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How to Quit Smoking When You Have Schizophrenia

Michael Hedrick
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October 23, 2017  | Last Updated: October 23, 2017

 

As a person with schizophrenia, smoking was something that seemed to fit. There was something about the nicotine that both got me going and relaxed me at the same time, and when you’re struggling enough as it is I needed that little jump to feel halfway normal.

Of course, that may have been my addiction talking, but it’s no wonder that a lot of people with mental illness have the tendency to smoke. Something about it calms the anxiety somehow. I can remember a great deal of difficulty when I had to deal with people that didn’t like my smoking. Almost any place in public (especially in Boulder, Colo.) I was shunned for partaking in my habit. I had neighbors that were so disgusted with me smoking on my porch at an apartment complex that they suggested therapy.

 

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Smoking, with all of its negative connotations and health risks is, I know now, not good for anyone, but back then it was my one little escape from the numerous crazy things that were happening in my head. I smoked for 10 years before I was finally able to give it up, and I know how incredibly hard it is to quit.

There are several things you can do that can make it easier though. First it’s important not to quit at a period of inordinately high stress. When things come to a head, the first thing you’re gonna want to do is reach for those cigarettes. In that vein, never quit as a reactionary measure; quit because you feel good about quitting not because you’re being forced to. You’ll only feel rebellious and reach for those cigarettes, anyway.

Stress is a huge thing to deal with, and if for year, you dealt with it by taking a break and having a smoke, you’re gonna want to keep dealing with it that way, making it even harder to quit. Part of the process of quitting is learning how to handle your stress without reaching for a cigarette. You’ll have to form new coping methods, like taking walks, having a drink of water, eating something, or even using a stress ball and squeezing the life out of it.

Another huge thing you have to deal with when quitting smoking is the craving to have a cigarette. There are numerous methods for dealing with this, from having nicotine gum to using a vaporizer, but one thing that worked for me, which may seem backwards, is having an agreement with myself that if I could make it through 10 intense, earth-shattering cravings, I could have a cigarette. The funny thing is, it stops hurting after about six cravings, so you never really make it to 10.

Another thing that helped me intensely was taking long hot showers whenever I had a bad craving. Something about the pain of the hot water eased the pain of the craving and made it easier to deal with.

I relied on smoking, though; it was my go-to stress reliever, but the funny thing is, once you’re out of the jungle of smoking you see it for what it really is, just a nasty little monster that makes you want more of it when you continue to do it. If you stop, the monster loses its grip, and you’re suddenly free from the pulling aching need of nicotine. There are hundreds of methods for quitting smoking and vast resources for doing just that. Give it time and do it only when you’re ready otherwise you’re bound to give in.

 

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