Staying tobacco-free is not easy. Be proud of yourself as a person who no longer needs to depend on nicotine or be controlled by nicotine. First, you freed yourself from tobacco. Now, you start an important and sometimes challenging journey in your independence from nicotine.

Many people make the transition from using tobacco products to using nicotine replacement patches, gum or other medication. Remember to use the medications as prescribed by your healthcare provider. You may experience uncomfortable feelings such as headaches, nervousness, irritation or anxiety. Drinking plenty of water can ease these discomforts. These symptoms will go away as your body tolerates reduced amounts of nicotine until there is no nicotine left.

Before you automatically reached for your cigarettes or spit tobacco. The automatic reaching will be almost gone in a few months. The association between tobacco and many of your daily activities will curtail. Before, you trained your brain to connect using tobacco with a daily activity. Now your daily activity is connected with a new habit or pattern of behavior that you developed. (Before you drank a cup of coffee and smoked a cigarette or reached for your spit tobacco in reaction to fatigue or stress. Now you reach for a straw, a piece of candy or gum.)

The process of maintaining control in order to stay tobacco-free requires using some strategies. One tip is to avoid people or places where people use tobacco. To cope with an urge to smoke, use the four Ds.

Aca,!Ac Deep breathing: take slow deep breaths to feel relaxed and in control.
Aca,!Ac Drink water-at least eight glasses a day.
Aca,!Ac Do something else to keep busy.
Aca,!Ac Delay by counting to 100 or 200 and thinking pleasant thoughts until the urge passes.

Another alternative is to use a "survival kit" of items such as chewing gum, candy, toothpicks, rubber bands and paper clips to serve as substitutes instead of using tobacco.

You may have pleasant memories of tobacco and think how nice it would be to have just one cigarette or a little dip. This is risky because it can lead one to "slip" or relapse into using tobacco. If you slip, make a fresh start by considering the circumstances that caused the slip. Review your reasons why you quit tobacco: health, family members, personal appearance, easier to breathe or mission readiness. Set a date, make a quit plan and quit again. Be sure to get support system: a buddy, someone to talk with, or a group of people who can support you. The only people who lose their battle with tobacco are the ones who stop making an attempt. Each unsuccessful attempt to stop increases the likelihood that the next attempt will result in success.

Most people who quit say that about one year after quitting they no longer think about tobacco. This depends on the amount of nicotine, your level of dependence and how many aspects of your life rotated around using tobacco.

Remaining tobacco-free for the rest of your life can require effort. Do whatever is necessary to maintain your tobacco-free status. Make it last.

For additional information and support in staying tobacco-free, contact your medical treatment facility. These online resources are also available:
Aca,!Ac DOD, Quit Tobacco, www.UCANQUIT2.org
Aca,!Ac American Lung Association Freedom from Smoking, http://www.lungusa.org/stop-smoking/how-to-quit/getting-help/
Aca,!Ac American Cancer Society, Fresh Start Program, http://www.acsworkplacesolutions.com/freshstart.asp

Page last updated Mon November 1st, 2010 at 08:48