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Smoking

I was once a heavy smoker. Then I became one of those drinker-smokers (who smokes when drinking) for a long time. Then, in the last couple of months, I kind of started doing it more and more again. That was mostly due to the lack of a job and more free time than in the past. The occasional smoke with a beer became one with morning coffee. Then one after lunch, etc. until I was smoking more. A lot more.

So, I’ve decided it’s time to just plain quit entirely. That means no more occasional smokes or I’m just one stressful situation from taking it up again. The issue is that, even though I can cut down, I can’t just plain stop completely, mostly because I fucking love to smoke. I basically want to quit because Junior is old enough to start figuring out what I’m doing on the back porch after dinner. And, let’s face it, it’s bad for you.

And, of course, as I type this I’m sitting on said screened in porch at 10:16 on Sunday (kids and wife in bed) enjoying a glass of Knob Creek bourbon and smoking. Said quitting should commence tomorrow.

I have a friend who quit for three months. I went by his house for poker one night and he had started again. I said Dude, you quit for months. Why’d you start again? I thought you had it beat. He said Because smoking was all I thought about. I can’t spend the rest of my life wanting something so bad I can’t stand it. That’s sort of what I fear. See, with the occasional smoking thing, I’d not worry about it because I knew when I got home, I’d pop open a frosty cold Sam Adams, sit on the screened-in porch and smoke. I would smoke eventually, just not all the time. And there are so many activities that are associated with smoking, such as morning coffee and this glass of Knob Creek. Maybe I’ll take up the occasional cigar. Or chew gum. Or, you now, crack.

I went to the doctor and asked about Zyban since others recommend it so highly for quitting smoking. My doctor (and this is why I love my doctor, who is a good ol’ country boy with an MD) said: You just need to cowboy up and quit. You can do anything for two weeks and after that, it’s gone. He’s not a fan of Zyban, I suppose. He also explained that cigarettes give you a fairly intense rush (you don’t notice it but your body does) and said a good way to quit is to level that rush. He said the patch was good for that and to avoid the gum because it mimics the rush. The patch gives a steady dose of nicotine throughout the day and, basically, you get over the habit part first and that is followed by getting over the nicotine addiction part. I think getting over the habit is more important than getting over the drug addiction part.

So, I bought the patch. One problem is I can’t get them to roll up tight enough to light. Any ideas?

24 Responses to “Smoking”

  1. #9 Says:

    21 days is all it takes. You go 21 days and the habit is gone. I know three hard core smokers that tried everything and this worked for them. The cowboy way works. Saddle up.

  2. Phelps Says:

    My view is that addiction is only a problem when it actually causes a problem. If you are smoking enough to effect your health, then stop smoking so much that it effects your health. if the only way to do that is to completely quit because you keep ramping up, then quit. If you can cycle up and down but it never gets into the problem zone, then it isn’t a problem.

    And I love cigars. Never figured out the appeal of cigarettes. If the rush is what you want, you certainly get that with cigars, and there is less crap added to a cigar. Cigars are pretty much all tabacco.

  3. AndyJ Says:

    The doc is right. I quit in 1980 when I discovered my kid getting up in the morning and watching Sesame Street with a smokers cough. That did it for me, cold turkey 3 1/2 packs a day, 2-3 cigars a day and 2-3 pipes a day (Inhaling all cigars and pipes). Threw all cigarettes, ash trays and about 500-600 dollars worth of pipes away. Get yourself some round toothpicks and some hard candy to chew on and you’ll make it. I went through about 2-3 boxes of toothpicks a day the first couple of weeks. Another thing that kept me off tobacco was that I started long distance running. The first day, I could only make it 1 block before I almost passed out. You can’t run and smoke, so if you get hooked on running, you’ll get unhooked on smoking plus the running keeps the weight down. Good Luck and remember it’s all in the mind

  4. BigWoolyMammoth Says:

    Cigars were the ticket for me. I smoked for ~7 years, and the only thing that keeps me from going back is knowing that I have a fine cigar waiting for me next weekend. I only smoke one per week (usually, heh) but thats enough that I can resist cigarettes. i do fucking love to smoke though…

  5. Sailorcurt Says:

    I’ve quit (sevedral times). Dramatic life changes have gotten me back into it a few times but I quit for 10 years once and for a year last time. I just quit again this morning after smoking a pack a day for about a month.

