Monday, January 28, 2013

Why is it so hard to quit smoking?


Becoming smoke free can be one of the hardest changes one makes in their life, but why is it so hard?
For true change to happen it is only possible when the desire to become smoke-free is stronger than the desire to continue smoking and when the smoker has the tools, skills and self-knowledge, that build self-confidence, to take effective action.
Every former smoker will tell nobody quits until they really want to quit, until then it's a struggle. Yet 70% of smokers will say they "want to quit" but in reality, what they want is to continue getting their perceived benefits from smoking (stress relief, enjoyment) and want to avoid the negative consequences (cancer ete.). They want their cake and want to eat it too--but you can't have both. The popularity of the e-cig is that this is the promise they are making. The only problem is they can't back up their promise because no one knows the long term health effects from using the e-cig. To build desire the "WHY: of becoming smoke-free is most important.
When the benefits from smoking are compared with the negatives of trying to quitting, the cigarettes win out but when becoming smoke-free is MORE important than continuing to smoke, the method will appear because the smoker will seek out the tools, skills and self-knowledge that are needed to go through the process of changing to a life of being smoke-free. 
After having a strong "why", the next part is the "how-to" part. Often smoking is considered part of our "self-care" especially when dealing with stress, fear, anxiety. When everything is falling apart, our "friends" are still there to offer comfort. Smoking is a low-effort coping strategy and if like most smokers you have started as a teen--you haven't developed other effective coping strategies because smoking has always been there and has worked. Part of the struggle is to develop other "self-care" techniques but often they require more effort than just lighting up. This differs for every smoker and the tools, skills and self- knowledge.
Allan Carr's book, "The Easy Way to Quit Smoking" is great for motivation because he takes every argument used to continue smoking and rips it apart. He works on the WHY to quit, but not the HOW to quit. In over 20 years of working with smokers, as soon as the WHY to quit is stronger than the desire to continue to smoke, the rest is just gaining the tools, skills and self-knowledge.  This builds confidence and when a smoker feels they have the ability to succeed, they will take effective action. 
Effective action means having a plan in place to deal with the many different aspects of smoking and not relying on just one method to quit. Some smokers are more physically addicted than others and may need medicinal therapy. Habit cigarettes require behavior modification, stress cigarettes require effective stress management. 
As a Tobacco Treatment Specialist, my job is to help a smoker develop the desire, figure out what tools, and skills are needed through self-knowledge and how to develop an effective action plan. 

1 comment:

Abhijit Sarkar said...

wonderful post, i have been smoke free from last 5 months and the feeling is quite amazing. My mood swings has stooped and I am enjoying every piece of life. I have written a post on this subject and i hope that you will also like it. Please click here