It is easier to suppress the first desire than to satisfiy all that follow it.
Benjamin Franklin (1706 - 1790)
If you learn from your suffering, And really come to understand the lesson you were taught, You might be able to help someone else Who is now in the phase you may have just completed. Maybe that is what it is all about after all.
Live as you will wish to have lived when you are dying. -Christian Gellert, (1715-1769) German poet
Reflect on your present blessings, of which every man has many; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.
- Charles Dickens (1812-1870) English writer
I stopped smoking and extended my life expectancy. My wife is furious.
How to Quit Smoking
Smokers face a number of challenges in quitting, the first of which is how to quit. What options are available, what is the best way, how can I quit smoking and stay quit, is there an easy way, and is the rewards worth the effort? I recently stopped smoking, and I have come up with an outline that may help someone who wants to quit. Quitting smoking is not easy, but it can be done.
The first step you need to do is to study the addiction. There is a wealth of books, online resources, pamphlets, and advice available. The best place to start the search is at your local library. Check out a few books on the subject and begin reading. With a basic understanding of the problem you can go online (most libraries, if not all, have internet access if you do not) and begin a search through the web sites that are devoted to the smoking addiction. Many of them are free, and have tools that can help you determine the nature of your addiction. Depending on which aspect of the addiction is the stronger (physical or psychological) will determine what quit method may work the best for you. Some of the sites that I found to be very good are the Canadian Lung Association, the American Lung Association, and the Quitnet. I am especially fond of the Quitnet. Not only does it have the resources and tools to assist in the quitting process, but they also have an international online support group.
After completing the research, the second step is to go see your doctor. A check-up will give you a baseline from which to judge the improvements that will occur after you stop smoking. Your doctor can also prescribe some of the quit aids that are available, if you want to go that route. Be warned, not all doctors are trained to assist smokers seeking to quit. You may be better informed than your doctor is on available options. This is also a good time to discuss changes in your diet and the start of a new exercise program. Do not go on a very restrictive diet, as failure in one area may promote failure in another. Exercise is a great way to deal with craves that come up after quitting. The use of these two methods can reduce weight gain, if that is a fear of yours. Once this has been done, choose a quit date. Your quit date should be chosen after seeing your doctor as some aids (e.g. Zyban) require a two week lead time to be effective before quitting.
After choosing your quit, date let everyone know what you are planning. Some people will give you support; others will be sceptical, and others will laugh. Take the support and use the rest to help motivate you in your search for freedom from smoking. Whether you decide to quit cold turkey or use some aids (Zyban or nicotine replacement therapy), spend some time tracking your addiction. Keep a log of when you smoke and why you smoke. Determining your triggers now will help after you stop using the drug. Once these triggers have been identified, establish methods you can use to cope with them. Planning to deal with the triggers before you meet them will help to overcome them successfully. Finally, join a support group that specializes in helping smokers kick their addiction. If possible, join both an online support group and a live support group in your area. The more support you can get the better. The knowledge of previous quitters and the shared experiences of fellow sufferers will help to make the quit easier.
Once all the preparation is done, the next step is to quit smoking. Remove all smoking paraphernalia from your house, car, office, and anywhere else you usually smoke. Before quitting, stock up on your quit aids (patches, nicotine gum, skittles, lollipops, cinnamon sticks, or whatever you have chosen). On your quit day, quit. This means not one more cigarette is to be smoked. If you continue to smoke, even one each day, you will be prolonging withdrawal. Each smoke reintroduces nicotine into your system, which makes the body demand more. As long as you continue to have one puff a day, you will continue to crave a cigarette. Here is where your knowledge gained from your research will begin to payoff. You should have a good idea of how long nicotine will stay in your system, how long you can expect each withdrawal symptom to remain, and when the benefits will start to appear. Here is where you get to apply all those strategies for dealing with triggers and craving. If you kept a log, then you know what your triggers are and have some strategies in place to deal with them.
Unfortunately, the unexpected does happen, and the first response of the ex-smoker is to think of a cigarette. When this happens, rely on your support network. It is okay to ask for help when we need it, and those who are supporting you will want you to succeed. One of the benefits of an online support group, such as the Quitnet, is that there is always someone available to help you in your quit. A fellow quitter will be online to provide advice at three in the morning or three in the afternoon. Recovering smokers love to give out advice, asked for or not. Remember that each quit is different as every person is different; therefore, no two quits are alike. I mention this, as some advice you will receive will not work for you. The best way to deal with this is to try everything, but keep only what works for you. Some ex-smokers become evangelical about the method they used to quit smoking. However, their way may not work for you, so tell them thank you and stick to your method. The only thing you really have to remember about quitting is to quit.
No matter how well you prepare there are always unexpected effects from quitting. There were two unforeseen symptoms from quitting that surprised me. The worst, for me, was Cannot Remember Syndrome (CRS), although I may have known, but I just cannot remember. The other was the lowering of my IQ. Both of these quit symptoms are temporary, and you should be back to normal within 12 weeks. During this time use those changes as excuses whenever you do something stupid (I overused them). The statement "I just quit smoking" is a wonderful excuse that covers many errors. Not all undiscovered information is negative. Because not everyone feels the same improvements from quitting, the professionals do not mention them. As an example, I did not expect to feel calmer, but I do. The credit for this goes to the end of withdrawal. As a smoker, every 20 minutes my body demanded its drug. This constant cycle of drug ingestion and the consequent withdrawal filled me with stress. Now that I have quit, this stress is gone. For every day that I go with out a smoke, my self-esteem rises. Success is addictive, and trading addictions (smoking for success) is an excellent trade off in my mind.
Finally, how do you maintain the quit after the initial rush of quitting wears off? After a short time, your friends and relatives will think you have beaten the addiction. They will be bored by the constant recital of statistics and milestones long before you are. Having a good quit support group with other quitters will help. These people are going through the same things you are and can relate to what you are experiencing. Celebrate every milestone that you reach, as these celebrations will help to sustain you through the tough moments. And tough moments will come. The best defence against the craves after the initial enthusiasm is gone is to help those who have just quit or are thinking of quitting. Helping others reminds us of what we have gone through, and what will happen if we slip. If you do slip, get up and start again as soon as possible. The sooner the new attempt is made the better the chance of it being successful. Maintaining your freedom is not as difficult as starting the quit. The maintenance will last for a lifetime. Not that it will require constant work, but once a smoker, always one puff away from a pack a day.
Knowledge of the nature of nicotine addiction will help a smoker face the challenges found in smoking cessation. Knowing what options are available will help a smoker to find the best way to quit smoking. Quitting is rarely easy, but the rewards are worth the effort required. Hang onto your quit, and remember, no matter what, do not smoke.
Trying to quit smoking can drive you nuts -- especially when you try to light your nicotine gum.
"Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense."
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 - 1882)
"Being defeated is often a temporary condition, giving up is what makes it permanent."
Marlene vos Savant
Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an
understanding of ourselves.
-C.G. Jung (1875-1961) Swiss psychologist