Roadblocks to Quitting Smoking

Reviewed Nov 1, 2017

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Summary

  • People give many reasons for smoking despite the health risks.
  • Common reasons include fear of gaining weight and stress.
  • Here are strategies to help people overcome barriers to quitting.

Many people continue to smoke despite the numerous good reasons for quitting. Nicotine addiction is partly to blame. Nicotine is the chemical found naturally in tobacco that gets people hooked on smoking. But some people who smoke have other reasons—or roadblocks—that keep them from making a serious attempt to quit. Here, former people who smoke share the roadblocks that stood in their paths to quitting. You will also find strategies and new ways of thinking to get around these roadblocks.

I enjoy smoking!

I really enjoyed smoking. From tapping a new pack, to the smell of the tobacco, to the feeling of the cigarette between my fingers—it was truly pleasurable. And honestly, even though I have no regrets about quitting, I do miss it. – Ken

Research on addiction shows that smoking rituals can be as powerful as nicotine in keeping people smoking. Breaking behaviors and rituals is an important aspect of quitting. To make quitting easier, Ken made a list of the times when he would typically reach for a cigarette, such as when on the phone or after meals. He then came up with a substitute activity to help him break the ritual. For instance, he keeps a few paperclips in his pocket to keep his hands busy when he’s on the phone. Chewing gum also helps him when he misses having something in his mouth. And rain or shine, he always takes a brisk walk immediately after meals. He even puts his shoes on before he eats to reduce the chance of falling back into his post-meal routine of smoking.

I don’t want to gain weight.

My mom and sisters are all overweight. I took pride in my slim figure, and I was terrified that I would be like them if I gave up cigarettes. – Lyn

It’s true that the average person who stops smoking gains some weight after quitting. But weight gain after quitting smoking is not a sure thing. Although quitting smoking slows the metabolism to a healthy rate, a main reason why recent people who quit gain weight is eating too much. Some people eat for the same reasons they used to smoke, such as to cope with stress. Because food tastes and smells better after quitting, many people find they enjoy food more and so they eat more. But ultimately, you will only gain weight if you eat and drink more calories than your body needs.

For Lyn, starting an exercise program helped her to control her weight gain. Exercise also helped her cope with stress and cravings and avoid emotional eating. She did gain a few pounds. But Lyn reports that only she seemed to notice. She now takes pride in her figure and her health.

I have too much stress to give it up.

I’m a nurse in the ER. My job is so demanding and emotionally charged I just couldn’t imagine how I would cope with all the stress. – Susan

Even though Susan regularly saw people come in to the ER for smoking-related illnesses, she didn’t think she had the emotional strength to battle her own addiction. Although she had some short-term successes using nicotine-replacement therapy, she always relapsed in times of high stress.

Today, Susan has been smoke-free for more than five years. She says that adding counseling to her quit plan made all the difference. Susan worked with a personal counselor and used telephone quit-lines when she had a very strong craving to light up. Through counseling, she learned practical skills for dealing with acute job stress, as well as ways to prevent the buildup of daily tension. She also discovered negative patterns of thinking that made her vulnerable to relapse.

I’m just a social smoker.

On Friday and Saturday nights, and sometimes on weeknights, I would meet up with co-workers or friends for drinks. For me, alcohol and smoking went hand-in-hand. – Jeff

Alcohol is a powerful smoking trigger, even for people who smoke less, like Jeff. Research has shown that the more alcohol a person drinks, the greater the urge to light up. Although Jeff felt he could quit smoking at any time, he acknowledged that he had an unhealthy social habit that he feared would grow into a true addiction. Jeff’s approach included limiting the number of times a week he would go to venues that typically involved drinking. He also limited how much alcohol he drank, and ordered soda instead. Additionally, he found new ways to socialize and enjoy his friends. In the process, Jeff found resisting cigarettes was not too hard.

Resources

Guide To Quitting Smoking. American Cancer Society, 2014. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/Healthy/StayAwayfromTobacco/GuidetoQuittingSmoking/index

www.smokefree.gov

By Christine P. Martin
Source: Quitting smoking: help for cravings and tough situations. American Cancer Society, http://www.cancer.org/Healthy/StayAwayfromTobacco/quitting-smoking-help-for-cravings-and-tough-situations. Smoking and weight. (2000). Tobacco Research and Intervention Program at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute at the University of South Florida. Quick Reference Guide for Clinicians. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service. April 2009.
Reviewed by Sherrie Bieniek, MD, Group Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • People give many reasons for smoking despite the health risks.
  • Common reasons include fear of gaining weight and stress.
  • Here are strategies to help people overcome barriers to quitting.

