Anyone who has ever tried to quit smoking and failed is in good company. A study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Magazine found 70 percent of current smokers want to quit, and only 3 to 5 percent of those who try to quit smoking remain smoke-free after one year.
My mother has tried to quit smoking many times. There have been occasions when she had successfully quit for months. She says smoking is just something she enjoys with a cup of coffee, after meals or socially. As an observer, I know that as long as there is no stress in her life she is able to resist. Stressful situations are her undoing. She worries about a lot of things: illnesses, events, money and the stress she hears about in other people’s lives. It does not take much before she is back smoking. Smoking is a “go-to” impulse she uses to calm down and relax her nerves. My brother is the same way. Both my mom and brother are trying to quit again.
At a recent GCC BreatheEasy seminar, presenter Rebecca Henry told those present there is no one-size-fits-all plan to quit smoking. Customization is critical, and the most overlooked part of a quitter’s plan is identifying and adopting new ways to handle stress. At times, smokers turn to tobacco to relieve stress. If no new coping mechanisms are in place, quitters quickly fall back into the smoking habit.
Dealing with long term psychological triggers means adopting new ways to relax and calm down. This is called behavior modification, and the majority of people who want to quit smoking do not know how to gain the new coping skills that will work for them over the long term. Several organizations provide free counseling and resources to quitters for the creation of customized, realistic and successful cessation plans.
Smokers can try to quit on their own, but those who reach out for help and support have a 50 percent greater success rate. These plan-to-quit programs, telephone hotlines and online resources are there to support smokers during the planning stage, while they are in the midst of quitting and also later, when relapse prevention is needed. For a list of resources, visit the Maricopa BreatheEasy website.
Find out what non-smokers do to cope with stress in healthy and productive ways. Incorporate these new coping skills into your quit plan to increase your chances of becoming a forever quitter. Remember, a failure to plan is a plan for failure. Use the free quitter counselors and resources, build a customized plan to quit and practice your new coping skills until they become your “go-to” relaxation of choice. Good luck!