03.26.2007 - The Quittering
A friend of mine twittered that today was her first day of quitting smoking. Being that I've been there and that my unsolicited advice won't fit in 140 characters, I thought I'd make a post on what I did to quit.
I'll not waste anyone's time with general stuff like "avoid other smokers" and "keep busy". These things are painfully obvious and it bugged the shit out of me that smoking cessation sites even bothered typing this crap in. This is the hardcore means I took to quit and stay quit - be warned, this advice is not for the frail or faint of heart, or stomach for that matter. As well, I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on the internets. Use this advice at your own peril and etc.
The very first thing you need to do is pick up a package of 21mg Nicoderm CQ patches. I used the clear kind - for whatever reason, these seemed to work better for me and last longer as well. I suggest you get the same. I also advise you to stay on the 21mg patches for 8 weeks, not 6. From there, step down your dosage to the 14mg and then the 7mg as advertised. Throw out the support CD that comes with the patches - its utter garbage.
While you're at the store, get some nicotine gum. I used the orange flavored Nicorette. The booklets that come with the patches and the gum both say not to use them in conjunction - this is bullshit. 21mg of nicotine is not enough to keep you from flipping out, especially since you'll find that the patches start to wear thin by the evening if you've had one on all day long. The gum is a wonderful supplement and I used it right up to when I moved to the 7mg patches.
Two quick points on the gum and patch:
- This may not happen to you, but I had really vivid dreams the few times I went to bed without taking the patch off, so much so that when I woke up it was as if I hadn't slept at all. Give it a shot once to see if it happens to you (the dreams themselves make it worth doing it at least once) but I highly recommend removing them.
- Do not chew the nicotine gum like you would a stick of Doublemint. You will find yourself with a terrible case of rapid hiccups within seconds of first swallowing your saliva that has mixed with the gum. This is a result of an acute nicotine overload, and while not painful it is exceptionally annoying. Give the wad of gum a few quick chews, flatten it out with your tongue and place it between your bottom lip and gums. Every once in a while repeat this process to revitalize the gum.
The hand to mouth oral fixation of smoking is as difficult to overcome as the physical addiction to the nicotine. I always had lollipops that I carried around with me to act as a surrogate. Hard candy like Life Savers are also good - keep your mouth busy.
Some folks will also tell you to avoid doing things you would normally associate with smoking, like drinking coffee or beer. This is bad advice unless you also intend to quit these things. Keep doing them, and get used to doing them without a cigarette in your hand or six months down the road you'll grab a cup of coffee and be overwhelmed with the desire for a smoke. The same goes for your regular trips out of the office to smoke - keep making them, just don't hang around the smokers. Go for a walk outside or around your floor, otherwise you'll find yourself overly anxious at your desk, and this does nothing but amplify your desire for a cigarette.
So thats how you maintain your course - how do you stay quit?
Force yourself to mentally associate smoking a cigarette with being ill. I accomplished this quite by accident one evening while at a bar with some friends, breaking down and buying a pack of smokes. I chained them, giddy that I had a smoke in my hand and relishing the nicotine buzz that came along with it. I drank and drank and drank. I drank so much I became physically ill in the men's room. I may even have been thrown out of the bar, but that's a story for another time. That was not the last of my being sick that evening, and when I woke up the next morning I was so hung-over I was quite certain I was going to die, my mouth as dry as a cotton ball in the Sahara.
On the coffee table was a near empty pack of cigarettes, next to a stinking ashtray that I didn't remember digging out from wherever I had stashed them the night before. The very site of them made me want to retch.
So, take the following steps:
- Buy one or two packs of smokes. Go ahead and get regulars if you smoke lites for added crustiness.
- Grab a friend you can trust to not let you kill yourself by driving yourself home and head out to your favorite watering hole.
- Smoke. And drink. And smoke. A lot.
- Get sick. Have a smoke while on your knees in the bathroom.
- Wake up the next day, wishing for death.
- Quit smoking.
I've also heard that smoking about six cigarettes and collecting the ashes and butts in a glass of water, and then drinking said glass of water as quickly as you can will also do the trick -- without all the liver damage.
Yes, a bit extreme and possibly dangerous. But, this is a nasty, awful, life threatening shitfuck of a habit and one thats hard as all hell to beat. You pretty much have to show yourself who is boss, because in this fight, you are your own worst enemy and trust me - you will betray yourself. But, when you do, just kick your own ass and start again. Trust me, its worth it.
Posted by melissa on March 27, 2007 @ 1:24 am
I smoked 2+ packs a day for 2+ decades. I tried quitting seriously maybe 4 or 5 times. It wasn't until I created a game plan and stuck with it that it finally worked. Previously I would quit the patch about half way through the program thinking that I didn't need it anymore. That was a big mistake. Follow the instructions! I can't stress that enough.
Good luck, Melissa!
Posted by Steve Ganz on March 29, 2007 @ 2:28 am
Anyway, your post renewed my desire to quit this year. Thanks a bunch.
Posted by Jeff on April 20, 2007 @ 10:58 pm
Posted by Steve on April 20, 2007 @ 11:26 pm
My wife was finally able to kick the habit before she got pregnant with our now first born beautiful baby gilr, so I tought I'll share the resource that she has used to help her quit the smoking habit with as many people as I can.
She was a heavy smoker for about ten years and just a couple of weeks after finding out about the program that I have researched online, she was able to quit smoking permanently and now can't stop telling people about how she had kicked the habit for good.
Anyway if you want to check it out, here is the site that my wife has used to help her quit smoking; http://endthehabitnow.com
Posted by exsmoker on July 27, 2007 @ 4:54 am
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