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Quit Smoking in Recovery


Once you are established in your recovery, it may be appropriate for you to begin dealing with other bad habits such as smoking. Experts tend not to recommend that people try to quit cigarettes within the first few months of breaking away from alcohol or drugs. You will probably already have enough on your plate, and the danger is that you could feel a bit overwhelmed and use this as an excuse to relapse. It is certainly a good idea, though, for you to give up smoking as soon as you feel strong enough to do so in recovery.

Dangers of Smoking Cigarettes

You would need to be living in a cave somewhere not to know that smoking cigarettes is dangerous. There have been huge media campaigns to point out the dangers of this habit, and laws have been introduced to protect people from these health hazards. The dangers of smoking cigarettes include:

  • increasing your risk for many diseases including cancer, lung disease, and cardiac disease
  • shortening your expected lifespan – it is estimated that every cigarette takes about 28 minutes off your life
  • you not being able to smell or taste your food
  • making you look much older than you are – smoking causes wrinkles
  • harming your financial well-being because this is such an expensive habit
  • being physically unfit, thus preventing you from getting the most out of life
  • unpleasant odours on your clothing and skin
  • being a contributing cause of bad breath
  • the fact that second hand smoke may be damaging your loved ones
  • being at much higher risk of causing fires – the most common way that this happens is that people fall asleep while smoking.

Importance of Giving up Smoking in Recovery

Some people will feel that they have done enough by giving up alcohol and drugs, but it is important to try to give up smoking in recovery. The fear of the consequences is often not enough to convince us to end our addiction to cigarettes, but when we consider the positive impact this could have on our life, it can be enough to motivate us. The benefits of stopping smoking in recovery include:

  • the fact that we are removing another addiction from our life; the more of these we get rid of, the more freedom we get to enjoy
  • making it easier for us to enjoy the good things in recovery
  • a step towards improved physical health
  • breaking our link with the past – one of the dangers with continuing to smoke in recovery is that people can continue to associate smoking with drinking or using drugs – by ending this addiction we sever the link
  • improving one’s self-confidence and self-esteem
  • meaning that you no longer have to worry about your clothes smelling of smoke
  • you live longer, meaning you will have more sobriety to enjoy
  • setting a good example for other people – this can be particularly important if you have young kids.

Mistakes That People Make When They Try to Give Up Smoking in Recovery

In order to successfully break away from a nicotine addiction, it is important to go about things the right way. Here are the most common mistakes that people in recovery make when they try to give up smoking.

  • The number one mistake is that individuals try to give up too early in their recovery – this means they feel overwhelmed.
  • They try to quit for other people instead of for themselves.
  • Without a clear and compelling reason to stop, it is going to be very hard to make it a reality.
  • Some people will fail because they just have not prepared for the change properly, and they have failed to get support from family and friends.
  • Losing confidence in their ability to stop because they have failed in the past.

Symptoms of Nicotine Withdrawal

A common reason why people will feel reluctant about giving up cigarettes is that they fear nicotine withdrawals. There can be uncomfortable symptoms for the first few weeks, but these are never going to be beyond manageable. It is important to remember that hundreds of people give up smoking every day, and if they can do it then so can you. Here are some of the symptoms that you may experience when you first try to give up nicotine:

  • fuzzy thinking and difficulty concentrating
  • mild headaches
  • mood swings and irritability
  • mild symptoms of depression
  • cravings for nicotine
  • constipation
  • nausea
  • a desire to eat lots of sugary things
  • drowsiness
  • difficulty sleeping at night
  • stress and anxiety.

These symptoms will only last a few weeks at most, and the worst of them will usually disappear after a few days.

10 Tips for How to Quit Smoking in Recovery

Here are ten tips that will help you quit smoking in recovery.

  1. It is recommended that you write down your reasons for wanting to quit on a piece of paper and carry this with you at all times.
  2. It is usually better to have a positive reason for quitting rather than a negative one. In other words, stopping because you want to live longer is usually more compelling than stopping because you want to avoid dying young.
  3. It is best that you think of yourself as a non-smoker right away – for example, tell people you do not smoke rather than telling them that you are trying to quit.
  4. Do not dwell on the withdrawal symptoms too much – they are not going to be any worse than mild flu symptoms.
  5. Try to use distraction to help you cope with your nicotine withdrawals.
  6. Many people have found that mindfulness techniques can be very useful when trying to deal with nicotine withdrawal.
  7. If you feel as if are about to give in to your cravings, just delay for an hour. If you still wish to give up at the end of that hour, you delay for another hour and so on.
  8. Begin focusing on all the positive ways that quitting cigarettes is going to benefit your life – feel proud of your achievement and this will keep you motivated.
  9. Save the money you would normally spend on cigarettes and use this to buy yourself a special treat.

Remember that you only really fail when you give up trying – if you smoke again, try to stop again as soon as possible.

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