The desire to quit smoking can be much greater for older adults. They clearly know the dangers that smoking will place on not only the longevity and quality of their own lives but also that of family and friends. As seniors face mounting health issues, recognizing and combating the smoking triggers in older smokers is the first step to successfully replacing the physical, mental, and social patterns of smoking with new, healthier choices.
Determining well-known as well as hidden and seldom talked about triggers can really help you on your journey to Quitting Smoking. Learn about potential triggers that could be present in your life and look for ways to avoid them when you do decide to quit again.
Yet, this intense desire can be displaced by doubt and frustration as the nicotine user may have failed at many attempts to quit smoking in the past. Memories of frustration, anxiety and weight gain can be self-defeating - yet, it is important to consider that same life experience as a key factor to prepare yourself for the tough challenge of quitting successfully.
There is definite cause for hope, as the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare (AIHW) reports the trend for active, daily smokers is steadily decreasing for all age groups. The following three areas of the addiction cycle will describe common smoking triggers that affect older adults in their attempts to stop smoking:
Dismantle Mental Triggers That Keep You Addicted
A cognitive behavior approach to stop smoking offers practical and actionable methods to modify the personal meaning we place on life interactions and our attempts to modify old thinking patterns. Intercepting the dysfunctional and automatic thought processes associated with smoking will allow older adults more self-control and helps to overcome the uneasy emotions associated with nicotine withdrawal. Changing the following mental triggers from a negative perspective to a more positive and realistic reasoning will alleviate the fears and frustrations associated with quitting smoking for elderly persons:
- memories of past social engagements where smoking was involved
- thoughts of failure in past attempts to stop smoking
- the smell of nicotine or watching a group smoking outside
- news of potential health problems (losing hope that it is too late)
- pessimistic outlook on global events
- celebrations after an accomplishment
Recognize Emotional Triggers That Influence Smoking Behavior
Our thoughts, whether positive or negative, will affect our emotional responses to our environment and to the behavior of those around us. Once you modify the meaning you place on smoking (the thought process), you have the opportunity to break the rollercoaster emotional cycles associated with nicotine withdrawal; a sense of loss, anxiety, depression, temptation, and wavering willpower. Recognize these emotional triggers for older adults that influence smoking behavior:
- during stressful situations such as family gatherings
- changes in the environment such as new neighbors
- boredom, loneliness, or isolation
- grieving the loss of a loved family member, friend, or pet
- the feeling of ease or increased alertness after a cigarette
- attending sporting events such as fishing, hunting, etc.
Replace Physical Triggers With New Behaviors
With insight into your thought processes and accompanying emotions, healthy behaviors can be established that will not only allow you to cope better but will also offer a gratifying personal experience to reinforce your determination to quit smoking. Avoiding or modifying your physical triggers will offer a better chance of smoking cessation success and can also start the path to healthier lifestyle choices:
- the nervousness of not having something in the hand or mouth
- physical craving associated with nicotine addiction
- after eating or sexual activity
- while drinking coffee, tea or liquor
- driving in the car, especially long trips
- during lunch breaks or immediately after leaving work
With increasing legislation to ban smoking in public places, now is a great time to stop smoking, as the mental, emotional, and physical triggers to smoking will be lessened by new laws. Download the informative report, "13 Seldom Talked About Smoking Triggers" for additional information and help.
You can increase your success to stop smoking by changing the significance you place on smoking, recognizing the associated emotions of nicotine withdrawal, and replacing old behaviors with new, healthy choices. Contact us for more information on the success of our stop smoking program for older adults.