I'm addicted to smoking. How can I stop?

I'm planning to have baby, so I have to quit smoking - but it's hard. Sometimes it's not a physical need, it's mental.

I cannot help myself from thinking about smoking. What can I do to get rid of this addiction?

Rebecca Duellman
Rebecca Duellman
MA, Applied Psychology, Specializing in Forensic Psychology issues.

Hi. Good for you in planning ahead to do what's healthiest for your baby (and yourself). That's a great first step! It's also good that you are able to identify that it's not always a physical need that's driving the addiction.

For the next steps, I would suggest trying to figure out when the psychological cravings for a cigarette occur. The psychological (or mental) cravings are usually based out of habit, such as having a cigarette after a meal. And if you're consciously trying to quit, you'll find the craving starts with simply thinking about having a cigarette, then usually moves on to thinking about how good it made you feel, etc., etc. Well, if I'm on a diet and I continue to let myself think about the ice cream sitting in the freezer, eventually I'll give in and eat it.

You're going to have thoughts about smoking a cigarette. That's normal and, for the most part, out of your control. But you choose whether or not to CONTINUE thinking and dwelling about it after that initial thought. That's what you would have to work on changing. When you have that initial thought, acknowledge it ("Ok, I kind of want a cigarette now."), but then change the thoughts that typically follow. Distract yourself, think about something else, do something else, whatever it takes to get your mind off of that cigarette.

I've suggested to clients before that they should plan these scenarios out ahead of time so they already know what they're going to do when the time comes. Write down when you usually have the craving for a cigarette and then write down new thoughts or things to do to get your mind off of it. Eventually, it will become easier and easier to brush off that initial thought until you no longer have it.

Best of luck, and you have a really great motivator to quit - your baby!

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