Quit Smoking For Good
Just a decade ago, it was standard practice for someone quitting smoking to go to the drug store and pick up some form of nicotine replacement. Research into the psychology of habits has helped our understanding of tobacco dependence, beyond the physical addiction to nicotine. Many people are highly addicted to the drug, but the long-term difficulty with quitting is all psychology.
Psychologists who researched the habit of nail biting found that the physical sensation of nail biting was a stimulation often to relieve boredom. Habits are not isolated, they are part of a cycle: Cue, habit, reward. In the case of nail biting, boredom is a cue for a physical sensation: biting causes stimulation, and boredom is relieved. The solution, it seemed then, was to come up with other stimulating actives to do instead of biting nails, like squeezing a pencil. It seems ridiculously simple but it works.
This understanding is now helping tobacco cessation specialists develop programs of behavioral modification to help people quit smoking for good. The method is sometimes referred to as the substitution strategy for quitting smoking, and the long-term success rates are significantly higher than previous therapies.
The idea behind the substitution strategy for quitting smoking is that there will always be cues, or triggers, to smoke. Smokers find that seeing someone else smoke, a drink at a bar with friends, driving a car, or even just a cup of coffee in the morning is enough to make them think of a cigarette for the rest of their lives. The first step is to become aware of those triggers to smoke.
For a smoker, the cue causes them to feel the need light up a cigarette. The cigarette is the habit, not the reward. The reward of smoking is often something else, such as just a break from daily activities, relief from boredom, keeping hands busy, feeling less socially awkward, or many other possible reasons. Whatever the reason, it is the reward that ingrains the habit and makes it so difficult to stop smoking, especially long term.
The habit does not have to be smoking as long as it reaches the same reward. Clearly, smoking is a really destructive habit. So with a little understanding, self-awareness and creativity, it is possible to find alternative habits that provide the same reward as lighting up a cigarette. It is much easier to replace a habit than it is to break one.
Many times when people quit smoking they find themselves snacking all day to keep their hands and mouth busy. This can lead to weight gain and another reason to start smoking again. However, it is possible to just sip herbal tea to keep the hands and mouth busy. If it is a break from daily activities, then a quick walk around the neighborhood would provide the same reward with a much healthier habit. And switching up a visit to the bar for a class at the gym can provide social interaction in an environment where no one will be smoking.
The substitution strategy for quitting smoking can be highly effective long term. There will be some smokers that are extremely addicted to nicotine, and should use nicotine replacement therapy to slowly taper off. However, most smokers, if they can become aware of the habit loop and their desired rewards from smoking, will find this method simple and easy.
Matt Bucklin, creator of Quit Tea LLC, found his way into the world of natural health through two different paths: first, he discovered that drinking herbal tea was instrumental in helping him successfully quit smoking; second, in his prior work as a pharmaceutical and biotechnological analyst, he became interested in alternative ways of healing without the negative side effects.