Don't Drink Alcohol
I probably don't need to tell you that alcohol and tobacco go hand-in-hand. New quitters are tender. Putting yourself into a social setting where you're tempted to drink alcohol too soon after quitting can be dangerous. Don't rush it. The time will come when you can have a drink without it triggering the urge to smoke, but don't expect that to be within the first month, or perhaps even the first few months.
We're all a little different in how we move through the process of kicking nicotine addiction, so relax any preconceived notions you might have about how long recovery should take. Instead, focus on your own situation. If there is an engagement coming up that involves alcohol and you feel nervous about that, take it as a signal to proceed with caution. Consider postponing until you're feeling stronger. And if that's not an option, work out a plan ahead of time for how you'll manage the event smoke-free.
It's no exaggeration that you are working hard to save your life by quitting smoking, so give cessation the attention it deserves. Keep your quit program in the top slot of your list of priorities for as long as it takes. You should do whatever you need to do to maintain your smobriety -- period.
Tips to Manage Holiday Drinking Smoke-Free
The obvious first choice is simple: Avoid alcohol entirely. Drink cranberry juice with seltzer water or another non-alcoholic beverage of choice. No one but you and the bartender will know the difference.
Know Your Limits
If you do drink alcohol, be careful. Limit the amount of alcohol you consume and don't overdo it. Substitute every other drink with a glass of spring water and lemon. It will dilute the alcohol you've consumed, keep you hydrated, and will give you something to sip on while socializing.
Plan an Escape Route
If people are smoking close by and it begins to bother you, have a plan of action in mind. Can you explain that you've recently quit smoking and ask them to refrain? If not, excuse yourself for a few minutes and go to the bathroom or step outside for some fresh air. When cravings to smoke hit, the key is to quickly change your focus. Interrupt your thoughts and you'll snap yourself out of junkie thinking.
If you're worried about maintaining your quit program at the holiday party this year, consider simply not going. No, I'm not advocating avoiding life, I'm encouraging you to remember your priorities. Think of it this way...early on, smoking cessation takes a lot of effort and focus for most people. In order to succeed, your quit program must be in the top slot of your priority list for as long as it takes.
If you fear the temptation to drink will be more than you can handle, don't push yourself. There will be more parties next year. Give yourself the time you need to heal from this addiction. Do the work now to change your relationship to smoking, and the day will come when drinking alcohol no longer triggers the urge to smoke.
Count Your Blessings and Keep Your Perspective
Quitting smoking is not a sacrifice, it's a gift. You're moving toward a better life, one that is free of addiction and all of the strife that goes with it. Smoking cessation is your path to a healthier and happier you, and the benefits awaiting you are beyond what you can imagine.
The Bottom Line
Alcohol and early smoking cessation are not a good mix. It's important to maintain control of our senses when we're learning how to live a smoke-free life, and alcohol puts us at risk.
Provide yourself with the best possible environment for success that you can as you move through the holiday season. Keep your quit progam in focus and do whatever you need to do to protect and nurture it. Period!
Before the end of this weekend, somebody will probably come here and tell us that they lost their quit to alcohol. Somebody else won't tell us but they will have lost their quit! Will you be one of them? OR will you be the one who comes here Monday proudly celebrating their smobriety???
Have a great, smoke-free holiday!