When you first decide to quit smoking, your social life probably doesn’t spring to mind. But if you were a social smoker and smoked more around friends, you may suddenly feel this absence when heading out.

Nicotinell have a range of support resources to advise you on how to stop drinking and smoking, and this guide will examine some key factors for you to socialise without smoking.

Smoking and alcohol

If you’re going out, the chances are you might have a drink. It’s important to recognise that there is a link between smoking and drinking alcohol.

Government data has shown that up to 90% of alcohol addicts 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.

The brain is affected by both nicotine and alcohol to a similar degree.

When smoking, nicotine is quickly transported to your brain via the bloodstream. 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 level in your blood drops sharply within 72 hours. Those receptors won’t disappear that quickly though, so your brain’s chemistry will react to cause powerful cravings and strong emotional reactions. 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.

Researchers believe that alcohol also causes a similar effect of pleasure as nicotine does on 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.

Socialising tips for quitting smoking

You’ve made the choice to quit smoking, but now you’re wondering how to face going out when friends around you may still be smoking. Here’s how to stick to your goals and still have a good time:

Don’t delay it

It’s easy to say, but try not to overthink and worry about it. 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.

Give yourself a pep talk

You may associate the place you’re going to with smoking. 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.

Have a smoke-free social

Inviting your friends to your house, instead of going out, can be a great first step. 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 non-smokers

Supportive friends, and non-smoker friends, can be a great help. 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.

Enlist a quit buddy!

Ask a friend or family member to be your “quit buddy” and invite them along. 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.