You've made up your mind that you want to quit using tobacco. You might be nervous or not sure you can quit. But try to focus on the fact that you want to quit—whether it's your first time or tenth time. And focus on creating your plan to quit. A quit plan can help you deal with your feelings now and ones that may come later.
Having a plan may help your chances of staying tobacco-free.
- Name your reasons for quitting.
Knowing why you want to quit can help you stay motivated. Do you hope to be more active, to look and feel better, or to lower your chances of a long-term disease? Whatever the reasons, they're your reasons so they're the most important.
- Set your goals.
To achieve a long-term goal like this, you may find it helpful to break the task into smaller goals. Every time you reach a goal, you feel a sense of pride along the path to becoming tobacco-free.
- Write down your goals, or tell someone what you are trying to do. It's important to include "by when" or "how long" as well as "what."
- Pace yourself. You may want or need to quit slowly by reducing the number of times you use tobacco each day over the course of several weeks.
- Be realistic. Be sure to set goals that you can meet, including a timeline for quitting.
- Set your quit date.
Try to pick a time when you don't have a lot of stress or change.
- Find all the resources you can to help you quit.
- Talk to your doctor and insurance provider to see what your treatment might be and if your insurance covers it.
- Think about whether you want to take medicine to help you quit. Using medicines and nicotine replacement products can increase your chances of quitting. They can relieve nicotine cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
- Find support.
In your plan, include those people who can support you. They are friends or family who will tell you to keep going or trying. They will help you deal with stress and bad moods. And they will join you to celebrate when you reach your goals.
- Review your past attempts to quit.
If you have tried to quit in the past, review those past attempts. Think of the three most important things that helped in those attempts, and plan to use those strategies again this time. Think of things that kept you from succeeding, and plan ways to deal with or avoid them. Write this down as a plan.
- Change your surroundings and routines.
- Throw out all your tobacco and anything that reminds you of using it, like ashtrays, lighters, or spit cups.
- Don't let people smoke or use tobacco in your home.
- Change your daily routine. Take a different route to work, or eat a meal in a different place. Every day, do something that you enjoy.
- Be aware of your tobacco cues, and plan how you'll avoid them.
Cues are things that remind you of using tobacco. You'll want to avoid or stay away from them. You may already know your cues. Common ones include drinking alcohol and being with friends who use tobacco.
- Prepare for emotions and cravings.
Withdrawing from nicotine can make you feel stressed, upset, or cranky. Here are some ideas:
- Tell yourself that these emotions are uncomfortable, but they will pass.
- Think about ways to avoid things that make you reach for tobacco (your triggers). Identify situations in which you will be at greatest risk.
- Plan for ways to handle a strong urge to use tobacco. You might try exercising, walking your dog, or calling or texting a friend.
- Start a hobby or activity.
- Calm yourself or release tension by reading a book, taking a hot bath, or digging in your garden.
- Be prepared for relapse.
Most people aren't successful the first few times they try to quit. If you start using tobacco again, don't feel bad about yourself. A slip or relapse is just a sign that you need to change your approach to quitting.
- Celebrate your successes.
You may have days when you wonder whether quitting is a good idea. Celebrations are reminders that can help when negative thoughts creep back.
In your quit plan, you'll want to include ways to remember and celebrate what you've done. You'll remind yourself why you wanted to quit and make quitting seem doable again.
Current as of: November 8, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Heather Quinn MD - Family Medicine