So you want to quit smoking and you are probably wondering how long it takes to stop smoking. Smoking is no different from drinking alcohol and taking drugs; it is very difficult to stop and unfortunately there are moderate to severe withdrawal symptoms that smokers experience.However, rest assured that these withdrawal symptoms are natural; This simply means that nicotine is gradually leaving your system. You will soon adjust to a life without nicotine which has so many health benefits for you and for your family.
So how long does it take to stop smoking? It may differ from a person's smoking history as well as the number of sticks or packs that he smokes per day. Mild smokers who may have only 2 to 5 years of smoking and may only consume less than a pack per day can extremely stop smoking after two to three months. Chronic or chain smokers on the other hand may require more than 6 months and continuous therapy to extremely quit. However, regardless of the length of time you have been a smoker, how long does it take to stop smoking involves several phases:
- Pre-contemplation Phase – this is an early phase of quitting and you are just contemplating on giving up smoking. This stage is also characterized by not realizing that smoking is a problem and as a result there is no serious desire to quit.
- Contemplation Phase – you finally realize the disadvantages of smoking but you are not yet ready to quit. You read information, leaflets, online sites and become aware of the resources for people who would like to know how long it takes to stop smoking but you doubt that you can handle it.
- Preparation Phase – you have made conclusions that smoking is indeed a health problem for you and for people around you. Not only do you look at available resources but you draw plans to start to quit.
- Action Phase – you are using techniques and strategies to stop smoking. The shortest time to stop smoking is about four weeks but may take 6 or more months on average. It is also during the action phase when individuals experience withdrawal symptoms. Proper management of nicotine replacement therapy and other techniques must be done with the help of your doctor.
- Maintenance Phase – you have managed withdrawal symptoms and have achieved a new lifestyle: a “smoke-free lifestyle” The move to a casual or a social smoker must never be considered at all cost.
- Termination Phase – you have finally acquired your addiction to cigarettes and already know what triggers your craving for smoke. You can function fully without the need to smoke and without anyone reminding you of your sobriety. Remember too that even years of giving up, it is estimated that 90% of smokers who give up return.
- Relapse Phase – relapse is a part of any recovery. It usually takes four to five attempts to quit before a smoker finally stops for good. Do not lose hope, go back to phase one and start all over again; chances are you will feel stronger and persistent as you try to quit again.