How to Quit Smoking Cold Turkey – And Succeed
Quitting cold turkey is still the most commonly attempted method to quit smoking. “Cold turkey” refers to the basic ‘flush the cigarettes’ and never smoke again approach. Most people who want to quit smoking have tried this strategy at some point or another, although only about 3-10% are able to quit completely using this method.
Quitting cold turkey has been compared to trying to tightrope walk for the first time without a net; although a small percentage might survive the attempt, the vast majority of smokers are going to fall off the wagon before they ever knew what hit them. They soon find themselves back to their regular smoking habits.
Part of the problem is the lack of understanding that nicotine is a truly addictive drug – not just a psychological dependence like some other substances. After years of regular use your body will crave nicotine and will punish the lack with insomnia, depression and irritability that can last for over three months. Understanding, expecting and preempting these withdrawal symptoms can help make your attempt at quitting successful.
It’s important to remember that you will definitely not be functioning at full speed during the first few days of quitting, so plan for that. Choose a start date that is either over the weekend or a holiday so you can have a few days to be alone in your misery and not adversely affect your job performance. If you have vacation days saved up, cash some in and take the first few days off to make a long weekend for you to detox in privacy.
Back off of your diet and indulge yourself, especially during the first few days. Prepare before hand with comfort food and guilty pleasures and allow yourself all the leeway you need during the first couple of days. Spend the day sleeping, watching TV, playing video games or other activities that distract you and help pass the time.
Avoid places where people are smoking, and you where you might be tempted to bum a smoke or even just stand in line with the smoke. Stay away from bars, clubs and social events as well as areas you know are frequented by smokers. Your best option is to stay home and away from potentially frustrating situations that might heighten you need for nicotine.
Remember, that much like quitting any other addiction, quitting smoking is done one day at a time. Try to avoid focusing on how you are going to make it through the week, just try to make it through the hour, and the day. One day at a time is the only way quitting cold turkey can be successful.
Make sure you have a good stock of your favorite hydrating beverages on hand. The lack of nicotine and stress will probably make you very thirsty and sucking on a bottle can relieve some of the need for the physical routine of sucking on a cigarette. Fluids will also help flush out your body faster and more quickly reduce the level of nicotine in your system.
Quitting cold turkey is not for the faint hearted, quitting without any outside help takes determination, guts and the ability to keep your promise to yourself. One study found that men who had substituted the oral behavior smokers are used to with other oral activities were more likely to stay nicotine free on a permanent basis.
There are many helpful books, manuals and motivational products to help you stay motivated to stay smoke free. Having a friend quit with you is another great way to make sure you stick to your promise and quit smoking for good.