Most of us have had quit attempts that we thought of as an event; a task that we could complete within a few weeks – a month at most. Then, when the urge to smoke persisted beyond what we felt was reasonable, we despaired of ever breaking free of nicotine addiction. While the worst of nicotine withdrawal is over within a matter of weeks, release from the habit of smoking comes more slowly.
Smoking cessation is a process, not an event.
Let’s look at some common misconceptions about quitting tobacco that can hinder your chances for success.
Myth: It’s too late for me to quit smoking. The damage is done.
Fact: It’s never too late to quit smoking.
Bluntly put, the only time it’s too late to quit smoking is when you’re six feet under. When you quit smoking, the benefits begin with 20 minutes of your last cigarette, and continue to grow for years. The human body is incredibly resilient, and while not all smoking-related damage is repairable, much healing can and will occur.
Psychologically, you’re in for a treat when you quit smoking. Nicotine addiction gradually beats us down. Most of us spend years tied to a habit we desperately wish we could rid ourselves of. We feel weak and powerless and that leads to a slow destruction of self-esteem, usually so gradual we don’t realize what’s happening. It’s no wonder that so many long-term smokers suffer from anxiety and depression.
Quitting tobacco will empower you much more than you can imagine, and once grasped, most people refuse to let go of the freedom that comes from taking back the control that addiction stole.
Myth: I can smoke one cigarette and maintain my quit program.
Fact: There is no such thing as just one cigarette.
For the vast majority of smokers, re-introducing nicotine after quitting leads back to full-time smoking. There is no such thing as just one cigarette for a nicotine addict. Smoking, even as little as a few puffs on a cigarette is enough to awaken the beast within. I’ve seen it time and again, and sadly, people who relapse often spend years trying to find their way back to quitting again.
If you want to boot nicotine addiction out of your life for good, live the philosophy of N.O.P.E. – Not One Puff Ever.
Myth: Relapse can happen without warning.
Fact: Relapse never happens without warning.
The road to relapse always starts in our minds. Unhealthy thoughts of smoking are normal as we move through recovery from nicotine addiction, but left unchecked, they can spell trouble. It’s been said that humans have upwards of 60,000 thoughts on a daily basis. Much of what we tell ourselves is negative and self-defeating. We’re often our own worst critics.
Listen to your thoughts. Correct those that are counterproductive immediately, rather than giving them a chance to fester and gain momentum. It’s a sure-fire way to keep yourself in the driver’s seat with your quit program.
Myth: I’ll always miss smoking.
Fact: True freedom is a state of mind.
We all have the ability to make changes in our thinking that will bring lasting freedom from nicotine addiction.
People who miss smoking years later have not let go of the associations they had with their habit, and usually think of smoking in a romantic light. They might even tell themselves subconsciously ( or conciously!) that quitting was a sacrifice. They quit smoking because they needed to, but they loved smoking. That kind of faulty thinking will keep the chains of addiction in place. But make no mistake, it is their thoughts that hold them prisoner, not cigarettes.
Have you ever had a relationship go sour because of a change in attitude on your part? A shift occurs in your perception, and once your mind turns that corner, there’s no going back. It is similar with addiction. Once we get clear of the physical need for cigarettes, what is left is a mental relationship with smoking, much of which is based on ritual. The habit of smoking is powerful, but reprogrammable. Add some education about nicotine addiction and support from people who are going through what you are, and you’ll find your way out of the maze.Keep yourself in the present moments of today, and be grateful for each and every smoke free day you complete. Be patient with yourself and think of time as one of your quit buddies. The more of it you put between yourself and that last cigarette you smoked, the stronger you’ll become.
The benefits of cessation far outweigh the discomforts of recovery! Stay with it and find your freedom. Once you do, you’ll never let it go.