If you’re a social smoker, trying to quit smoking while maintaining a social life can seem daunting. But it’s important not to let your social life fall by the wayside while you’re kicking the habit.

In order to help you, we’ve drawn up the following guide and tips.

The similarities between alcohol and nicotine

It is beneficial to know how nicotine behaves in a similar way to alcohol. At the extreme, government data has found that up to 90 per cent of people who are addicted to alcohol will 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.

Alcohol and nicotine both act on similar mechanisms in the brain.

With nicotine, the chemical quickly gets absorbed into your blood and is carried 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.

The nicotine levels in your bloodstream will fall within 72 hours of quitting smoking, but the receptors hang around for far longer. 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.

Alcohol is also attributed to a feeling of pleasure. 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.

A quit-smoking socialising guide

Want to avoid cravings in social situations? Here’s how to stick to your goals and still have a good time:

Don’t abandon your social life

Don’t avoid going out. 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.

Be your own cheerleader

It’s true that your usual watering hole might cause smoking cravings. 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.

Hang out without smoke

Bring friends to your own home, instead of going out. 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.

Non-smoker friends

Supportive friends are indispensable. 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.

Take a quit buddy with you

Do you have a 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.