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How to Quit Smoking in Six Months or Less with Minimal Withdrawal Symptoms

Updated on September 24, 2014

The Mental Aspect of Breaking a Bad Habit

Making time for serenity helps address the mind-body component of breaking a bad habit. Image Used with Permission.
Making time for serenity helps address the mind-body component of breaking a bad habit. Image Used with Permission. | Source

Freedom from cigarette smoking is literally at your fingertips. Following this method, you will be able to exercise control over the urge to light up and keep the withdrawal symptoms from taking over your life. There are many products available today that supposedly help you quit smoking and believe me, I tried them all. Nicotine gum, patches, pills, and even hypnosis. Most of the products available to quit smoking involve ingesting nicotine in another form, such as e-cigarettes, nicotine in the form of gum or patches, etc. I began to realize that I was not going to get rid of my nicotine addiction by continuing to ingest nicotine. There was something missing with these so-called cures and smoking cessation products, because something kept kicking in and making me want to light up.

Each one of these smoking cessation products ultimately failed. The pills made me feel funny, and I began having strange dreams and / or insomnia. The patches put more nicotine in my system than I got from smoking, and did not address my need to hold the cigarette in my hand, inhale the smoke, and exhale, which was something I found I missed greatly.

Then, I finally found a book that addressed why we smoke even when we don't want the nasty cigarettes anymore. The book worked. For a while. I even wrote a hub about that, and have included it in the reference section below. But, very soon I was back to smoking as much as I ever did. Still, I yearned to be free of this disgusting, expensive, dirty, and useless habit.

Then, one day I found the secret that worked for me, and now I want to share it with you so that you, too can find freedom from this horrible habit.

Behavioral Change is a Growth Process

Allow the seeds of change to begin to take root.
Allow the seeds of change to begin to take root. | Source

A Simple Program To Stop Smoking Cigarettes

The simplicity of it amazes me even now, after all this time. I honestly do not know why I had never thought of it before, but once I did, the idea took hold and would not let go. You see, the largest hurdle for me was that over time I had linked physical behaviors with my body's signal to light up a cigarette. Before having some success at quitting, I had recognized some of my smoking triggers, and had eliminated them over a couple years' time. Those triggers were as follows: Getting into my car, sitting down in any chair, resting, watching television, changing tasks, walking in the front door, walking out the front door, and on it went. So over time I began eliminating some of those triggers. For example, I began making myself wait to drive away from wherever my car was parked before lighting up. Then, gradually I stopped smoking while driving to the grocery store and back. You get the idea. But the problem with that was that I seemed to still smoke the same amount. I just sort created new smoking triggers. And on it went. Still, realizing that the urge to light a cigarette was linked to behaviors and situations or circumstances helped me to isolate a component of my smoking habit that none of the products for smoking cessation seem to address.

On the day that this simple way to kick the habit dawned on me, I was actually doing some profit projections. Breaking things out by number of items and potential sales exponentially. While I was doing this, I was both hungry and trying to eat healthy, and craving a cigarette like crazy. That was when it occurred to me that quitting smoking is like going on a diet and dealing with diet cravings. And that the way I reduced my weight by 70 pounds and kept it off was by changing my behaviors toward food one by one. And it got me to thinking about changing my smoking behaviors. I am not going to tell you that the way I finally quit smoking was craving free, or that it took away my cravings by waving a magic wand.

But I will tell you this was the least painful method I have ever tried. And that it worked for me and I believe it can work for you as well. In the next section, we will go through the process step by step.

Find Your Focal Point

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How To Quit Cigarettes For Good

Day Zero: By this time I already knew in general terms how much I smoked each day. But because I was really serious about wanting to quit, I decided to count exactly how many cigarettes I smoked in one day when I was NOT trying to restrict myself. So I smoked and smoked that day. I had as many cigarettes as I wanted. In fact, I probably had a few more than usual just for good measure. Before I went to bed, after having my last cigarette, I tallied it up and knew that I had smoked exactly 37 cigarettes that day. Three cigarettes less than two packs. This was rather alarming in itself because I found I had been estimating lower by quite a bit. Denial, really.

Your first step: count and record how many cigarettes you inhale in a day when you are not trying to restrict yourself. This is your own Day Zero. Remember this number because it is the basis for this process.

Take Time for Fun

Remember to have fun with your family, friends, and pets.
Remember to have fun with your family, friends, and pets. | Source

Choose Freedom by Taking Action

Day One: Smoke no more than the number of cigarettes you recorded from Day Zero. Do not allow yourself to go over that amount.

Day Two: Reduce the number of cigarettes by one. I termed it Zero Minus One, or 0 – 1. Continue this for three days. It is only one smoke less, so it isn't difficult at all. But you must do it for three complete days. Why? Because it takes about three days for nicotine to leave your system. By the time the three days are over, the amount of nicotine that one cigarette provided is gone from your system. The reduction is a small one, but then that means the withdrawal is almost unnoticeable. This brings us to Day Five. If you are counting Day Zero, it makes six successful days on a cessation program. Easy, huh.

Day Five: Reduce the number of cigarettes by one. If you smoked twenty on days two, three, and four, step it down to 19 cigarettes. If you smoked 40, go down to 39. Again, do this for three days so that the nicotine from that one cigarette has time to get out of your system. This brings us up to Day 8.

Day 8: Delay your morning cigarette and reduce the number by one more. Delay your first cigarette of the day by 15 minutes. Even if you have to get up 15 minutes earlier in order to include this important step. It is only 15 minutes. If you normally smoke within 5 minutes after waking up, don't light up until you have been out of bed for 20 minutes. And cut back your daily intake to your own Zero minus three, whatever that number is for you. Both of these steps are very important. Get yourself used to getting up, putting on the coffee or tea, and showering before you light up. Find other things to do with the time between waking and that first puff of the day. Keep delaying by 15 minutes for two weeks.

