A smoking cessation proceeds in several phases. Individual scientists, doctors and non-smokers’ initiatives are structured in somewhat different ways, but it can be assumed that they follow a basic principle and that every smoker who becomes a non-smoker has to go through them. Smoking cessation phases vary in duration from person to person and are also perceived as having different degrees of severity. However, it is important that there are withdrawal phases for all those affected who stop smoking.
Stop smoking: Knowing phases
If a smoker knows the stop-smoking phases, it is easier for him to withdraw, which is difficult in itself. It greatly increases motivation during difficult withdrawal, because with the phases of smoking cessation in mind and the positive consequences of smokeless smoking in mind, former smokers defy the temptation to relapse. The phases include
The smoking phase
The active smoking habits in which those affected occasionally think about quitting, but often enjoy the nicotine and have not yet reached a firm decision to free themselves from addiction – despite the public discussion about the dangers of smoking.
Only with phase 2 does a process begin that finally leads to non-smoking. Actually every smoker is in this phase. Because meanwhile 85% of the smokers prefer to be nonsmokers. Only a completely small part is convinced smoker .
Becoming aware & seeing the facts in the eye
Smokers who have become smokers – everyone has started smoking at some point – often already think in the first six months of their smoking life that smoking itself is very harmful and that they should perhaps stop smoking again. On the one hand, this has to do with public discussion and comprehensive information on the dangers of smoking.
Everyone knows that tobacco consumption greatly increases the risk of serious diseases such as cancer, lung damage, smoker’s leg and cardiovascular disease. No smoker can escape this insight. The warnings on tobacco and cigarette packs also contain disgusting pictures that emphatically point this out. On the other hand, there are other subjective factors that make smoking appear very disadvantageous.
It costs money, nobody wants the smoke in their homes, smoking is forbidden in public spaces and many public places, the cigarettes and ashes have to be disposed of, the breath smells bad and thus impairs the closeness to other people.
Smokers feel unfree as a result, and they also physically and psychologically feel their declining performance due to smoking. The fact that withdrawal is still so difficult proves that nicotine is a high addictive factor.
We can classify the considerations already in the initial phase of a smoking career in the second phase of stopping smoking. However, it is important to know that there are very long-standing smokers who do not get beyond this phase and despite all findings never stop smoking. They do not enter further phases.
In the long run, they live with the inner conflict of doing something very unreasonable that limits their quality of life and time. They are very reasonable, sometimes extremely clever people. An outstanding example of this was the former Federal Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, who died in 2015 and who smoked in public until the end – for example on television talk shows.
Becoming aware, is one of the most important phases to non-smoking life. Because as long as the risks are played down by yourself, nobody can stop successfully. Therefore it is crucial that a real insight and a rethinking of the smoker starts. Because only the bare knowledge the smoking is harmful, brings still for a long time no smoker to stop smoking.
Quitting the decision to smoke
Among the phases this is very significant, it initiates the step to non-smoking. Stopping smoking naturally begins in the mind, but the decision does not mean that the step will succeed. But in this phase, the smokers no longer only play with the idea of what a life as a non-smoker could look like, but they seriously decide to tackle this project. Nevertheless, the addiction is currently even stronger. In addition, there are various fears that can be found in all phases of smoking withdrawal:
- How severe will the withdrawal symptoms be?
- Are they bearable in normal everyday life?
- Do they impair performance?
- Will I perhaps relapse and then have to admit defeat to myself and my environment?
- Will I even lose friends if I become a non-smoker in the future?
- My colleague XY always goes to the smoking door with me. These are our best breaks of the day.
These fears are mostly irrational, the nicotine addiction convinces the smoker. By the way, they are easy to overcome:
The prospective non-smoker only needs to talk to a former smoker. No former smoker regrets having quit. In some cases he will proudly explain that this was one of the best decisions of his life.
The still-smoker is very concerned with his individual motives in this phase of quitting smoking. This ultimately leads to the decision to finally become a non-smoker.
These motives are quite different in all smokers. The health aspect of course has a strong weight, especially from the age of 50, people seriously think that smoking may take five years of their lives, which now seem valuable to them.
Very young people do not yet think so. They are sometimes motivated by money. They calculate what they can afford in two or three years when they stop buying cigarettes. A partner can also be very motivating. Who smokes cannot kiss, that is really very repulsive for the non-smoking partner.
Smokers also look worse. For smoking women, this is often the main reason to approach withdrawal. It is important that the motive is really strong. The smoker can write it down. Perhaps he can think of even more motifs. If these are noted on the left side of a sheet as a list, the smoker on the right could oppose a list with reasons for smoking. He will find that there are not many reasons per cigarette and that these are also flimsy. Such a pro-contra list is very effective.
The final farewell to the cigarette
Now follows the first of the non-smoking phases. From now on the former smoker no longer smokes. This includes not only not touching a cigarette (gradual reduction almost never works), but also ending certain habits. This could include not going outside with colleague XY at a certain time in the morning. The cigarette for coffee, after dinner, while waiting for the bus, after waking up and before going to bed no longer exists.
Since these habits were also relaxation rituals, stress now arises which can be compensated by other relaxation rituals. These must be found compellingly! The beginning of non-smoking should also be scheduled. An important ritual supports the start:
The smoker disposes of all smoking utensils and gives away or destroys all remaining stocks of cigarettes or tobacco. There must not be an emergency exit (the box at the back of the drawer).
Smoking cessation only works completely or not at all. There are now also physical withdrawal symptoms in this phase because of the withdrawal, which are individually different. The new non-smokers feel them in a strong desire for a cigarette, their lungs “whistle” (most strongly in the first 24 hours).
Nervousness and even circulatory problems (rarely) could also occur. This is due to nicotine withdrawal, helping against the nicotine patch or chewing gum. In some cases, a doctor prescribes additional medication. Various medical-psychological aids can help:
- non-smoking syringe
Some of the methods work for some smokers, others are considered dubious. If you are interested in these methods, you should be able to prove the success of the respective provider. Non-smoking seminars together with nicotine patches or gum should be very successful.
Beyond that there are nonsmoker initiatives, in which almost exclusively former smokers are active. These support this phase of withdrawal, if someone would like to stop smoking. Their experience of many years is very helpful in any case. The health insurance companies cover all or part of the costs for some programmes.