    The thing to remember is that there is no “magic bullet” to make you not have cravings. You will have cravings whether using patches, pills gum or toothpicks. Here is the key: take one craving at a time. When you have a craving, don’t tell yourself “I can never have a cigarette again”. That will stack all of the possible cravings you will ever have on top of each other and make them into an insurmountable mountain.

    Take one craving at a time. “I’m having a craving. This time…just this once, I choose not to smoke as a result of this craving”. Cravings only last a couple of minutes if you get your mind occupied with something else. Conciously decide not to smoke RIGHT NOW, then move your mind on to other things. You’ll forget all about it. After you’ve been doing this for a month or so, you’ll start realizing that the cravings are much less common and easier to forget about and you’ll think: “Gee, that was easier than I thought it was going to be”.

    Try to avoid candy or snacks as a “crutch”, that’s what causes people to gain weight after quitting. They feel like they are missing something and they try to replace it with food. You are trying to break a habit as well as a physical addiction…replacing one bad habit with another is not very productive.

    Also, keep reminding yourself of WHY you want to quit. Don’t think about the “good” things you associate with smoking, think about the BAD things that made you want to quit in the first place. Preventing a child from emulating is probably one of the best motivators. The vast majority of smoking kids/teens grew up in a home with a smoker (said smoking parent will inevitably deny that their child smokes until they actually catch them at it…after it’s too late and the child is already addicted).

    One last word of advice: Use the patch. They DO NOT prevent cravings. You will still want to smoke and will have to use the technique described above. But what they do is keep your nicotine level up so that you do not get quite so irritable. It makes it much more difficult to quit when you are a grouch and know you are making everyone around you miserable. The Patch can help take the edge off and help keep you on an even keel even in the face of cravings.

    The first time I used the patch, I was put off by how expensive they are…after doing a little basic math, I discovered that they are no more expensive than smoking is (depending on how much you smoke, of course). I quit using them after finishing “step 2” so I saved the money that I would have spent on “step 3” patches and wasn’t buying cigs any more either. It was like getting a pay raise. I wasn’t wasting money on committing slow motion suicide. I had no trouble after “step 2” so “step 3” was unecessary.

    Sorry to drone on: Three notes about the patch: 1. Some people have reported “bad dreams” when they wear them at night. I take mine off when I go to bed and put a fresh one on after my shower in the morning. I’ve never had trouble sleeping or had bad dreams. 2. I don’t recommend the clear ones. The adhesive on them isn’t as good as the flesh colored ones and they fall off if you sweat even a little bit. 3. They tend to cause some minor skin irritation. Move the patches around from day to day. One day I’ll put it high on the left arm, the next day high on the right arm, the next day, a bit lower on the left arm etc…

    You will NEVER completely eliminate the cravings. You will have them less and less often, but they will hit you from time to time even years after you quit. Use the same techniques you used when you were having cravings constantly: take them one at a time, consciously decide not to give in to this one craving this one time, think about the reasons you quit in the first place, and get your mind occupied with something else.

    I hope at least some of this was helpful. Good luck to you (and to me too…but I’ve done it before, I’m confident I can do it again…hopefully permanently this time).

  6. SayUncle Says:

    Thanks, sailor. That will help.

  7. Rustmeister Says:

    Good luck, Unc.

    I’ve been quit for 16 years now. I don’t miss it at all.

  8. ben Says:

    If you are tough enough, the best way to quit and get over the cravings quickly is to fast. Do a google search on fasting and quitting smoking. There are other physical and psychological benefits to doing this properly as well. I find it’s the only thing that helps with my tinnitus, of al things. Also makes allergy season bearable.

    My version is to skip breakfast and lunch, and have a normal dinner. A coffee in the morning doesn’t seem to be a problem either. That’s what works for me, YMMV.

  9. chris Says:

    I never really smoked cigarettes, at least not since my sophomore year in high school, but I smoked cigars for quite a while and I chewed and dipped for around 15 years.

