A Look at the 5 Cessation Stages of Tobacco Addiction


Black banner with white stars and a hand reaching up saying "The 5 stages of stop smoking."
If you think you're ready to stop smoking, check out which of these stages you're really at.

Each year many smokers attempt to quit but only a small amount of them don’t pick up a cigarette ever again. Many of those who make this attempt need medical or psychological help throughout the cessation stages of tobacco addiction. This is because nicotine is as addictive as any other drug out there. The only difference is it’s “legal.”

Understanding the Cessation Stages of Tobacco Addiction

Medical professionals utilize what’s known as the stages of change model to help smokers end their addiction. This allows for the appropriate intervention from healthcare professionals. In 1983, Prochaska and DiClemente suggested this model stating that creating cessation stages of addiction would be beneficial to patients. To understand this model, it’s important to take a closer look at it.

The Pre-Contemplation Cessation Stage of Tobacco Addiction

In this stage, you don’t intend to stop smoking within the next 6 months. Instead, you’re defensive because you’d prefer not to think or talk about your addiction. This may be due to failed attempts at quitting previously or because you don’t understand or believe the consequences of your actions. Simply put, the pros outweigh the cons of smoking right now. To move into the next stage, you must accept that you have a problem and it’s harming you.

The Contemplation Cessation Stage of Tobacco Addiction

Now that you’ve entered this stage, you have the intention of changing your behavior within 6 months because you’re growing disillusioned by how your life is now and you understand that tobacco is detrimental to your health. Unfortunately, you’re just not ready to change yet. You’re still weighing the pros and cons of quitting.

White heart underneath it says "The 5 stages of stop smoking."
There's no butts about it... Smoking sucks

The Preparation Cessation Stage of Tobacco Addiction

This is when you plan to stop smoking within the next month. It’s time to choose a strategy so you can achieve your goal. If you’ve tried to stop smoking in the past, it’s important to try a different strategy this time.

The Action Cessation Stage of Tobacco Addiction

Here’s where you’re finally ready to change your behavior. Others will applaud your efforts but this is the most difficult stage due to experiencing withdrawal. You need to stick with your program and remain in this stage until your desire to quit is stronger than the temptation to smoke.

The Maintenance Cessation Stage of Tobacco Addiction

This stage occurs once you haven’t smoked in 6 months. Now it’s time to focus on how good this feels. Doing so will help you fight off the urge to relapse. (It’s important to note that relapse typically occurs in the presence of other smokers, which is why it’s important to avoid them.)

Hand out saying "The 5 stages of stop smoking."
It's time to stop smoking!

The Relapse Cessation Stage of Tobacco Addiction

Although this isn’t one of the 5 stages of the change model, it’s important to acknowledge that just because you made your way to the maintenance stage doesn’t mean that you’ll remain there. People relapse (most people relapse 30 times when they try to quit smoking) so don’t beat yourself up for doing so. Instead, work on yourself so that you can start over and be more resounding in meeting and maintaining your goal this time. It’s also important to understand that the best way to reverse relapse is to remember why you quit in the first place.

What these Cessation Stages of Tobacco Addiction Mean to You

These stages aren’t only for smokers. Everyone who wants to stop an addiction will undergo a process similar to this. Once you make it through the process, you’ll need to have a good support system in place. If you’re alone and need some help, reach out to me. I have created some resources to help you stay clean from all substances, including tobacco.


Smoking kills.

We all know this, but what we may not understand is that anyone who wants to put an end to this addiction and save their lives must undergo 5 stages before they can quit.

What are these stages? And how can I help you work through them? Check it out for yourself...