As reported in the British Medical Journal, a recent study which looked at how people quit smoking produced some interesting results. British scientists questioned more than 1900 current and ex-smokers regarding their most recent quit attempt. Close to half of them indicated that they had quit on a whim – a spur of the moment decision to stop smoking rather than as a result of any preplanning.
The authors describe what they call “catastrophic pathways” to smoking cessation that they think may be more successful than formal planning for a quit smoking program. They contend that varying degrees of motivational “tension” to quit that a smoker feels, combined with “triggers” within the smoker’s environment can lead to a change in mindset that encourages a “more complete transformation” when tobacco is renounced immediately rather than at a planned time in the future.
It should be noted that the authors do not indicate that planning ahead is counterproductive, but that the motivation which brings long-term success about has more to do with attitude than it does a specific plan. I agree.
If You Want to Change Your Life, Change Your Mind
While I didn’t have a particular plan in place when I finally quit smoking, if I were to be honest, I would have to say I had been preparing for my quit day for a very long time. The hatred for smoking that I had developed and the fear of getting a smoking-related illness were daily reminders of my desire to kick the habit for good somehow, someday. They were, in effect, building blocks for the mindset I would need to quit smoking successfully somewhere down the road.
I’d been dragging the ball and chain of addiction along behind me for 26 years when I decided I’d had enough. I was tired and angry; at the addiction and at myself. I was ready to do whatever it took to quit smoking. I was unwilling to let nicotine addiction run the show any longer. And so I quit, more or less, right then and there. On the surface it looked spontaneous, but in reality, my quit program was years in the making.
If one were to interview the people who took part in this survey as to why they quit smoking so abruptly, I imagine many of them would mirror the sentiments I’ve outlined above. They’d probably say that the desperation and unhappiness they felt due to the habit had reached a crescendo, and they were no longer willing to endure it. The addiction to nicotine gets to be a very uncomfortable companion over time.
People who seek out information about what to expect as they move through the process of recovery from nicotine addiction increase their chances of permanent success. If you’ve just quit smoking or if you’re still thinking about quitting, take these two simple steps to put yourself in the driver’s seat with your quit program:
As they say, education is empowering. This goes double for the value of education in regards to smoking cessation. In order to find permanent freedom from nicotine addiction, it is necessary to change what tobacco means to you. You must change the relationship you have with smoking. Education will help you do that. Learn what to expect from nicotine withdrawal. Read everything you can about this addiction – from what it does to our bodies to how we heal once we quit smoking.
The value of having others who are going through what you are or have been there and know how to encourage you is priceless. The Smoking Cessation Forum here at About.com is a vital, caring community of people who will inspire you to make a success of your quit smoking efforts. Enter the forum as a guest to browse and read messages from other quitters, or register (free) to join the discussions and post comments of your own.
Regardless of how you quit smoking, be smart and prepare yourself for permanent success by fortifying your quit program with the information and support necessary to help you build a smoke free life.
You’ll never regret the work you put into beating the addiction to nicotine, because the freedom you’ll experience will be a precious gift like no other. And it is one that only you can give to yourself.