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Preparation: Approaches to Quitting Smoking

Harry Mills, Ph.D. Updated: Mar 14th 2016

The awareness stage is where your motivation comes from. Understanding the benefits of quitting can give you the incentive you need to commit to a plan. In the preparation stage, it’s time to use your motivation to help you explore the techniques you can use to quit. It is especially important that you understand what your best options are.

what's your plan sprayed on wallThe most effective way to stop smoking is to make the commitment to never light another cigarette again. Most successful smokers quit all at once, removing tobacco and tobacco- related items from their environments and making the commitment to avoid them from that day forward. However, because of the symptoms associated with nicotine withdrawal, many people find that it is easier to quit with the aid of either a nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), or a combination of NRT and prescription antidepressants.

If you don’t feel that quitting cold turkey is the right strategy, there are other methods you might be interested in. One popular option is a scheduled smoking reduction program, which can take several forms. If you are unwilling to give up tobacco "cold turkey", or all at once, you may feel more comfortable choosing this approach. The disadvantage to scheduled smoking reduction programs is that tobacco remains in your environment and becomes a constant temptation. If you choose to begin a smoking reduction program, you are working to eventually quit, rather than quitting all at once.

Regardless of which method you choose, you need to pay attention to both physiological and psychological aspects of smoking in order to be successful. A combination of behavioral interventions and nicotine replacement therapy has been shown to be the most effective because both physiological and psychological issues are addressed. In addition, a relapse prevention strategy is essential since most tobacco users relapse in the first 6–12 months after quitting.

The following information outlines common approaches to quitting. As you choose which method is right for you, remember that one of the most important aspects of whatever method you choose is that you are comfortable with and confident in your choice.


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