Quitting smoking is difficult for most people addicted to nicotine. The withdrawal symptoms and cravings can be as strong as those experienced by heroin addicts. In addition to the physical withdrawal effects of quitting smoking, such as headaches, nausea and dizziness, the National Institutes of Health studies have found that anger, mood swings, tension and depression were the most common withdrawal symptoms experienced by smokers within the first week of quitting. While the severe withdrawal pangs subside over time, the psychological addiction may continue for longer periods, sometimes up to a year or more for some people. Stop smoking support groups can help smokers maintain their motivation, find ideas and tips that worked for others and have a place where they can air their feelings without judgment.
When smokers make a commitment to a group of people that they will refrain from smoking, they add another layer of commitment to their own personal desire to get healthy. Groups can be informal among friends, through health care facilities such as the American Cancer Society or a local hospital or through a therapist or counselor. The most important aspects of a support group are that it meet regularly and offer a safe, non-judgmental atmosphere of recovery. Nicotine Anonymous is a self-help support group that’s based on the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. Meetings are available worldwide and can be searched online at the group’s website.
Online groups of former smokers and those in the throes of withdrawal can be useful to people who are too busy to attend a support group or can’t find any in their community. Like other social networks, online smokers’ cessation forums offer access to blogs, chat rooms and email connections for people to find support from others going through similar situations. In addition to the anonymity afforded by an online group, meetings, chats and members can be accessed 24 hours a day. Smoking cravings can hit in the middle of the night and sometimes just talking about it with someone who understands can help the former smoker get through the immediate urge. Blogs and other sites put together by amateurs can be found to suit any kind of personality. How to Quit Smoking News is a blog that encourages people to quit without the use of smoking cessation medications. Quit Smoking Journals is an online group that believes in the therapeutic affects of writing when going through cravings. They share their journal entries online. Even pharmaceutical manufacturers that make smoking cessation drugs like Zyban and Chantix offer online support groups for their customers because they realize that the psychological impact of quitting usually is harder to manage than the physical withdrawals.