    I gave up the cigars, the Red Man and the Skoal almost 18 years ago.

    Interestingly, the only times that my mouth waters for them is when I go shooting outdoors in the spring or fall or when I walk down Duval Street in Key West behind someone smoking a good cigar.

    Even then, though, I don’t pick tobacco back up, because there is no part of dying early in which I care to participate.

    I think that life is very good and very short.

    Do whatever it take, amigo.

  10. Guav Says:

    HAHAHAHAHA …. your last line was hilarious. Reminded me of something my friend said before he went into rehab:

    “I don’t have a problem, I’m not ADDICTED to coke … I just like the smell.”

    But seriously, in quitting smoking there’s quitting the physical part, the part where your body wants the chemical reaction, and then there’s quitting the habit part: the part where you enjoy the physical process of smoking.

    I’m not a smoker myself, so I can only offer an anecdotal suggestion from two of my friends. Both found it much easier to quit smoking when they used these toothpicks that I had been chewing for years. These particular ones are soaked in cinnamon and tea tree oil, I get a small box of a hundred of them at the local health food store. But I’m guessing that normal toothpicks might work also, just not as tasty.

    I guess it helps to have something in your mouth. Other friends have used lollipops, but it’s not great to be eating lollipops all day, plus you look pretty dumb. I say hey, it’s worth a try, right?

    Congratulations on making the effort, by the way. Takes a lot of inner strength and willpower to even try in the first place.

  11. Andy Ford Says:

    What Sailorcurt said! I was a slow learner, but quit cold turkey 9.5 years ago on the occasion of my second heart attack. ( Both of my parents smoked, Dad passed away from Lung cancer with a side order of Emphysema (sp?) Mom from Heart attack.) Yes, Sis and I followed them into smoking. Good luck with your project. The cravings do persist but decrease in frequency. I never got into the toothpick habit. I was afraid that with my luck I’d catch Dutch Elm disease.
    SF

  12. Brutal Hugger Says:

    Man, I love cigarettes. I miss them often. Just typing this makes me want a smoke. When people smoke in movies, I want a cig. When I see a pretty girl, I want a cig. When I shoot pool, I want a cig. Every day, I want one, but I’m better off without.

    I’ve quite loads of times, but I finally kicked the habit this year. New Year’s Eve I just decided to stop. Not so much a resolution as a firm decision.

    I’ve had 3 cigarettes this year and enjoyed them thoroughly. For me, they key when I backslide is to allow myself to enjoy it without guilt and not feel like having one justifies having a second one.

    Second, I’ve been exercising more. Judo requires short bursts of intense effort, and it’s really hard for smokers to do. Avoiding getting my ass handed to me on the mat is a big motivator. And my other exercise benefits greatly too. I can swim the length of the pool under water. When I was smoking, I couldn’t get half way across.

    Third, it makes my gf really happy that I quit. Even if I wouldn’t have done it for myself, it’s worth it do it for her.

    Those are the two things that made the difference for me. Dunno if they’ll work for you, but if you try everything that works for other people, you’ll find it.

    Good luck.

  13. Paul P Says:

    Uncle,

    I have quit several times and failed to quit several others. Three years ago I went to Windsor Canada and paid about $300 (US) for ‘a treatment’. They use a TEMS (?) unit, and ‘zap’ you about your hands and ears. The whole event took about 20 minutes and felt like slight pinches. No pain. Complete quit. (They claim a 90 % success rate.)

    Apparently they release dopamine (ostensibly 8 weeks worth) and by then you are used to not smoking. Ten days later I sat at the bar, with smokers, and did not smoke. I have had exactly one drag off of one smoke in 3+ years. I highly recommend it to anyone who is motivated to quit.

    I am not shilling for those folks, but pesonally it was the easiest, least frustrating time I ever quit. I would provide the pertinent details to anyone that wants it. (Their website is pretty poor.)

    Good Luck (and promise that you will NOT become a smoking NAZI when you do quit.)

    Paul

  14. _Jon Says:

    Hopefully, my input won’t seem too harsh.

    For any task, a person needs motivation.
    From my perspective, AndyJ touched on a major motivator – family.

