The popular consensus is that ex-smokers make the worst anti-smoking hypocrites ever, what with all the empathy and self-righteous pity. Well, that’s not the particular angle I’m going for… This is just some thoughts about some of the methods, techniques and other bare-minimum modicums of planning that have oh-so-recently helped me to not smoke for three weeks straight, and will hopefully help me to not smoke in the future. I don’t think I deserve a medal or that I’m great; I’ve just found a few things that work – and that if I’d known these few things when I’d given up the last time I might well have done a lot better and might not have folded when I did. So, let’s cut to the chase, shall we? These few tips have gotten me through…
1 – Get sick
It sounds odd, but when you’re ill you don’t want to smoke much, so you’ve probably already cut your nicotine intake in half for the couple of days you’ve been ill, if you’ve even smoked at all. I had a chest infection recently, and it sucked big-time. I’d just be hacking and coughing up phlegm and other such grot, I was wheezing and hacking and just not having a good time of it, so I didn’t smoke for two or three days, and by that time a lot of the hard part had already been done; I’d already gone through the vast majority of the chemical withdrawal. So next time you get sick, consider it a great time to pack it in.
2 – Search and destroy
I would have smoked a cigarette on a couple of occasions over the last two weeks if I’d had one on me. Or in a drawer. Or a bag. Or a coat. Or a cupboard somewhere. But I didn’t – because I deliberately and purposefully got rid of cigarettes from my environment. I didn’t -have- any smokes, so I couldn’t fold and smoke ’em. Game over.
You might say that I could have just gone to get a pack, and yeah, I could – but that would have taken me a couple of minutes at least to grab my wallet, make sure I have enough cash on me, maybe go to a cashpoint, then drive to the shops for smokes. In other words, I’d have to perform a VERY deliberate and determined series of actions to smoke. Okay – now how long do nicotine cravings last? Like two to five minutes? By the time I’d have gotten anywhere near the shops the craving would be over, and cigarettes would just be a shopping-list item – I would be there because I’d planned to get them, not because I needed them.
It’s just the danger of having a pack in your drawer or something where you can whip ’em out and light up at a moments notice that’s trouble. If you run your cigarettes under the tap and crush the pack to ruin them (so you can’t go digging through the bin in a moment of weakness), and you don’t keep any around, you’re simply unable to fold if you go all wobbly for a minute or two.
This prior preparation on your part will pay off in spades, I promise.
3 – Spoil yourself
No, really. Spoil the shit out of yourself… You might feel that you’re missing out by not smoking, when really, you’re not. If you’re not smoking a pack a day, you can spend that money you’re saving on YOU!. Or blackjack and hookers! Just not cigarettes! So treat yourself – a lot! Don’t worry about putting on weight, or eating healthy, eating enough greens, getting enough exercise or any of that gubbins for the first couple of weeks – don’t even give it a thought – this is just a great excuse to be super-nice to yourself! So do! This is YOUR time – do whatever makes you happy!
- Want a BigMac? Get a BigMac. And fries. And a frozen coke. And desert. Get two! Get ten! You call it!
- New film, CD or video game caught your eye? Go and buy it right now – don’t rationalise and buy it online so it’s cheaper and arrives in 10 to 14 working days – go get it now! Watch/Listen/Play it tonight! Enjoy!
Just do in excess whatever you love to do but would normally moderate! You’re bloody worth it! You’re not smoking, so you get to do whatever the hell you like for a couple of weeks! Woo-hoo!
4 – Don’t use nicotine replacement therapy rubbish
The last time I went to give up I went on some Champix tablets, which you have to get prescribed from your doctor, and are basically anti-depressants that block the nicotine receptors in the brain (or a large percentage thereof), so you can still smoke while you ramp up your dosage, and you’re not supposed to notice that the cigarette you’re smoking is actually not relieving your craving to smoke.
Look, all I can give is my opinion and the effects it had on me; and I turned into a moody, angry idiot for a week or so to the point where my wife couldn’t put up with me and said “For God’s sake stop taking those bloody tablets and have a cigarette!”.
In terms of nicotine substitutes I think I’ve tried pretty much everything:
- Nicotine inhalers – which gave me a bad throat,
- Nicotine gum – which tastes like stinging ass, with an emphasis on both the stinging and the ass, and
- Nicotine patches – which made me ache. All day. Every day. Until I thought enough was enough after about three days of constant aching.
As far as I can tell, using replacement nicotine to get over your/my/our addiction to nicotine is like putting out the flames with gasoline. It’s just making things worse. Also, all these nicotine replacement things are like triple the price of a packet of smokes. Honestly, in my experience, they just make things worse – nicotine withdrawal symptoms are incredibly minor – you’re not going to be hallucinating and sweating, you’ll just be a little bit grumpy for a couple of days. You can hack it – trust me.
Also, the nicotine replacement stuff for a couple of weeks costs significantly more than the equivalent weeks worth of cigarettes! What a rip!
5 – Chew gum
And I don’t mean nicotine replacement therapy type gum, just normal chewing gum. Buy lots of chewing gum, in all the flavours you can find – buy one of everything! Keep it on you, in your coat, in your drawer, in your bag. Make sure you have some on you at all times. When you feel like lighting up, either chew some gum, or have a drink of something (water/coke/beer/vodka). Drink something you like!
