As they say, failure is a part of life, but it can be the best teacher. However, it can also be far easier to get discouraged by failure than to treat it as a springboard toward success.
Failure might either make or break a motivated smoker trying to quit. About 50% of people who make a quit attempt succeed on the first try, while the other half can take decades and numerous failures.
If you’re a person who tried and failed to stop smoking, we urge you to see that quitting smoking isn’t a straightforward process – in fact, It’s a jumbled line of ups, downs, and sideways paths.
In a smoking cessation group, you’ll hear stories from successful quitters who faced repeated failures and setbacks until they ‘found their groove’ and finally kicked smoking.
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In today’s post, we’ll look at the typical reasons why smokers fail to stop smoking and how failure can be an important part of successfully quitting smoking for good.
The Strong Grip of Nicotine Addiction
It’s a fact that the strength of addiction lies in the pull of the withdrawal symptoms, and nicotine withdrawals are one of the toughest to deal with out there.
Even with a solid support system, you’ll end up having strong cravings and withdrawal symptoms like nausea, shortness of breath, and severe irritability during your first few weeks without cigarettes.
Sometimes, the withdrawals and cravings can become too much to take, finally causing even the most motivated smokers to light a cigarette to ease their burden. This is a common scenario for many smokers who have tried quitting once or multiple times.
Still, the most important takeaway after you’ve consumed a stick is to bounce back into quitting and have the resilience and determination to start again.
When a person is determined to quit, they’ll be open to various strategies to help them manage their withdrawals and end up being successful.
Habitual Behaviours and Triggers
Habits also make it hard to stop smoking. Most smokers have routines that involve smoking, such as lighting one up after dinner or having a cigarette every lunch break.
In fact, even the simple hand-to-mouth gesture of smoking is enough to make a quitter strongly crave for a cigarette.
It’s easy to fail if you can’t change your habits (especially fixed work schedules) and avoid how they trigger you. Fortunately, nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) and nicotine vaping products (NVPs) from pharmacies make it easier by helping wean you off cigarettes, keep you healthier, and urge you to form new habits.
Emotional and Psychological Factors
For some people, smoking is an emotional anchor in their life. Apart from their perception that it relieves stress, some smokers believe it helps them manage their anger, depression, or lack of concentration.
Again, these are all untrue – smoking makes you feel worse about your emotions and psychological state.
If you felt great after the first hit, you just relieved your body’s strong cravings for nicotine, which did not address the underlying problems of your emotional or psychological issues.
Some smokers might feel greatly attached to smoking because it reminds them of ‘the good old days’ when they felt cool doing it. However, many of your friends and family have probably moved on from cigarettes after knowing the health, financial, and social burdens they could prevent by doing so.
Lack of Support
Some smokers often go cold turkey alone without any advice from professionals or a group to help them quit. While possible, it does have a set of challenges that could be easier with a solid support system.
What’s worse is having friends who deride you for quitting smoking whenever you socialise and join them outside. A motivated smoker who stays with friends like these often ends up failing to quit.
Fear of Failure
For most smokers who couldn’t bring themselves to quit, their more than a dozen attempts to stop smoking make them feel like they’re a hopeless case. By trying again, they fear they will just fail and make their entire effort a waste of time.
It’s normal to feel self-doubt when you fail at anything, but it’s also very important to look at the factors that caused you to fail.
Sometimes, those factors are beyond your control – but most smokers feel that their lack of motivation or capability to control themselves makes them hopeless.
It’s important to keep in mind that our fear of failure is irrational. Learning to reframe failures as learning opportunities takes time, but it is worth it.
Once smokers (and people in general) view failures as part of the road to success, they approach each new attempt positively, giving them the motivation and willpower to continue until they successfully quit.
Previous Quitting Methods
Don’t be disheartened if your previous smoking attempt failed – you can always try again and never have to feel judged after multiple attempts.
Most often, smokers fail to quit because they lack an expert’s advice, a support group, and the right tools to help them.
As mentioned, GPs can create a customised smoking cessation plan with your needs in mind, meaning they consider how many sticks or packs you smoke a day and your potential withdrawal symptoms.
Then, they would prescribe tools to cushion the absence of nicotine after you finally stop. NRT products, which are lozenges, gums, inhalers, and patches, will help your body cope with nicotine abstinence by providing it with a small dose of nicotine.
While NRTs are effective, they don’t always work for everyone, which is why GPs also recommend using NVPs from pharmacies to help you quit.
NVPs sold in pharmacies are very different from their illegal counterparts.
NVP products sold in pharmacies are made under stringent pharmaceutical standards on the manufacturing process and ingredients, are toxicologically assessed for inhalation, are locally insured, and are specifically designed to help you stop smoking.
It’s also a fact that NVPs are better than NRTs in helping people quit. The latest Cochrane Review found high-certainty evidence that NVPs are more effective than NRT in helping people stop smoking.
With these tools and guidance, you’re well on your way to quitting smoking successfully.
The Silver Lining of Failures
It always pays to look on the bright side of things and remain optimistic. While it’s hard, motivated smokers must make an effort to see their failures as learning opportunities.
Every failure isn’t a sign that you’re hopeless – your attempt means a lot. Even if you failed, you’ve successfully gone for a few hours, a day, or even weeks without cigarettes.
Your failed attempts may also help you realise that you felt a little better after a bit of time away from cigarettes, as there are many health benefits even after as little as 6 days of not smoking. Next time, you may even reach the benefits of being smokefree for a month.
When you failed, it didn’t mean you lacked determination and a willingness to stop smoking for good – it just means you should consult others to try new approaches that could work better for you.
Remember, you don’t have to be alone to succeed in quitting. With a support system always there to listen and help build your resilience, you’re always on your way towards successfully quitting, even if you have a dozen or a hundred failed quit attempts.
The ultimate goal of smoking cessation isn’t to get smokers to quit by the end of the session. The true goal is not to fail to stop smoking but to keep on stopping even after giving in to temptation.
With the right tools and mindset in approaching and learning from failures, motivated smokers will surely find success.
We know you’re reading this because you’ve failed countless times and want to try new strategies to help you quit. We can help.
Smokefree Clinic gives you access to many medically reviewed and trustworthy resources that can inform and aid you in your path to wellness, so have a look around!
If you’re ready to get started, Smokefree can connect you to bulk-billing Australian healthcare professionals who excel in helping patients quit smoking for good, including using responsible vaping products where appropriate.
Click here to book your bulk-billed telehealth consultation with an Australian healthcare professional and quit smoking today.