    Is having that smoke worth the risk of not seeing your kids grow up? Or being a grandpa?
    Lung Cancer kills a lot more people than we (as a society) like to think about.
    I’ve got a blog that describes in sobbing detail what it’s like to lose the love of your life to Lung Cancer from cigarettes.

    It is extremely difficult for me to be objective, polite, or considerate on this subject.

    I do know that there are 16 chemicals in a cigarette that the manufacturers won’t identify – even to Congress. As a man who hates FedGov intrusion like you are, do you trust the BigCorp that make those smokes?

    Dude, I just … I dunno.

    Umm, at your age, the consequences of your actions seem unlikely. Don’t make the mistake of thinking “It won’t happen to me.” I’ll bet you used to do some crazy things when you were younger. As you grew up and took your vows, you had to know there were things you would have to give up on behalf of your family. This is one of them.

    I guess a good paraphrasing could be; “The road to chemotherapy is paved with failed attempts to quit smoking.” By the time a Lung Cancer patient begins a chemo program, it’s usually too late (90% don’t last 5 years). My father is 70. He quit over 30 years ago. He doesn’t drink much, but some weekends he wants to go to a bar, just to smell the smoke. He loves the smell, he loved to smoke. I still have my father because he gave up something he *loved*. We had dinner together a few weekends ago (Father’s Day) – I just took the recept out of my wallet.

    With sufficient motivation, you can accomplish anything. My hope is that your family will provide you with sufficient motivation. Heck, tell yourself that when you become a grandpa, you can pick up smoking again. Until then, put it aside.

    I’m going to withold the link to the blog I mentioned.
    I don’t think you need that motivation, you’ve got plenty of motivation just a hug away.

  15. tgirsch Says:

    Fortunately, I quit smoking the easy way: I never started. But I know people who smoke, and I know people who have quit successfully, and I know people who have quit not-so-successfully, and there seems to be a common thread that I see in the success or failure rate: the people who quit successfully really wanted to quit. They weren’t quitting because they were told to, or because they felt that they really should quit, but because they wanted to quit.

    My mom quit 20 years ago (or more) and hasn’t had a cigarette since, to my knowledge. This despite the fact that my Dad still smokes. I once asked her why she finally quit (as a kid, I was constantly bugging her to quit), and she said it was because more and more, her friends were non-smokers, and she was just really uncomfortable being the only one smoking. And in large part because of that, she just didn’t want to smoke any more. Sure, she has occasional cravings (even today), but over time, they become less frequent.

    Contrast against that my sister, who just had a baby and quit smoking for the early part of her pregnancy because she felt she had to; but she couldn’t even stay off smokes for the entire pregnancy, and picked it back up toward the end of the pregnancy, and still smokes today. Irony of the day: She won’t smoke around the baby. It was okay when the baby was physically connected to you, but not okay when the baby’s in the same room with you? Weird.

    I’m afraid that doesn’t offer you any magic bullet advice, but I calls ’em as I sees ’em. And after my sister’s experience, I’m even more glad I never started smoking. I don’t want any habit that has that much power over me…

  16. Xrlq Says:

    Contrast against that my sister, who just had a baby and quit smoking for the early part of her pregnancy because she felt she had to; but she couldnt even stay off smokes for the entire pregnancy, and picked it back up toward the end of the pregnancy, and still smokes today. Irony of the day: She wont smoke around the baby. It was okay when the baby was physically connected to you, but not okay when the babys in the same room with you? Weird.

    <flame-bait&rt;Oh yeah? How is that any weirder than saying it’s OK to kill your baby while it’s physically connected to you, but not okway when the baby’s in the same room with you? Huh?</flame-bait&rt;

    Seriously, though, it sounds more like a matter of ease than principle. Avoiding cigs around the clock is tough, but avoiding it for limited periods while you’re actually in the kid’s face seems easier. Then again, for those truly fixated on secondhand smoke, who cares if you smoke while pregnant? None of it’s going into the baby’s lungs!

