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Stages of Quitting Smoking

Quitting smoking is a long process and it takes a chain smoker four or five attempts to finally quit smoking. A smoker goes through several phases each of which plays an important role. There is an extreme sense of loss and grieving and it takes a lot of time and effort to break the habit. Each phase brings different issues. Here we discuss about those stages or phases of quitting smoking.

Stages of Quitting Smoking

If you are a smoker, you are likely to go through stages of quitting smoking. So if you are ready to quit smoking you must know which stage you are in. There are generally five stages of quitting smoking but here we discuss about seven stages.

Stage 1- Pre-contemplation

People at this stage do not really think about breaking the habit of smoking and if challenged they will strongly defend their smoking behavior. They feel they are too addicted to quit smoking. Smoking is seen as a way to relax, enjoy. Smokers feel that the benefits of smoking are more important than the costs involved in buying cigarettes. However, smokers are open to the information on health benefits of quitting smoking.

Stage 2- Contemplation

This is the stage when the smoker wants to quit but finds excuses to not take any step immediately. Here, the smoker is aware of the pros and cons of smoking. The contradictory feelings stop them from going on to the next stage. What motivates the smokers at this stage is the awareness about the ill effects of smoking. At this stage, the smoker tries to identify the barriers that prevent them from quitting smoking.

Stage 3- Preparation

This is the stage when the smoker finally decides to quit smoking. It is the most important stage when they actually realize the harmful effects of smoking and start taking baby steps towards it. Often within a month the smoker decides to quit smoking and lists ideas how to do it. A smoker may come up with activities that will help him to overcome the urge to smoke. The smoker may also set a date to quit smoking. He may look for support from the family doctor; he may also want to get enrolled in a stop smoking clinic.

Stage 4 – Action

The Action phase begins on the day the smoker starts to quit. This stage lasts until smoking becomes a secondary nature. It may take four weeks to six months. At this stage the smoker may feel the pains of withdrawal as well the urge to smoke. The lack of nicotine may cause depression, restlessness, headaches and anxiety. At this stage it is imperative that the smoker gets adequate support from family, friends, and others. The smokers try to get mentally strong and draw up action plans to deal with both external and internal pressures that might cause going into slips.

Stage 5- Maintenance

Former smokers in this stage try different ways to handle temptations to smoke. They are now able to cope with boredom, social pressures, stress and anxiety. Though sometimes they do slip and have a cigarette, they try to learn from that mistake and makes sure that may not happen again. This gives them a stronger sense of control and the ability to be a non-smoker. Now the smoker can forget how difficult it was to give up smoking. This is the step before success.

Stage 6- Termination

This is the stage when the smoker has mastered addiction and has put an end to the dependency on cigarettes. The smoker is totally aware about the triggers that will let him feel the urge to smoke again. Now the smoker can comfortably handle any emotional situation without smoking. Thus, cigarettes are longer a part of a smoker’s life. One must be always careful at this stage as many smokers have started smoking after years of gap.

Stage 7- Relapse

Setbacks are a part of the natural quitting process, thus, a smoker may tend to start having cigarettes again. It usually takes several attempts before a smoker actually quits for good. Relapse of smoking may cause disappointment again. However, failure does not mean that one cannot give up smoking ever. One must not get affected by the negative emotions and should focus on what strategies worked and what didn’t work.

Thus, once you have been through the above phases and turn into a non-smoker you will start experiencing things in a better way. Always reward yourself for the success you had. You can also start jotting down the benefits of being a non-smoker.

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