Go it alone

While we know that most people will be more successful with the support of one of our Advisers, we also know that some people prefer to try to go it alone.  Here are our top tips to help you do just that.

First things first.

Do you really want to quit?  Never have another puff?  Ever?  Unless your answer is yes, you aren't ready to quit.  It's virtually impossible to go from being an addicted regular smoker to being an occassional smoker.  So, don't be fooled into thinking you'll quit, just to have the odd cigarette on a night out with your mates.  Sadly, it just doesn't work like that for most people and as soon as you have a puff, you're right back to the start of your withdrawal process.  So, before you try to quit, be sure you really understand what that means.  This will give you the very best chance of achieving a life free from nicotine addiction.

The two things you have to beat

Nicotine - you are likely to be physically addicted to the nicotine in cigarettes.  Like most addictions, cutting down is unlikely to help because you will probably smoke differently to get the same amount of nicotine from fewer cigarettes.  Eventually you're likely to build back up to your previous smoking levels.  Remember there is no safe level of smoking.  As you quit, you’ll go through two types of withdrawal.  The first is real physical withdrawal; the other is when you just remember what it was like to smoke and want a cigarette but without any physical craving.

Behaviour - you will also have lots of routines and habits tied up with your smoking.  When you quit, you need to prepare for and deal with both of these things.

The week before you quit

  • Work out exactly why you really want to quit, write it down and keep it safe.  You can use that to keep reminding yourself why you decided to quit.
  • Set yourself a quit date but make sure you give yourself time to prepare yourself properly.
  • Buy yourself any Nicotine Replacement Therapy products that you need like patches or gum - but remember if you get support from our Advisers, you can get these at prescription prices or free if you don't pay for your prescriptions.
  • Consider buying some glucose tablets (use with caution if you are diabetic).  These can help you get through any nicotine cravings you have.
  • Buy any other things that might help to replace your cigarettes when you quit.  Consider things like sugar free lollipops and healthy snacks.
  • Have some distractions to take your mind off quitting.  Try magazines, books, puzzles or quizzes.  Choose things that you will enjoy but that will also keep your hands and your head busy.
  • Tell those close to you that you’re quitting and that you will need their understanding.  You may be a little more stressed in the early days but long term, you’ll be much more chilled.  Do you know any really calm people who are very heavy smokers?
  • Think carefully about what cigarettes you will miss most and plan what you will do to replace those cigarettes.  If you can ensure that you replace those important cigarettes with something else, it will mean that you are occupied and miss them less.
  • Read the guidance with any products you are going to use to ensure that you know exactly how to get the best use out of them.

The last cigarette

  • The cigarette you have before going to sleep on the day before you quit will be the last cigarette you ever have.  Really believe that is your last cigarette and congratulate yourself on your decision.
  • When you have your last cigarette, get rid of everything to do with your smoking - your cigarettes, lighters and ash trays etc.  If you haven’t got them, you can't use them.

Quit day and beyond

When you wake up, have a good breakfast.  For many people, this replaces the first cigarette of the day.  It also helps to keep your blood sugar levels steady which helps to overcome nicotine cravings.

  • Eat a healthy balanced diet to help control your weight.
  • Get lots of vitamin C and drink plenty of water.  Your body is going through a detox and this will help speed up the process and keep you healthy while you quit.
  • Consider changing drinks that you associate with smoking.  If you normally drink coffee and have a cigarette, switch to another drink like juice so that you don’t have those old smoking associations.
  • If you feel like you want a cigarette after a meal, brushing your teeth will help you get over it.
  • Build some exercise into your routine.  You will have extra time on your hands now that you are not smoking and exercise releases feel-good chemicals and helps to control weight.
  • A real nicotine craving will only last three minutes. Delaying having a cigarette for those three minutes will help you overcome the craving.
  • If you find yourself in an environment that you expect to be a challenge in your quit attempt, escape from it as soon as you can.
  • If you drink alcohol, be careful.  Some people lose control when they drink and you don’t want to risk your quit attempt by doing this.  So, consider avoiding alcohol and any other situations where you might be tempted until you feel confident that you are truly a non-smoker.   This might sound like a big sacrifice but after just a few weeks, you can get on with enjoying your whole life as a non smoker - forever.
  • The first three days of quitting are normally the worst so getting through those is a massive achievement – congratulate yourself on how well you are doing.
  • Don’t be surprised if you feel anxious or upset.  This is perfectly normal and it will soon pass.  Keep your motivation strong and remember how much better you will feel very soon.  Others will be proud of you too.  Keep reminding yourself you can do this.
  • Plan how you will reward yourself for staying Smoke-Free.  Then make sure you get those rewards at regular times throughout the quitting process.  Rewards should be just for you.
  • Save all the money you would have spent on cigarettes.  Watch it grow and put it to really good use.
  • Never, ever be tempted to just have another cigarette. Up to 95% of smokers relapse on just one puff of a cigarette.  You don't want to have to go through the challenges of quitting all over again.

And finally...

  • Remember to tell us how you get on.  Good or bad, we want to know whether you found this advice helpful, and how you’re getting on with your quit.
  • If you don’t succeed on your own, try again.

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