Step 1: Asses Yourself
Answer the following questions to see if youve lost control of your smoking behavior and its turned into a full-fledged dependence.
1. Have you smoked every day for at least the past several weeks?
2. Do you experience any of the following withdrawal symptoms after you stop or reduce your amount of smoking (withdrawal symptoms can begin within a few hours of cessation)?
- Depressed mood
- Irritability, frustration, or anger
- Difficulty concentrating
- Decreased heart rate
- Increased appetite or weight gain
3. Do you experience significant distress due to the symptoms in question 2?
Do you avoid social or work obligations, or leave in the middle of these obligations, due to significant distress or discomfort from not smoking? If you answered yes to question 1, yes to at least four of the symptoms in question 2, and/or yes to question 3, then you have a problem and may even meet the psychiatric definition for nicotine addiction. Knowing this can help build your commitment to learning to breathe free.
4. In the past year, was there a day you didnt smoke at allnot even a puff?
If you answered yes, think about how you did it and how you then went back to smoking. Try to learn from your experience. If you answered no, dont despair. The movie in your head about how impossible it is to break free of smoking is greatly exaggerated. With proper use of medicines and a good behavioral plan, its possible to break free of smoking. We know, because weve helped more than 700 people individually and more than 80,000 using our web-based programs (see oprah.com or realage.com). If you follow our plan and have a buddy to help, we believe your chance of success is over 60 percent each time you tryso three tries will get you to over a 90 percent chance of success.
5. Do you continue to smoke despite having a tobacco-related medical problem such as bronchitis or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)?
Smokers are well aware of the medical problems associated with smoking. After all, they are listed on every pack you smoke. Even when told it is a matter of life and death, many continue to smoke after having a heart attack, lung surgery, or oral cancer. This behavior mystifies your loved ones and even leaves you, the smoker, bewildered, yet it is a hallmark of addiction and distinguishes it from bad habits, which also involve automatic behavior. The difference is that bad habits dont predictably put your life in jeopardya 20-can-a- day diet cola habit doesnt invariably result in troubles, nor does picking your nose.