If you’re exploring different ways to stop smoking, you may be wondering whether cold turkey is the best way to quit. Many of us will know of people who have made this decision and stopped smoking overnight and might admire their strength of character, strong will, and ability to quit like this.
Going cold turkey is also the most effective way to stop smoking according to the British Heart Foundation. In a study involving half of the study group using the cold turkey method, and the other half using nicotine replacement therapies, they found that going cold turkey was 25% more successful.
However, it’s still a difficult process to go through, not least because of the withdrawal symptoms you may experience, and the temptation to have just one cigarette and then resume the cold turkey approach again.
Support For Smokers Going Cold Turkey
One of the key reasons some people are more successful than others at quitting smoking is the decision to stop in the first place. Many smokers will be under pressure to quit from friends and family, who are worried about their health. However, unless you have a deep desire to quit, you’ll find it more difficult whichever smoking cessation method you choose.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try! Instead before you set a date to quit you can prepare yourself mentally be addressing the reasons you smoke; the triggers that cause you to reach for a cigarette, pipe or cigar; any concerns you have about quitting such as withdrawal symptoms or not having a way to relax and de-stress; or anxiety about failing; as well as the reason you want to quit.
Once you understand your smoking habit: why you smoke, whom you smoke with when you smoke, your reason for quitting you will be able to put things into perspective. Then you will be able to work out how to actually say ‘no’ to cigarettes, understand the effects nicotine has on your body, work through your issues, get anxiety/stress relief techniques, so you’re able to quit for good.
Coping With Withdrawal
Whether you decide to quit cold turkey or use nicotine replacement therapies, you will have withdrawal symptoms. Usually, the first week after quitting is the hardest for most smokers, and if you’re going cold turkey it will be harder as your nicotine levels will plummet. However, your reliance on nicotine is an important feeling to break and the first step to staying on the course of stop smoking.
It is likely that you will feel irritable, grumpy and anxious and take these feeling out on your closest family. You may feel very hungry and worry that you’ll put on weight, and you’ll miss the feeling of smoking a cigarette – not just the sensation when the nicotine enters your bloodstream but having something in your hands or mouth. For those using the cold turkey method, rather than vaping, this feeling will be acuter. Headaches are also another common side effect.
On top of all of this will be a constant craving for a cigarette, however, this will ease after a few days making it a critical period to get through if you want to successfully quit smoking.
Here are some tips to distract yourself from the cravings:
- Get your friends and family to support you, lean on a friend to distract yourself,
- Deep breathing and relaxation techniques or meditation,
- Go for a walk or a run or join an exercise class,
- Write down why you have decided to quit the cigarettes,
- Listen to some music or read to distract yourself,
- Drink some water,
- Stay motivated and positive with your reasons for giving up the cigarettes,
- Chew some gum,
- Try Behaviour therapy or counselling.
For some people, it can be helpful to change your routine completely during the first week or so. For example, book a holiday that takes you away from the normal triggers that make you reach for a cigarette, such as the smoking break at work, going out with friends who smoke, or other situations where you normally smoke. I’ve met ex-smokers who’ve taken themselves off on a walking or mountain-biking holiday to quit, providing themselves with new distractions, exercise and activity to get through those initial tough days.
Once you’re into your second week the withdrawal symptoms should start to ease, and this will help motivate you further. However, there will be situations that you can’t avoid forever and so now is the time to dig deep and manage these without cigarettes.
While quitting cold turkey may be more effective than gradual smoking cessation methods, it is a personal choice and you need to decide which method is best for you. Whatever your plan is, the starting point that is worth celebrating is that you have made the decision to quit smoking. Let’s celebrate that!
Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) can help you change the negative way of thinking, feeling and your behaviour (your smoking habit) that follows. The CBT therapist can help you find the triggers for your smoking habit, support you during the withdrawals and assist you in choosing the best method to quit that works for you.
To find out if Hypnotherapy can help you to Quit Smoking for good, Book a free 30 minutes consultation with me and finally get control of your habit and cravings.