Smoking cessation is a complex process that involves a number of stages – pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance.
A smoker is said to be in the pre-contemplation stage when he doesn’t have any intention of changing his habit. At this stage, he is unlikely to seek any advice and would ignore anyone who wants to help him quit. Often called ‘in denial’, a smoker in the pre-contemplation stage may be unaware of the fact that he is addicted to nicotine. He doesn’t see anything wrong with his habit so he chose to just carry on with his habit.
At this point, the smoker becomes aware of the negative effects of tobacco and entertains the idea of quitting. He may weigh the advantages and disadvantages of smoking and finally decide to stop smoking as soon as possible. But his addictive mind will do everything to prevent him from stopping. He continues to smoke even though he feels guilty and worried about his dangerous habit. The contemplation stage usually takes weeks. After the smoker has finally made up his mind to quit, he is ready for the next stage.
The motivation is increasing at the preparation stage. Here, the smoker prepares for the day that he won’t smoke anymore. He may begin by changing his smoking habits, such as preferring to smoke a different cigarette brand that he doesn’t like, or by reducing the number of cigarettes he consumes on a daily basis. The smoker also researches for some quit smoking advice and tips that will increase his success rate. At this stage, the intention to smoke comes naturally from him.
After preparing his mind and body to quit smoking for good, the smoker applies everything he learned about quitting smoking. He may choose to get professional help from a qualified smoking cessation therapist, join a support group, or quit all by himself. A smoker who reaches this stage is in full belief that he can kick the habit off from his life using the various smoking cessation techniques he has learned. He may also consider using medication or undergoing treatment to ensure his success. Only a few smokers are able to step into the action stage. Most of them lack the motivation for quitting smoking.
This is the most difficult stage. According to studies, smokers have the tendency to have a relapse even after several years of not smoking. Nicotine is a very addictive substance, a fact that makes quitting cigarettes difficult for many people. During the maintenance period, the smoker avoids his smoking triggers and devises ways or methods to stay cigarette-free as much as possible. Avoiding a relapse can be very challenging. Many times, smokers will ‘slip’, especially those who have been in the habit for years. Nonetheless, it is possible to quit smoking for good. There are proven treatments that help eliminate nicotine craving and prevent a relapse.
As a smoker, at what stage of change and cessation are you now at?