Let’s face it, quitting smoking is difficult. Many ex-smokers will tell you quitting smoking was the hardest thing they have ever done, both mentally and emotionally. But how hard is it to quit smoking and why is quitting so hard? If you are planning to make a smoking cessation attempt, you will want to know what to expect so you can be prepare yourself for the quit journey ahead.
Why It Is So Hard to Quit Smoking
To understand how hard is it to quit smoking, we first need need to talk about nicotine and what it does to your body.
What Is Nicotine?
Nicotine is a highly addictive chemical in cigarettes that makes you want to keep smoking. How addictive is nicotine? According to studies, nicotine is as addictive as heroin or cocaine. When you smoke cigarettes regularly, your body starts to get used to having a certain level of nicotine in your bloodstream. Nicotine releases dopamine in the brain, which creates a pleasurable feeling. Nicotine is also a stimulant, which helps improve concentration.
As you smoke, your body begins to expect nicotine. The more cigarettes you smoke, the higher the amount of nicotine your body needs to feel normal. When you quit smoking, the level of nicotine (and dopamine) in your body depletes, which creates an unpleasurable feeling and craving to smoke cigarettes – this is called nicotine withdrawal.
Symptoms of nicotine withdrawal may include anxiety, depression, irritability, dry mouth, trouble sleeping, physical exhaustion and difficulty concentrating. These symptoms create strong cravings to smoke cigarettes to end nicotine withdrawal so your body feels “normal” again. Nicotine addiction and withdrawal are the primary reason why it’s so hard to quit smoking.
Knowing How Hard Is It To Quit Smoking
Getting over nicotine withdrawal takes time, but it is possible. Take a look at this quit smoking timeline to you can see how your body recovers over time. As most ex-smokers will tell you, the benefits of quitting smoking are well worth the short term discomfort. While it is difficult to quantify how hard it is to quit smoking, there are some things you can do to beat nicotine withdrawal and increase your chances of success.
Identify Your Smoking Triggers
Smoking triggers are the activities, places, people and things that usually “trigger” you to smoke a cigarette. The first step in dealing with your triggers is identifying them. For example, you may want avoid certain people and places while you are initially quitting smoking. Alcohol is another common smoking trigger – for many people, drinking is another reason why it is so hard to quit smoking. Tip: Use the Aeris free quit smoking app to make a list of all of your triggers and coping strategies.
Consider Smoking Cessation Medication
To help avoid the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal, you may want to consider smoking cessation medications. Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products, such as Nicotine gum, nicotine lozenges and nicotine patches are all available over-the-counter at most drugstores. Prescription smoking cessation medications, such as Chantix (Varenicline) and Zyban (Bupropion) are also commonly used. Talk with your doctor to find out what combination of medications may work best for you. Tip: Track medications and quit smoking aids with the Aeris free quit smoking app so you never miss a dose.
Download a Quit Smoking App
These days there is an app for everything, and smoking cessation is no exception. The Aeris free quit smoking app is a great place to start. Aeris allows you to set up a quit plan and track cigarettes, cravings and smoking cessation medication. Aeris also provides instant access to 1-800-QUIT-NOW, so you can speak to a quitline advisor about how hard it is to quit smoking at no charge. Also check out this list of the best quit smoking apps available for iPhone and Android.
To learn more about how hard is it to quit smoking, also read the article “Why Quitting Is Hard” from the SmokeFree.gov website.