There are about 23.6 million people over the age of 12 that are addicted to nicotine in the US. This statistic is from 2020, and at the time I was one of the people in this number.

Like many people, I got hooked on nicotine when I was only 15 and a freshman in high school. Nicotine addiction followed me all the way through high school and into the start of my college career, but when the time came for me to kick the bad habit, I came up with some different ways to fend off cravings and stay focused on the greater goal.

If you are struggling with nicotine addiction and are thinking about quitting, read on to learn about some things I did to help me stay away from nicotine!

Fighting Off the Cravings

I first started using nicotine at parties, and it quickly developed into a daily habit. If I was stressed or perfectly happy, I was using nicotine.

Everyone is different, but when I decided to quit I would get cravings or urges for nicotine about every 4-6 hours. If I focused on the cravings, I found that it would make me moody and it was really hard to get my mind off fixating on nicotine.

To combat these feelings, I began to do a bunch of random activities to keep my mind busy and take my attention away from how badly I wanted nicotine. When I would get a craving, I would do one or more of the following activities:

  • drop down and do 5-10 push-ups
  • eat a small, healthy snack (fruits, lots of granola, lots of roasted nuts, avocado toast)
  • go on a short walk
  • lots of stretching (I experienced lots of muscle tension for the first two or three days)
  • spending time with friends, family, and pets (I found playing with my pets to be extremely relieving)

Of course, there are other methods like nicotine gum/patches that can dull the intensity of your cravings, but if you’re planning on kicking nicotine for good, you’re going to have to find nicotine-free alternatives at some point.

Set Goals

When I was quitting nicotine, I did some research to prepare myself. Here’s a summary of my findings:

  • the first 3-5 days are the hardest
  • by day 3, all or almost all of the nicotine in the body is gone, meaning that withdrawals can peak on this day
  • after 24 hours, the heart is already repairing itself
  • after two weeks, lung functions improve

In my opinion, the first two weeks are the most crucial time for someone to quit nicotine because new habits usually become muscle memory after 14 days.  This is why it’s important to set goals.

I knew that once I got through the first two days, I would be able to stay on track. For day one, I would set push-up goals for when I experienced cravings. The number was nothing crazy, but I would always do as many push-ups as I could so that I could forget about my cravings as fast as I could.

I would also make little goals to look forward to. If I was thinking about dinner in the middle of the day, I would make it a goal for the day to go above and beyond on a good dinner so that I would have something nice to look forward to and keep my mind off nicotine.

Reward Yourself

If there’s one thing I know, it’s that quitting nicotine is hard. Because of this, don’t be afraid to reward yourself as you progress through each day.

At the beginning of my journey, I would always congratulate myself each morning when I woke up. This was just a way of reinforcing myself with some positivity to start the day.

As the days progressed, my rewards would grow in increments. When day 3 came around, I rewarded myself by going to the movies with friends. By the end of the first week, I went to a nice dinner with my parents.

Once I made it through the first two weeks, I cut back on rewards and went about each day like I normally would. However, you don’t need to stop rewarding yourself after the first two weeks if you don’t want to. Again, everyone is different and has different ways of quitting a substance, but just make sure you’re quitting in a safe way and rewarding yourself with healthy things.

Quitting anything is always a challenge, but the outcomes are nothing but positive. There are many other simple things you can try to help you quit nicotine, but if you’re finding that it’s extra difficult, maybe you should give Brooks Healing Center a call. Our licensed team of medical professionals can help you kick your habit while teaching you new, healthier ways of coping so that you can live life as a better version of yourself.

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