If you class yourself as a bit of a ‘social smoker’, you might fear that your social life may take a bit of a dive when trying to quit. This quiz to discover your smoker profile from Nicotinell should help establish if you are indeed a social smoker — here, we explain how to quit smoking whilst continuing to lead a busy social life.
There are close links between smoking and alcohol
It has been proven, at the extreme, by government data that up to 90 per cent of people who are addicted to alcohol will also smoke. Furthermore, smokers have been found to be more likely to drink and have a 2.7 times greater risk of becoming dependent on alcohol than non-smokers do.
Both alcohol and nicotine actually act upon common mechanisms found in the human brain. When it comes to nicotine, the chemical compound will enter the bloodstream as soon as you smoke a cigarette and rapidly get transported to your brain. Once there, the nicotine will stimulate the brain by creating receptors which release chemicals that give a feeling of pressure. These receptors will increase in number as smoking becomes prolonged and your brain will become reliant on nicotine in order to release these feel-good chemicals.
Whilst the supply of nicotine in your bloodstream drops significantly within the first 72 hours of your decision to quit, those receptors won’t disappear that quickly. This means that your brain’s chemistry will react to cause powerful cravings and strong emotional reactions. Persistence is key, as nicotine receptors will go away with time and your brain chemistry should be back to normal within three months of a quit.
Researchers believe alcohol fosters feelings of pleasure. If true, this reinforces the effects of nicotine on the brain. There are suggestions that nicotine and alcohol will moderate each other’s effects on the brain due to the fact that nicotine stimulates while alcohol sedates.
How to socialise when quitting
The first step is sometimes the easiest bit, but when it comes to socialising in groups of people, and places, that you would normally enjoy a cigarette, how do you overcome cravings and temptation? Here’s how to stick to your goals and still have a good time:
Don’t put it off
The longer you delay because of doubts, the harder it gets. Everything you did as a smoker, you can do as a former smoker. Holding off too long from social drinking after quitting can create a sense of intimidation. Plus, socialising with friends is an important part of your life. The sooner you teach yourself how to enjoy a drink or two without a cigarette, the sooner you’ll feel like your life is back to normal.
Have a pep talk with yourself
Places that you normally go to socialise, could be big triggers of smoking cravings but that doesn’t mean you will fail. Before leaving the house or in the car, be mentally prepared by saying aloud, “I’m a former smoker.” Or try, “I don’t smoke. I’m healthier and happier without cigarettes.” The main point is to remind yourself that you’re a former smoker and that you don’t need to light up anymore.
Aim to have a social get-together where no smoking is involved
Try socialising in areas where smoking is not permitted, or where people are likely to not want a cigarette. Why not invite your group of friends to your house instead? You can celebrate your smoke-free success with them. You’ll be able to control what is served which can help stop those triggers and completely avoid cigarettes in your smoke-free home.
Enjoy time with non-smokers
Remember that not everyone smokes. Non-smokers and friends who will be supporting your decision to stop smoking will definitely help. Who you choose to hang out with can help support your ex-smoking status. Slip-ups can occur when quitters are in the company of other smokers who may not be aware of how to support their quit attempt.
Invite a quit buddy to join you
It’s easier to quit with the support of a friend or family member – why not invite someone to quit with you so that you can share your success with them. Be sure to invite them along to whatever social event you’re attending. A quit buddy is someone who supports your quit. Should you encounter old smoking friends who ask you to join them, make sure they are aware of your situation so they can be respectful. Not only that, you’ll also have your quit buddy to hang out with.