Research has shown that the best way to quit smoking and stay smoke free is to combine a cessation aid (like the patch or nicotine gum) with a strong support system. A health-care professional or support group can coach you through the ups and downs of nicotine withdrawal and quitting.
Before you start on your path to being a former smoker, ask your doctor about local community groups that focus on cigarette smokers (like Nicotine Anonymous). Your health department or hospital outreach program will have information about a group that fits your needs. Finding a group of people you can relate to will help you through the process of quitting. You’ll see that lots of other people have had setbacks or obstacles, and you can learn from them.
You will also need accountability partners. Ask your friends, family members, and coworkers to help you through the cravings and urges to smoke. They can serve as a strong support system when the going gets tough. And they will be your biggest cheerleaders when you reach a new milestone.
Talking with someone over the phone, someone you don’t know or have a relationship with, may be easier than confiding in a family member or friend. Reach out to experts at the American Lung Association’s HelpLine at 1-800-548-8252. They can provide practical tips for beating a craving or understanding a medicine. The national tobacco quit line, staffed by medical experts and quit coaches, is also available for your questions. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669).
Accountability and support can be found on the Internet, too. Online stop-smoking programs—such as the Freedom from Smoking plan offered by the American Lung Association or QuitNet—bring together people who are trying to quit. On each of these sites, you can find message boards, question-and-answer sessions with experts, and resources for getting answers to your stop-smoking questions. They also offer tips for dealing with the anxiety and frustrations of quitting, plus information on how to make the most of your new smoke-free life.