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Motivated enough to try

Posted by dr.hurt Jul 30, 2010

Some people are reluctant to make a decision to stop smoking for good.  It seems so permanent.  It may be difficult to imagine ‘forever’ without a cigarette.  You are not alone in this, others feel the same way.  But many of the things that people do accomplish don’t require 100% motivation from the start.  Often people try to make a temporary change, learn they can make that change then go for longer than they expected.


If you are motivated to stop smoking at 50% + 1%, you can tip the scale towards success.  Use a positive attitude to fuel your decision and begin to stop.  You might try thoughts like these: “I’m just not smoking today, and I’ll worry about tomorrow when it comes”; “I’m choosing not to smoke, no one is making me quit”; “I’m doing an experiment to see how my life feels different without smoking.”; “I always have the freedom to go back smoking if I decide to, but now I don’t have any freedom because the addiction compels me to have to smoke”; “I’m not giving up something, I’m gaining my health (or money or energy or any other reason that you might want to stop smoking” or “I am getting rid of something I don’t want around for now”).


Remember we can make our attitude work for us.  Don’t let thoughts of an unknown future keep you from doing something healthy today.  Trying doesn’t take 100% commitment; it just takes a decision to try.


Staying an EX

Posted by dr.hurt Jul 23, 2010


Once you have stopped smoking, it is important to stay an Ex-Smoker.  There is not any one way to remain smoke-free and you'll hear all kinds of tips from former smokers.  Some of these tips will be helpful and others will not and you have permission to take what works for you and leave the rest.  There are many support websites available online and you can browse them at your leisure.  We recommend but you may find others that are useful to you. 

Not everyone or everything is going to be equally supportive of your efforts.  YOU will have to be the final judge on what is helpful to you and what is not helpful to you.  Once you know what does help, you can kindly but assertively inform any not-so-helpful friends or family members that you would appreciate their assistance, and let them know specific ways in which they can be helpful.  You might want to participate in the BecomeanEX community and help others through the early challenges of not smoking.

Be diligent when you are around other people who smoke or when you are drinking alcohol.  These situations can lead to relapse even after a long time of not smoking.  Don’t heed the thought, “I can have just one’.  Having one cigarette can set off a cascade of reactions in your brain that can bring you back to daily smoking.  Once you stop smoking, enjoy your health, enjoy your freedom, and stay tobacco free.  Every day, week or month that you remain smoke-free are very important so take it in time increments that make sense to you.

Dr. Richard D. Hurt is an internationally recognized expert on tobacco dependence. A native of Murray, Kentucky, he joined Mayo Clinic in 1976 and is now a Professor of Medicine at its College of Medicine. In 1988, he founded the Mayo Clinic Nicotine Dependence Center and since then its staff has treated more than 50,000 patients for tobacco dependence. Send your questions directly to Dr. Hurt at

Do you ever feel like nothing works?
You’ve tried the patch –
 and that didn’t work. 
You tried the gum -
 and that didn’t work.
You tried the lozenge -
 and that didn’t work.
You even tried Chantix –
 and that didn’t work.
It can be very discouraging when nothing seems to work for you.


Well, research is showing that a combination of medications - like the patch AND the lozenge work better than either medication alone.  Combinations are proving to be very successful with people who feel that they have tried everything.


Cigarettes are the best nicotine delivery device ever invented, faster than shooting it IV.  They deliver nicotine to the brain much more quickly and efficiently than any of the nicotine replacement medications.  One medication alone may not be enough to fully treat withdrawal and craving for a cigarette.  But, using medications such as the nicotine patch, bupropion (Zyban), or varenicline (Chantix) in combination with a ‘short acting’ nicotine replacement like the nicotine gum, nicotine lozenge, nicotine nasal spray, or nicotine inhaler –can provide the extra coverage you may need for those more difficult times – like when you first wake-up, talking on the phone, stressed, or bored.


