PUBLISHED: 6:35 PM on Wednesday, January 2, 2008
Quit smoking? Who me?
How does a person quit smoking, and stay quit? How does one conquer an addiction that is both physical and psychological, and break a habit after so many years?

Well, it may not be easy, but 40 million Americans have quit and so can you.

Tobacco use is a triple addiction.

First, your body becomes physically addicted to nicotine. It causes changes in your brain chemistry and after a while the body does not "feel" normal unless it has nicotine.

Second, you also become psychologically addicted. Pavlov's theory explains this. He uses the training of a dog as an example. He rang a bell whenever the dog ate and after a while he only had to ring the bell and the dog would begin to salivate, whether it was hungry or not. So it happens with tobacco use. Even when you are no longer physically dependent on nicotine, being exposed to one of your triggers or bells (situations where you usually smoked) can cause a craving or urge to smoke and that craving or urge is very real.

Courtesy photo
  It may not be easy, but you can be among the 40 million Americans who have quit smoking.
Third, we are dealing with a habit. It is something you have done over and over for many years and now you frequently do unconsciously. A person who smokes a pack of cigarettes a day raises his hand to his mouth, holding a cigarette, approximately 200 times each day. There are not many things any of us do 200 times each day and this kind of repetition contributes to the formation of the habit.

So, quitting is a process. It takes time, effort and commitment to address and overcome each of these aspects. One of the first steps is becoming aware. Becoming aware of when and why you smoke. You can't change something that you aren't aware of. Also, you need to weigh the pros and cons of this very important decision. Making a list of what you like about smoking and what you don't like about it, why you want to quit and what will be the hardest part of quitting for you will all help you change. Ignoring what you like about smoking when making your decision can often be the "backdoor" for you to later relapse back to smoking. You need to close the back doors. Becoming aware will start you on your journey to quitting for good.