Butting Out for Dummies – a four-step program

A how-to-guide
by Chris Hibbard
and Vanessa Cancade

stop-smoking-357-784769

Butting Out for Dummies – a four-step program

Any smoker who has ever tried to quit has likely failed at least one time, relapsing into nicotine habits after a stressful day or even one stressful hour. Having attempted to quit the cancer sticks ourselves a combined dozen times, Ms. Cancade and I have a few tips that seem to work better than others – none of which require prescriptions, patches, substitutions, pills or nicotine gum.

It should be clarified right here and right now that none of these steps actually require you to stop purchasing cigarettes, thereby going cold turkey and facing four days of hell. But by following these four steps, the number of cigarettes you smoke each day will gradually reduce on its own.

* * *

Step 1 – Remove smoking from the situation

If you tend to smoke in your house, it’s time to take it outside. If you tend to smoke on your back porch, make the entire yard smoke-free and off-limits. If you tend to smoke while driving your car, always make yourself pull over and get out to have a butt. If you already tend to cross the street to smoke in the neighborhood park, try walking around the entire block instead.

In this manner, one must put in a little extra effort to have that smoke. You might have to put a coat, hat and boots on to smoke – discouragement enough. You might have to leave work or home a few minutes earlier or later to get that first/last smoke in, a few minutes that could otherwise be sleep-in time, or used some other beneficial way.

Step 2 – Remove yourself from the situation

Many of us smoke more heavily in certain situation. At parties, at poker games, after smoking something else, with coffee, after sex, etc. Step 2 on the road to becoming smoke-free involves breaking these smoking ‘habits’, and can be tricky. Yet this step is very important.

You may have to choose your parties or poker players accordingly. You may need to completely cut yourself off from drinking Scotch, beer or coffee for up to three weeks.

During this step you may also need to find other things to do with your fingers and mouth. Aside from the chemical and neuro-physiological addictive qualities inherent to modern tobacco products, the biggest addictive aspect to smoking is this oral and/or ‘hand’ fixation.

Some people choose to chew gum or toothpicks. Some prefer candies or lozenges. Still others prefer carrots and celery sticks. This is totally up to the individual. However, by satisfying your physical cravings with healthier substitutes, you are rewarding yourself for good behaviour with additional good behaviour.

Step 3 – Taking up other activities

Smoking may not seem like it, but it can really make you kind of lazy. In attempting to quit smoking, many people gain weight. Appetites return, and combined with Step 2’s oral fixation, stuffing your face is not uncommon in the attempt to keep your mind and body occupied with anything but that craving to smoke. That’s where Step 3 comes in.

When that devilish craving hits ya hard – and it will – acknowledge it, accept it, but do not fear it.
Instead, drop and do ten push-ups. Fill the sink with soapy water and clean neglected corners of your house. Grab a partner and dance around the living room for one or two songs. Grab a novel and read a chapter. Have a bath or shave your face.

The list of alternatives is truly endless, but by engaging in different behaviours in the face of bad cravings, you are essentially re-training your brain. Sooner or later, when your brain signals an oncoming craving, your first reaction may turn out to be not a smoke, but a load of dishes instead. Without even realizing it, you’re losing weight, having more fun, and living in a cleaner house, all because you’re working towards a healthier non-smoking new you.

Step 4 – The reward for good behaviour

Cigarettes are getting bloody expensive. In Canada, including taxes and mark-up, a single pack of name-brand butts at the local Mac’s costs $13 today. That’s thirteen dollars for 25 cigarettes, or about 50 cents a smoke.

Every time you get the craving to smoke, drop two quarters in a jar. Every time you feel the need to buy a pack, drop a ten dollar bill in the jar. Every time you actually “NEED” to buy a pack of smokes, you’ve got money sitting there in a jar, it’s true.

But if stuck on the side of the jar is a motivating picture or word, the incentive to spend that money on things other than poisonous sticks becomes readily apparent. Stick a picture of Hawaii, Mexico, or Australia on the jar. Stick a picture of the new 2009 Dodge Challenger, an HD plasma television set or I-Phone, a new video game or DVD, a new dress or coat, it can be anything that means something to you. It can be expensive or not, it really doesn’t matter as long as it’s a goal – something you desire but don’t necessarily need – a luxury in other words that you’ve never bought because it seemed frivolous or too expensive.

In a perfect world this sticker or word may imply a favourite charity or social welfare group, or maybe a hot date or gift for a spouse, girlfriend or special buddy. (Hot first dates are good motivators too, for all you bachelors(ettes) out there.

When the cravings have slowed down and you truly believe that you’re past the worst of your nicotine addiction, (this may take up to three months); it’s FUN TIME!

Grab the jar/can/bucket, whatever you’ve been using; and dump it upside down on the kitchen table. Start counting the coins and bills you’ve tossed in there and be amazed at how quickly you’ve raised some cash. Reflect briefly about how bloody expensive smokes are nowadays, and then go shopping. Use all this money that you’ve saved on smokes to treat yourself to your chosen luxury item.

In the future, everytime you turn on your plasma TV, look at photos from your Hawaii trip, or see your wife in silky lingeries, you can know immediately where the money came from for that item – a constant reminder of why you kicked the habit in the first place.

* * *

Using these four simple steps, you’ll quit smoking, get in better shape, lose weight, save money and treat yourself – heck, you might even get laid out of the deal – all without ever popping a purple pill, slapping a patch on, getting a needle or even going cold turkey. Let us know how it works for you.

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~ by Chris Hibbard on November 8, 2008.

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