When I ask people if they have tried quitting in the past, there is always one person who will say, “Everyday”. You might be able to relate if you have woken up frequently and said “ok, today is the day. I am not going to smoke or use tobacco today”, only to get to about 4:00 pm and have to use every justification that you can think of in order to give yourself permission to use. The biological effects of withdrawal can be difficult to get through, but the good news is that the biological withdrawal is approximately 2 weeks, with post-acute withdrawal lasting up to 3 months. “Wait”, you say, “that is the good news?” Well, in looking at the big picture of life, it is a small amount of time, but if you are in the thick of it, it can feel like a lifetime.
There are many medications that can help with those withdrawal symptoms, but they aren’t a magic bullet. They can help ease those neurons a bit so the cravings are not as intense and withdrawal symptoms are minimized. The other part of nicotine dependence is the habit. Whether you have been using tobacco for 2 years or 50 years, it has become a part of your life. When preparing to quit, think about when you use it, and then list 5-12 strategies that you might use in those situations. The more strategies listed the better. It’s like having a game plan. You wouldn’t want to start playing a competitive sport with no strategy, or walk into work and present to a crowd on a topic without being prepared. The more prepared you are for those vulnerable situations; the more confident you can be to handle those them. The most important thing to remember, however, is to be patient and kind with yourself. Success means allowing yourself to make mistakes, making adjustments, and trying again!