Are you trying to quit smoking? You will be able to give up this unpleasant habit, as long as you have the right mindset. However, some psychological challenges could be holding you back. Loneliness, in particular, can make it much more difficult to quit smoking.
You will need to work around feelings of social isolation to succeed. You might need to use alternatives to cigarettes if quitting cold turkey is too difficult.
How can loneliness make it more difficult to quit smoking?
For decades, medical experts have identified a strong correlation between loneliness and substance abuse. However, until recently, they couldn’t determine the exact nature of the relationship. A new study in Addiction has helped clarify it better.
The study was conducted by a team of researchers from the University of Bristol. They identified a couple of unanswered questions at the beginning of the study. Experts had wondered whether loneliness made people more prone to addiction or if addiction was a precursor to loneliness. Unlike previous studies that focused on identifying a correlation between loneliness and addiction, the study was orchestrated to identify a causal relationship between the two variables.
The University of Bristol researchers used a technique called Mendelian randomization. This cutting-edge approach incorporated both genetic data and survey information from over 1 million people across the United Kingdom.
Dr. Robyn Wooten, one of the lead authors of the study, said the results were compelling. There was strong evidence that loneliness makes smoking a worse addiction on all fronts. Lonely people were more likely to start smoking in the first place. They also tend to smoke more cigarettes and had more difficulty quitting.
The study also determined that the relationship was two-directional. Smoking also increased feelings of loneliness, although the exact reasons warrant further research and discussion. It is possible that the social stigma of smoking pushes people that smoke out of their social circle. Smokers might also have more difficulty connecting with people socially, because they are unable to be as active.
This restricts them from participating in more strenuous activity that some of their friends indulge in. These questions will be harder to answer and require more intricately designed studies.
It is helpful to know that loneliness appears to increase the likelihood of cigarette addiction and make it more difficult to quit. Smokers that are struggling to kick the habit should keep this in mind as they find a plan to overcome their addiction.
Overcoming your cigarette addiction while feeling lonely
Loneliness clearly exacerbates other mental health issues, which can make it more difficult to quit smoking. Fortunately, there are some ways that you can come up with a successful smoking cessation plan even if you are lonely. Some ideas are listed below.
Use technology to form distant connections
Loneliness has become a lot more prevalent during the COVID-19 crisis, since people cannot interact with each other the way that they are used to. Fortunately, it is possible to cope more easily by using digital communications. You can use tools like Zoom to communicate with friends and family while social distancing. This works outside of a pandemic as well, if you have been forced to move to a new area or can’t see people physically for various reasons.
Use tobacco alternatives
You might feel overwhelmed trying to quit smoking cold turkey. Instead, you might want to try using tobacco alternatives temporarily. Products like Black Buffalo might be worthwhile for lonely smokers that are struggling to quit.
Find ways to distract yourself
Many people that are trying to quit smoking might mistake boredom for loneliness. This is because smoking was an easy distraction from their frustrations. You might take the edge off this problem by finding other ways to keep yourself occupied, even if they don’t involve other people.
Explore social outlets that don’t fuel your cravings
The most effective way to overcome loneliness is by building new social connections. However, you need to make sure you don’t engage in social activities that make you more inclined to smoke. You might want to give up drinking for a while if alcohol makes you feel like smoking. You should also find people that are not going to be smoking regularly.
Your best option might be to try socializing with people and more active environments. You might find classes at your gym or hiking groups on meet up that will help you find new people to socialize with.
Don’t let loneliness keep you from quitting smoking
Smoking is an unpleasant habit that can create plenty of challenges. Unfortunately, quitting can be difficult if you feel lonely. The good news is that you can come up with a smoking cessation plan in spite of loneliness. Just follow the tips listed above.