Many people choose a “cold turkey” when they quit smoking – that is, they quit all at once without smoking medication or nicotine replacement products. Exiting this way isn’t easy. While it might work for some people, it is not the most effective way to quit smoking. Those who are most successful in quitting cold turkey smoking know what to expect and prepare for withdrawal symptoms and food cravings.
People choose a cold turkey for a variety of reasons, but one is a desire for a clean break from their smoking habit. Even when people are highly motivated to quit, it can be difficult to overcome an addiction and let their bodies heal.
When you’re ready to quit smoking and have a cold turkey drink, the first step is to set a quit date. The following steps will help you prepare yourself for a successful attempt to quit smoking. It may not be your first try, but hopefully your last.
Talk to your doctor
If you are considering quitting smoking, make an appointment with your doctor to discuss your current smoking habits. They can help you find the best smoking cessation plan for your personality, medical history, and lifestyle.
Get into the mindset of smoking cessation
To get a cold turkey, you need to mentally prepare for warped thinking – that is, the many thoughts and rationalizations that can cause your smoking cessation plan to fail (ex.Just a train doesn’t hurt! “).
Write down the reasons (big and small) why you decided to quit. Write them down on a piece of paper that you can take with you or use a smartphone app. That way, if a skewed thought comes up, you can easily access the list.
Prepare for nicotine withdrawal
Nicotine is addicting. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the substance can rival cocaine, alcohol, and heroin in terms of addiction.If youAs with other medications, side effects are likely to occur as your body gets rid of the harsh toxins and chemicals found in cigarettes.
This is one reason why finishing a cold turkey is difficult. Nicotine withdrawal may be more intense if you suddenly stop smoking. However, the withdrawal phase is only temporary. While the symptoms can be uncomfortable, they will go away.
Common symptoms of nicotine withdrawal include:
- to cough
- Dry mouth
- a headache
- Inability to concentrate
- Increased appetite
- Sore throat
- Weight changes
If you are expecting these symptoms, it is time to prepare. For example, ask a friend to watch your children if you feel uncomfortable about having a bottle of water with you and taking frequent sips to stay hydrated, stock up on lozenges, and stock your refrigerator with healthy snacks to reach for hunger.
When you’re ready to quit, the first thing you can do is collect and throw away all of your smoking paraphernalia (lights, matches, ashtrays, etc.) from your home (inside and outside) and your car.
You also want to let one of your “smoking friends” know that you are not coming to them on smoke breaks, happy hour, or any other situation or place that could be a trigger for you. You can also take this opportunity to encourage your friends who use tobacco to quit.
As with nicotine withdrawal, it is easier to manage the psychological needs associated with quitting when you create a plan. It can be helpful to know that these urges are passing – sometimes in a matter of moments. You also want to reach out to your family and friends. Get motivated and encouraged to stick to your smoking cessation plan.
An online support forum can also be a powerful tool to help you stay nicotine free. A unique benefit of online support is that you can access it 24/7 (e.g. if a craving occurs at 2 a.m. and you don’t want to wake your partner).
Personal support groups are also valuable. You can meet local people who are going through the same process as you. Reading or hearing from others about their experiences can inspire you and help you stay motivated.
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance use or addiction, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Authority’s National Helpline (SAMHSA) at 1-800-662-4357 Information about support and treatment facilities in your area.
Additional mental health resources can be found in our National Helpline Database.
Create new habits
Is your morning cigarette with coffee the hardest to let go of? Do you always light up as soon as you get in your car after work? Do you tend to smoke more when you are stressed, bored, or hungry?
Take an honest look at your smoking patterns and habits, and then figure out some healthy distractions and alternatives. For example:
- Carpool to work with a non-smoker for the first few weeks after quitting smoking.
- Keep your hands and mind busy by coloring, knitting, doing a puzzle, or painting your nails.
- Prepare healthy, crispy finger food (e.g. cut vegetables and fruits, seeds and nuts or fat-free popcorn).
- Take a walk when you wake up (you can take your coffee with you in a takeaway cup).
A word from Verywell
Quitting the nicotine cold turkey might work for you, but you don’t have to give up if it doesn’t. There are other ways you can successfully quit smoking.
When you’re ready to quit smoking or use tobacco, talk to your doctor about your options first. They can help you create a withdrawal plan and decide whether nicotine replacement therapy would help you stay tobacco-free.