Now, allow your body to level out and stabilize. By now you are smoking three fewer per day and delaying the first puff of the day by 15 minutes. By now you can see where this is going in the long term. But this is also where you may begin to feel a little bit antsy. And this is why you will stay at this level longer. Hold the number of smokes steady for five days instead of three days. This will give your body time to become completely comfortable with the lower level of nicotine, and also give you a chance to adjust to your new morning routine sans puffing. This brings us to Day 13.

Relax For a Few Minutes at a Time

Practice sitting with nothing in your hands while you do nothing at all for a few minutes each day. Start with one minute and work up.
Practice sitting with nothing in your hands while you do nothing at all for a few minutes each day. Start with one minute and work up. | Source

Take The Challenge

Will you take the challenge and give this a try?

See results

Perseverance Pays Off

Just keep working the program without fail. Remember, freedom lies just ahead.
Just keep working the program without fail. Remember, freedom lies just ahead. | Source

Continue the Process of Stepping Down

Day 13: Eliminate one more cigarette and continue the morning delay of 15 minutes. Do this for another 5 days. Which brings us to Day 18.

Day 18: Extend the morning delay by 5 more minutes. So by now you are delaying your first puff for a full 20 minutes. Eliminate one more cigarette from your daily intake. Continue for 5 days.

Progress check: By now you should be consistently smoking 5 fewer cigarettes per day, and you will find that you are not experiencing any major cravings or withdrawal symptoms. You most likely will find that you are finding it easier to sit and relax without light up, if only for a few minutes. The important thing at this point is to remind yourself of your commitment and to NEVER allow yourself to go over the number you have set for yourself. If you find that you need to spend a couple extra days at a certain level, do that before dropping down another level.

Day 23 and Going Forward: Continue this process by reducing the number of cigarettes by one, and adding another five-minute morning delay every five days. When you reach a point in which you are having to work at it to stick with the reduced number of cigarettes, it is okay to stay a few days longer at that point. However, you must not smoke more than that amount. The key in this stepping down process is to get both your body and your psyche into the feeling of "normal" for that amount. It is much easier than going cold turkey, but it does take self-honesty and a little will power. Times of business or negative stress can complicate this process a little, but all in all it is a system for quitting smoking that allows you to give your body time to adjust to the changes you are making both with your behaviors and the lower level of nicotine in your system.

While this process is not instant, it does work if you follow it.

You may have times when reducing the amount you are smoking even by one cigarette is just too much to bear. It is for this reason that I say that it is okay to stay at one level a little longer. For example, if you just broke up with a boyfriend, or have a hair-raising day at work, this may not be the right day to reduce your count by one. And that is okay for a few days, but it is important to continue the process with another step down within just a few days. The longer you wait, the easier it is to quit trying. Be prepared for that from the outset by acknowledging the fact that you will have to consciously persist at reducing the number of daily cigarettes and adding those morning delays by 5 minutes.

Focus on Health and Well Being

Source

More About This Process

By the end of the first month you will have significantly and consistently reduced the number of cigarettes you smoke per day by seven. Some of you may find that you have eliminated more than seven cigarettes from each day. If you are a person who lets a lot of cigarettes burn up, then you may find that you have eliminated as many as 15 or 20.

For me, this process took about 4 months. I felt emotionally attached to the last five cigarettes, but was actually able to drop down to three a day with only a little effort. Then I stayed at three a day for three full weeks before going down to 2. And when I got down to one per day, I stayed an entire month before I was able to let that one go as well.

By working at it this way, I was able to consciously work at eliminating the mind-body triggers that signaled me to light up out of habit, and also reduce the level of nicotine in my system without the emotional upheaval and stress that come with the physical addiction.

If you have taken the time to read this article, and want to give this method a try, feel free to comment or ask questions here as you go along, using this Hub as a support network. Best of luck to everyone out there who is trying to kick this harmful habit.


Let Your Voice Be Heard!

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  • teaches12345 profile image

    Dianna Mendez 2 years ago

    Your reaching out to help smokers is admirable. I have never smoked but can understand the addiction. I hope smokers use your positive ideas to help quit the habit.

  • Nancy Owens profile image
    Author

    Nancy Owens 2 years ago from USA

    You know, it is liberating. And motivating. There truly are times still when I forget that I no longer smoke. Something will just make me start fishing around for something, and then I remember, Lol! I don't smoke anymore. I think talking about it helps me to remember why I quit and yes, hopefully it will inspire someone else. AND IT IS SO EASY to just reduce it by one. Level out, and Reduce it again by one. I can quit one at a time, but not all at once!

  • firstday profile image

    R Beggs 2 years ago from Lincoln, Nebraska

    Doesn't it feel freeing to write a hub on quitting smoking? Like in some way you may be the person that helps someone decide to quit. It a decision that may save their life. I am an ex-smoker so I like to preach on the subject. I also wrote a hub and it is the one I count the views on.

  • Nancy Owens profile image
    Author

    Nancy Owens 2 years ago from USA

    Isn't it amazing all of the things we link smoking to? Once I realized this, I knew I was going to have to go about quitting a whole other way. And reducing my daily intake by one was something I could actually see myself doing... over and over again. But at the end it was bittersweet. Sort of like giving up a part of myself, or an old friend.

  • ologsinquito profile image

    ologsinquito 2 years ago from USA

    Thankfully, you were able to quit. As a former smoker, I totally agree about the emotional attachment. That was very hard. I equated cigarettes with good times.