Would you call yourself a social smoker? A smoker-to-destress? A creature of habit? Figuring out your smoking profile is half the battle, but once you have, you can plan a way to quit that works for you.
Quitting smoking can impact your life in a number of ways initially, and it can take some getting used to. This is especially prominent for your social life, especially if your friends smoke. But there’s no reason to give up on going out. Here’s a strategy to get you out and about even while giving up smoking.
Of smoking and alcohol
It’s important for anyone looking to quit smoking to understand that there is a link between smoking and alcohol. At the extreme, government data has found that up to 90 per cent of people who are addicted to alcohol will also smoke. Furthermore, smokers have been found to be more likely to drink and have a 2.7 times greater risk of becoming dependent on alcohol than non-smokers do.
In fact, both alcohol and nicotine act similarly on the brain. When it comes to nicotine, the chemical compound will enter the bloodstream as soon as you smoke a cigarette and rapidly get transported to your brain. Once there, the nicotine will stimulate the brain by creating receptors which release chemicals that give a feeling of pleasure. These receptors will increase in number as smoking becomes prolonged and your brain will become reliant on nicotine in order to release these feel-good chemicals.
Nicotine levels plummet quickly after 72 hours of quitting, but the receptors don’t. Your brain’s chemistry will react to cause powerful cravings and strong emotional reactions. Persistence is key, as nicotine receptors will go away with time and your brain chemistry should be back to normal within three months of a quit.
On the other hand, researchers believe there is a link between consuming alcohol and the feeling of pleasure. If true, this reinforces the effects of nicotine on the brain. There are suggestions that nicotine and alcohol will moderate each other’s effects on the brain due to the fact that nicotine stimulates while alcohol sedates.
Tips for your quitting journey
Well done for making the decision to quit smoking! But now you face the dilemma of socialising in a scenario where you would have previously had a cigarette. Here’s how to stop smoking and still have a good time:
Don’t avoid it
Don’t feel like you can’t go out just because you’ve quit smoking. Everything you did as a smoker, you can do as a former smoker. Holding off too long from social drinking after quitting can create a sense of intimidation. Plus, socialising with friends is an important part of your life. The sooner you teach yourself how to enjoy a drink or two without a cigarette, the sooner you’ll feel like your life is back to normal.
Psyche yourself up!
Your usual drinking spot might trigger smoking cravings. Before leaving the house or in the car, be mentally prepared by saying aloud, “I’m a former smoker.” Or try, “I don’t smoke. I’m healthier and happier without cigarettes.” The main point is to remind yourself that you’re a former smoker and that you don’t need to light up anymore.
Put together a no-smoking get-together
Instead of heading out, why not invite your friends to your house? You can celebrate your smoke-free success with them. You’ll be able to control what is served which can help stop those triggers and completely avoid cigarettes in your smoke-free home.
Hang out with non-smokers
Friends and non-smokers should be your first support when it comes to quitting. Who you choose to hang out with can help support your ex-smoking status. Slip-ups can occur when quitters are in the company of other smokers who may not be aware of how to support their quit attempt.
Get a quit buddy
If you have a quit buddy, have them join you when you go out. A quit buddy is someone who supports your quit. Should you encounter old smoking friends who ask you to join them, make sure they are aware of your situation so they can be respectful. Not only that, you’ll also have your quit buddy to hang out with.