man breaking cigarette stick

Quit Cigarette Smoking by Managing Your Cravings

According to the Centers for Disease Control, cigarette smoking is the primary cause of preventable death. In the United States, 16 million citizens have a disease caused by smoking cigarettes. The activity is directly responsible for illnesses, such as stroke, respiratory diseases, cardiovascular diseases, as well as different kinds of cancer.

It makes sense for people to attempt to quit smoking. Some may abruptly stop the habit without medication. Others may need the aid of a nicotine patch or guided hypnosis with a clinical hypnotherapist. Although you can stop smoking for good with any of these techniques, you may relapse.

What makes cigarettes so seductive?

Cerebral Smoke Signals

The addictive power of cigarettes comes from the unique chemical properties of nicotine. Unlike other addictive substances, smoking cigarettes don’t induce euphoric happiness or trigger audiovisual stimulation. Simply put, you don’t get high from smoking a cigarette. The nicotine that a stick of cigarette contains only triggers the release of dopamine in the brain.

What makes nicotine unique is that each puff of a cigarette tells the brain to release dopamine, unlike other drugs that stimulate the brain just once. This hardwires the brain to repeat the behavior just to receive more dopamine, almost like a Pavlovian reaction.

The repeated release of dopamine also makes other activities more pleasurable, acting as reinforcement to those behaviors. Because of this, nicotine acts as a gateway substance, making the consumption of other chemicals more pleasurable to the brain. As such, it can be difficult but not impossible to “unlearn” the behavior. You can do it through discipline and curbing the impulses the nicotine taught.

Craving Control

Time to quit smoking

Resisting the urge to smoke a cigarette is the key to quitting for good. You can control your nicotine craving in a number of ways. They range from distracting yourself to replacing the craving with something else.

  • Avoid your tobacco triggers. You will experience the strongest cravings when you’re in situations where you used to smoke. These situations can be events, such as drinking sessions or parties, or emotions, like when you feel stressed or happy. Pinpoint these triggers and change the routine that you associate with smoking.
  • Think about why you’re quitting. Remember the reasons you’re quitting. Perhaps it’s because you don’t want to be healthy, or because you’re significant other has asked you to stop. Maybe you’re going to be a parent soon. Visualize these reasons or say them out loud to help you resist the cravings.
  • Sweat if off. Distract yourself from the urge to smoke by engaging in physical activity. If you’re outdoors, try walking or jogging around the block a couple of times. If you’re in an office, walk up and down the stairs or keep yourself busy with clerical work.
  • It doesn’t end with one. At one point, you may try to rationalize that you’ll only have “just one more.” You may believe that doing so will satisfy the craving then and make it easier for you to stop. Don’t believe it for a second. Smoking one more stick can unravel all your hard work and cause you to take up the habit again.

Ask others for help when you feel like your best efforts might make you smoke again. Enlist the support of friends and family, visit online support groups, or work with a therapist. Above all, believe that you can do it. Once you’ve committed to giving up smoking, never give up on yourself.

Teens drinking in the car

How to Stop Your Teens from Drinking and Driving

Whenever we see a movie about teenagers, there is likely a scene where one of them tries to fool a store clerk that he is of legal age to buy beer. It is no laughing matter, especially when someone we know and love does the same and on top of that, drives while drunk.

You should do all that you can to keep your teenager from drinking and driving. It is a given, though, that you will not always be there to keep an eye out for them. But there are other ways to keep your children on the straight and narrow.

Talk about having the right friends

Many teenagers succumb to drinking illegally because of peer pressure. So, you should start with this situation and teach your kids to be with the right friends.

Of course, that is easier said than done, particularly during this stage of their life, when they want to hang out with the “cool” kids. As long as you do not pressure your children to choose the right people to be their friends, they might be open to your suggestions.

Unfortunately, some of them could be a bad influence on your children. One thing you can do in this situation is to tell them about your experience in finding the right kind of friends when you were younger. If they see that you had the same dilemmas as they have right now, they will likely consider following your advice.

man passed out with keys on a bottle

Explain the consequences

You should also explain to your teenage kids the repercussions if they drink when they are not of legal age yet. Most teenagers think they are invincible, and that they are crafty enough to avoid getting caught. You should imprint in your teenagers’ minds that they could not be more wrong.

Police officers are trained to detect reckless behavior on the road. Even if your teenage kids think that they can drive while drunk, they will definitely be pulled over. And when that happens, they could end up in jail. Try telling them what happens to people who end up in jail for the first time, and they will think twice about drinking and driving.

Aside from instilling fear into teenagers, explain to them the long-term damages of having a driving under the influence (DUI) conviction. Assuming that they would want to study in some university, tell them that if they have an arrest record, it would be doubly hard for them to set foot in any reputable school.

You could even tell them that after their DUI conviction, it would take them three years before they are no longer deemed a high-risk. While they are considered high-risk, they will have to get an SR22 insurance from Arizona or whatever state you are in.

Teach your children to be responsible and mindful of people who might be pressuring them into drinking. Getting a DUI conviction can be very detrimental to a teenager’s life and prospects. Protect them as much as you can by educating them about the repercussions of drinking and driving.