What I'm about to tell you is true. You CAN give up smoking through your own determination and without special medications, nicotine supplements, hypnosis or any other treatments foisted upon you so someone else can make money on your misery. I say this with authority because I accomplished it successfully even while considering myself a procrastinator and weak-willed person. Yes, it is "cold turkey," but before you say "Forget it; I've tried it a hundred times," let me explain what will help you beat the tobacco addiction on your own terms.
In 1995 I gave up smoking for the rest of my life, and it was the most important thing I've ever done for my health. I had been a regular smoker for twenty-eight years and had tried to give it up several times in the past. Why was I successful this time? You are about to find out exactly what you need to do. It's all based on a calendar and your concentrated relationship to it.
- Prepare yourself mentally. Spend whatever time is necessary to convince yourself that being a non-smoker is truly better for your health than smoking. Search out and read every article you can find on smoking's bad effects. Google search it and read medical journals. Look for personal endorsements from past smokers. This preparation may take two weeks or several months. It took me three months to reach this point.
- Build a "Smoking Cessation Calendar" as follows:
- Make 3-day calendar (72 hours) showing blocks of 15-minute segments (mark the days 1-3)
- Make a 7-day calendar (1-week) showing blocks of 1-hour segments (mark the days 4-10)
- Make a 20-day calendar showing blocks of 4 hour segments (6 segments per day) (mark the days 11-30)
- Make a 2-month calendar showing blocks of 1-day segments (mark the days 31-90)
- Make a 3-month calendar showing blocks in 1-week segments (mark the days 91-180)
- This is a total of 5 calendars spanning a six month time period and is the baseline for tracking your progress.
- Try to pick a non-stressful time to start your Smoking Cessation Calendar. For example, a Friday night at midnight might be a good time to start. At your appointed time, put down that pack of cigarettes, leaving it in plain sight, and begin you countdown. You probably will be going to bed, so the first several hours will be easy.
- The moment you awaken in the morning will be the first stressful time in your countdown because you will want to light up immediately a take that first long drag of the day. BUT, INSTEAD GO DIRECTLY TO YOUR CALENDAR and "X" out all the 15 minute segments you passed while you were asleep. It will give you encouragement to see you have "X'd" out probably 24-to-32 segments.
- Admit to yourself, right here and now, that the next few days will be hell on wheels. But, stick with your calendar and "X" out every 15 minute segment. You will not think of much else other than lighting-up, but transfer that urge to the next 15 minute "X" on your calendar. I guarantee that you will not be sleeping much during the next few days, and you will be extremely nervous as your body calls for nicotine. If you find yourself wide awake at 3 AM, get up and "X" out a few more segments. Do some physical exercise.
- At the end of the first 3 days you will have purged out most of the nicotine from your body, but you will still be fully addicted, and the urge for a smoke will be VERY strong! Concentrate on your calendar and don't give up. Congratulate yourself for making it through the 3 hardest days of your life.
- On the fourth day you shift to the 1-week calendar and start "X'ing" out 1-hour segments. With every urge you have to smoke, shift you concentration to getting to the next "X." This is a critical time as you begin to wean yourself off of the addiction. It's not easy but not impossible.
- The 20-day, 2-month and 3-month calendars follow in order. Each week you will become less dependent on wanting that smoke, but DO NOT GIVE UP THE CALENDARS! They are your measuring device and you must stay with them to the end of the entire six months.
Many people regress back into smoking after a few months "on the wagon" because they give up on the concentration required to remain smoke free. The calendars will help you keep that concentration, and after six months you will throw that pack of cigarettes into the garbage. When someone asks how you gave up smoking you will smile and say "I went COLD TURKEY!"