4 Ways to Make Quitting Easier if You Have Experienced Trauma

Experiencing trauma can make it harder to quit smoking. There are 4 things you can do to make quitting easier as a trauma survivor.

Please note: This article discusses traumatic events. If you or someone you know needs support now, call or text 988 or chat 988Lifeline.org. 988 connects you with a trained crisis counselor who can help at any time of day or night.

1. Work with a mental health professional

If you have intense or long-lasting trauma symptoms, consider getting help from a psychologist or therapist who specializes in trauma therapy. Experts recommend that PTSD should be treated with trauma-focused therapy. Even if you don’t have PTSD, trauma-informed mental health professionals can help you.

Look for a professional who has training with trauma and has worked with multiple clients who have experienced trauma. You may find this information online on their website or by calling their office.

2. Take medication to help you quit

Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved medications are safe and effective ways to help you quit.

Medications can be especially helpful for people with PTSD. Research shows that people with PTSD can have more severe withdrawal symptoms than people who don’t have PTSD. Nicotine withdrawal can trigger some trauma-related symptoms in people with PTSD. Medications can help make nicotine withdrawal less intense.

Varenicline (Chantix®) or bupropion (Zyban®) are medications that stop nicotine from feeling rewarding. They can train your brain to stop craving nicotine. Another option is nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), like nicotine gum, patches, or lozenges. NRT makes nicotine cravings and withdrawal less intense. You can use one or more medications at a time to get the best control of cravings. Talk to your doctor about which medications are right for you.

EX has lots of information about the different kinds of medication that can help you quit.

3. Develop new coping strategies

Over time, smoking becomes a coping strategy. But you can create new ones.

First, take note of when, where, and who you are with when you smoke. Pay attention to your triggers and what causes your cravings.

Common emotional triggers include feeling stressed, anxious, depressed, or numb. Triggers can also include doing a particular activity, being in a certain place, or smelling someone else’s smoke.

Next, plan how you want to deal with these situations in the future. Some options include practicing mindfulness, spending time outside, journaling, or talking to someone you trust.

Not sure where to start? Try a stress management technique.

4. Get support

Having good support on your quitting journey can make things easier. Research shows that people who have support are more successful in staying quit. Support is especially important if you have experienced trauma.

It can help you feel less lonely and provide reassurance during difficult times. It can motivate you to stay quit. And it can help you see the bigger picture of why you want to stay quit.

Support can come in many forms from many people. They might be:

  • The EX Community or an EX Coach
  • A friend or family member
  • A trauma support group
  • A mental health professional

Whatever the mix, it's been shown to work, and it makes quitting easier.

Quitting as a trauma survivor can be hard. But this challenge can be overcome with the right strategies and support. No matter what your situation, you can quit for good.

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