Quitting Smoking Cold Turkey – How, Why and Alternatives

If you are currently a smoker, it is likely that you want to quit the habit. It is equally likely that you will have tried to quit before and failed. There is no right or wrong way to quit as every smoker is an individual. The method that works for one person might be the worse possible choice for another. Quitting cold turkey is extremely tough but does have its advantages. Here’s everything you need to know about kicking the habit without the support of nicotine replacement therapies and how to quit smoking cold turkey.

quitting smoking cold turkeyWhat does quitting cold turkey mean?

Cold turkey is a strange phrase isn’t it? The expression is used to describe the cessation of substance dependency abruptly and without the support of replacement therapy. It describes the experience of enduring all the unpleasant side effects of quitting. The precise origins of the expression are a matter of debate, but it has been in common usage since the middle of the 20th century.

Why is quitting cold turkey so hard?

Going cold turkey is challenging because this method of cessation will lead to a number of withdrawal symptoms that make daily life extremely difficult to cope with. The symptoms you may experience are as follows:

  • Intense cravings for cigarettes
  • Intense cravings for nicotine
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Restlessness
  • Sleep disruption
  • Insomnia
  • Concentration issues
  • Increased appetite
  • Coughing
  • Sore throat
  • Bowel trouble
  • Nausea

This is a far from an appealing list and the impact of the withdrawal symptoms cannot be underestimated. The good news is that many of the withdrawal symptoms will last for only a few days or weeks and all of them will diminish over time. You will be sent to hell, or purgatory at least, but you will find your way back!

It is important to note that it isn’t only your nicotine addiction that makes going cold turkey so tough. You will have become used to having something to hold in your hands, the familiar feel of throat hits and basically all the habitual aspects of smoking. These can be as difficult to leave behind as the nicotine. Only 3% of attempts to quit cold turkey are successful and this statistic illustrates just how hard the process really is.

Why quit cold turkey?

Despite the obvious downsides of going cold turkey, this method of smoking cessation does have its upsides (honest!). For a start, you will begin to experience the health benefits of quitting within 20 minutes of throwing your fags in the bin. Quitting gradually will only delay any improvements in your health. Cold turkey means you will be getting the worst of the pain out of the way in a short period of time. Better still, you won’t have to spend your hard earned cash on replacement therapies.

How to quit smoking cold turkey? Are there any step by step strategies for success?

The worse thing you can do is just decide to quit smoking on a whim. If you are unprepared, you will almost inevitably fail, unless you have superhuman willpower. Here a few strategies that you can employ to enhance your chances of success:

  • Acquaint yourself with the withdrawal symptoms that you may experience
  • Choose a time when you won’t be facing stressful situations
  • Treat yourself to a new book or a boxset to provide a distraction
  • Arrange to participate in activities that will take your mind off your cravings
  • Don’t arrange to go anywhere such as the pub that might tigger your cravings
  • Tell family and friends about what you are doing and enlist their support
  • Ask friends and family not to smoke around you
  • Think about what you could do instead of smoking when you feel the urge. You could take a short walk, go for a run or chew gum. Don’t choose another unhealthy habit to replace smoking!

What are the alternatives to quitting cold turkey?

Most smokers find that quitting cold turkey is such a miserable experience that they simply can’t last the course. Quitting can leave you feeling so bad that the many serious downsides of smoking seem like the lesser of two evils.

Nicotine replacement therapies can really help. Nicotine patches, sprays and gums will alleviate your cravings. But they don’t address the other issues that you will need to overcome, and they will still leave you having to ween yourself off the nicotine at some point.

An electronic cigarette could be the best option. Vaping will give you your nicotine fix and those familiar throat hits. It will also give you something to hold. You can gradually reduce the nicotine strength of the e liquids you vape and arrive at the point when you don’t need nicotine at all.

If you don’t want to use nicotine replacement therapies, your only other option is to quit smoking gradually. Reduce the number of cigarettes you smoke each day over a period of time that you are comfortable with. But be warned! This method of quitting will leave you with temptation close at hand and so will challenge your willpower almost as much as going cold turkey.

Should you try to quit smoking cold turkey?

Only you can decide whether cold turkey is the best option for you. It is probably worth trying as it is the quickest and cheapest way to stop smoking. If this approach doesn’t work for you, don’t be too hard on yourself. Try to quit again using nicotine replacement therapies or vaping. It is vital that you find an effective way to quit and when you find the most appropriate way, you will succeed.

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