Blog/Kick the Habit: Tips and Resources to Quit Smoking
7/31/2023 | 3 min read

Kick the Habit: Tips and Resources to Quit Smoking

Understanding the struggles of nicotine addiction and strategies to beat the urge

Man with darker skin pulling a cigarette out of a pack of cigarettes.

Let’s face it; quitting smoking isn’t a walk in the park. Whether you’ve been a smoker for years or just picked up the habit recently, it can feel like a daunting task. In recent years, the increase in electronic cigarettes usage has uncovered a whole new wave of addiction as well. 

From an increased risk of lung cancer and heart disease to respiratory issues and a whole range of other health problems, smoking takes a toll on our bodies and overall quality of life. Considering the right approach and support, breaking free from the addictive habit is possible.

Understanding nicotine addiction

Nicotine is a highly addictive chemical found in the tobacco plant. Unfortunately, craving nicotine is not the same as craving ice cream. The addiction is physical, meaning habitual users come to crave the chemical in an unpreventable way. What most people don’t know is that nicotine is also mentally and behaviorally addicting meaning that users consciously desire nicotine’s effects and become dependent on actions involved with using tobacco. 

In a nutshell, nicotine hijacks your brain, making it believe that smoking is essential for survival and happiness. When you’re under stress or just finished a big meal, it is normal for habitual users to become accustomed to feeling like they need a smoke. 

Nicotine is primarily consumed by inhaling the smoke of tobacco cigarettes. According to the CDC, cigarette smoking is estimated to cause more than 480,000 deaths annually. This is because it puts you at a much higher risk of heart disease, cancers, diabetes, stroke and lung diseases that can become fatal.The only way to prevent or reduce your risk is to quit the stuff for good. 

Types of smokers

Different types of smokers may require tailored approaches to quit successfully. Some folks may be social smokers and only smoke when having a few drinks with friends. Others may be hardcore, multiple packs a day smokers. 

Analyzing what triggers your smoking habits is essential in your quitting journey. Whether it may be stress, boredom or the need to fit in, identifying your reasons for smoking can help you find healthier alternatives. 

Strategies to kick the habit 

1. Set a quit date 

Try to set a goal for yourself. Choose a meaningful date to mark the beginning of your smoke-free life. Maybe it’s your birthday or the start of a new month. Consider starting in the new year while all your peers are implementing new habits into their life. Make it your personal quitting day and stick to it! And if you don’t quit by that day, give yourself grace. Smoking is mentally, physically and behaviorally addictive. Be patient with the journey that you are on, you will get there one day.

2. Find support 

Quitting smoking is easier when you have someone to lean on and someone to hold you accountable. Talk to your friends, family or colleagues about your decisions. Find people who are going to encourage you when you are doing well and refrain from reprimanding you when you are struggling. You can also join support groups or online groups where you can connect with others who are on the same journey.

3. Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) 

NRT can help with the difficult withdrawal symptoms and cravings that most people struggle with. Products include patches, gum, lozenges or inhalers that can help you gradually wean off the addiction. NRT may not be for everyone. Talk to a professional and do some research to see if NRT is the best option for your journey.

4. Shift your focus 

When cravings strike, distract yourself with activities you enjoy. Activities that release dopamine like exercising, listening to music and spending time outside may be a good replacement for you. The most important thing is to shift your focus. Feeling a craving come on? Shift your focus onto something more fulfilling and beneficial for your health. 

5. Avoid smoking triggers 

Take note of the situations or emotions that tempt you to smoke and find healthier coping mechanisms. Try finding relaxation techniques like meditation or yoga when stressful situations arise. 

6. Celebrate your milestones

Quitting smoking is HARD. Celebrate your milestones, whether it’s one day, one week or one year of being smoke-free. Buy yourself a treat or throw yourself a party to reinforce your commitment. 

Remember, quitting smoking is a process and you might have setbacks along the way. Simply recognize it, and then get right back on track. Celebrate that you are taking steps to allow yourself to lead a healthier life. 

How can Agile help with common conditions?

At Agile, we believe everyone should have access to excellent healthcare, regardless of where you are or when you need it. We offer convenient, virtual care across the U.S. for your most common medical conditions. Our network of providers are ready to address your unique concerns to deliver effective, personalized treatment in a timely manner. 

To tap into fast, cost-effective care now, schedule a consultation with one of our licensed clinicians!