According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking causes over 480,000 deaths in the United States annually, which amounts to one in five deaths. This number makes smoking the leading preventable cause of death in the country, as it has more casualties than the combined number of deaths caused by the following: alcohol and drug abuse, motor-related injuries, firearm-related injuries, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
You’d think that given this staggering statistic, people would be more wary of smoking. However, the risk of dying from it continues to increase in the last five decades. It also causes 90% of lung cancer cases in men and women.
Thankfully, more and more people are realizing the need to prioritize their health and to stop smoking. This brings the question of how to quit smoking in the first place. Quitting “cold turkey,” or suddenly quitting smoking all at once, is one of the more popular ways through which smokers try to quit the habit.
Those who try to quit without the help of formal therapy, medication, or nicotine replacement do so because they think it’s as simple as just deciding to stop smoking all of a sudden. However, the withdrawal symptoms from trying to wean yourself off nicotine dependence are often powerful and instantaneous. You’ll experience agitation, irritability, mood swings, and strong cravings to light up within hours of trying to quit.
Despite these challenges, there are still many benefits to quitting cold turkey. For instance, you may find it better to deal with the withdrawal symptoms in one go than to deal with milder symptoms over a longer period of time.
Using nicotine patches or gums can also tempt you into seeking the real thing, while trying therapy can be time-consuming and costly. Finally, quitting cold turkey saves you money from purchasing medication or seeking help, the amount of which can add up to a pretty hefty sum.
However, quitting cold turkey relies not only on your willpower, but also on having a solid plan. Here’s how you can maximize your success:
- Set a deadline for yourself and get rid of your lighters and ashtrays beforehand. You’ll be able to focus on quitting smoking when you don’t have easy access to these items.
- Avoid situations where you may be tempted to smoke, such as cigarette breaks at work or going out drinking with your friends. This isn’t permanent, but only until your withdrawal symptoms have subsided.
- Keep your mouth busy by eating healthy snacks such as fruits or drinking water. This gives your mouth something to do to better fight the urge to smoke.
- Finally, tell your friends and family that you are trying to quit smoking, so they can support you and avoid putting you in situations where you may be tempted to smoke.
Deciding to quit smoking may be one of the best decisions you’ll make for yourself. You can try to quit cold turkey if you feel up for it, and if it fails, then simply try another method until you get rid of the habit.