How To Smoking – Cold Turkey Guide
Health care professionals and scientific communities unanimously agree that one of the healthiest decisions anyone can make is the choice to quit smoking, but how to most effectively quit varies from person to person. Everyone is familiar with at least a few of the most popular methods of quitting smoking, and many have personally experienced the wide-ranging costs, treatment durations, and effectiveness of any number of these. With different experiences and stimuli for each individual’s smoking (stress, routine, socializing, etc.), each smoker forms a unique habit profile that requires a similarly unique multi-pronged approach for maximum odds of individual success.
Many have heard the respect or admiration in the voice of a friend reporting that a loved one “just quit cold turkey”. In terms of pure efficiency, it’s difficult to argue with the no-nonsense approach of the cold turkey method. After reducing the number of cigarettes to zero within 24 hours, individuals push directly through the withdrawal phase and allow the body to reach full capacity in flushing away residual nicotine without interruption or slowdown by nicotine-enhanced quitting aids. As a result, individuals ultimately reach complete elimination of the smoking habit with minimal financial, medical, and equipment investment. The only cost is determination (and, frankly, a lot of it).
“…Each smoker forms a unique habit profile that requires a similarly unique multi-pronged approach for maximum odds of individual success.”
So, where to begin? And, as importantly, how to stay the course?
1. Set a quit date, and set it in stone.
A firm quit date frames the entire quitting process. Like running a race, a calendared start date grounds the intent in reality, changes a mindset of apprehension into a mindset of preparation, and can be a rallying point for supportive friends and family. It may also help to strategically set a quit date at the start of a weekend or other extended time away from work or school in order to allow for extra rest or distracting activities during the initial drawdown and withdrawal phases.
2. Construct a habit profile.
Learning the layout of a race course is essential for knowing the location of the rough terrain in order to prepare accordingly. What triggers smoking cravings? Is there a regular time of day or typical causal event (which could be anything from everyday frustrations to just the regular break after a period of work or even certain other people)? What types of feelings and reactions occur when a smoking craving isn’t satisfied (such as irritability, anxiety, insomnia, depression, etc.)? Feel free to use a list, flowchart, or any other illustration method that is the best personal way to lay out the race course and visualize the habit profile.
3. Prepare a strategy.
With a completed habit profile, a strategy can now be designed to fortify against anticipated weakness areas and to capitalize on likely strength areas on the course to quitting. For example, if a certain coworker is bothersome to the point of frustration (and thus, smoking), prepare specifically to avoid that person as much as possible during the next shift by whatever means is best suited for that specific workplace: simply acting too busy with customers to talk to that person, keeping an inactive Bluetooth headset in one ear to perpetually appear to be on a call, or even having sympathetic colleagues run interference for you.
Each anticipated area of focus should be countered with at least one targeted response—even if the response is to disengage and increase distance. Additionally, if any household items or personal possessions are especially strong triggers of smoking cravings, either discard them or entrust them to a responsible person for safekeeping until quitting is completely accomplished. For extra resources, take a look at the tips below and begin lining them up as actions that best target anticipated problem areas.
4. Run the race. And finish it.
The quit date is here; the habit profile is charted; and a strategy targeting the unique layout of the race course is prepared. It’s time to begin.
The first step is the biggest: to reduce the number of smokes to zero within 24 hours. After the drawdown, allow the body to ramp up and maximize its nicotine flushing capacity, and then sustain it until the habit is eliminated. During this elimination process—as even the most successful former smoker will attest—grim efficiency and sheer willpower can be cold comfort during the inevitable onset of withdrawal symptoms. Rallying all available advice and emotional support mid-quitting gives any individual a distinct advantage by strengthening resolve and/or weakening temptation during periods of heightened vulnerability to relapse. Never hesitate to call in support, and additional tips like the ones provided below may mean the difference between achievement and discouragement mid-quitting.
- Reframe temptation as risk. When significantly tempted by the prospect of a smoke and the assumption that “just one won’t count”, frame it another way: being just one smoke away from losing everything that has been invested and accomplished until now.
- Stay hydrated. Water is a multi-tool during the quitting process: it meets increased thirst levels during withdrawal phases, supplies the body’s nicotine flushing process, and mitigates food intake during craving spikes.
- Stay occupied. Keeping occupied with anything from work to video games to a TV show binge can practically be a fast-forward button for a large chunk of time in a day otherwise spent actively resisting temptation. Even keeping physically occupied with chewing gum, drug-free imitation cigarettes, or other substitutes can lighten a part of the withdrawal period.
- Stay fresh. Something as simple as shaking up a daily routine or switching up fashion choices can refresh the mind or increase confidence as a motivational aid to accompany the physiological resistance against relapse. There’s a reason that actors repeatedly credit well-constructed wardrobes and sets with their improved acting: clothing and environment have tangible impacts on mentality and performance.
- Avoid triggers. Anything in the habit profile associated with smoking—whether it be social drinking, the above-discussed annoying coworker, smoking breaks, or any known stressor that is anticipated to occur—must be avoided persistently throughout the entire elimination process. This goes hand-in-hand with the “Stay Fresh” tip above as smoky clothes or car interiors can trigger familiar temptations to smoke. Triggers are like bells: they can’t be un-rung once activated. Avoiding them often ends up being easier than outlasting them.
- Stay positive. Many former smokers are surprised to discover that quitting is less about fighting one temptation after another and actually more about fully uncapping a resolve that they already possess. Remember: there is always someone with your exact habit profile who has already quit, so it is already proven to be possible for you to succeed as well.
“The next time that someone boasts “Actually, my friend just
straight up quit cold turkey,” they could be bragging about you.”
Finally, remember that quitting is the accomplishment. Few people remember a race time, but every racer’s accomplishment comes from crossing that finish line. Finishing the race is what matters, and the ups and downs during the process form an added point of pride in your accomplishment. The next time that someone boasts “Actually, my friend just straight up quit cold turkey,” they could be bragging about you.
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