Decoration Circle Decoration Circle Decoration Dots Decoration Dots

Quitting Smoking

There’s a ton of information available about how to quit smoking, and how bad it is for you, so why is it so hard to stop?

There’s a ton of information available about how to quit smoking, and how bad it is for you, so why is it so hard to stop? 

Most bad habits are really difficult to change because they serve some purpose in our lives, most often a way to satisfy some need developed over time.  It provides us comfort and the idea of stopping a behavior that is our “go-to” is sometimes unbearable.   I believe there are some key elements that make changing such an ingrained behavior pattern necessary for success, such as figuring out why you want to stop your habit, what generally works for you in developing a habit, and what will sustain this change.

First, why do you want to change the behavior?  What’s in it for you?  How will it make you better?  One must do some soul searching to come to some conclusion about what is at the core of wanting, or maybe needing, to change a habit. 

Some things to consider when making your case to change might include how smoking is interfering with your core beliefs and values – what is the most important to you.  Is it your family, your health, your hygiene, tired of feeling “less than” because of the shaming that happens to smokers?  Allowing yourself the time to ponder this and determine that these core beliefs and values are more important than your habit is what will help you conclude it is necessary to quit.  Some people find therapy helpful in their process of self-discovery, or even working through some past concerns that may have led to the need for comfort in a bad habit.

Next, how do you start?  There are so many resources that can help, but what is right for you? 

More time is needed to delve deep into the recesses of your mind to consider what has helped before.  We have all changed behaviors that were bothersome or worked to develop new behaviors, and no one thing works for everyone, so what will work for you?  What generally motivates you to follow through with a challenging task, and can you generalize this to help you stop smoking?  Many people plan for a quit date and stop “cold turkey,” while others cut down gradually.

Finally, once you have stopped, how do you keep it going? 

I often hear that “Quitting is easy, it’s not starting again that’s hard!”  Doing something good for ourselves is often hard work, so it’s important to not give up because it’s difficult.  We must frequently remind ourselves why we want to do this in the first place and of the rewards we will reap, and possibly the consequences of not changing our behavior.  Have written reminders of the benefits and costs in lots of places to reinforce your decision.  I always encourage others to make it difficult to continue the negative behavior.  Leave your cigarettes out in the car, and you’re lighter in the mailbox.  Don’t take them with you when you leave the house. 

It’s important to find ways to keep busy as a replacement activity but avoid substituting with another bad habit.  Many people find themselves gaining weight when they quit smoking due to replacing cigarettes with food.  Try drinking more water, chewing gum, exercise – anything that will keep your hands busy.  It’s also imperative to avoid triggers that encourage bad habits.  If you are used to having a cigarette with your coffee first thing in the morning at the breakfast table, try drinking tea in a comfortable chair in the living room.  You may even need to change those with whom you spend your time.  It’s okay to ask that others not smoke around you and make plans to spend time in non-smoking places. Journaling about the process can be very helpful in identifying triggers, and as a way to document your progress.

There is no doubt that the habit of smoking is one of the most challenging to face.  But people make changes to improve their lives every day.  Why not you?

By: Sara Ritter, LCSW

Img Decor Shadow

Suggested News


Stroke Awareness Month

If you or a loved one develops any of the symptoms above, it is of utmost importance to act F.A.S.T. and call 911. The longer a person goes without treatment, the more likely he or she is to have permanent problems from the stroke

Read More Icon arrow