Why is the desire so strong

Psychiatry, Psychosomatics & Psychotherapy


Difficult farewell - this is how smokers succeed in getting out of addiction

From smoker to non-smoker - it's not that easy. There is an intermediate step: first the smoker becomes a smoker who no longer smokes. It takes a lot of time and a firm will to become a real non-smoker.

You lean towards cigarette smoke, you puff, you are addicted (Fagerström test for nicotine addiction) and you spend money on harming yourself: there are enough reasons to quit smoking. They are a start, but not enough. "Quitting smoking is more complex than you think," says Martina Pötschke-Langer from the German Cancer Research Center on the occasion of World No Tobacco Day on May 31. Not least because nicotine is a “very heavy drug”. Prospective non-smokers have to prepare for physical withdrawal. Above all, however, the addiction will always put you to the psychological test. A few tips for aspiring non-smokers and those who want to stay smoke-free.

Before quitting smoking ...

... the will counts: "A firm decision, a firm will is the prerequisite for quitting smoking," says Pötschke-Langer. It doesn't work without it.

... you need a good reason: According to the psychologist Maja Storch, author of the book "Rauchpause", it has to be even more than will: "You need a good reason that also convinces the unconscious." This can be the birth of a child, an upcoming operation or the fact that you don't want to have typical smokers' skin in old age. "It is important that you notice that the reason is triggering a strong emotional response," explains Storch. Only then are you self-motivated. And you have to be: after all, smoking also makes up part of the personality, says Storch.

... make an appointment: It is best to set a specific date, recommends Gabriele Bartsch from the German Central Office for Addiction Issues (DHS). It doesn't always have to be New Year's - any date, if possible within reach that you set for yourself, can be the beginning of the end as a smoker. Such a “magical limit” can work, says psychologist Storch.

... you put yourself under pressure: Once you've made the decision, it's best to tell others about it. This puts you under more pressure to really pull it off, explains Bartsch.

... you prepare: If you want to use aids such as nicotine chewing gums or patches, you should have them available by the scheduled date, advises Pötschke-Langer. And: "You should throw away your smoking utensils."

... you shouldn't be afraid: "The fear of withdrawal is often worse than the withdrawal itself," says Bartsch. After three to four days, nicotine is no longer detectable. The purely physical withdrawal is over after about 14 days. Incidentally, weight gain is likely, but not a must: "Smoking is stress for the body," explains Bartsch. "That's why it costs energy." Those who eat just as much and do not move more often than before are likely to gain weight. This is why you should take countermeasures: by consuming fewer calories or by exercising more.

In the first time without cigarettes ...

... you distract yourself: "Run away from addiction," suggests Pötschke-Langer. You don't have to become a top athlete just because you quit smoking. But you should plan to get fresh air every day. "Or you can do ten squats instead of smoking," says Bartsch. If you want to distract yourself with eating, it is best to choose fruit, vegetables or sugar-free chewing gum - that not only sounds sensible, but also causes less frustration than chocolate in the long run.

... you break with old habits: Anyone who usually indulged in coffee and cigarettes on the balcony in the morning should at least sit down with their cup somewhere else. "Maybe you switch to tea," recommends Pötschke-Langer.

... renouncing not only applies to cigarettes: Perhaps you replace the morning cigarette with a gymnastics program, suggests Bartsch. For many, alcohol and cigarettes belong together - then maybe it's better to leave the alcohol off for a few weeks. Smoking bars are also not a good meeting place at first.

... you should warn those around you: Quitting smoking is accompanied by withdrawal symptoms: restlessness, malaise, irritability - this list could go on and on. Pötschke-Langer advises you to prepare your surroundings for this. Then friends and family could be more supportive if the worst comes to the worst, or at least they understand the bad mood.

On the way to becoming a non-smoker ...

... you should think about money from time to time: Anyone who smoked about a box a day saves around 35 euros a week, Pötschke-Langer calculates. In six months that will be around 900 euros.

... one should also be prepared for the relapse: Of course, one should avoid relapse as much as possible. But if it did happen and you smoked one, you should leave it at that and not give up the whole project to non-smokers.

... you should stay vigilant: In the first four to six weeks, the risk of relapse is still quite high, warns Bartsch. Even after that, the temptation continues for a year or two. "You are a smoker for a very long time, and you don't smoke."

... arm yourself against the best trick of the psyche: The psyche has a lot of meanness ready to make you smoke again. Your best trick, according to Bartsch, is this train of thought: "I haven't smoked for so long that I'm over it and can treat myself to a cigarette as a reward." You shouldn't fall for that, otherwise you'll be a smoker again faster than you can light a cigarette.

Source: dpa