The quitting journey is tough. When you’ve decided to make that change, what can you do to support you to quit nicotine?

What is nicotine?

Nicotine is a chemical compound present in cigarettes and in some e-cigs and vapes. It is a substance produced by the tobacco plant. From the first inhale or puff, nicotine is detected in the brain. Receptors in the brain are activated and your dopamine levels increase. This creates feelings of pleasure. The desire to smoke increases as more nicotine is needed to gain the reward. Because of this reward cycle, nicotine is highly addictive. This is the reason it is incredibly difficult to quit smoking despite knowing the potential health risks. 

What happens when you decide to quit nicotine?

The first step to quitting nicotine is to make the decision. Sounds simple, but it’s often the hardest part. If you have used nicotine and smoked for a number of years, it really is a life-changing decision. 

As with any habit, quitting smoking takes focus, dedication and willpower. So it’s super important to rally up all the support you can to help you get through it. There is one thing you need to be prepared for though…the withdrawal symptoms.

What does withdrawal feel like?

When you reduce or stop your regular intake of nicotine, you are likely to feel withdrawal symptoms This is due to the chemical imbalance in the brain.  

Some symptoms include:

  • Strong cravings for nicotine

  • Irritability and mood swings

  • Anxiety and stress

  • Trouble concentrating

  • Digestive issues

  • Difficulty sleeping

These symptoms can feel uncomfortable, but are perfectly normal, and will reduce over time. 

What support can you get for quitting nicotine?

Find a support group

Get yourself a trusty band of friends and family. You need people who will support you when the going gets rough. You could also try enlisting the help of a smoking cessation coach online or IRL. Have a look for quit smoking groups in your local area too. Being part of a group who share the same goal helps you get through. Let’s face it, getting a good night’s sleep can be much harder when you start your quit journey. If you are tossing and turning at night, seek support on a quitting app whatever the time of day or night.

Think of the benefits of quitting

There are so many benefits to quitting smoking. The number one benefit is your health and the health of those around you. There are a range of health conditions and diseases that smokers are more at risk of. As soon as you stub out your last smoke, your body starts to feel the benefits. 

Alongside the health aspects, you are saving a lot of money. These extra funds can be used for savings or to treat yourself to something nice. Kicking the habit can also kickstart your love life and rewire your brain by breaking the addiction cycle!  

Master your motivation

There are plenty of reasons for quitting smoking, but some motivations are better than others. Motivations can be intrinsic or extrinsic - an intrinsic motivation towards a goal is much more powerful than an extrinsic motivation away from something. 

Some intrinsic motivations include:

  • I don’t want to get ill or develop a smoking-related disease

  • I don’t want to spend all my money on cigarettes

  • I don’t want to encourage other people to smoke

  • I don’t want to be a slave to my cravings

These motivations are based in fear and will cause you stress which could pressure you into lighting up again. Remember that the pesky nicotine makes you feel all nice and relaxed? Reframe your motivations so that you are moving towards a positive smoke-free future.

Some extrinsic motivations include:

  • I want to have the freedom that comes from being smoke-free

  • I want to welcome new, fun activities into my life

  • I want to be free of cravings and control my own life

  • I want to spend my money on things that bring me joy

Pick a motivation that lights you up inside more than your desire to light up. Take some time to build up a strong and positive emotional reaction to your motivation. This will inspire you to carry on whatever challenges you face. 

Smoking cessation products

Don’t forget that there are plenty of products on the market specifically designed to support your quit journey. Nicotine replacement therapy provides a smaller hit of nicotine to ease the withdrawal symptoms. Some of the options include nicotine chewing gum, nicotine patches, and lozenges. Speak to a medical professional about the range of prescription only options too. 

Alternatives to nicotine

Many people turn to e-cigarettes or vapes as an alternative to smoking. These are useful smoking cessation aids that can support you on your quit journey. However, the health implications of these products are still not fully understood. 

A better choice is a personal aromatherapy zero nicotine diffuser. These handy sticks pack a healthy punch thanks to their natural ingredients. They harness the beneficial essential oils of plants and aromatherapy is a healthy alternative to nicotine-based products. Have a look at our Ripple+ range and choose your next flavour. 

How can I support someone else quitting nicotine?

It could be a friend, family member, partner, flatmate, colleague. It doesn’t matter who they are, if you know someone who is committed to quitting nicotine, you can help support their journey. In fact, you could play an important role in helping them transform into their smoke-free self. If you smoke as well, it is a good opportunity to support each other.

Recognise the challenges

This one can be particularly hard for non-smokers to get their head around. Smoking is incredibly addictive and it isn’t just a case of take it or leave it. Although they have decided to quit, the cravings and thoughts about smoking will still be there. It really is a constant battle with the nicotine demons. So offering your understanding will help immensely. 

Avoid criticism

The quit journey is a bumpy road with more downs than ups. One of the potential downs is giving in to a craving and smoking. If this happens, don’t criticise them. This can cause an even bigger setback. Instead, accept that they’ve slipped up and let them know you can help get them back on track. Talk positively about their previous progress to encourage them. People often take more than one attempt to quit before ditching the cigarettes completely. 

Celebrate the wins

There will be many hurdles on the way - the first trip to a bar without lighting up, having an alcoholic drink without a cigarette, socialising without a smoke. These are all huge steps that should be celebrated. Recognising these achievements goes a long way to building up the motivation to carry on the journey. 

Be patient

Giving up nicotine can cause feelings of frustration and plenty of irritability. Try to not get triggered by this and remember it is all part of the journey. Nicotine addiction is a complicated physiological and psychological battle. Remaining calm and not taking it personally will be difficult, but benefits them in the long run. Don’t lose confidence and faith that they can get through it.