Quitting smoking is one of the most difficult things a person can do. It takes constant commitment, 24 hours a day, perseverance, and a great attitude. But it will also be the best thing you’ll ever do for your health. Smoking doubles your risk of getting heart disease, increases your risk of getting lung cancer, and can triple your risk of a stroke. It damages nearly every organ of your body. But the good news is that as soon as you stub your last cigarette out, your body will start healing itself.
First, the hard part: quitting. Quitting can be especially hard for truckers, who rely on the nicotine to stay awake and remain focused. Without people around you with constant support, the strain can make things even more difficult. But hundreds of truckers quit every year. Here are some tips on quitting:
- Make a list of all the reasons why you want to quit. Fold it up and keep it with you at all times. Every time you feel the urge, pull out your list and read each item carefully.
- Substitute snacks for cigarettes. Fresh fruit, carrots, granola bars, and nuts can be healthy sources of nutrition that will help your body heal and keep your fingers busy doing something else.
- Skip the patch. It doesn’t make too much sense to quit using the very substance you are trying to stop using. The patch doesn’t have a very high success rate. Only 8% of people stopped smoking for 24 weeks or more after using the patch. It’s better to find another resource, such as Chantix, which is a pill that helps reduce cravings for nicotine. But the side effects on this drug can be potent, so talk to your doctor about any concerns you have.
- Avoid alcohol. Alcohol is a strong trigger for nicotine and can often make the urge to smoke unbearable. Coffee can also trigger cravings. Try hot tea and drink plenty of fresh water instead.
- Toss out every single cigarette in the house, along with ashtrays.
- Try not to slip up. Quitting experts say it’s ok, but it can seriously damage your motivation and lead to a complete relapse. But if you do slip up and have one, don’t beat yourself up over it. Stub it out and start over.
- Take baby steps. Don’t think about a year from now. Think about tonight. And tomorrow morning. Take it slow. Focus on your small victories.
- Reward yourself. A good movie, a book, a new shirt that doesn’t smell like smoke. Treat yourself to something for all your hard work.
- Put away all the money you save in a jar. Each time you know you would have been buying a pack, put that money aside. As the money piles up, you’ll realize how hard the habit was on your wallet.
HelpGuide.org, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people quit, has its own great advice on their website:
S = Set a quit date.
Choose a date within the next 2 weeks, so you have enough time to prepare without losing your motivation to quit. If you mainly smoke at work, quit on the weekend, so you have a few days to adjust to the change.
T = Tell family, friends, and co-workers that you plan to quit.
Let your friends and family in on your plan to quit smoking and tell them you need their support and encouragement to stop. Look for a quit buddy who wants to stop smoking as well. You can help each other get through the rough times.
A = Anticipate and plan for the challenges you’ll face while quitting.
Most people who begin smoking again do so within the first 3 months. You can help yourself make it through by preparing ahead for common challenges, such as nicotine withdrawal and cigarette cravings.
R = Remove cigarettes and other tobacco products from your home, car, and work.
Throw away all of your cigarettes (no emergency pack!), lighters, ashtrays, and matches. Wash your clothes and freshen up anything that smells like smoke. Shampoo your car, clean your drapes and carpet, and steam clean your furniture.
T = Talk to your doctor about getting help to quit.
Your doctor can prescribe medication to help with withdrawal and suggest other alternatives. If you can’t see a doctor, you can get many products over the counter at your local pharmacy or grocery store, including the nicotine patch, nicotine lozenges, and nicotine gum.
Have you quit smoking recently? What is your advice? Let us know in the comments!