Quit Smoking by Replacing a Bad Habit With a Good One

Woman Choosing Herbal Tea over Smoking



They say you cannot teach an old dog a new trick. Well, the truth is you can. It is just going to take some work. The challenge is that when you try to teach them a good habit, you should first teach them to give up an old habit.

Woman holding No Smoking SignThe same is true with people. For many adults, breaking a bad habit is really a difficult task. Even though they already know that their habit comes with undesirable consequences, giving it up may be close to impossible. One very good example is quitting smoking. Yes, smokers know that their habit can cause cancer, heart disease, and premature death. Smoking also affects the health of other people, especially those who live with them. Still, records show that the majority of smokers fail in their attempt to quit.

The Substitution Method to Quit Smoking

Quitting smoking is among the hardest habits to break. During withdrawal, smokers experience a variety of undesirable symptoms, including nicotine cravings that get more intense during the first couple of weeks. Fortunately, there are quitting strategies proven effective in eliminating this habit.

Habit Loop Infographic Substitution Strategy for Quitting Smoking

One of which is the Substitution Strategy, which proposes that you can replace a bad habit by substituting it with a healthy habit. For instance, if you are fond of eating meat, you could try to eliminate this habit by choosing meat alternatives instead. Therefore, to rid yourself of the smoking habit, you want to find an alternative or a substitute that will keep your mind off lighting up.

The Substitution Strategy was effective in a scientific study in which researchers found that participants were more likely to give up the habit of biting their nails if they substitute it for nail grooming.

Woman drinking herbal tea quitting smokingThere is no magic formula for quitting smoking. One strategy may work well for one person, but not necessarily for another. Some smokers substitute smoking for coffee or tea, whereas others substitute it for chewing gum. Others resort to alternative therapies like acupuncture, meditation, and herbal remedies. What makes a good substitute for smoking? It depends. Often, a somewhat similar behavior is best. For example, if the person is fond of chewing tobacco, he or she may find a similar, yet better habit, such as chewing mint or nibbling on carrots.

To increase the chance of success in using the substitution strategy to quit smoking, experts recommend limiting where and when the negative habit is to occur. For example, one may choose to hang out with non-smoking colleagues, dine at a non-smoking restaurant, take coffee breaks inside the office, etc. Knowing that there is a limitation on the time and place where a bad habit can occur makes it easier for a smoker to push back nicotine cravings as they strike. Furthermore, the smoker may need two or more replacements to find something that sticks, but the effort is definitely worth it.

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