It’s important to look at quitting smoking like a long journey. You wouldn’t leave home without planning, without packing your bags with what you need for the trip. The more carefully you plan, the less likely some unexpected roadblock sidetracks you.
Taking similar planning steps, you can prepare yourself to quit smoking.
Write Down Your Reasons to Quit
Successful quitting depends more on skill and a firm decision to quit than willpower – writing down your reasons helps keep them in the forefront of your thinking as you travel the road toward becoming an ex-smoker.
Many people say that health is at the top of their list of reasons to quit, but each of us has many, often less obvious motives behind the decision to quit.
People don’t always put it into words, but for many smokers a strong desire to be in control of their lives again motivates them to attempt to stop smoking. They are tired of being slaves to nicotine.
Many people trying to quit make themselves miserable by carrying on with internal gymnastics around smoking. When you tell yourself you are a nonsmoker, you can end the internal mental debate that centers on the pros and cons of having just one cigarette.
Once you really decide to quit, urges are irrelevant. You no longer have to think about cigarettes all the time and your mind can go on to more pleasant things.
Switch to Cigarette Brands with Lower Nicotine Levels
Next, it is important to reduce nicotine addiction gradually by switching brands that deliver progressively lower nicotine levels.
Many people say they have tried without success to quit smoking, but often they have tried to quit cold turkey from their favorite brand or if they do try to brand switch, they do it incorrectly by going from a high nicotine brand to a low one. This causes them to suffer terrible withdrawal symptoms.
JeffQuit: Our Smoking Cessation Program
At Jefferson, our smoking cessation program called JeffQuit helps smokers overcome the physical addiction using a “warm chicken” approach. By switching each week to a cigarette rated at 40 to 50 percent less nicotine, your nicotine addiction gradually decreases. After two weeks, with much of the nicotine out of the body, the smoker quits entirely.
JeffQuit participants also learn about their medication options, from over-the-counter nicotine skin patches to prescriptions.
Since JeffQuit is offered through the Jefferson-Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine, participants have access to reduced-cost acupuncture, which significantly decreases cravings for many smokers.
Other programs available to JeffQuit participants include meditation and personal fitness classes to prevent weight gain and improve stamina and overall health.
To overcome the psychological dependence on cigarettes, hypnosis is taught. But the JeffQuit brand of hypnosis is not the “hocus pocus” that some people expect. It’s pleasant relaxation with the mind focused on being comfortably free of cigarettes. Each participant in JeffQuit receives a hypnosis CD to use at home.
In addition, each class member receives a realistic cigarette substitute. The patented “fake cigarette” has an adjustable draw and helps to break the habit of smoking.
Many participants are surprised by how easy quitting smoking can be.
For smokers who have tried and failed so many times, they are pleased to find a solution that works. The feeling of success and accomplishment participants gain after years of failure make this all worthwhile.
Upcoming JeffQuit Sessions
A new group starts the second Tuesday of every month at 4 p.m.
February Session Dates:
Tuesday, February 12 – First Group Session
Tuesday, February 26 – Second Group Session
Tuesday, March 5 – Third Group Session
The program fee is $249. Reimbursements for the program are available through some medical insurance plans.
Space is limited. To enroll, please call 1-800-JEFF-NOW.
Anna Tobia, PhD, is a clinical psychologist at the Jefferson-Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine and director of JeffQuit.