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Smoke-Free in 30 Days -- Book Review

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating
User Rating 5 Star Rating (4 Reviews)

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Updated July 11, 2010

Smoke-Free in 30 Days -- Book Review
Image © Touchstone-Fireside Books
"Recovery is not a triumph of willpower but a triumph of self-love and of love from those around you."
~Daniel F. Seidman, Ph.D.

Dr. Seidman, director of smoking cessation services at Columbia University's Behavioral Medicine Program, has spent the last 20 years of his life helping smokers shed the addiction to nicotine through developing a change in perspective about what smoking means to them.

Dr. Seidman has never smoked, but lost both of his parents prematurely to smoking-related diseases.

Smoke-Free in 30 Days - The Book

Starting with an endorsement in a forward by Dr. Mehmet Oz, Smoke-Free in 30 days is an interesting read, cover to cover.

The book is divided into four sections:

Section One: Understanding Nicotine Addiction

Physical addiction to nicotine is, in Dr. Seidman's estimation, the lesser of the two hurdles that face ex-smokers during recovery. He feels that the psychological side of nicotine addiction, or the habits and associations that we build up around smoking over the decades that most of us spend tied to nicotine is the number one challenge of healing from this addiction. I agree.

Section one includes descriptions of six different types of smokers:

  • The Social Smoker
  • The Scared-to-Quit Smoker
  • The Emotion-Triggered Smoker
  • The Worried-about-Weight Smoker
  • The Alcoholic Smoker
  • The Situational Smoker
It is useful to look through these categories in an effort to understand the attributes that most closely describe your own smoking addiction, so that you can better identify situations that may trigger the urge to smoke for you. However, don't be surprised if you relate to more than one category.

For most long-term smokers, the threads of nicotine addiction become thoroughly interwoven with virtually every aspect of daily life, making it seem as though just about everything is tied to smoking in one way or another.

Section Two: Preparing to Quit

Dr. Seidman walks readers through a thorough review of the various quit aids available on the market today, along with this caution:
    "They say it is a poor craftsman who blames his tools. So don't blame the medicines available to help you stop smoking. These medicines can be great tools, but they are not meant to do all the work for you; you have to do your part as well."
Dr. Seidman is right - quit aids are just that: aids. With a strong commitment to quit smoking, they can help you achieve your goal. Without motivation from within though, there isn't a quit aid out there that can help.

Section two also details information about what you can do to prepare your home for the big day, along with advice on adjusting your mindset for cessation.

The more prepared we are, from deciding how we'll quit to letting go of fear and embracing the value of what we're doing, the better our chances are of long-term success.

Section Three: Becoming Smoke-Free

In this segment of the book, Dr. Freidman educates readers about what to expect from the short-lived phase of physical withdrawal from nicotine, along with a good primer on how we can begin to decipher and manage the mental ties that bind us to smoking. He goes over a number of the more common discomforts that are part of recovery and gives practical tips on how to deal with them successfully.

The second half of this section deals with relapse prevention. The Bermuda Triangle of Relapse is a term Dr. Seidman uses to describe three risks he feels can threaten an ex-smoker's resolve to remain smoke-free: alcohol, negativity and other smokers. He shares insights into how we can plan ahead to avoid falling into a mindset that leaves us ripe for relapse.

Section Four: Day-by-Day Calendar

The last third of the book is devoted to helping quitters through the first month of their new smoke-free life, one day at a time.

Each day begins with a quote from an ex-smoker for readers to contemplate, along with a list of action items and things to consider. Dr. Seidman suggests starting a quit journal on day one, and use it daily during the first month.

He reviews phases of early cessation when they are most likely to occur, and offers tips and encouragement on how to weather the challenges successfully.

Smoke-Free in 30 Days

The Pros

Just about everything in this book is a plus for the person who wants to quit smoking. It covers the basics on how to prepare for a successful quit program, helping readers understand how nicotine addicts us and why it's hard to stop smoking.

The book provides information on quit aids and what we should do to prepare to quit, both physically and mentally. And, the hand-holding offered to recovering nicotine addicts for the first 30 days is chock full of inspiration and practical tips.

The Cons

The reason this review falls one star short of five stars has to do with the book's lack of emphasis on the role that support should play in person's quit program.

Dr. Seidman does mention nurturing a quit buddy type of relationship as part of cessation; someone to be accountable to. He also suggests finding a group or health care provider to look to for assistance. However, with just a page or two devoted to the subject of support, the book doesn't fully convey the importance of this facet of cessation to readers.

As a former smoker who found the key to lasting freedom from nicotine addiction through an online support forum, I know how critical it is to have a group of like-minded people in your corner as you move through cessation. From those who are at your stage of quitting (your quit buddies) to ex-smokers who have walked the path ahead of you and can help you over the bumps, this kind of support is, in my opinion, a part of the recovery process that one cannot afford to do without.

There is nothing better for a person's motivation than connecting with someone who has walked in their shoes....and has made it to the other side of recovery from this addiction.

In Summary...

Is it possible to quit smoking in 30 days without any discomfort and with no looking back? Yes, it is, but chances are, recovery from nicotine addiction will take longer than that for most people, with some ups and downs along the way.

That said, after 26 years of smoking, I knew within the first three weeks of quitting this time around that I was done -- something, as I mentioned above, that I attribute to the support I was fortunate enough to find.

If you have a strong desire to quit smoking, and you are willing to work your quit program for as long as it takes for you, you will succeed.

Smoking cessation is not out of reach for any of us. It is doable, and you have the ability to make it happen, right now. Believe that and believe in yourself.

I recommend Dr. Seidman's book as a primer for the new quitter, as long as it is combined with plenty of support and a healthy dose of personal motivation.

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