What are the 5 stages to quit smoking?

Cigarettes contain over 4000 chemicals and at least 69 of them cause cancer. These chemicals have effects on your lungs and cells, skin, teeth, hair, and heart.

Quitting smoking is one of the best things you will ever do for your health, but quitting can be daunting.

Quitting is hard, it usually takes 2-3 attempts, sometimes more, before finally being successful; but each time you try to quit, you can learn more about what helps you and what doesn’t during the quitting process. This can help you next time you decide to quit.

Many fear it will take a long time to see improvements in health and well-being, but the timeline for seeing real benefits is faster than most people realize.

Health benefits usually begin in as little as an hour after the last cigarette and continue to improve.

Quitting smoking means breaking the cycle of addiction and essentially rewiring the brain to stop craving nicotine.

Making the decision to quit can sometimes be the hardest step. nearly 69% of smokers want to quit each year. Approximately 50% of smokers attempt to quit each year. however only 1/3 of smokers who are trying to quit seek the aid of some available resources such as medication, laser treatment or counselling to help them with the process. Research has shown that these resources can help double your chances of being successful!

So, you’ve decided to quit smoking,

Great! It’s one of the best things you can do to improve your health and add years to your life. It’s not easy but you can do it. You’re more likely to succeed if you understand the 5 stages in the process of quitting smoking it is important to determine what stage you are at, since the most effective strategy is different for each stage.

Stage 1

  • Pre-contemplation

Before you are thinking about quitting it is difficult to accept that smoking is affecting your health. People who are at this stage are not really thinking about quitting, and if challenged, will probably defend their smoking behaviour. They may continue in this stage until they have a negative personal experience related to smoking including poor health or other related triggers that may influence them to quit. When this happens, they start to realize the negative impact smoking may have on their life. At some point, however, if they remain open to information, they may find that they become more interested in quitting and ready to move into the next stage.

Stage 2

  • Contemplation

smokers are in the contemplation stage if they are thinking about quitting but are not quite ready to quit. During this stage, smokers are considering quitting sometime in the near future. Part of them wants to quit, but the other part is unwilling to give up the pleasure or comfort of cigarettes, but they are more aware of the personal consequences and consider smoking a problem that needs resolution. They are considering quitting; they want to make a change and see smoking as a problem. Whether it’s financially, physically, or emotionally affecting their life. they become more open to receiving information about smoking and identifying the barriers that prevent them from quitting. They are now convinced that the negative aspects of smoking outweigh the benefits and are ready to take the next steps to develop a plan to quit. 

Stage 3

  • Preparation

At this stage, Smokers have decided to quit and are getting ready to quit. and are taking small steps towards quitting. This is the most important stage. Spending some time to prepare to quit will help increase the chance of successfully quitting. It involves identifying triggers and deciding on alternate coping strategies, re-learning their habits without cigarettes; educating themselves on what dependence is, how it works, and identifying a possible quitting aid whether it’s laser therapy, medication, or counselling.

During this stage, it is recommended to consider some lifestyle changes, maybe getting rid of ashtrays, avoiding the morning coffee, staying away from alcohol for a while, eating lunch in a different spot, changing route to work, getting the interior of the car cleaned….

it is also important to have a support system and talking with family and friends about the decision to quit. 

This part of the journey is very important and very personal. Spending enough time and effort on it will increase the chances of success. Then choose a quit date.

Stage 4

  • Action (quitting)

Smokers are in the active stage. In this stage, they are actively trying to stop smoking. They are carrying out their identified quit plan, they are no longer smoking and have officially quit.

 This is where the rubber hits the road. It is advisable to schedule some rewards for successful completion of short periods of abstinence it could help to stay motivated. Turning to family and friends for support is a good idea at this stage.

During this stage, they may begin to experience withdrawal symptoms, so managing withdrawal symptoms is one of the battles they may face during this time.

Stocking up on healthy snacks and having an exercise program to deal with that nervous energy can help making it through the day without a smoke.

 This stage is the period during which smokers need the most help and support. It’s recommended they seek help and use any available resources such as laser treatment which can be very useful in managing the withdrawal symptoms, they should also discuss it with their health care provider.

Stage 5

  • Maintenance and Relapse

The maintenance stage involves working to continue the quitting plan while continuing not to smoke. Former smokers in the maintenance stage have learned to anticipate and handle temptations to smoke. By this stage, they will have developed some effective coping strategies and will feel more confident facing temptations to smoke. During this stage they may begin to experience withdrawal symptoms, so managing withdrawal symptoms is one of the battles they may face during this time.

 Relapse or starting to smoke again after trying to quit, is very common. Many people start smoking again to stop withdrawal symptoms that they are experiencing.

If this happen, it is important to turn it into a valuable lesson, from a stumbling block into a steppingstone. Go over the situations and feelings leading up to the slip. try to learn from the slip so it doesn’t happen again. This helps to give a stronger sense of control and the ability to stay smoke- free.

If a relapse happens, it is important to think and analyze, what could have been done differently? What didn’t they consider? What changes can be made to keep a slip like this from happening again?

it is very important to be prepared and include ways to manage withdrawal symptoms as part of the quitting plan. It is very common to cycle through the stages of quitting many times before succeeding with quitting.

In conclusion, quitting smoking is hard but not impossible. With the right planning, the right tools, the use of available resources and a good support system smokers can quit and lead a healthy life.