How long does it take to stop smoking?
Taken the first step towards quitting smoking? Good for you. If you have, you’re probably wondering how long it will take you to kick the habit for good. The truth is that everyone is different – there’s no rule on how long it takes between putting out your final cigarette and becoming magically smoke free. It could be that you only experience mild withdrawal symptoms that you’re able to tackle. Or it could be that you have more intense cravings that makes it harder for you to stop. Giving up smoking can be a bit like taking your driving test. You might be successful on your first try, while for others it could take them longer and a few more attempts. The important thing to remember is that it’s never too late to start your quit journey, even if it’s not the first time you’ve tried.
Is there an easy way to stop smoking?
While there’s no real easy way to stop smoking, there are definitely things you can do to improve your chances. Whether you find stopping smoking easy or not can depend on your physical dependence on nicotine. As nicotine is a highly addictive chemical, life without it can be a big challenge at first. Some people can find it takes longer to stop if they’ve been a heavy smoker or have smoked for a long time. Generally, combining willpower with Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) and accessing available support is a good way to stop smoking but ultimately, it’s all about finding the method that works best for you.
Going Cold Turkey
If you’re looking for how to stop smoking immediately – without using NRT – then you could simply try to summon up all your willpower not to touch a cigarette again. Cravings and withdrawal symptoms can crop up at any time after you stop smoking. They may generally become less frequent as time goes on. If you can get through the early challenges, the path to a smoke-free future can be clearer. It’s not for everyone though. Leaving cravings and withdrawals untreated can be difficult and research has found only 3 in 100 smokers successfully quit by going cold turkey.
Try Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)
If you’ve tried to go cold turkey and failed to quit, you may find it easier to wean yourself off cigarettes by using a Nicotine Replacement Therapy – or NRT – product. These include nicotine patches, gum, sprays, inhalators and lozenges. For example, you could use our Nicorette Cools Lozenges. Place a lozenge in the mouth when you feel your cravings start. The product then releases a small amount of nicotine into your body through the lining of your mouth as it dissolves – without the tar, carbon monoxide and other poisonous chemical present in tobacco smoke. Some NRT products can be used in combination to help you stop smoking and gradually reduce your nicotine intake. Compared to going cold turkey, using NRT can double your chances of quitting. How long it takes to stop can vary depending on how you get on and the NRT product you use. Generally, NRT therapy lasts 8-12 weeks before you gradually reduce the dose and eventually stop.
Follow a quit plan
Keeping on top of your cravings is really important when you’re looking to quit. Putting a quit plan in place based on your smoking habits can help you avoid potential triggers and give you a goal to work towards. Set a timescale with a date when you want to be smoke free. Then build out a strategy that helps you avoid triggers. This should involve staying away from things you associate with smoking. Try to find replacement activities or alternatives, such as exercise, to keep your mind off smoking day-by-day.
Get professional support
You’re more likely to stop smoking with expert help and advice – so don’t feel you have to do this alone. Your pharmacist, GP and local NHS stop smoking services can all help in various ways. They’ll offer expert advice and guidance around appropriate treatments and strategies for you, supporting you along the way.
Cut out cravings
Whether you’ve only been smoking for a few weeks or several years, you’re likely to get cravings when you stop. These are often powerful mental and physical urges for a cigarette. How long these nicotine withdrawal symptoms and cravings last will often depend on how long you’ve been smoking and how many cigarettes you usually smoked each day. NRT products can help you to conquer these cravings. Other things you can do include:
• Making non-smoking friends so you’re not tempted to go out for a smoke when others do
• Staying away from alcohol (especially in the first week) as it’s a common trigger and can make cigarettes taste better
• Distracting yourself, whether by chewing gum, playing with a stress ball or going for a run
Focus on the rewards
A great way to support your quit journey is to think of the reasons you decided to stop smoking – such as the health and financial benefits. Reward yourself with something for every smoke-free day, building them up so you stay focused. One good incentive is to work out how much money you’re saving by not buying cigarettes. Take out what you’d normally spend each week in cash and put it to one side to literally see your savings stack up. You can also use this handy chart to calculate just how much better off you can be.
Why is it so hard to stop smoking?
If you’re finding it hard to give up smoking then don’t worry, you’re not alone. As we’ve explained, the nicotine in cigarettes is highly addictive and can leave you with cravings when you try to stop. But it’s important to remember that these will reduce in time and NRT could help you conquer them while you’re working towards becoming completely smoke free.
Begin your journey to a smoke-free future with Nicorette
Nicorette products aim to make your quit journey easier and quicker. Each one is designed to support you every step of the way on your path to a smoke-free future. NRT products double your chances of quitting successfully vs going cold turkey and there’s a wide range to choose from including nicotine patches, gum, spray, lozenges and inhalators. Start your journey by finding an NRT product that’s right for you.