  17. Xrlq Says:

    &rt; = >

  18. straightarrow Says:

    I smoked 49.5 years. I quit twice during that time for 18 months each time. I never stopped wanting a cigarette, not even for five minutes. I love them, still. I quit on 09/16/03 when my doctor scared the Hell out of my wife by telling her I was terminally ill. That quitting smoking would lengthen my time here. She asked me to promise her I would quit. I was 1600 hundred miles from home and the doctor had told me I probably wouldn’t make it home.

    I promised her anyway, because she needed it. I didn’t think it would be a problem, since dead guys don’t smoke. I didn’t expect to make it home so I was actually feeling pretty tricky. You know, “Big deal, they’re not going to let me smoke in the hospital and I won’t be leaving breathing, so I made her feel better and don’t have to worry about temptation.”

    Then like a dumb bastard, I didn’t die. Now I have a promise to honor. I have just recently realized that I have had some days where I haven’t wanted a cigarette every minute, in fact I have had some days where I haven’t even thought of it. I have kept my promise. I don’t smoke. I miss it. But not as much as I would miss my honor if I broke my promise to the finest person I know, my wife.

    All this is prelude to add weight to what I am about to tell you. Do not use aids. When it became obvious that I was going to be warmer than room temp when I left the hospital they tried so hard to get me on patches or gum or other aids that I thought I might have to whip some people to leave without patches or gum, etc. Your body is devoid of nicotine after only three days. There is no more physical addiction. Everything after the third day is because you “want” it. You will lie to yourself, you will invent symptoms or whatever it takes to give in to the desire. Once you know this, if you make the third day without smoking the rest is a failure of will and character, if you meant it when you quit.

    The first two times I quit, I didn’t want to, I just thought I should. The last time, I didn’t want to, either, but my word was out on it.

    What I am trying to tell you is that you will not quit unless not smoking is more important to you than smoking, for whatever reason. For me, it was keeping my word and easing my wife’s fears, even though she smokes, I do not. Nor will I, ever again. I miss it, but I can’t stand to see her cry or be scared.

    You need to find what it is that makes it worth it to you to quit. Your kids would be good. I can tell you , you won’t be enough, unless you are a narcissus. And you are not.

  19. straightarrow Says:

    Thank God I didn’t promise her I would quit drinking.

  20. ben Says:

    Fasting, and a good 1911. That’ll do it, I’m telling you. Put hair on your chest. You could even change your name to Max Power.

  21. tgirsch Says:

    X:

    Re, the flame bait, I was half expecting someone to jump on that. You may not agree, but I don’t think that terminating a fetus that you don’t intend to carry to term, and risking possible permanent harm to a fetus that you do intend to carry to term, are in any way morally equivalent.

    Then again, for those truly fixated on secondhand smoke, who cares if you smoke while pregnant? None of its going into the babys lungs!

    Not sure I follow. If the harmful stuff gets into the bloodstream, why should it matter how it got there? Unless you were just making a wry comment about the hypocrisy of making a big deal out of second-hand smoke while not much caring about first-hand smoke, in which case I’m inclined to agree with you. 😉

  22. Xrlq Says:

    If the harmful stuff gets into the bloodstream, why should it matter how it got there?

    Mostly my comment was tongue in cheek, but as for this part, I’m going to assume you were joking, too – or allow you to take a mulligan if you were not.

  23. SayUncle » Fasting, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! Says:

    […] In comments here, ben recommended fasting to aid in quitting smoking. I’ve now been fasting for a week and a half (with the exception of Friday, when I tried the other smoking). You could say I stopped this weekend and restarted on Monday. My diet has consisted entirely of all the water I can drink, 12 ounces of carrot juice for lunch, and about five spoonfuls of plain brown rice for dinner (except for Friday). I did some research on it and figured that was the best fast for me. Some notes: […]

  24. SayUncle » Of all the allergies to have Says:

    […] I haven’t been myself for a couple of weeks. You may have noticed. I went from irrationally harsh (I think the point stands, but I was a dick about it) to all linky, no thinky on the blog. And the reason why is quitting smoking. I tried. I tried again. I stopped blogging about it because I didn’t want to feel pressured to blog about it. Quitting became too much and I was often faced with a dilemma. I could either: […]

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