Quitting cigarettes is a fantastic achievement, but though you may have stopped smoking, that doesn’t make you immediately immune to it. Cravings, withdrawals, and triggers are hurdles many have to overcome. Another significant factor that can make it challenging to stay clean is your friends and social circle.
A study published in BMC Public Health on peer influence on smoking highlights how the desire for belonging and acceptance leads many to smoke. You’re then torn between the desire to quit or the temptation to fall back into old habits when you’re with friends, especially if they smoke, too. The goodd news is that you don’t have to take up smoking again or cut your friends off from your life to solve the problem. Here’s how you can retain your events calendar and social life after the big quit:
Change up your hangouts
Some places you and your friends frequent might not be helpful environments when you’re trying to stay away from cigarettes. Bars and clubs flowing with alcohol and smoke or outdoor spots near smoking zones may increase your cravings. These might be fun places you all enjoy, but frequent hangouts in those places could weaken your resolve. Instead of going to your usual spots, try switching things up a bit. You can host the hangout at your place, giving you more control over what you serve and do to minimise triggers. You can take the initiative to suggest the next spot and choose a location with many activities to keep your mind off smoking. You might find that more intimate gatherings are more enjoyable for everyone and can help bring you closer.
Pack nicotine alternatives
Smoking cessation isn’t a one-and-done thing; being out with friends—especially smokers—might exacerbate your cravings. Instead of giving in and asking for a smoke, tobacco-free alternatives can help tamp down those urges. Nicotine pouches are a great product for a night out. Most nicotine pouches come in cans, which allow users to experience nicotine satisfaction on the go. You can keep them tucked beneath your upper lip for an hour as you absorb the nicotine and the flavors; citrus, mint, and wintergreen are among the most popular from manufacturer VELO that can be found on the popular e-commerce platform Prilla. You won’t have to worry about stained teeth and bad breath either while you’re out. Another great option is nicotine patches, which have been around for decades as a quitting aid. Brands like Habitrol nicotine patches come with two or three-step programs over eight or twelve weeks, gradually lowering the nicotine dose after some time. They’re also good for curbing cravings when you’re out; nicotine is released from the patch and absorbed by the skin for up to 24 hours. You’ll have a steady dose and a buzz that lasts the whole day, so being with friends for a while won’t be an issue.
Set healthy boundaries
Your community is essential to the quitting journey, and your friends can be a great support system. However, some of the things they want to do or places they want to go during your get-togethers may trigger your urge to smoke. It may seem selfish or embarrassing initially, but setting healthy boundaries for going out can alert your friends about your triggers, and you can work together to make things easier for everyone. A write-up on boundaries by Forbes notes that they allow you to understand and respect each other’s perspectives. Doing so can prevent future conflicts and resentment among you and your friends. You can start by asking friends not to smoke with you in the room or to choose hangout spots that don’t permit smoking or have smoking zones nearby. Communicate your boundaries to your friends and be honest about why you’re setting them. Your friends will likely appreciate you being upfront about your limits, and you can work together to adjust your usual hangout routines. Hear them out about their own perspectives and limits as well. all images ©
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