Have you decided that 2019 will be your year to quit smoking and give your health the boost that it needs? If the answer is yes, then you might be attempting to determine how you can make smoking easier for yourself, with one of those ideas being to stop going out as much.
However, even if you’re in the process of quitting smoking but class yourself as a socialite — this quiz to discover your smoker profile from Nicotinell should help establish if you are indeed a social smoker — you may find yourself questioning what this will mean for your social calendar.
This guide will explain how you can continue to be a socialite without the need to smoke. (While I don’t smoke myself, I have many friends who do, so I wanted to share this guide about making quitting easier.)
There are links between smoking and alcohol
Before we advise you about how you can continue to socialise while being smoke-free, it is important to point out the close link between smoking and drinking alcohol. I myself have, in the past, had the odd cheeky cigarette when drunk, so I can see why this is the case.
At the extreme, government data has found that up to 90 per cent of people who are addicted to alcohol will also smoke. Furthermore, smokers have been found to be more likely to drink and have a 2.7 times greater risk of becoming dependent on alcohol than non-smokers do.
In general, it is important to understand that both alcohol and nicotine act on common mechanisms found in the human brain.
When it comes to nicotine, the chemical compound will enter the bloodstream as soon as you smoke a cigarette and rapidly get transported to your brain. Once there, the nicotine will stimulate the brain by creating receptors which release chemicals that give a feeling of pleasure. These receptors will increase in number as smoking becomes prolonged and your brain will become reliant on nicotine in order to release these feel-good chemicals.
However, the nicotine supply in your bloodstream will drop within 72 hours of your decision to quit smoking — those receptors won’t disappear that quickly though, so your brain’s chemistry will react to cause powerful cravings and strong emotional reactions. Persistence is key, as nicotine receptors will go away with time and your brain chemistry should be back to normal within three months of a quit.
In regards to alcohol, researchers believe this substance fosters feeling of pleasure. If true, this reinforces the effects of nicotine on the brain. There are suggestions that nicotine and alcohol will moderate each other’s effects on the brain due to the fact that nicotine stimulates while alcohol sedates.
Tips for socialising when on a quit-smoking journey
So, you have taken the first step and stopped smoking, but now face the dilemma of socialising in a scenario where you would have previously had a cigarette. It’s not always easy to make changes to your behaviour but the fact is that you can make changes, it just takes time to do so.
Here’s how to stick to your goals and still have a good time:
Don’t put it off
You shouldn’t delay going out for a drink because you’re having doubts. Everything you did as a smoker, you can do as a former smoker. Holding off too long from social drinking after quitting can create a sense of intimidation. Plus, socialising with friends is an important part of your life. The sooner you teach yourself how to enjoy a drink or two without a cigarette, the sooner you’ll feel like your life is back to normal.
It might be hard at first, but in time, you will adjust and make changes to how you behave when socialising. The key here is to take the time to allow yourself to adjust, without putting too much pressure on yourself.
Have a pep talk with yourself
Where you go to enjoy a drink could very well trigger your smoking cravings. Before leaving the house or in the car, be mentally prepared by saying aloud, “I’m a former smoker.” Or try, “I don’t smoke. I’m healthier and happier without cigarettes.” The main point is to remind yourself that you’re a former smoker and that you don’t need to light up anymore.
Every time that you think about smoking, know how you will be strong to stop yourself reaching for a cigarette. Think about your reason why – why you are giving up – and focus on that to ensure that you don’t end up smoking.
Aim to have a social get-together where no smoking is involved
Instead of going to a place where people are likely to be smoking, why not invite your group of friends to your house instead? Clubs and bars are common places where people tend to smoke, for instance.
Having a party at your house is a great option, especially if you invite mainly non-smoking friends. You can celebrate your smoke-free success with them. You’ll be able to control what is served which can help stop those triggers and completely avoid cigarettes in your smoke-free home.
Enjoy time with non-smokers
Non-smokers and friends who will be supporting your decision to stop smoking will definitely help. Who you choose to hang out with can help support your ex-smoking status. Slip-ups can occur when quitters are in the company of other smokers who may not be aware of how to support their quit attempt.
While there’s no need to completely boycott your smoking friends, it might be worthwhile spending some time away from the ones that you feel won’t help to make the process of quitting easier for you.
Invite a quit buddy to join you
A friend or family member can prove a huge helping hand as your quit buddy, so be sure to invite them along to whatever social event you’re attending. A quit buddy is someone who supports your quit. Should you encounter old smoking friends who ask you to join them, make sure they are aware of your situation so they can be respectful. Not only that, you’ll also have your quit buddy to hang out with.