A point worth making is that if you find your jaw hurts after chewing a lot of gum, then don’t use as much gum. By this, I mean that chewing gum manufacturers want you to go through a lot of gum, so that you buy more gum, and you put their kids through college. If you rip a stick of gum in half, you’ve got less gum to chew-through, which is less work for your jaw per clench, which means that your jaw doesn’t ache from doing more chewing that you’re used to, or if it does ache, then it doesn’t ache anywhere near as much if you decrease the amount of gum you’re chewing at any one time! Get it? Got it? Good!
Sneaky chewing gum peddlers! ;)
6 – Keep anti-smoking literature around
I put up a list of side-effects of not smoking on my wall near my desk, so whenever I thought “Ooh, a cigarette would be nice” I can look at it and go “Nope, that’s pretty vile. Do not want.”
Something like this: http://www.quitsmokingsupport.com/benefits.htm You know, after 48 hours without smoking your nerve endings start to grow back, after two weeks your lung function will improve by around 30% etc.
These plus all the pampering will help you feel all happy =D
7 – Show me the MONEY!
Smoking didn’t used be super expensive when you or I started. It was pretty affordable. Packet of fags or three? Pfft, pocket change. I could afford cigarettes when I was thirteen on my pocket money. And sweets and crisps. Cigarettes were already 70% tax, and even then were not priced out of reach of a lower-middle-class thirteen year old.
Nowadays, I think you’ll have to agree that cigarettes are VERY F*CKING EXPENSIVE INDEED!!!1 – like if I smoke a pack of 20 a day, which I wasn’t that far off doing, that’s around $14AUD/£7GBP per day wasted. Per frickn’ day!! Jeez! I didn’t sign up to give big tobacco fifty quid a week of my hard-earned cash! I could quite literally make payments on a brand new car for less than that! And for what? To stand out in the cold and rain, choking down carcinogens, smelling bad, and throwing away more and more cash as the price of cigarettes rises, and rises, and rises, and rises… This has got to the point where smoking has gone from within the price bracket of a teenagers pocket money to a working professional’s wages.
Believe me, I realise that ex-smokers become the most insufferable hypocrites. And I’m only a few weeks in so I could fold and buy a pack of smokes tomorrow, but I don’t think I will… I’m not feeling uncontrollable urges to smoke this time. Don’t get me wrong, I could eat a cigarette with a knife and fork. Right now. But I don’t really want it, and I know that I’m only getting the craving because I’m thinking about smoking a lot (which I have to, to write this ;)) – it’ll pass, and I’ll remain at the end, and I’ll still have a wallet full of notes which won’t have gone to big tobacco.
Still not convinced? Work out how much money you’d save in a month or a year or ten years by not smoking and you’ll get a feeling of whether or not you should quit.
8 – Cough much?
I’m asthmatic, and while you might not be, inhaling smoke still does your lungs absolutely no favours. This isn’t the 50’s and it’s not about which brand of cigarettes is recommended by doctors, it’s about the harsh truths that even “light” cigarettes do as much harm as full-strength fags, because they all contain thousands of carcinogens and tar and all manner of other shit we’ve all spent a lot of time trying not to think about.
Since throwing away the fags a mere three weeks ago, I’ve gone from wheezing and using my (reliever) inhaler from around once a day to never. As in not at all. I don’t wheeze at night, I’m not coughing up globs of filth in the morning, and I’m not clearing my throat every two minutes. I tell you, it a revelation.
9 – Smell much?
When you smoke you can’t really smell yourself, or your fingers or your clothes. So you forget how much, and how badly you smell. Let me remind you: you smell bad, and it’s pretty strong. If you’ve just gone out for a fag, then came back in and not washed your hands or had a mint, you stink, it’s on your skin, and your breath, and your hair – and it’s not pleasant.
10 – Cancer much?
Yeah… Nuff said.
If you want to smoke, go for it and for gods sake enjoy it! Smoke for a couple of years! Smoke for ten or fifteen years solid and don’t give it a second thought! Smoke cigars! Smoke a pipe! Roll your own! Or roll-your-own when you can’t or won’t put out the however-the-hell-much it costs for a pack next week, next month and next year. But, and there’s always a but, if you find that now, these days, you’re paying a lot of money for very little, and you’re just smoking because it’s easier than not smoking (which is entirely by design, as big tobacco have significantly increased the nicotine content of fags over the last 10 years to try to get more people addicted) – then it’s worth thinking about stopping. And not smoking anymore. I know it sounds like a radical concept to people who smoke, because it still seems like a radical concept to me.
I frick’n loved smoking. I knew it was harming me, and my bank balance took the hit in its stride, and I coughed a lot and got out of breath walking up stairs or with backpacks or whatever – but I loved it because it relaxed me. I felt chilled out when I had a cigarette – I could relax and be at ease with a cigarette. But this is the fucking kicker, and I swear to god that it’s the truth: You feel that relaxed and at ease ALL THE TIME without cigarettes. It’s the artificial need for nicotine which puts you on edge in the first place, which makes you want to smoke, which relieves the craving. And this is what the tobacco companies trade on – it’s their ace in the hole.
They don’t want you to know that when you don’t smoke, there IS no craving. There IS no stress or need. Honestly – it passes, and you remain.
If you can treat yourself well enough to get through the first few weeks, you can stop for good, and once you get to that point it’s not difficult at all. In fact, the entire process has been far less difficult that I could have imagined, because although I knew that just one day or two days without nicotine would leave me with cravings in a huge way, I didn’t know, or maybe more rightly didn’t fully appreciate that once you’ve broken through those first couple of days, the rest is astoundingly easy – just don’t forget to reward yourself for doing an awesome job! =D
G’luck! You can do it! =D