First let me introduce myself to you. I am a 65 year old male who smoked from the time I was around 10 years old until past the age of 63. I think that will qualify me to be considered a dyed in the wool nicotine addict. Yes an addict. Not being able to just lay something down and walk away from it and not have anxieties and pain about it makes me addicted to what ever that product is..
Now that we have one point out of the way, let's see what can be done about the smoking habit. If we look upon the consumption of cigarettes as an addiction, instead of just a bad habit, we can come up with a whole new outlook on combating it and overcoming the addiction. If we merely say that it is a bad habit, that we would be best to be without, then we need not look for a way of help to get rid of as habits are easily replaced with other things to take the place of the one we want to get rid of. If it is only a matter of will power, then the same applies, we just get our "will power" up and we are again cured of smoking. I suppose that we can just discount that theory now and start looking at the usage of tobacco and its products as an addiction and then we can start gathering our ammunition to battle it.
Addiction to smoking runs along the same lines as any other addicion; the longer we use the the harder it is going to be to break. If we are a relatively new smoker, say around 5 years or under, we would think that it would be much easier to break than someone who has been smoking for 20, 30 or more years. In most cases that will remain true, but as they all say, there is an exception to every rule and in the smoking habit I suppose there are more than one person who has only smoked for a short length of time and is as hooked as a person who has smoked for twenty years. But as a general rule, it will hold true, the longer we smoke, the more engrained our general habits that we associate with smoking will be.
During our smoking history, we have come to associate a lot of our life around when and where we can smoke. Typically, I avoided places where I was not allowed to smoke. It has been many many years since I have went to a walk-in movie just because of that fact. I could never sit through a full length movie without wanting a smoke, and if I left my seat to go get me one, I would probably miss something real important to the movie. Also when they started instituting the no smoking rules in the restaurants, I no longer went to them as I had to have a place to smoke after eating.
Throughout the smoking part of my life and probably many others, I wanted and always had a cigarette before and after certain things in my life. I would smoke after a good meal, after I had done something good, something bad, accomplished a task that had been waiting on me to do, as a reward for being nice, being bad, or just being. I used it to stall, to avoid replying to something I did not want to respond to. I also used to smoke to give me a lift, to put me down, to cover up true feelings. I could go on and on and you would get tired of it, but if you are also a smoker, then you can relate to what I am saying and fill in the blanks.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU LIGHT UP
When a person smokes a cigarette, the body responds immediately to the chemical, nicotine. The nicotine causes the heart to speed up, the blood pressure to rise, the arteries to narrow, thereby increasing the risk of a heart attack. These are short term effects. It also decreases the amount of oxygen in the blood and increases the amount of carbon monoxide, thus combined with the nicotine, creates an imbalance of oxygen in the blood, and these can also cause a heart attack.
EXERPTS FROM THE SURGEON GENERAL'S REPORT "NICOTINE ADDICTION"
Cigarettes and other forms of tobacco are addictive. Nicotine is the drug that causes the addiction. Pharmacological and behavorial character istics that determine tobacco addiction are similar to those that determine addiction to drugs such as heroin and cocaine For additional information on this subject contact you local American Heart Association Office or call 1-800-242-8721.
NOW LET'S GET DOWN TO THE BUSINESS OF QUITTING
Are you sure you want to quit? Being sure you want to quit instead of just having to quit will make the difference as to whether or not you will be contented and a happy quitter. I have found that those who have quit just because they had to, or because of health problems that forced them into a quit, were very unhappy people and were subject to go back to smoking at any given opportunity. It is my opinion that a person must want to do something in order for them to continue doing it and be happy with the results of it.
Are you ready for some days and nights of a little to a lot of misery in order to quit? This is not necessarily the fact for each and every one of us but as a general rule, some of us will experience such a thing, but it is the norm. We face the possibility of having days when we are so depressed that all we want to do is lie around and sleep. We may even feel like we have lost our best friend, and just don't know what to do without it. In fact what we have lost is a life long nightmare of addiction that is slowly killing us. There are several thought processes we must go through in order to learn to change our way of thinking about smoking and and quitting smoking. This is one of the reasons that we must be sure that we want to quit instead of just having to quit. It will make a big difference in our behavior and how we react to others during the time it takes for us to go through the process of quitting.
Once we are firmly committed to quitting smoking, there are some more decisions that we are going to have to make: Are we going to try going cold turkey, without any of the smoking cessation aids? Or are we going to use one or more of them in order to ease off the nicotine in a more gradual manner?
What are the options at the present moment? There are three nicotine patch systems here in the U.S. that we can choose from; Nicoderm, and Habitrol and Nicoderm there is also the Nicorette gum, there are also numerous quit smoking systems that you will see advertised from time to time that make outrageous claims of success. Another way that some people claim that works is hypnotism. You will also find practicioners of accupuncture who say that they can make you stop smoking with their treatments. I myself have tried the gum, the patches and hypotism. None of these worked for me as I did not want to quit smoking. I was always looking for a way to keep smoking without doing any more harm to my body and therefore I would quit for a day or a few days and because of the lack of a real desire to quit, I would go right back to smoking.
In the last few months, the FDA has approved the durg Zyban as an aid to helping people quit smoking. It is my understanding that Zyban is really Wellbutrin sold under the name Zyban. It is a mild anti-depressant and also from some of the people whom I have read posts from it is a great aid if used along with one of the patch or the gum systems to quit smoking.
There are many of us who have undergone serious bouts of depression once we quit smoking. Whether the depression was there before and then came out as a result of not having the nicotine is our system is another thing. I for one believe that I have had bouts of depression for years and that I did manage to cover it up by smoking as much as I did. That could be one of the factors that made me continue to smoke much longer than I should have.
