Quitting smoking cold turkey

What does it mean to quit ‘cold turkey’? 

Quitting smoking ‘cold turkey’ means stopping smoking abruptly without any help, such as with stop smoking medications (like the nicotine patches or gum) or support from Quitline.

How do you quit smoking ‘cold turkey’?
How do I get willpower to stop smoking?
Is ‘cold turkey’ a good way to quit smoking?

How do you quit smoking ‘cold turkey’?

If you intend to quit smoking ‘cold turkey’, it’s best to have some strategies in place. These strategies could include:

  • getting rid of any leftover cigarettes in your home, workplace or car
  • not visiting places where you usually smoke
  • changing your daily activities so they aren’t associated with habits or situations where you’d normally smoke
  • avoiding alcohol or coffee if you usually have a cigarette with these
  • asking a friend to check in with you regularly and to support you through quitting
  • using positive ‘self talk’ such as, “I’m doing really well today. I can manage this.”
  • being ready with distractions to get you through cravings such as short videos, podcasts and tools.
  • learning about willpower and how to strengthen it
  • trying out these three ‘mental strategies’ for staying motivated.
How do I get willpower to stop smoking?

‘Willpower’ is like a muscle – the more you use it, the stronger it gets. If you keep working on it, your ‘willpower muscle’ will get strong over time, which means it will be easier to manage cravings and resist the temptation of a cigarette.

But your ‘willpower muscle’ can get tired like any other muscle. If you feel your willpower fading:

  • remember the reasons you wanted to stop smoking – you are resisting a short-term temptation in order to meet a long-term goal
  • remind yourself how far you have come
  • give yourself some recovery time by avoiding common smoking triggers, including certain places and situations where you’d normally smoke
  • try out a new quit method.
Is ‘cold turkey’ a good way to quit smoking?

Most people who try to quit smoking, do so cold turkey. While this approach has a much lower success rate than using NRT, quitting medications and counselling support, lots of people try this strategy. Therefore, a lot of people have success using this approach. The key to quitting ‘cold turkey’ is having very strong willpower and self-belief.



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