Many people continue to smoke despite the numerous good reasons for quitting. Nicotine addiction is partly to blame. Nicotine is the chemical found naturally in tobacco that gets people hooked on smoking. But some people who smoke have other reasons—or roadblocks—that keep them from making a serious attempt to quit. Here, former people who smoke share the roadblocks that stood in their paths to quitting. You will also find strategies and new ways of thinking to get around these roadblocks.

I enjoy smoking!

I really enjoyed smoking. From tapping a new pack, to the smell of the tobacco, to the feeling of the cigarette between my fingers—it was truly pleasurable. And honestly, even though I have no regrets about quitting, I do miss it. – Ken

Research on addiction shows that smoking rituals can be as powerful as nicotine in keeping people smoking. Breaking behaviors and rituals is an important aspect of quitting. To make quitting easier, Ken made a list of the times when he would typically reach for a cigarette, such as when on the phone or after meals. He then came up with a substitute activity to help him break the ritual. For instance, he keeps a few paperclips in his pocket to keep his hands busy when he’s on the phone. Chewing gum also helps him when he misses having something in his mouth. And rain or shine, he always takes a brisk walk immediately after meals. He even puts his shoes on before he eats to reduce the chance of falling back into his post-meal routine of smoking.

I don’t want to gain weight.

My mom and sisters are all overweight. I took pride in my slim figure, and I was terrified that I would be like them if I gave up cigarettes. – Lyn

It’s true that the average person who stops smoking gains some weight after quitting. But weight gain after quitting smoking is not a sure thing. Although quitting smoking slows the metabolism to a healthy rate, a main reason why recent people who quit gain weight is eating too much. Some people eat for the same reasons they used to smoke, such as to cope with stress. Because food tastes and smells better after quitting, many people find they enjoy food more and so they eat more. But ultimately, you will only gain weight if you eat and drink more calories than your body needs.

For Lyn, starting an exercise program helped her to control her weight gain. Exercise also helped her cope with stress and cravings and avoid emotional eating. She did gain a few pounds. But Lyn reports that only she seemed to notice. She now takes pride in her figure and her health.

I have too much stress to give it up.

I’m a nurse in the ER. My job is so demanding and emotionally charged I just couldn’t imagine how I would cope with all the stress. – Susan

Even though Susan regularly saw people come in to the ER for smoking-related illnesses, she didn’t think she had the emotional strength to battle her own addiction. Although she had some short-term successes using nicotine-replacement therapy, she always relapsed in times of high stress.

Today, Susan has been smoke-free for more than five years. She says that adding counseling to her quit plan made all the difference. Susan worked with a personal counselor and used telephone quit-lines when she had a very strong craving to light up. Through counseling, she learned practical skills for dealing with acute job stress, as well as ways to prevent the buildup of daily tension. She also discovered negative patterns of thinking that made her vulnerable to relapse.

I’m just a social smoker.

On Friday and Saturday nights, and sometimes on weeknights, I would meet up with co-workers or friends for drinks. For me, alcohol and smoking went hand-in-hand. – Jeff

Alcohol is a powerful smoking trigger, even for people who smoke less, like Jeff. Research has shown that the more alcohol a person drinks, the greater the urge to light up. Although Jeff felt he could quit smoking at any time, he acknowledged that he had an unhealthy social habit that he feared would grow into a true addiction. Jeff’s approach included limiting the number of times a week he would go to venues that typically involved drinking. He also limited how much alcohol he drank, and ordered soda instead. Additionally, he found new ways to socialize and enjoy his friends. In the process, Jeff found resisting cigarettes was not too hard.

Resources

Guide To Quitting Smoking. American Cancer Society, 2014. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/Healthy/StayAwayfromTobacco/GuidetoQuittingSmoking/index

www.smokefree.gov

By Christine P. Martin
Source: Quitting smoking: help for cravings and tough situations. American Cancer Society, http://www.cancer.org/Healthy/StayAwayfromTobacco/quitting-smoking-help-for-cravings-and-tough-situations. Smoking and weight. (2000). Tobacco Research and Intervention Program at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute at the University of South Florida. Quick Reference Guide for Clinicians. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service. April 2009.
Reviewed by Sherrie Bieniek, MD, Group Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • People give many reasons for smoking despite the health risks.
  • Common reasons include fear of gaining weight and stress.
  • Here are strategies to help people overcome barriers to quitting.

