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Quit Smoking: Going Cold Turkey

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1Quit Smoking: Going Cold Turkey Empty Quit Smoking: Going Cold Turkey on 30th November 2009, 3:22 pm

Can you do it? You'll need a lot of willpower and a very strong motivator to quit smoking without the help of smoking cessation aids.

Going cold turkey is a time-honored way to stop smoking. You just stop smoking on a selected day, without taking any medications or using any smoking cessation aids. Evidence suggests that nine out of every 10 smokers will attempt to quit cold turkey at some point.

It's an incredibly tough method to use to quit smoking, as you will have nothing other than your own willpower to depend on when struggling with cravings or handling symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. On the other hand, it's as simple a means to quit as you can imagine — you make the decision, then stick with it.

Pros and Cons of Going Cold Turkey

There are drawbacks to quitting cold turkey. In general, medical experts do not recommend the cold turkey method as a good way to quit smoking, Here’s why:

Research has found that fewer than 5 percent of smokers succeed when they go cold turkey. "The data generally don't support cold turkey as a method of quitting," says Thomas Glynn, PhD, director of cancer science and trends and international cancer control for the American Cancer Society. "A better way is to combine counseling with medication." Research has also found that people who use medications or nicotine replacement therapies like the nicotine patch, nicotine gum, or nicotine inhaler can double or triple their chances of quitting successfully. When you go cold turkey, you are essentially shrugging off medical advances designed to make it easier for you to quit. There are also some advantages to quitting cold turkey. If you can accomplish this goal, you’ll be doing so at virtually no cost. And going cold turkey can work for smokers at certain extremes:

Going cold turkey makes sense if you are a light smoker who smokes fewer than 10 cigarettes a day. Cold turkey also often works for a heavy smoker whose has received bad health-related news or is dealing with a serious smoking-related illness. In those cases, you’d have tremendous motivation to overcome cravings and withdrawal to preserve your own life. You also might get a head-start on quitting smoking if you've been hospitalized, because you will have gone days or weeks without smoking any cigarettes. Undergoing a painful illness such as a cardiac arrest also tends to decrease the desire to smoke.
Tips for Succeeding Going Cold Turkey

If you do decide to go cold turkey, here are some steps you can take to improve your chances of success:

Choose a quit day and plan for it. Pick a day within the next four weeks. Use the intervening time to pay attention to what triggers your desire to smoke, so you can avoid those triggers later on. You also might begin to scale back on the number of cigarettes you smoke each day, to make it easier to cut yourself off on your quit day. Get your family and friends on board. Tell them your quit date and ask for their help. "Tell them, 'I'm going to need your support. I'm also going to need you to be kind to me because I'm going to be cranky and occasionally nasty,'"Glynn says. Get rid of your smoking paraphernalia. On quit day, toss all your matches, lighters, ashtrays, and, of course, tobacco. "Get rid of everything," Glynn says. "Say, 'That's it, I'm done.' " List the reasons why you want to quit. "Some people even take that list, laminate it, and keep it in their pocket," says Glynn. "When they start to slip, they can take it out and review it." Don't use a lapse as an excuse for giving up. Most smokers trying to quit will lapse at least once. Acknowledge what happened, but tell yourself that this does not mean you've taken up smoking again. You can use a slip-up as a learning opportunity. "Analyze the circumstances under which you slipped and try to change that behavior," Glynn says. Another important point: Come up with a plan to deal with cravings. You may find it helpful to keep a smoking journal before your quit date, to record data like what time each craving hit, where you were, and so on.

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