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How to Quit Smoking with SMART Recovery

stop smokingSuggested tips for using SMART Recovery to quit your nicotine addiction.

Following are some entries from the stop smoking tips and tricks thread on the SMART Recovery’s messageboard, assembled by the participants who have quit smoking.

These tips offer information and suggestions into planning your quit and dealing with subsequent urges. Hopefully, they will provide you with some insight on planning and maintaining your own quit.

by Bob S.

Start by using the SMART Recovery Tools

I do recommend writing out a CBA, Hierarchy of Values, and a Change Plan Worksheet from the SMART Recovery toolbox. Set a quit date and start telling yourself now that as of (insert your date) you’re a non-smoker. Visualize yourself as a non-smoker after that date. (How are you planning to fill your time that used to be spent smoking?)

Plan a quitting ceremony

If you have kids that are old enough or your SO and other family, get them involved. You can move your favorite smoking chair(s) from it’s usual place, drown your cigarette butts so you can’t pull them out to smoke, bust up and bury your ash trays, lite a fire in a metal pail or other small fire appropriate container and burn up any remaining cigs, matches… Give your lighters to panhandlers (keep at least 1 for lighting the fireplace next winter).

Clean it up

Get your drapes and carpets cleaned, detail the inside of your car, make sure your clothes are all smoke free – air them out or get them cleaned, especially your coats that you haven’t worn for a few months. Plan this and pull it all together in the days right before your quit date. If you get the car detailed in advance, no smoking in the car from then on. If you get the carpets and drapes cleaned, no smoking in the house from then on… You get the idea.

Am I really depriving myself?

Don’t think of quitting smoking as depriving yourself of smokes. Instead think of the things you are giving yourself such as better health, the ability to smell and taste, to walk/jog/swim farther without getting out of breath, your clothes smell better, you don’t have to plan how many smokes will be enough for your next trip. If you want to think of things it deprives you, try some of these — how about morning cough, wheezing, burn holes in your clothes (c’mon I know you have a least one hole in a pair of pants or a shirt), maybe bad breath, bad teeth, yellow stains on your hands.

What about urges and cravings?

quit smoking planSometimes a craving or an urge (what’s the difference anyways? that’s a popular question here at SMART) can feel like the here all and end all of our life, when we are in the midst of it. But the truth is that it is just a temporary, fleeting experience. And the further we distance ourselves away from whatever behavior we are having the urge to participate in, the fewer urges we have.

The general high frequency in the beginning, particularly as we are in withdrawals for the first (average) 3 days, is also a temporary situation. It might feel like it will never go away, but it will, and before we know it. 3 days is not a long time! though it may seem like it when caught up in the experience.


So, when an urge would strike for me, it helped to speak, or think the words: “This is temporary.” It is not a permanent state. This helped take some of the edge off some of that claustrophobic feeling of inevitability and then refocus on something else. I found the sooner I refocused, the faster it went away – often within seconds (when I was counting breaths).


“Usually” when I have, or would have, a desire to smoke or drink, it very often times was with the idea that it would “punish” someone else if I were to do so, usually my SO. Part of the reasoning was “Sheesh. They KNOW what I’m trying to do here, why aren’t they walking on eggshells!? and bending over backwards!? If they don’t appreciate what I’m trying to do, well, why am I doing it?… I’ll show THEM!”

quit smoking

A personal story

tips to quit smokingI timed my quit with a rather major (painful) event — oral surgery. I decided that smoking certainly wasn’t helping my oral health, and since I had to invest a lot of money on my teeth, I decided I’d quit the day of the surgery. I admit that I was very motivated — I’d determined I was no longer a smoker. But I think it helped to be in pain/not wanting to do much of anything for several days following the surgery! So, I’m thinking that perhaps if you have something planned that takes you out of your daily “routine”, it might be helpful to plan to quit when that occurs. Doesn’t have to be a surgery … maybe a vacation … just something that gets you out of the daily routine for a bit.


I was willing to give myself every possible advantage. I’d read that the nicotine patches aren’t necessarily helpful to all, and while I knew that I was done with smoking, I thought they might be helpful to me. So, I bought the 1st month’s supply. (I ended up using them for about 2.5 weeks, and never got the 2nd and 3rd month supply. Seems that I had more of a struggle with missing the emotional attachment to smoking vs. the actual nicotine.)


Moral of the story? Do anything/everything that you believe may be helpful to you, regardless of whether it worked for me or anyone else!


Even at 50++ years old, I indulge in bubble gum and can again pop and snap as good as the most talented 9 year olds I’ve ever known. And I keep a stash of brush-tooth-picks always at hand (I recommend Doctor’s brand if they’re available. They’re relatively inexpensive compared to other products out there.) to satisfy that hand-to-mouth habit, with the extra added bonus of being good to my teeth and gums after so many years of abusive smoking.


When an urge strikes, the important thing is to think/do something else until the urge leaves. As bad as urges get, they will subside.

Go brush your teeth. Once you spend the time to thoroughly brush, you won’t want to mess up that fresh mouth with a nasty smoke, would you?

Read your CBA. It will contain reason why you are doing this, which should reinforce your resolve to not smoke this time.


Or you can just white knuckle through it. Sooner or later you will just have to tell the urge to go away, that you are in control and you choose not to smoke this time.


Remember, only you get to decide if you smoke again. No one else has that power over you, especially a simple little urge.

quit smoking cigarettes

Now What?

If you haven’t already, visit our Stop Smoking page.

Getting started with SMART Recovery is easy! You can join our online support group on the messageboard 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 order the SMART Recovery Handbook.