Nicotine is one of the most heavily used addictive drugs as well as the leading preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the United States. (1)
The tar in cigarettes increases a smoker’s risk of lung cancer, emphysema, and bronchial disorders. The carbon monoxide in smoke increases the chance of cardiovascular diseases. (2)
What happens when I quit smoking?
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), for up to 6 weeks after smokers quit, their brain cells have more nicotine-binding receptors than nonsmokers. It’s believed the brain develops extra receptors to accommodate the large doses of nicotine from tobacco and that the resulting expanded receptor pool helps to contribute to cravings and other discomforts of smoking withdrawal. (3)
While your cravings may continue for some time (most cravings to smoke last less than 3 minutes), the health benefits of smoking cessation(4) begin almost immediately:
- Within 20 minutes, your heart rate and blood pressure drop
- Within 12 hours, the carbon monoxide level in your blood stream drops to normal
- Within 72 hours, the nicotine from smoking has left your body
- Within 3 months, your circulation and lung function will improve
- After 9 months, you’ll cough less and breathe easier
- After 1 year, your risk of coronary heart disease is cut in half
- After 5 years, your risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder are cut in half
- After 10 years, you are one-half as likely to die from lung cancer and your risk of larynx or pancreatic cancer decreases
- After 15 years, your risk of coronary heart disease is the same as a non-smoker’s risk
Additionally, you’ll save money, smell better, and stop exposure to second-hand smoke for those around you.
Remember the cravings that you experience while quitting are a sign of healing, and not a sign of disaster!
A Participant’s Greeting and Experience
I guess you are here because you have just quit smoking, or you are thinking of quitting. Maybe you are not sure whether you should quit. If you aren’t here because of smoking, use this link to return to the SMART home page. Otherwise, get comfortable, look around, and hopefully, you will decide to dig a bit deeper into SMART.
My name is Bob. I actually arrived here in early 2007 looking for a way to quit drinking. I was given a pamphlet by my doctor with some websites to look into. One was SMART. My last drink was 02/22/2007. I take most of the credit for my quit, but SMART played an important role.
In May 2008, it was apparent that my 40+ year smoking career needed to end. I had been trying to quit for years, mostly thinking “I really need to quit these things” as I lit another. Sound familiar? Through a series of events, I decided on May 09, 2008 that I had smoked my last cigarette on 05/07 at about 10 PM.
Since I had already used SMART to help quit drinking, I figured it should help me maintain my smoking quit. So I went to the Quitters Clubhouse as I call it and found a lot of people who were also quitting, trying to quit, or just contemplating quitting. And like a bad odor, I just won’t go away.
So how does SMART work?
To be honest, I don’t know a lot about all of SMART. I used parts of it to help me, but I assure you there is a lot more to it. Which is the good thing about SMART, it provides tools, methods, ideas, camaraderie and you choose how much of you want or need to use.
SMART does not decide for you what you should do. You are empowered to decide for yourself. You own your quit. No one decides if you should or can have another smoke, you do. No one is going to check on you. You know what you are doing and you only have to answer to yourself. SMART offers support, you provide the determination.
Quitting. Quitting smoking might easily be the hardest thing you have ever tried to do. Smart can help in several ways:
- Plan – In my opinion, if you wake up one morning and decide “I think I’ll quit smoking today”, by the time you go to bed that night you will have smoked. You need a plan. Do you quit cold turkey or use an alternate nicotine delivery system? How will you deal with urges; yes you will have urges; the key is to recognize it and plan how to combat them. A plan, preferably written down, is a key component.
- CBA – complete a Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) worksheet. This is a SMART tool that helps you determine what you like about smoking, and dislike about it, why you want to quit, and why you don’t. Write it down because that makes it real. It is possible that you determine, based on you CBA, that you shouldn’t quit, although, you will probably have written a lot more reasons to quit than not. Once completed, refer to it often to reinforce that you are quitting for good reasons.
- SMART empowers you – No one can make you smoke, make you quit, or even decide if you should. You are the only person who gets to decide what you do. And if you decide to try, you are the only person who can maintain your quit. Conversely, you cannot resume smoking because of something someone else did, didn’t do, said, should have said, etc. It is totally your choice to continue to quit, or not
- Support – There is a quit smoking thread on our message board where you can join others who have quit, or are working on quitting. It is a great place to get support and post milestones. On the Quit Smoking area, there are several threads created to explore quitting; Tips & Tricks; E-cigs, Nicotine Replacement Aids, and many testimonials of people and their progress. Log in and browse around.
- Failure – What if you fail? Statistically, failing is possible, probable. In a nutshell, you failed because you decided to smoke again, no one but you lit the smoke. To me, quitting is easy; you do it every time you put out a smoke; not starting again is the difficult part. But, you cannot quit smoking until you try. Getting your mind wrapped around quitting is the best way to be successful, and that starts with a solid plan, a CBA and knowledge of other SMART tools.
I wish you success with your quit. As I said, it may be the hardest thing you ever do, but the result is very much worth it.
If I can quit smoking, you can also.
Check out Tips to Quit Smoking by Bob S. for helpful information on what others have done to successfully quit their smoking addiction using SMART Recovery.
How to quit smoking with SMART Recovery
SMART Recovery provides its members with tools and support that they can use to help them recover from addictions to drugs or other addictive and negative behaviors.
SMART Recovery’s 4-Point Program® is designed to help you deal with the discomfort of quitting tobacco use:
1. Enhancing & Maintaining Motivation to Quit – Helps you identify and keep up with your reasons to quit smoking. Why do you want to stop smoking? What will keep you focused on that goal?
2. Coping with Urges – Dealing with urges and cravings is part of recovery. SMART has tools designed to you cope with the urges to smoke that can help you stay stopped.
3. Managing Problems – We frequently turn to using unhealthy behaviors to either escape from or avoid addressing problems. SMART Recovery helps you learn problem-solving tools to help manage these challenges along the way.
4. Lifestyle Balance – SMART helps you build skills to balance both short and long-term goals, and pleasures and needs, that were once out of balance.
Where do I go from here?
Getting started with SMART Recovery is easy! If you would like to get started right away, you can join our online support group where you can read, share and learn from our worldwide community of members at any time of the day or night.
You can also find a local SMART Recovery meeting, or, if we don’t have any meetings in your area yet, you can join us at one of our online meetings.
If you’d like to have printed study material, we suggest the SMART Recovery Handbook.
(1)(2)(3) – Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
(4) – Source: SmokeFree.Gov
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