Tobacco, although popular around the world, is packed with negative effects on your body. Known for causing breathing issues, cancer, lowered immunity, and other life-threatening issues, you would think cigarettes wouldn’t be so popular anymore.
While the idea to stop smoking is often present in the back of smokers’ minds, the addiction is difficult to overcome.
Many who have attempted to step out their last cigarette have found themselves pulled by the feelings of addiction and the effects of withdrawal, and ultimately falling back into the habit.
Thankfully, there are quite a few tobacco-free alternatives to smoking that can help you kick cigarettes to the curb.
Why Can’t You Stop?
When smoking, users inhale the cigarette smoke directly into the lung. This nicotine is absorbed through the lungs and quickly spreads through the body.
Like most addictive substances, nicotine releases dopamine, which is a brain chemical that makes your body feel good. As you take a pull from a cigarette, the nicotine is released into your body within seconds, and the effects generally only last a couple of hours at most.
To make matters worse, prolonged use causes your body to become used to certain levels of nicotine, meaning you need more to get that same relaxed feeling.
Most smokers keep smoking because they enjoy that feeling of relaxation or slight pain relief. Over time, though, your body expects to receive these chemicals, and when you stop smoking, your body will all in all freak out, resulting in feelings of withdrawal, and even anxiety and depression.
Why So Addicted?
While nicotine is a chemical addiction, causing you to crave a certain feeling, the addiction to cigarettes is much more.
The culture around the act of smoking itself becomes addictive, with the idea of going out with a bunch of friends, lighting a cigarette, and being part of the crowd becoming routine.
The smell of cigarettes alone can pull you back into your cravings. It is the similarity of how your body received its nicotine, causing many smokers to feel extreme cravings.
The physical action of putting a cigarette to your lips and taking a pull even becomes satisfying in and of itself, which is even where one of our tobacco alternatives gets a lot of its success from.
In an attempt to quit smoking, you’re going to have withdrawals, and the cravings to pick up another pack and start smoking again. This is normal when quitting any addictive substance.
Alternatives are important to pull you away from the addiction, while relieving some of the stress of everyday life.
This is done by relieving some of the other aspects of addiction; for example, nicotine patches are focused on the idea of you fighting the physical habit of smoking, while giving you small amounts of nicotine to relieve the chemical dependency, and as you’ll see in the alternatives below, there are quite a few different ways to tackle this same concept of battling each different piece of addiction.
#1: Herbal Cigarettes
With the focus on separating yourself from the chemical addiction of nicotine, herbal cigarettes allow you to maintain both the physical action of smoking and the cultural action of smoking with others.
This means you can still smoke when you’re craving, without receiving the addictive nicotine or other less-than-healthy chemicals notoriously packed into the typical cigarette.
A growing option for added medical benefits within this alternative are CBD cigarettes, like our smokes right here at Oklahoma Smokes. Our smokes are nicotine-free, tobacco-free, and additives-free -- they’re pure hemp flower to help you satisfy cravings without the junk. Plus, you can use them in conjunction with the other alternatives below.
CBD is known to help support emotional wellness and soothe the body, and the secret to CBD potentially reducing the cravings for nicotine is found in CBD’s calming effects on the body, which is similar to how nicotine affects the body, without nicotine’s harsh addictive effects.
#2: Nicotine Patches
Focused on relieving the nicotine craving while separating you from the cultural and physical addiction associated with cigarettes, nicotine patches stick to your skin and release certain levels of nicotine over time.
When people step away from cigarettes, the chemical withdrawal often becomes too much, sending them into emotional difficulty such as irritability or depression. Nicotine patches allow you to receive certain levels of nicotine, which can slowly be reduced over time to help reduce negative effects and essentially wean you off of your addiction.
This gives you a chance to get away from the action of smoking, and often allows smokers to regain the smell and loss of taste associated with smoking cigarettes.
#3: Healthy Snacking
With the action of smoking, the feeling of putting your hand to your mouth can sometimes be enough to quench a craving -- this is also known as oral fixation. Finding something small to snack on, such as nuts or other small, bite-sized foods allow you to mimic this action.
There should be a focus on “healthy” since this will often be a repetitive action. If you choose an unhealthy option such as candy, this can lead to other health issues or weight gain.
Choosing a healthy snack, such as dried fruits or nuts, can lead to their own health benefits as well. Choose snacks you enjoy, and consider switching between a variety of snacks to help keep things from getting stale, literally and figuratively.
#4: Nicotine Gum
Chewing gum has remained a great option while you quit smoking, as it keeps your mouth busy, with the potential of added nicotine.
Nicotine gum can be found with various levels of nicotine, allowing you to start at your needed level and slowly reduce your use over time. This will help reduce withdrawals while being a calorie-free solution to snacking.
#5: Find Like-Minded Friends
One of the best things you can do when trying to quit any addictive substance is surrounding yourself with like-minded people, who are either quitting or already have quit. These individuals will understand what you’re going through, and will be able to pull you away when you begin craving.
Keeping yourself surrounded by people who are still smoking will always encourage you to start smoking again. Friends will almost always offer you a cigarette, and are often less considerate of your want to quit.
Of course, you don’t have to ditch your buddies who smoke -- the idea is to have someone close to you such as in your workplace that can pull you away from that smoking habit when everyone else lights up.
#6: Pick Up A Hobby
While it seems a little obvious, one of the best methods to stop smoking is to keep your mind and hands busy.
In many cases, smoking habits are associated with downtime or time just before or after something happens. This is often seen with smokers needing a cigarette before and after a meal, or habitually having a smoke whenever they get into their car.
Your new hobby can be anything that keeps your mind or hands busy that reduces the feeling that you have time to smoke a cigarette. This can be something that has previously interested you, such as learning a new language or craft. Popular options are learning to cook, camp, wood working, or various other skills that keep your brain and your hands busy.
When going into or out of a location, consider staying active in a conversation with someone. This can be something simple such as what you think you’ll order in the restaurant, but the importance of staying actively interacting with other people will keep you moving and help push away the feeling that you need to have a smoke before you get more involved in something.
#7: Build a Support System
Almost more important than the alternatives themselves, telling the people around you that you’re trying to quit will build a support system who understands your goal. When family understands your goals, they will be able to get you into those stores or restaurants and keep you moving.
You’d be surprised at the power the words “come on” or “you don’t need it” can have when they come from someone you care about. When you’re craving, you often get in your own head, while someone getting your attention can pull you forwards and get you moving.
Even your friends who may smoke can support your goal to quit.
Taking the first steps to stop smoking can push you towards a healthier life, helping you to breathe deeper, feel better, and live longer. Nicotine and other chemicals found in typical cigarettes can affect both the physical and mental health of you, your friends, and your family.
Alternatives aren’t about stopping everything all at once. It’s about reliving one or two aspects of addiction so you can fight through other aspects. Chemical addiction is often seen to be the hardest, since it has tangible effects on your body and mind. When trying to cut nicotine out of your life, the slightest mimicking alternative can take away the edge and help you push through your cravings.
It’s time to try alternatives to tobacco in the journey towards a healthier you, so you can stop and smell the flowers, especially now that you’ll get your sense of smell back.