Congratulations on your recovery! If you’ve managed to break free from your dependence on drugs and/or alcohol, you have already achieved so much. You surely feel better and now your life is on a better path – and you feel free. There’s still much to do to remain clean and sober for the rest of your life, but the hardest part is behind you now; only maintenance lies ahead, and you can do it.
However, there’s another task at hand now, and you know it. It’s time for you to quit smoking cigarettes as well.
Many people in early recovery turn to smoking cigarettes during the beginning of their recovery and with good reason. People believe that cigarettes can help relieve stress and calm the mind, particularly in difficult times – and they’re not wrong. Smoking cigarettes does, in fact, have this oddly positive effect on many people.
The disadvantages of cigarette smoking undoubtedly outweigh the advantages, and this legal habit comes with many risks. Smoking kills in the long term, and it does immense damage to your body all along the way. It’s a costly habit, and a disgusting one; you know this already – no matter how much you enjoy a good smoke.
Although cigarettes can and do provide a crutch for people in recovery in their early days of major life changes, once you’ve gotten a handle on your recovery from addiction, it’s time to take the next steps. It’s time to eradicate cigarettes from your life as well.
Many people say – and with evidence to back them up – that cigarettes are just as addictive, if not more so, than heroin. However, if you’ve overcome an addiction of any kind, you can overcome this one too.
If you’re looking for tips on how to quit smoking in addiction recovery, then you came to the right place. Read on to learn more.
Cigarettes Are Terrible
Cigarettes are terrible and there’s no reason for you to keep them in your life. If you want to quit, you’re not alone – 69% of adult smokers say they want to quit. Some succeed, but many never do.
Cigarettes contain nearly seventy ingredients that cause cancer and, in the long run, smoking kills more people than alcoholism. In fact, smokers live an average of ten years less than non-smokers, so if you want to be around for a while, you should quit right now.
It’s no surprise that you got addicted to cigarettes, though, so don’t beat yourself up. Nicotine is a drug, and a powerful one at that. When you take a drag of a cigarette, nicotine travels to your brain in a mere seven seconds. There, it stimulates the brain’s reward center just like other drugs and alcohol do. When you started smoking, however long ago that was, you became addicted in short order, and likely long before you even knew it. As someone in recovery, you know that’s how these substances work, but you also know that you can break free.
Quitting in Recovery
Many people in recovery smoke cigarettes. Whether you attended inpatient or outpatient treatment, you probably noticed that well over half of your companions there were smokers.
However, many treatment programs ignore this issue. Why?
Well, for many years, even experts in the addiction recovery field thought that asking or forcing someone to quit smoking while they were working on larger addiction issues would lessen their chances of recovery success, so smoking cigarettes during the process was accepted and, in some cases, was even encouraged – especially when the addictions that these people were fighting – alcoholism, opiate addiction, cocaine addiction, and so on – are far more dangerous to their immediate health and safety.
Today, experts know that it’s entirely possible – and even wise – for people in recovery to try to quit smoking cigarettes while they are in the warm, guided, encouraging addiction treatment environment. More and more addiction treatment centers are encouraging their clients to quit smoking cigarettes while they work on their recovery from other addictions, rather than waiting to do so afterward. Many of the clients to attempt this find great success, but of course there is no pressure to try this for people who don’t yet feel comfortable.
Tips for Quitting
If you’re trying to quit smoking cigarettes after being in recovery for a while, then congratulations to you. This is a big and wise step. However, no matter when you try to quit smoking cigarettes, few people ever say that it’s easy.
The following tips have helped many others quit before you though, and although many people fail in their first attempt, many others quit and stay quit each and every day. Make a plan, stick to it, and follow through. Just like you quit drugs and alcohol, you can succeed when you do this, too.
- Ask your doctor for help. Your primary care physician wants you to quit cigarettes. He or she wants this of all patients, and surely has experience in offering advice and support. Your doctor will point you in the right direction for resources to help you succeed.
- Consider nicotine replacement therapy. There are many products on the market today that contain small amounts of nicotine that aim to help make smoking cessation easier. It’s not weak or silly to turn to these products for help. Nicotine gum or patches can really ease your withdrawals and can help set you up for success.
- Expect withdrawal symptoms. Even if you use nicotine replacement therapy options and especially if you don’t, expect to experience a number of uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms along the way. You may feel irritable, nervous, or bored, and you may have trouble sleeping. These symptoms are normal, and while they may feel unbearable at first, know that they will subside in time. Fortunately, the worst of these come in brief waves and will be gone before you know it – just don’t break down and smoke in the meantime, and soon you’ll be distracted and on to better things.
- Make some lists. Creating a list of reasons why you want to quit smoking is an important exercise that can help you in the moment and beyond. Writing these reasons down will help solidify them in your mind, and you can re-read the list whenever you feel a craving coming on. A list of reasons why you hate smoking can help too.
- Cut back slowly. Some people have great success with quitting “cold turkey” or all at once, but that doesn’t work for everyone. Some people find greater success by cutting back the number of cigarettes they smoke each day over a long period until they are down to only a few; then they can more easily leap to a full quit at that point. One way to achieve this is by delaying your morning cigarette as long as you can. You can also make new rules for yourself like prohibiting smoking in your car, or only allowing yourself a single cigarette after each meal of the day.
- Keep a journal. If you choose the cutting back method, keep a journal as you quit. Every time you smoke a cigarette, write down your feelings about it. How did you feel before it? What event triggered your desire to have it? How did you feel afterward? This can help you to identify patterns and will help you learn how to respond to your cravings in a more positive way.
- Distractions are key. When you feel a craving coming on, try something else. Write in your journal. Do some cleaning. Exercise. Try some deep breathing. Call a friend. You may find that you’ve forgotten all about cigarettes when you’re done with a distracting, alternate task.
- One day at a time. Remember, just like with your recovery from addiction to drugs or alcohol, quitting smoking is a process. You can do it as long as you take it one moment, one hour, and one day at a time.
You Can Do It
Quitting smoking is a process but it is something you must and can do. Although the idea of it may be overwhelming to you at first, just like with your recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, you’ll find that it gets easier the longer you do it. This is something that you absolutely can achieve. So what are you waiting for? Take the first steps to stop smoking cigarettes today. Good luck!
Are you struggling with addiction? At Clear Sky Recovery, we want to help you to take the first steps on your recovery journey. Our ibogaine detox treatment is ancient yet innovative and has helped countless individuals make a new start. Our staff is experienced and effective, our facility is beautiful and tropical, and we are standing by to answer your questions. Please contact us today.
Dr. Sola is one of the world’s leading experts in medically-based ibogaine treatment; he has more clinical experience with safe and effective ibogaine administration than any other M.D. in the world today.