SO NOW THAT WE WANT TO QUIT LET'S CHOOSE OUR WEAPONS
I am going on the assumption that you have decided that you really want to quit and are willing to go through anything to achieve the benefits of being quit smoking. So as they say, choose your weapon of choice and get the ball rolling.
If you dicide on which system you want to use. I would say that you should read the directions carefully and then set your quit date a few days in advance of quitting. Write yourself a list of the good things that you will be gaining once you quit, better health, cleaner body, no more burning holes in clothing, cleaner teeth, and the list goes on....... While preparing yourself for your quit date, stop allowing yourself to smoke while doing certain things that you have always done while smoking. Talking of the telephone, watching TV, sitting at the computer, driving the car, and any other activity you can think of. Stop them one at a time, do not try to stop them all at once, it is just too much to ask of your self. If you do it in a well planned manner you can limit your smoking to where you will not be craving one nearly as much as if you just quit cold turkey.
Once you reach your quit date, stick to it. Tell all your friends in advance that you are going to quit on that certain date, and keep your word. The promise that you make to yourself must be one you can and will quit. It is extremely important not to have the first puff off a cigarette. If you somehow must live with someone who is still smoking, you will find that you can quit, It will be much harder, but it can be done and is being done every day.
You have reached a point in your quitting that it should be the upper most thought in your mind at this point. If you can go for hours without a thought about smoking, I say that is a good point, and you are on your way to a smoke free life. If you are constantly thinking about having a smoke and it is beginning to feel over powering, then measures must be taken to help you to over come those feelings. Stop and consider just what method you are using, and make sure that you are using it right. Re-read the instructions that come with the NRT and follow the directions... Go for a brisk walk if you can, drink a glass of cold water, chew on a cinnimon stick, pencil or anything else that will bring you relief. Exercise is a great stress reducer and at the same time it will help you if you are prone to weight gain.
Just remember the old adage. "The urge to smoke will go away...whether you smoke or not." The thing to do is out last the urges to smoke and let them go away. By not smoking you will be able to have the urges come less and less, and they will become weaker and weaker. Should you succomb to the "just one" thinking, you will be putting the whole quit in jeopardy. There have been many who did just that and within a few days were back to smoking full time and had to go through the whole quitting process over again. Do not be fooled by this type of thinking.
SOME OBSTACLES IN OUR WAY OF QUITTING SMOKING
One of the main causes of failure to quit smoking is depression. I was a victim of that and had to find ways to dealing with it before I could calm down and not be on edge all the time. If you have a history of depres sion, I would suggest you see your doctor and talk with him about quitting and he may Rx you something that will help you along. The new anti-dpressant wellbutrin/Zyban may be of good use for you and ease the depression so you can maintain. I took something else and was addicted to it for a long time but in the end it did help me to cope and I am glad that I did. Now I use the herbal remedy "St. John's Wort" (hypericum). I only have to use it about twice a week now and it keeps me on a level that I can cope with. However I do strongly you consult your own doctor before getting on to anything like that.
Another obstacle that we will find is anger. We will find we are angry for no reason at people,places and things. Sometimes we will flare up at eh slightest little thing and in general make a mountain out of a so called mole hill. I have found that exerecise is the best thing in my case. If I can just walk on my treadmill for a few minutes, I can feel the tension ease off and my mood calm down. Exercise can be of great help in easing off the depression as discussed before. It is sometimes my belief that the real tar- get for the anger is ourselves. We are angry at outselves for letting the addiction to nicotine get as bad as it has gotten and we just take that anger out on the first innocent victim that happens to come within our range.
Jealousy is another little stumbling block we have to deal with. We are jealous of those who are continuing to smoke without having to quit like we have had to. I found that I was just that way, jealous of not being able to continue to smoke and when I saw other smoking I wanted to have that right back. When I finally started looking at them as other victims of nicotine I began to lose that jealousy and now I can look at another person smoke and not have any thoughts of wanting one myself. I really do feel sorry for them and wish they could find the freedom that I have.
Temptation is another thing, we let ourselves be tempted by going to places where we know smoking is abounding, and once there we are deluged by the smoke and even if we do not smoke, we will be inhaling the secondhand smoke of others. And in most cases we will feel the symptoms of withdrawal the next day. I would advise to stay away from places where there is a lot of smoking going on: Bars, taverns, concerts, and what have you for the first couple of months. The temptation is just too strong at those places and will be very hard on us, when it is already hard enough to cope without any more being placed on us.
Self doubt is another thing that stands in our way. We should take a positive attitude about he quit and stick with it. Tell ourselves that we can and will be successful with the quit and we can be successful. A very wise man one said. "We are what we think we are. If you think you can do something, you probably can. If you think you cannot do something. You can't." So by thinking that we can quit then we can. If we take the attitude that we can't quit, then we are doomed to failure before we even start.
Ok, I think that we all have enough information that we can start to quit smoking when we are ready. But what is there to tell us that we are at the ready point. If we wait until we are sure that we are ready to quit, very few of us will ever take the first step to quitting. What I would say is to set a date to quit in the near future like a week or two and during that time work on our mind set and when that date comes around then we quit. Get the patches if we are going to use them, get the zyban if that is in the plan and begin taking it so it will build up in the system, and in general, just get ready. Tell our friends we are going to quit on that date and let them know that we may have some rough days to go through and let them know what to expect from us. Also, if our friends are smokers, let them know that you will not be hanging around them because of the temptations to smoke and really do not want them to think it is anything personal.
Preparation for the quit is important. Make sure you have you a list of your reasons to quit and have them handy so you can refer to them whenever you feel like a little boost. Always keep your goal in mind. A smoke free breathing free life. If you feel the enthusiasm lagging, go back over the reasons to quit and renew your will to be smoke free.