Clients involved in our tobacco use reduction program generally have the same goal– becoming tobacco free. When you quit tobacco, your body and brain experience physical changes as they adapt to the lack of nicotine and tobacco. Quitting tobacco also involves starting new habits and changing your overall lifestyle. The process of quitting tobacco can feel overwhelming and frustrating, especially when you haven’t achieved your end goal yet.
However, it is important to give yourself credit for everything you’ve achieved so far. Even if you are still in the process of becoming tobacco free, your health has likely benefited from the changes in your routine and mindset. Recognizing and giving yourself credit for these accomplishments is important and can help you stay motivated in your journey. So what changes can you expect to see when quitting tobacco?
You’re developing healthier coping skills
Smoking can become an automatic response to stress, anger, and other unpleasant emotions. Between tobacco’s addictive nature and the way it easily becomes a habit, it is not uncommon for smoking to become an unhealthy coping mechanism. When quitting tobacco, it is important to identify situations where you are using tobacco as a coping skill. The next step is replacing the habit of smoking with other healthier behaviors. Discovering and implementing healthy coping skills is a huge victory when quitting tobacco. Not only can these skills help with reducing smoking, but they also help with stress management and living an overall healthier lifestyle.
You can go longer without smoking your first cigarette
One of the ways nicotine dependence is measured is by how soon after waking up you have your first cigarette. Since you are not using tobacco while you sleep, your body tends to go into withdrawal overnight. This is the reason people tend to crave a cigarette as soon as they wake up. Being able to go longer without your first cigarette of the day is a sign that you are becoming less dependent on nicotine. Even being able to go a few minutes longer without reaching for a cigarette is worth celebrating.
You know when to walk away from triggering situations
Learning to accept and cope with difficult situations is important, but there is also value in knowing when to walk away. Quitting tobacco might involve saying no to or leaving situations where you’ll have to urge to smoke. For example, the smell or sight of a cigarette is a common trigger. Learning to remove yourself from these situations can not only help you with tobacco cessation, but it can also teach you how to better manage situations that could damage your general health. The way you manage your triggers may also change over time. You might initially need to walk away from a situation, but with time you might learn how to better manage said trigger.
You can prevent slips from becoming relapses
When discussing quitting tobacco, a ‘slip’ refers to a singular incident of smoking whereas a ‘relapse’ refers to going back to your previous habits . Slips are very common, but they don’t always have to lead to relapsing. Instead of beating yourself up over a slip, focus on what you can learn from it. Reflecting on your slip– where were you, what were you doing, and how were you feeling– can help you better understand your triggers along with what is and isn’t a helpful strategy to manage them.
You’re able to accept yourself and your life as they are
Accepting what you can and can not control is key to making lifestyle changes, such as quitting tobacco. Triggering situations may be out of your control, and life may not go as expected even when we feel in control. Radical acceptance is a term that refers to accepting yourself and your life as they are rather than dwelling on what could be different. Learning acceptance takes practice, but feeling unable to accept reality can increase the pain in distressing situations. On the other hand, radical acceptance also involves giving yourself credit and accepting positive situations. It may be difficult to accept that you haven’t been able to completely quit tobacco, but there is also value in accepting the progress that you’ve made.
Becoming tobacco free can feel overwhelming as the process takes time and patience. Breaking it down into smaller steps and learning to recognize the small victories can make cessation feel more achievable. Realizing what you’re gaining from quitting smoking can help you stay motivated. If you’re feeling stuck in your cessation efforts, UNIFIED’s tobacco reduction program can help you create a plan to keep moving forward.
If you would like to learn more about tobacco reduction and cessation, please contact our team:
Caitlyn Clock (313)-316-7561