PUBLISHED: 5:14 PM on Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Avoid 'triggers' when quitting smoking
An important thing to remember is that the decision to quit smoking is even more important than the desire. You need to have both; however, there is often some ambivalence when thinking about quitting. This is expected, but a firm decision "to quit" can make all the difference. Pick your quit day!

The next thing to consider in the process is making a plan. This is often called the "Trigger Plan." Once you become aware of your triggers, those situations and emotions that you have associated with smoking, you need to decide what you will do during your "triggers" instead of smoke. You need to come up with alternatives and substitutions and write them down so that when you are in the middle of dealing with urges you can simply look at your plan and you will know what to do.

Another very important aspect is to have a secure support system in place. It has been found that having strong support is one of the most important factors in helping people quit for the long term. Don't be afraid to ask for this help and support when you need it.

The use of nicotine replacement or other medications to help you quit can be a very important part of the quitting process. These medications help you deal with the physical aspects of the addiction so that you can then more easily focus your efforts on the psychological and habitual parts of the addiction without being as bothered by withdrawal symptoms or as we like to call them "recovery symptoms."

After all, they are signs that you are recovering from nicotine addiction and that you are not smoking.

The most common reason people give for relapsing back to smoking is stress, so, part of preparing to quit has to be learning how to deal with stress without cigarettes. Stress is actually our reaction to an event rather than the event itself and in order to manage our stress we need to manage our emotions. Learning and practicing relaxation techniques and using other methods when dealing with stress is critical to quitting for the long term.

Lynda Koski is a Tobacco Cessation counselor at Bartlett Regional Hospital.