Many people are pleasantly surprised that when they find the right medication combination – they can be reasonably comfortable when they stop smoking.  So, if you think you’ve tried everything – consider a combination of medications.  You might surprise yourself!


Slippery Places

Posted by dr.hurt Jul 9, 2010


But smoking is what I do…all my friends are smokers…I smoke all the time and everywhere.

These are some of the thoughts smokers have that keep them from seriously considering or committing to stop smoking.

Well, don’t let those thoughts stop you from making an attempt to stop smoking.  You don’t have to give up your family, friends, and all of the activities that you enjoy to stop smoking.  In fact, when you stop smoking you may regain the ability to do all the things you want without having to interrupt them to satisfy your urge for a cigarette.

However, early on you may need to change some things until you feel confident in your ability to not smoke.  As your confidence builds you can ease yourself back into your relationships and your activities.  During the first few months of not smoking you might want to take particular care around or even avoid these situations.

Alcohol is a big trigger to smoke for many people.  Initially you might want to have fewer drinks and drink less often.  Some people stop drinking completely for a while until they feel confident in their ability to drink alcohol and not smoke. 

Being around family and friends who smoke – Talk to your family and friends ahead of time and let them know that you plan to stop smoking.  Ask for their support.  Ask them not to offer you a cigarette and to not smoke around you.  Make sure not to come across like you are telling them that they need to stop smoking.  If they feel pressure from you they will be less able to be supportive of you.  Once they realize that this is about you they may surprise you with their support. If you have friends who are not supportive you may want to take a break from them for a while.

Self-care – Take good care of yourself in general.  Keep track of how you are feeling, how you are resting, and how well you are eating.  Remember HALT, if you are hungry, angry, lonely, or tired you might benefit from taking a nap, eating a healthy meal or snack, and contacting a support person.

It’s important to take care of yourself when stopping smoking.  For the short-term, avoid slippery places when possible, and have a plan in place to manage the situations you cannot avoid.  In the long run you will be able to more fully enjoy what you do and who you do it with.

4th of July blog


July 4th is a time to celebrate with family and friends – and also a time to celebrate a healthier you!  You’ve already shown a commitment to a healthier future by deciding to stop smoking.  Another way to feel better is to take steps to manage spending time with friends and family who might still use tobacco.  With a little planning you can enjoy the festivities and still stay smoke-free!


Celebrations can bring back strong memories of tobacco use, and trigger powerful urges to smoke – especially if you have friends or family who still use tobacco.  These three steps can help:


Think ahead:

  • Who will be there?  Who will be supportive and who might not be?  Who can you talk to ahead of time to line up support?  What will be the most challenging moments?


  • How will you actually handle the situation?  Who will you plan to spend time with?  Are there any places you plan to avoid?  Practice in your mind how you want to tell people you have quit using tobacco and how they can help you.


  • If your doctor has recommended medications to help you stop using tobacco, make sure you bring these with you to the celebration – and use them!  Spend time with the people who have offered support.  Drink some cold water, and find some fruits or veggies to munch on.  If all else fails, excuse yourself and take a short walk.  Even cut the evening short if you are concerned you might use some tobacco.  Fireworks are not worth the price of all the hard work you have done so far!


There are a lot of “firsts” that go along with stopping smoking.  You will probably always remember your “first” winter not using tobacco, your “first” big argument without smoking, studying for your “first” final exam with no cigarettes, and also your “first” 4th of July without lighting up.  But your second 4th of July (and then your 3rd!) not smoking should get a lot easier.


Share your smoke-free 4th of July stories with your friends at


Dr. Richard D. Hurt is an internationally recognized expert on tobacco dependence. A native of Murray, Kentucky, he joined Mayo Clinic in 1976 and is now a Professor of Medicine at its College of Medicine. In 1988, he founded the Mayo Clinic Nicotine Dependence Center and since then its staff has treated more than 50,000 patients for tobacco dependence. Send your questions directly to Dr. Hurt at

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