I’m going to be writing a three part series on addiction covering Nicotine, Caffeine and Alcohol. I figure there are some who are making the cessation of one of these three addictions as a central point to their new years resolutions. If you are having an issue with addiction, you are not alone! In fact, a friend of mine just splashed her 4 year sobriety on her facebook wall. I am so proud of her and hope that with that message alone, it will be read by someone else who is struggling- and that they get the help they need.
I have written about Nicotine before. I called it the Nico-demon. (and I’m really happy I can use the Nico-demon picture again!) I quit countless times! The withdrawal symptoms where horrible. I craved a cigarette, I had tons of sleepless nights, time went by extremely slow and many times I just convinced myself if I had one cigarette, it would take that withdrawal away… even if just temporary. But that’s just the thing, once you have one, you have a second, a third and before too long you are back to your addiction!
Isn’t that common with all addictions? I’m in the process of Caffeine withdrawal right now and I know some of my suffering would disappear with a cup of coffee! Unfortunately, by doing this, you are just feeding your addiction.
If you are quitting cold turkey, I would recommend a book by the American Cancer Society “Freshstart: 21 Days to Stop Smoking“. (Direct link to publisher, I make no money 🙂 ) I read this book when I first quit smoking when I was 17. I thought each day was very accurate for everything I was going through. When I wanted a cigarette, I would just re-read the current or previous days in the book. Sometimes I would read a chapter ahead to see what I may face. Quitting cold turkey was really difficult for me but it is probably the best way to get it over and done with. Not only does the book go over what you may be going through on a day to day basis but explains what and why you are going through it.
Cessation Devices/Nicotine Replacement
I have tried most everything. I tried the patch, gum, lozenges, hypnotism and Chantix. There are even electronic cigarettes now! Each has it’s pluses and minuses and what ended up working for me was the lozenges. If I had them too quickly, I would get the hiccups. I know a few people who quit using the electronic cigarettes, while not very scientific, the two people I know who use the electronic cigarettes ended up continuing to use them. By both people, they have used the justification that atleast they are not getting those harmful chemicals anymore. To each our own but you are still addicted to Nicotine. Which brings me to an important point. I got hooked on the lozenges, was enjoying them like they were a “mint” and found it difficult to stop using them. I used Chantix to get off the Nicotine Lozenges!! Chantix is a prescription that you can get from your doctor to block the Nicotine receptors in your brain. I have heard about crazy side effects from Chantix, it made me feel great! Seriously, I was really happy while taking it BUT because of the side effects, I took it for the shortest time I had to.
Other Support for Quitting
The Internet has plenty of resources available, from message boards that you can read through and can commiserate with others. There are programs, advice and support groups. Sometimes your health insurance has options available. The biggest suggestion I have, is be ready. You need to want to quit smoking. If you are not all in, it will be easy to give in to your addiction. Sometimes when you feel you are about to give in, refocus your mind, go for a quick walk, do deep breathing, sometimes those cravings disappear after a few minutes.
After I quit, there was no more smoking breaks so occasionally I would take a clean air break. It may be a good idea until you are confident in your quit, not to hang around with your smoking friends when they go out to smoke. I remember a month after quitting, walking past the smoking area at work, walking past the smoke and feeling like I was going to choke on the fumes. It smelled bad! Almost like a stale cigarette. Then you notice how when someone comes back from having a cigarette, that stench stays on their clothes. I remember a few people would make remarks about that when I was a smoker and I gave it no further thought… but ugh!
When I quit when I was younger, it was in the middle of baseball season. I remember I was struggling the first half of the season. When I quit, suddenly I was seeing the ball better, I was getting the bat on the ball and I just had so much more energy.
One strange thing that happened. Time seemed to drag. They may cover it in the Quit book I posted above but as a smoker, you knew at the end of a class, meeting, dinner…etc – you already had a plan in place to smoke a cigarette, you no longer have that crutch to look forward to, for some reason, it just made everything seem like it was taking a long time. Strange.
In closing, once you get a few days under your belt it gets easier and easier. I remember a few months after quitting, I would have the occasional urge, sort of like when you crave your favorite food. Even years later, I still get that occasional crave. Sometimes you have to remember how you choked when you took your first puff… let’s not do that again 🙂