Trying to quit smoking? See how to deal with abstinence – 25/08/2021

“I was in an absurd peak of stress, I couldn’t stand it. I couldn’t stay in the same environment as my fiance because even his breathing irritated me.” That’s how self-employed Fernanda Bosqueiro, 26, felt in the early days of abstinence from cigarettes.

Her fight against smoking was shown on the program “Desafio Accepto”, from UOL Channel, presented by Thelminha, doctor and ex-BBB.

“Nicotine is a very potent drug, it gives you this urge, this urge to smoke another cigarette. When a person goes through the withdrawal syndrome, this chemical mechanism produces physical and emotional discomfort, which can generate symptoms such as increased irritability, anxiety, restlessness, tachycardia, sweating, malaise and trembling”, explains Jairo Bouer, psychiatrist and columnist for Live well, who gave some tips for Fernanda to try to quit smoking.

The participant’s process involved reducing the amount of cigarettes in the first week, smoking only essential cigarettes, identifying and avoiding some triggers, throwing away everything that facilitates smoking: packs, ashtray, lighter; practice physical activity and meditation.

The first days of abstinence were very difficult for the self-employed person, she went out rummaging through the drawers and looking for some lost cigarettes around the house. “I freaked out, I couldn’t talk to my fiance because I was too stressed. I stayed in one corner of the house, and he in another. I knew that anything would be reason to fight.”

“At this stage, it is important to be distracted and unfocused on cigarettes, exercise and seek attention-grabbing activities, such as reading or crafts”, says Carolina Salim, pulmonologist and member of the Support Group for Smokers at ACCamargo Cancer Center , in Sao Paulo.

Fernanda intensified some activities that she liked and that calmed her down, such as listening to music, drawing and listening to neurolinguistic programming. She also received support from people close to her.

During the program, her mother recorded a message saying she was rooting for her daughter and hoping that she would be able to stop the addiction. A friend also left her encouragement: “I try to support her in any way I can, I’ve always encouraged her to stop smoking, I’m positively thinking that she’s going to make it.”

support network makes a difference

The support of friends and family is essential in the treatment, according to Bouer. He says that these people need to understand the smoker’s moment, understand that he will be more irritated, but that it is a phase and it will pass.

They must be more patient and reinforce that they are there to help, support, listen more than speak, welcome, avoid criticizing, demanding and teasing the person for any reason.

According to experts heard by Live well, one of the tips to deal with the uncontrollable urge to smoke is to assemble a kind of “craving kit”, with sugarless candies and chewing gum and dried fruit. This can help produce a flavor and feel like something is in your mouth.

Changing your environment, taking a walk, and taking a shower are also good strategies for shifting your focus.

According to Bouer, few people are able to quit smoking on their own, and many need some kind of medical support and resources to be able to quit smoking. “If you started smoking again in these first weeks, don’t face it as a defeat or failure, it can happen, it’s part of the process. Don’t despair if you didn’t succeed, reorganize and go for a new attempt”, he advises.

Smoking cessation is a slow and difficult process. Many smokers want to quit smoking, have tried and, unfortunately, have not been successful. In such cases, it is ideal to seek professional help.

There are drug treatments that fight both chemical and psychological dependence, explains the pulmonologist.

Of the 21 days of the process, Fernanda managed to go 11 days without smoking. “I didn’t stop smoking, but I started smoking a lot less, today I smoke 2-3 cigarettes a day and sometimes I don’t even smoke. When I don’t have cigarettes, I can control myself and stay calm. I’m not putting so much pressure to stop smoking smoking, I think it will be gradually. I’m proud of myself so far.”