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Why Quitting Is Hard

Many ex-smokers say quitting was the hardest thing they ever did. Yet millions of people have been able to do it—and you can, too.

One of the first steps is to learn why you feel like you need to smoke. Once you understand why you smoke, you can prepare yourself to find the best ways to quit. Build a Quit Plan to help you identify your smoking triggers, learn about managing cravings, and explore different quit methods.

Withdrawal

One of the main reasons smokers keep smoking is nicotine. Nicotine is a chemical in cigarettes that makes you addicted to smoking. Over time, your body gets used to having nicotine. However, the more you smoke‚ the more nicotine you need to feel normal. When your body doesn't get nicotine, you may feel uncomfortable and crave cigarettes. This is called withdrawal.
It takes time to get over withdrawal. Most physical symptoms go away after a few days to a week, but cigarette cravings may stick around longer. There are ways you can be prepared for withdrawal.
Fact:
The worst withdrawal symptoms only last a few days to a couple of weeks. Stay strong!

Triggers

When you smoke, certain activities, feelings, and people become linked to your smoking. These may "trigger" your urge to smoke. Try to anticipate these smoking triggers and develop ways to deal with them:
  • Go to places that don't allow smoking. Shops, movie theaters, and many restaurants are now smokefree.
  • Spend more time with non-smokers. You won't want to smoke as badly if you are around people who don't smoke.
  • Keep your hands busy. Play a game on your phone, eat a healthy snack, or squeeze a stress ball.
  • Take a deep breath. Remind yourself why you want to stop smoking. Think of people in your life who will be happier and healthier because you decided to quit.
Count your savings! To pass time during a craving, think of how you’ll spend what you’ve saved.

Consider Using a Quit Smoking Program

Quit smoking programs help smokers understand and cope with problems they have when trying to quit. The programs teach problem-solving and other coping skills. A quit smoking program can help you quit for good by:
  • Helping you understand why you smoke.
  • Teaching you how to handle withdrawal and stress.
  • Teaching you tips to help resist the urge to smoke.
Visit your county or state government's website to see if they offer quit smoking programs in your area. If you want to talk to a quit smoking counselor right away, call 1–800–QUIT–NOW. 
You can also get on-the-go quit support through your mobile phone with the Smokefree text messaging programs and mobile phone apps.

More For You

When you have a craving, it's important to have a plan to beat that urge to smoke.
Getting support from people in your life can make a big difference. Remember you are not in this alone.
A slip is when you smoke a cigarette while you are trying to quit. When it happens, you can get back on track.
No single quit smoking method is right for everyone. Learn more to decide which ones might be right for you.