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Staying social without smoking

9th October 2018 Print

Are you a social smoker? If you are, quitting smoking can be a difficult process. When you go out, it can feel like everyone else around you is smoking. Can you still enjoy yourself without smoking? 

Of course! It'll take a little while to adjust, but there's plenty of people out there who socialise without smoking, and you can be one of them. 

The link between alcohol and smoking 

It is important to note that there is a link between alcohol consumption and smoking. 

Government data reveals that 90% of people who have an alcohol addiction 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.

It's not surprising, given that alcohol and nicotine both stimulate common mechanisms in the 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. 

Upon quitting smoking, the nicotine levels in your bloodstream will fall in 72 hours, but the receptors won't disappear so quickly, which is why you end up with cravings. 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 a similar way, alcohol is said to create a feeling of pleasure in the brain. 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 on quitting while being social  

Need a hand quitting and balancing your social life? Here’s how to stop smoking and still have a good time:

Don’t hesitate 

Don’t say no to going out because you’re worried about smoking. 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.

Boost yourself 

The place you go drinking might trigger a craving. 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.

Try a no-smoking get-together 

Create a get-together without strangers around you smoking by inviting your friends to your house. 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.

Hang out with other non-smokers 

You should have the support of your friends and other non-smokers when quitting. 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.

Get a quit buddy

Go to social events with your quit buddy! 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.