Many people continue to smoke despite the numerous good reasons for quitting. Nicotine addiction is partly to blame. Nicotine is the chemical found naturally in tobacco that gets people hooked on smoking. But some people who smoke have other reasons—or roadblocks—that keep them from making a serious attempt to quit. Here, former people who smoke share the roadblocks that stood in their paths to quitting. You will also find strategies and new ways of thinking to get around these roadblocks.

I enjoy smoking!

I really enjoyed smoking. From tapping a new pack, to the smell of the tobacco, to the feeling of the cigarette between my fingers—it was truly pleasurable. And honestly, even though I have no regrets about quitting, I do miss it. – Ken

Research on addiction shows that smoking rituals can be as powerful as nicotine in keeping people smoking. Breaking behaviors and rituals is an important aspect of quitting. To make quitting easier, Ken made a list of the times when he would typically reach for a cigarette, such as when on the phone or after meals. He then came up with a substitute activity to help him break the ritual. For instance, he keeps a few paperclips in his pocket to keep his hands busy when he’s on the phone. Chewing gum also helps him when he misses having something in his mouth. And rain or shine, he always takes a brisk walk immediately after meals. He even puts his shoes on before he eats to reduce the chance of falling back into his post-meal routine of smoking.

I don’t want to gain weight.

My mom and sisters are all overweight. I took pride in my slim figure, and I was terrified that I would be like them if I gave up cigarettes. – Lyn

It’s true that the average person who stops smoking gains some weight after quitting. But weight gain after quitting smoking is not a sure thing. Although quitting smoking slows the metabolism to a healthy rate, a main reason why recent people who quit gain weight is eating too much. Some people eat for the same reasons they used to smoke, such as to cope with stress. Because food tastes and smells better after quitting, many people find they enjoy food more and so they eat more. But ultimately, you will only gain weight if you eat and drink more calories than your body needs.

For Lyn, starting an exercise program helped her to control her weight gain. Exercise also helped her cope with stress and cravings and avoid emotional eating. She did gain a few pounds. But Lyn reports that only she seemed to notice. She now takes pride in her figure and her health.

I have too much stress to give it up.

I’m a nurse in the ER. My job is so demanding and emotionally charged I just couldn’t imagine how I would cope with all the stress. – Susan

Even though Susan regularly saw people come in to the ER for smoking-related illnesses, she didn’t think she had the emotional strength to battle her own addiction. Although she had some short-term successes using nicotine-replacement therapy, she always relapsed in times of high stress.

Today, Susan has been smoke-free for more than five years. She says that adding counseling to her quit plan made all the difference. Susan worked with a personal counselor and used telephone quit-lines when she had a very strong craving to light up. Through counseling, she learned practical skills for dealing with acute job stress, as well as ways to prevent the buildup of daily tension. She also discovered negative patterns of thinking that made her vulnerable to relapse.

I’m just a social smoker.

On Friday and Saturday nights, and sometimes on weeknights, I would meet up with co-workers or friends for drinks. For me, alcohol and smoking went hand-in-hand. – Jeff

Alcohol is a powerful smoking trigger, even for people who smoke less, like Jeff. Research has shown that the more alcohol a person drinks, the greater the urge to light up. Although Jeff felt he could quit smoking at any time, he acknowledged that he had an unhealthy social habit that he feared would grow into a true addiction. Jeff’s approach included limiting the number of times a week he would go to venues that typically involved drinking. He also limited how much alcohol he drank, and ordered soda instead. Additionally, he found new ways to socialize and enjoy his friends. In the process, Jeff found resisting cigarettes was not too hard.

Resources

Guide To Quitting Smoking. American Cancer Society, 2014. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/Healthy/StayAwayfromTobacco/GuidetoQuittingSmoking/index

www.smokefree.gov

By Christine P. Martin
Source: Quitting smoking: help for cravings and tough situations. American Cancer Society, http://www.cancer.org/Healthy/StayAwayfromTobacco/quitting-smoking-help-for-cravings-and-tough-situations. Smoking and weight. (2000). Tobacco Research and Intervention Program at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute at the University of South Florida. Quick Reference Guide for Clinicians. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service. April 2009.
Reviewed by Sherrie Bieniek, MD, Group Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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