CBT is a psychotherapy technique that involves identifying negative thoughts in your mind and coming up with new ways to think about situations in order to make it a more positive thought. There are two approaches, cognitive and behaviour therapies. In order to have CBT therapy, you need to work with a specially-trained psychologist and talk to them about what is going on in your mind as well as finding out and learning new ways to cope with your feelings. CBT will help you know your negative thought patterns and also help you recognize and change inaccurate beliefs that you might have which prevents you from accomplishing something. CBT is not only used to help you quit smoking but it can also be used for many emotional and behavorial issues such as depression, anxiety, mood disorderd phobias and substance abuse. It focuses on rational thinking and self-counseling skills.
Research has also indicated that psychotherapy techniques such as CBT provide significant success rates for smoking reduction and cessation. Not only does it increase your chance of successfully quitting smoking by 40%, it also significantly reduces the risk of relapse, which is what every smoker goes through at least once after attempting to quit. Furthurmore, smokers who underwent CBT also experienced a lower rate of depression after quitting and were much more likely to abstain from smoking after 3,6 and 12 months. This is astonishing considering the fact that only 3% of smokers who want to quit are actually successful without any pharmacological and psychological help.
Most smokers usually decide to quit smoking immediately without any time for preparation, they simply decide to quit and start right away, which is why they always end up relapsing. You should engage in a preparation phase in order to significantly improve your chance to successfully quit. During the preparation phase you should gain awareness of your smoking behaviour. Try to monitor the time of the day you smoke, the situation/environment you are usually in when smoking, and changes in your mood when smoking in order to get a better undrstanding your smoking patterns and figure out your triggers that cause you to smoke. Secondly, you should set a target day to quit smoking, usually between 2-4 weeks after you start your preparation in order to give you time to prepare yourself and get a better understanding of your smoking habits.
This step basiclly involve managing your triggers. When you start to identify specific cues for smoking, you should start breaking the links between these triggers and smoking. This can be done by avoiding the triggers, changing your daily routines to break the links or by substituting new activities instead of smoking. An example is to remove all smoking equipment such as lighters, ashtrays and cigarette packs from your house, this will reduce the availability of smoking and also get rid of triggers such as seeing an ashtray etc. You should also avoid high risk situations such as avoiding parties, avoiding alcohol and socializing with smokers. You should also change your daily routine in order to break the link between your daily activities and smoking. For example going to a new location during your smoking breaks so that your mind cannot link your location to smoking.
You should also consider pharmacotherapy in adjuntion to CBT in order reduce initial withdrawal symptomst and boost your chances to successfully quit smoking. Medications such as over-the-counter nicotine patches or gums will help deliver a safe and controlled amount of nicotine into your body to help you physically stop smoking while CBT will help you mentally. You also have to learn to cope with smoking triggers as it is inenvitable you will experience triggers at some point in your journey. In order to help you cope with your urges to smoke when encountering a trigger, you can restructure your thinking patterns related to smoking for example telling yourself mentally that there are other alternatives to release stress such as exercising etc. You can also find new ways to keep you busy and occupied so that you do not smoke out of boredom. Physical activity also helps you keep away from cigarettes. You can also come up with alternative activities if you really have a strong urge to smoke such as chewing gum, or eating healthy snacks in order to keep your hands and mouth occupied.
This stage is extremely important as most smokers end up relapsing within a few months, learning relapse prevention techniques is very important to keep you away from smoking. You should constantly keep up with everything discussed above and try to see a psychologist every once in a while to help you with maintenance and stay away from smoking.
Permanently quitting smoking is extremely difficult without psychotherapy and you are almost certain to fail and end up relapsing. You should consider CBT and also NRTs in order to maximize your chance of quitting for good. If you need professional help or psychotherapy do not hesitate to consult Dr. Narindr at one of the links below.