on a diet. If a person needed to lose 50 pounds, no one would say, "I don't know why you just don't drop those 50 pounds right now?" Everyone understands that to lose 50 pounds will take some time and work but we expect smokers to quit without any time or work. But quitting smoking is different than a diet in another way too. After someone loses 50 pounds, they need to stay in a maintenance mode to maintain the weight loss. If they go back to their same habits, the weight will slowly crept back up over time. If a smoker relapses back to smoking, it's like gaining those 50 pounds back all at one time. Just like a dieter needs to find a plan that works for them, change some behaviors, change attitudes and beliefs towards food, confront emotional eating and stress, a smoker needs to do the same thing as well deal with the physical withdrawals and recovery symptoms.
The Public Health Department has established guideline for physicians which calls for looking at smoking as a chronic condition. Obesity is a chronic condition too and when dieters we congratulate every pound lost and every behavior change, with smokers we expect reaching the goal immediately instead of looking for progress. Instead of pushing a smoker beyond where they can cope, a better strategy is to look for what the smoker IS willing to. It maybe it is agreeing to only smoke outside, stop smoking in the car, to start walking after dinner instead of smoking. Find a small agreement that the smoker is willing to keep and build on it.


Mz Diva said...

I loved this post! I have been feeling a lot of cravings recently and your right...this is an ongoing process! I guess I am not giving myself enough props for the times I have NOT indulged when I felt like it. I loved the comparison of smoking to dieting which is going to be my next behavior change. Thanks for posting.

VJ Sleight, Queen of Quitting said...

Hi Diva, Keep up the good work and rejoice everytime that you get beyond a strong urge to smoke. Remember what you did at those times, so you can use that technique again. Let me know if there are some times are more difficult than others and maybe I can give you some suggestions. The first thing I suggest is looking at what is happening at the time. After a period of about 30 days, the urges are not due to habits such as talking on the phone or driving a car but usually have more to do with stress or strong emotions, both positive and negative. The need isn't for the cigarette but to take care of teh stress or emotional need. good luck, I know you can be successful!!!