When you decide to take the steps to quit smoking, it often becomes quickly apparent that quitting is a bit harder than avoiding lighting your next cigarette.
Cigarettes are highly addictive, and although you know they’re terrible for your health, you simply feel you need another one. This is due to your brain's chemical dependency, i.e. your brain’s feeling that it needs nicotine.
While your body may feel it needs a cigarette, you don’t. These alternatives to smoking can help you overcome your addiction and become tobacco-free.
For those that have never smoked, they like to say things like “just quit, it’s not that hard.”
Unfortunately for this theory, they have forgotten that nicotine is a highly addictive substance that is chemically affecting your brain.
Alternatives to smoking allow you to relieve parts of how addiction works, while allowing you to work through the tougher withdrawal symptoms.
When you smoke a cigarette, the nicotine releases a chemical known as dopamine in your brain, which has a major impact on “feeling good” and happiness. While dopamine is naturally released with a great night's sleep, having a good meal, or doing activities that stimulate the brain such as listening to music, nicotine also increases this release.
Your body enjoys this release, and becomes dependent on having it. This is the basis of many forms of addiction.
Unfortunately, as you smoke cigarettes, your body also inhales a variety of life-threatening chemicals such as carbon monoxide, benzene, ammonia, lead, and much more.
Over time, your body begins to associate certain actions to receiving nicotine. These are often called triggers, and it’s important to take note of our triggers.
For smokers, this could be the act of packing your pack, lighting a cigarette, hand-to-mouth movements like the action of pulling the cigarette to and from your mouth, or the deep breath you take when smoking. The smell and taste can also be major triggers.
The people you surround yourself with can become part of your addiction, too. Generally, smokers will hang out with smokers simply due to commonality in habits.
These social addictions are often what lead many to start smoking, through either wanting to “fit in” or being encouraged by how others say a cigarette makes them feel.
While these people may be great friends and coworkers, they can also create a hurdle when trying to quit. Some people may not understand the importance of your goal to quit, and others may accidentally offer you a smoke out of habit.
It’s important to talk with these friends and tell them you’re going to quit. Part of taking the step towards a healthier life is finding people that will help with your goals, not tempt you back to the pack.
Types of Smoking Alternatives
Smoking alternatives are about more than just another smoking source, they are alternatives to different aspects of addiction.
To choose the best alternative for you, first decide what you will be giving up first. You can mix and match different alternatives to match your cravings.
For many smokers, the choice to separate themselves from chemical addiction is the most difficult, but an important step to overcome. By using an alternative that allows you to maintain the physical and social parts of addiction, it will reduce the stresses found in nicotine withdrawals.
Vaping involves inhaling a heated oil as a form of smoking. You must have an oil vaporizer, also referred to as a mod, which pulls the oil over a series of heated coils allowing it to vaporize.
Vapes have become popular with a wide range of flavors to help conquer the physical association, from classic tobacco flavors to fruity and savory flavors to create a better taste and smell. Vape juices can be found with a variety of nicotine levels from higher-than-cigarette levels down to no nicotine. This allows you to slowly pull yourself away from nicotine use… in theory.
A moderate smoker is encouraged to use around 6% nicotine in vape juices to receive the same feel as smoking cigarettes, keeping in mind that the more you smoke a vape, the more nicotine you’d ultimately receive.
An advantage to vaping is the idea that you don’t have to finish a cigarette. It’s common for vape smokers to take one pull every once in a while instead of taking an entire smoke break.
Vaping in itself does create the risk of becoming physically addicted to another vice, and should be used as a method to quit smoking versus just as a replacement. With vaping being a newer smoking method, many have concluded that risks of inhaling oils are not yet fully understood, not to mention that some users end up with more nicotine than they had with cigarettes due to the ease of pulling from a vape virtually anytime, anywhere.
When looking for a cigarette without tobacco, hemp cigarettes are a great solution. They look and feel exactly like a cigarette, and even come in a cigarette-esque pack. You light and smoke them exactly how you would a cigarette.
Hemp cigarettes can be found with and without CBD. Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis and has recently become known for its wide range of potential health benefits.
Hemp cigarettes, while having a very natural flavor, smell and taste better than tobacco, making them a great option for individuals who want to move away from nicotine while maintaining their smoking habits.
To assist with nicotine withdrawals, it’s viable to use nicotine patches alongside hemp cigarettes to tackle physical and chemical aspects of addiction at the same time.
When attempting to remove the physical and social addictions, you may want an alternative that has nothing to do with smoking at all. Nicotine patches attach directly to your skin on your arm, chest, or even your hips.
Nicotine patches can be found in a wide range of nicotine levels, allowing you to reduce your nicotine intake over time and pull away from the chemical dependency.
Nicotine patches are a great way to change your lifestyle while avoiding major withdrawals.
A simple way to receive various amounts of nicotine while reducing the oral fixation cravings is nicotine gum.
Chewing gum is something to help curb cravings that can really be done anywhere, and over time, the option to begin changing your nicotine gum to normal chewing gum helps you make the change to nicotine-free.
Exercise is a great way to release natural dopamine, while keeping you busy and less likely to find a cigarette.
Exercise for many people is about more than a gym -- instead they place themselves on trails, in kayaks, and off the beaten path out in nature. While this is a great alternative to smoking, it also opens up the potential to explore and see something amazing that may have been as easy to reach as in your backyard.
Plus, whenever pushing towards a more active lifestyle, you may also be encouraged to find other healthier aspects, such as better food and more restful sleep.
Healthy Snacking and Dieting
While many people try snacking as a way to keep their hands and mouths busy to reduce cravings, using unhealthy snacks such as candies create the risk of other health conditions.
Instead, consider using healthy alternatives such as fruits, nuts, or vegetables.
Snacking with appropriate foods also reduces hunger, and allows you to reduce your serving sizes during meals, which could lead to healthier eating habits.
Choosing healthy meal options is another form of accessing healthy, naturally-released dopamine. This is part of the reason you feel sluggish or down when eating unhealthy foods.
A great method towards reduced tobacco use is keeping the mind and hands busy. This may be a great opportunity to try something new or take on a hobby you’ve been considering.
Finding something that is so great to you that you simply don’t want to walk away is the key. Regardless if that’s gaming, woodwork, wine making, reading, or another enjoyable activity, the idea is to go after something to keep you happily busy mentally and physically.
Regardless if you choose to slowly pull away from nicotine, or cut it out of your daily habits as soon as tomorrow, the goal of smoking alternatives is to create options that let you take control of the different parts of addiction.
Nicotine withdrawals can affect you mentally and physically, and having options to reduce these symptoms can make quitting less stressful, and more manageable. Being able to mix and match smoking alternatives allows you to find a method that works best for you.
Hint: one of the best smoking alternatives is just a click away over yonder.