Infographic of Habit Loop with Pictures

Substitution Strategy for Quitting Smoking


Replace A Bad Habit With A New Healthy Habit

You might not be aware, but habits control a large portion of your day. Most habits are helpful, brushing your teeth, tying your shoes, and backing out of the driveway, these are all things we do repeatedly that no longer require concentration. Our lives are full of habits, mostly good, some bad.

Smoking cigarettes is an addiction, but more importantly, it is a bad habit, and the distinction is important. The physical addiction to nicotine lasts as long as there is any left in your bloodstream, at most a few days. Cravings to smoke a cigarette, the first few days after quitting, are behaviorally caused cravings. When a smoker sees a trigger to smoke, and the brain starts to anticipate a hit of nicotine, which causes the cravings.  These cravings can be as compelling as a chemical addiction, but it is important to understand the difference. And to overpower the behavioral craving it is important to understand your reward for smoking.

You probably already know that smoking isn’t all that pleasant. So why do you smoke? The reward for smoking is typically not the hit of nicotine. Smoking cigarettes serve all kinds of needs, like a break from work, a chance to socialize, or relief from boredom or stress. On a typical day, you put a cigarette to your lips 250 times, keeping you stimulated and your hands and mouth busy. Find out what smoking means to you and you a new habit to replace smoking, that provides the same reward. This is called the Substitution Strategy for Quitting Smoking, and it is far easier and more effective to replace your smoking habit than just trying to stop.

Infographic of Habit Loop for smoking cigarettes

Most smokers have a hard time quitting unless they find a new habit to replace smoking with the cravings start. Triggers to smoke and cravings for a reward will never stop, but it is possible to replace smoking for a new routine. To start, ask yourself, when do you smoke?

You may think you already know your triggers to smoke; morning coffee, drive to work, lunch, walking the dog, or with a drink in the evening. Those are times that you might smoke, but think about what need smoking fulfills at those times. For example, if it is while walking the dog it could mean that smoking helps relieve your boredom while your dog relieves himself. When you have your list and reasons, now it is time to get creative and find a new activity that will fulfill that same need.

Stress, boredom, and excuse to get outside or socialize, can all be solved by something else. Walking, exercise, or stretching, can get the blood going and help with stimulation. Eating raw vegetables, or nuts, sipping a healthy drink, eating dark chocolate, or chewing licorice replaces the oral, hand-to-mouth habit, and keeps your mouth busy. Getting coffee or tea with friends can be an excuse to take a break and chat. Quit Tea is one option specifically created to help you get through those cravings for a cigarette and replace the habit. The herbs in Quit Tea are relaxing, detoxing, and healthy. If you make a cup of Quit Tea every time you are triggered to smoke, after a short time the habit of making a cup of herbal tea will be automatic.

A lot of people have already successfully quit smoking using the Substitution Strategy without even knowing it! However, you do it, finding a new healthy habit to replace smoking is the key to long-term quitting success. Quitting is not easy, but if you have a good replacement, and stick with it, eventually you won’t even remember why you ever wanted to smoke cigarettes.