How to Stay Smoke-Free After You Quit

Whether you went cold turkey or spent decades debating the decision, you did it: You quit smoking. That’s no easy feat. Smoking is highly addictive. Even if you set your mind to kicking the habit, your body and brain might have kept you coming back to the pack.

The addiction is due to nicotine, a drug that’s naturally found in tobacco. Even though cigarettes are legal in the United States, more people are addicted to nicotine than to any other drug. And some research even suggests that it’s just as habit-forming as alcohol, cocaine, and heroin.

But now that you’re smoke-free, how do you stay that way? You’ve probably heard how hard quitting for good can be, and how many people pick up the habit again. That’s usually because cigarettes were their only coping mechanism for stress or because they can’t tolerate the symptoms of withdrawal.

Why It’s So Hard to Quit

Because nicotine is so powerfully addictive, your body gets used to having it. The longer you smoke, the more nicotine it takes just to make you feel normal. Without that amount of the drug in your system, you start to experience the unpleasant feelings and cravings commonly called withdrawal.

Nicotine withdrawals are both mental and physical. It’s important to remember that while the symptoms can be uncomfortable, they’re not life-threatening, and you will get through them. Being prepared for them will help you deal with the feelings and avoid a relapse.

The mental part of withdrawal can be a lot harder for many smokers to deal with. That’s because you may associate cigarettes with a lot of your everyday activities like eating, drinking coffee, or even getting out of bed.

It can take time and effort to break these habits and create new patterns and routines so you no longer have the urge to smoke while going through your day-to-day tasks.

Why People Relapse

One big reason smokers light up again after they’ve quit is that they convince themselves smoking either isn’t that bad, or they can have just one cigarette without slipping back into addiction.

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