Do you want to quit smoking?
If you’re a smoker you’ve probably tried to quit before, most likely multiple times. There is lots of information online, the problem is that the majority of it comes from 2 places – people trying to sell you a product, and people with the best intentions repeating the advice of people trying to sell you a product. Lets get away from the b.s. A lot of what I'm about to tell you comes from peer reviewed scientific papers and you can look into it yourself if you're inclined to do so.
I’m going to break this down into 2 general sections – physical and psychological effects.
Let’s start with
the physical and those dreaded withdrawal symptoms. Most of them are
not actually caused by nicotine withdrawal, but by caffeine. (coffee,
tea, coke etc) There has been a number of studies done on the
combination of caffeine and nicotine. There’s really only 2 effects
you need to know about though.
First, in the presence of nicotine, caffeine exhibits a shorter half-life and faster metabolism. Put simply, caffeine is 2 -3 times less effective when you smoke. (That’s why smokers tend to drink more coffee than non smokers) Now you need to look at it from the reverse. Stopping smoking without changing your caffeine intake is the same as drinking 2 -3 times the amount of caffeine as you currently do. (For example if you normally drink 5 cups of coffee, it would be like suddenly drinking 10 -15 cups) Excessive caffeine like that can cause headaches, irritability, dizziness, insomnia, crawling skin, and more. In extreme cases you can overdose and make yourself physically sick, have chest pains etc.
The second effect you need to know about is that caffeine intake increases anxiety while nicotine decreases it. Without nicotine the consumption of caffeine will increase your anxiety levels. This is something to keep in mind, especially if you’re currently struggling with anxiety.
So if you’re ready to quit smoking, I highly suggest drastically
decreasing your caffeine intake at the same time. If you can, stop
drinking caffeine entirely when you first quit, then slowly
reintroduce it after a few days. It seems like a drastic move, but
you will find quitting is so much easier if you do.
(I'm quickly running out of room so I will have to do the psychological section in the comments once it's posted)
Ok lets try the super condensed version of the psychological section. This is something I’m really not qualified to do (god knows I’m a complete mess mentally) but I can tell you what worked for me and my friends.
Firstly you have to genuinely want to quit. If you don’t you will relapse. I can’t really tell you how you get yourself into that mindset. It’s something that you have to figure out yourself unfortunately.
Secondly lets discuss breaking conditioning. You have a smoke after a certain activity. It’s like a reward for finishing that activity. After a number of repetitions you’re mentally conditioned to expect that reward (a smoke) for finishing that activity. It’s the same concept as Pavlov’s dogs. For me this was the hardest part of quitting. Every time I finished eating, doing the dishes etc I would automatically reach for a smoke. It’s something you need to stop yourself doing
There's obviously more to it all but hopefully this helps someone. Good luck. You can do this.