Just because you’ve decided to quit smoking and enjoy the health benefits of a smoke-free life, that doesn’t mean that you can’t still have fun and maintain an active social life. The key is to plan for any difficult situations in advance so that you’re prepared for when they do arise and won’t be caught off guard.
1. Keep an eye on your alcohol intake
Cutting out alcohol altogether might be a bit too extreme for most people. But if you can avoid excessive drinking on a night out, and therefore prevent yourself from reaching the point at which your self-control begins to dwindle, you’ll likely find it much easier to resist any temptations to smoke.
The higher your alcohol consumption, the higher your risk of relapse, so it’s something worth considering, even if only in the early stages of your journey to becoming a non-smoker.
2. Try to distinguish between physical and psychological cravings
Are you tempted to light up a cigarette because you’re experiencing a nicotine craving, or is it just because you’re in a place or situation that you associate with cigarette smoking? If you think it might be the latter, you could be being influenced by peer pressure, or simply be running in autopilot mode.
If this is the case, you need to try to break the association between socialising and smoking. Making small changes to how you’d usually do things can really help to reframe your thinking. You could try ordering a different drink to your usual, or sitting in a different spot. You might be a bit sceptical about what sort of effect this could really have, but changing your routine is often all it takes to put you back in control of your actions.
You should also try to find ways to remind yourself of your goals, and your reasons for adopting a smoke-free lifestyle. A visual on your phone might help to jolt your memory when you’re out and about, or maybe you could ask a friend to give you a nudge if it seems like you might be swayed by the temptation of a cigarette.
3. Choose your destination wisely
If you’re planning a night out, an evening spent in a pub garden might not be your best bet, as you’re likely to be surrounded by people smoking. That’s the kind of situation that could put you in a predicament, especially once the drinks start flowing and your level of judgement begins to falter.
If you have any control over where you’ll be heading, it could be really useful to avoid places that you know have busy smoking areas or venues where it’s likely you’d end up spending a lot of time outside in a crowd.
4. Plan your responses to tricky situations in advance
It’s not always possible to have control over everything, and you simply have to accept that some scenarios are inevitable. What you can do though is to have a plan in place for when difficult situations do arise.
You could, for example, decide that whenever you need some fresh air, you’ll take a walk around the block rather than stepping out into the smoking area. Or that you’ll alternate between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks in order to pace yourself throughout the evening.
It might also be a good idea to ask for support from your friends before you start drinking. You could ask them not to offer you cigarettes while you’re out together, or you might decide to stick with a non-smoking friend while any others do go out for a cigarette.