1: Take advantage of the products that help decrease your cravings. You can try acupuncture; nicotine gum, patches or inhalers; medications and even e-cigarettes to help decrease the cravings and taper off tobacco. Whatever it is that you choose, and you may choose more than one product, remember that these are a means to an end, not your new habit. The most important thing is not to keep using these products, but to eventually get off them as well, or you’re just transferring from one addiction to another. The one exception I’d make is if, while you were working to quit smoking for good, you were put on specific medications for depression or anxiety. These meds might be appropriate for the long-term, but of course, you’ll have to discuss it with your physician or care provider.
2: Discover and deal with the emotions connected to your smoking. Any addiction has a strong emotional component. If you want to quit smoking for good, you’ll have to deal with this aspect. Whatever emotion you’ve been unconsciously using smoking to deal with, whether it’s sadness, anger, loneliness, hurt, jealousy, frustration or fear, you’ll need to find a better way to deal with this emotion or you’ll never be able to give up the habit. There will be a lot of feelings coming up once you’ve stopped smoking. Some will be due to the discomfort of withdrawal, but many will be the deep emotions that have been lurking within you and which are now being brought to the surface because they’re no longer being suppressed by your smoking.
3: Change your social behavior to quit smoking. If you hang out and smoke with work buddies during your breaks; if you go out for a drink and a smoke after work; if you have poker and cigar parties with friends or if you spend a lot of time with smokers, you’ll need to change how you socialize or you’ll never be able to quit smoking for good. You’ll have to tell the people you smoke with that you’re trying to quit, and you’ll have to find other, smoke-free activities to share with them. Or maybe you’ll have to make some new, non-smoking friends.
4: Create new rituals to quit smoking. Smoking is a very ritualized activity. Whether you smoke cigarettes, a pipe, cigars or a combination of the above, each of these activities has rituals associated with it. Whether it’s your coffee and cigarette in the morning, your cigar at the club, your smoke with a cocktail or a beer, your smoke when you get home from work, or your rituals around lighting up or around how you hold your pipe, these all become familiar and comforting habits that you’re going to need to change. If you associate your morning coffee with a cigarette, maybe you’ll need to switch to tea. Or a smoothie. If you can’t have a drink without a smoke, maybe you’ll need to avoid alcohol for a while. If you always need to feel a cigarette in your hand, you’ll need to find something to replace it with, such as a pen or some worry beads. If you always come home to a smoke and the paper, maybe you need to come home and immediately take the dog for a walk, instead. The point of all this is, you’ll need to disconnect your daily routines from the act of smoking, and you’ll need to create new rituals that don’t involve smoking.
5: Get support to quit smoking. Whether it’s counseling, group therapy, a smoking cessation program, a peer support group, or some or all of the above, take advantage of all the help that’s out there. Acknowledge it is a difficult journey to quit smoking, with the possibility of lots of starts and stops. There’s no reason why you should have to go it alone
6: Have compassion for yourself. Be patient, accepting, understanding and forgiving toward yourself. If you slip, right yourself and carry on. If you fall, get back up without judgments. This might just be the hardest thing you do in your life. But if you succeed, and with perseverance and support the likelihood is that you will quit smoking for good, it’ll be one of the best things that you’ll ever do.