It’s a fact. Cigarette smoking is an addiction and it continues to be one of the toughest addictions to beat. Your ability to kick the habit depends on a number of factors, and one of the most important is understanding your addiction.
Fundamentally, cigarette smokers fall into two categories. Discriminate smokers and indiscriminate smokers.
Indiscriminate smokers tend to be chain-smokers. For them, cigarette smoking is purely a chemical addiction to nicotine. Some can smoke as many as three to four packs a day and often light their next cigarette from their previous one.
Discriminate smokers tend to smoke less from a pack to two packs a day, and they often connect their smoking to certain times and behaviors. They pour a cup of coffee and reach for a cigarette. After a meal, they light up. With a beer, wine or mixed drink they have a cigarette. If they’re stressed they reach for the pack. If they take a break or want to take a moment to think or reflect the cigarette often accompanies the reverie.
Both types of smokers often want to find a way to quit, but the pattern of their habit can affect their success with various approaches.
Curiously, indiscriminate smokers tend to have the most success with a cold-turkey approach. Because their addiction is purely driven by the chemical craving for nicotine, they can often beat the habit once they overcome the physical craving for the nicotine. This typically takes 48 hours. It’s a tough 48 hours, but after two days the worst is over.
Discriminate smokers struggle with cold-turkey. Their addiction is not only driven by the physical addiction to nicotine, but the psychological connection to events, times and occasions. As a result, every cup of coffee, drink or meal becomes a cue for the past habit of having a cigarette.
Hypnosis seems to be an either/or proposition. It works for some people and doesn’t work for others regardless of whether they smoke discriminately or indiscriminately. What some people fail to understand is that hypnosis is not necessarily an automatic cure. It still requires some effort, will-power and a determined decision to quit smoking. Some people profess that it was quite easy with the aid of hypnosis. Others struggled and just as many felt it did nothing for them at all.
The typical post-hypnotic suggestion is a cold-turkey solution. If you haven’t tried it you might consider it although you may want to precede your hypnosis session with some of the approaches that follow in case it doesn’t work as well as you’d hoped.
3. Gradual Withdrawal
The idea of gradual withdrawal is to slowly reduce your nicotine intake over time. Some people reduce the number of cigarettes they allow themselves to smoke each day. Others step down to cigarettes with less nicotine than the brand they’re currently smoking.
This approach tends to work best with discriminate smokers, especially when they start to deny themselves a cigarette during those key times cued by coffee, after a meal or with a drink.
This also tends to work for indiscriminate smokers who chain-smoke. When you’re lighting one cigarette off of another one the act of having the cigarette in-hand seems to satisfy the desire to smoke. The key for the chain smoker is to not attempt to step-down too far, too fast. If you smoke a full-flavored cigarette with 20 mg of nicotine and step-down to a cigarette with 1 mg of nicotine you might find yourself smoking up to 6 packs a day to compensate. How anyone can afford that amount of cigarettes on a daily basis would probably drive the chain smoker back to full-flavored brands quite quickly.
It’s all about reducing your dependency on nicotine, and unlearning a learned-behavior to setup for the “quit day” when you either quit cold-turkey, seek a hypnotist or engage the next strategy.
4. Cigarette Replacements
Cigarette Replacements include nicotine gums, patches, pills and electronic cigarettes. All are designed to satisfy your craving for nicotine without the associations you make with a smoldering cigarette in your hand. They also feature gradual withdrawal features designed to allow you to step-down the nicotine dosage as you approach your “quit-day.”
They seem to work equally well for both types of smokers either as a way to diminish the pure addiction to nicotine, or to assist in the unlearning of past behaviors although the patch seems to work better for chain-smokers rather than discriminate smokers. Discriminate smokers have a ritual and the patch simply delivers the drug in a slow and steady stream.
There are also some dangers especially with the patch. If you are absorbing nicotine through your skin and continue to smoke cigarettes you’re boosting your nicotine intake potentially to dangerous levels. Taking pills and/or chewing the gums while smoking can do the same. If you can’t refrain from cigarettes while using a replacement – don’t use this approach.
eCigarettes are emerging more and more as an alternative, but the trend seems to indicate that people under the age of 18 are using them to potentially begin a nicotine addiction, while some people are simply replacing the increasing cost of cigarettes with an invention that may just continue the addiction in another form.
Hopefully, anyone using a cigarette replacement is following the step-down recommendations for gradual withdrawal and is targeting a “quit-day.”
5. Pharmaceutical Solutions
Pharmaceutical solutions are prescription drugs designed to affect brain chemistry to reduce the addiction to the “high” from nicotine. Nicotine is a powerful stimulant and pharmaceuticals such as Zyban and Chantix claim to suppress the urge to smoke. Some people have found success with this approach although side-effects are always a consideration with any pharmaceutical. The decision to pursue a pharmaceutical solution is really up to you and your doctor, but make sure you know what the side-effects can be and monitor them carefully. The idea is to get better, not find something that will make things worse.
- A curious conundrum
Statistically, chain-smokers or indiscriminate smokers have the greatest success rates for smoking cessation. This is largely due to the fact that once they eliminate their craving for nicotine over a relatively short period of time, they don’t have the cues or learned behaviors to unlearn. The conundrum is related to recent laws enacted across the United States in most buildings, cities and public places.
The strict and rigid laws that prevent smoking in so many areas has essentially made chain-smoking impossible for most smokers. That’s not to imply that there is anything good about chain-smoking, but it does have an unintended consequence. It has created a nation of discriminate smokers many of whom are learning behaviors they had never associated with the pure, physical addiction of chain-smoking.
- Make the decision to quit!
Regardless of the current-state of laws affecting cigarette smoking, success with smoking cessation has to begin with a firm decision to quit the habit. The concept of a “quit-day” is also critical. The most important thing to remember is to keep trying. Maybe you’ll find the right approach and walk away from cigarettes forever. Maybe you need to combine strategies and tactics to make it happen over a series of attempts. Either way, you’ll feel better, save money and live longer once your find your way to quit.