Great American Smokeout: When Nicotonic Receptors Must Die!
One day, as I was spending some time with my oldest son, we observed a man driving by in his car, windows down, smoke pouring out, cigarette in hand. I kinda chuckled and turned to my son and said, "That used to be me." He looked at me and said with a grin, "I know, mom, and now when I think of you smoking in the house or the car or when I see other people doing it, it just doesn't even make any sense!" For a few moments there, I felt very, very proud of myself.
Then, I snapped back to reality. I may not smoke in my house or in my car, but I still smoke. I don't carry my cigarettes or lighter around with me, but I know that once I get back home they will be waiting for me. *sigh*
My goal was to quit smoking altogether on the 35th Annual Great American Smoke Out in 2010. I quit for an entire 38 hours, and then I just "had" to light up. You can read all about that time in my other blog - Great American Smokeout: The Next 48 Hours. Again...man. Talk about some disappointment. *SIGH*
For whatever it might be worth, I can say that after 20 years of smoking, I have definitely changed the way I smoke, which has proved to be a challenge all of itself. I don't smoke in the house, and I don't smoke in the car. I don't carry my cigarettes and lighter around with me everywhere. While I still am battling my nicotine addiction, I don't let it completely control every aspect of my life.
Additionally, I have changed the amount I smoke. I now smoke much less than I did before. Before, I was smoking anywhere from a pack to a pack and a half of full-flavor menthol Newports per day. According to a report I found online regarding the nicotine and tar amounts in cigarettes (Erowid Tobacco Vault : Info on Nicotine Content of Cigarette Brands), full-flavored menthol Newports (what I smoked for 20 years) have one of the highest tar and nicotine amounts of any cigarette available! YUCK! Now, I average about 1/2 a pack a day...which is definitely more than when I first picked up and smoked again in May 2012 and definitely less than the pack to pack+ a day I smoked for approximately 20 years prior.
Nicotonic Receptors: Why It's Hard to Quit Smoking
I am typically considered a smart person...(either that or everybody just lies to me because I'm too incredibly stupid to realize it), but I choose to believe that I am indeed fairly smart. I also know that I am strong, capable, persistent, and determined. So, why, then is it so darn hard to quit smoking? I mean, surely a person with the above mentioned qualities can figure out a way to quit smoking!! Sheesh! I mean, I always want to quit smoking (usually WHILE I'm smoking), but when those nicotine withdrawals start kicking, I give in. Not every single time, but more times than I care to admit.
So, I started doing a little more research about nicotine withdrawals and how nicotine affects the body in general. This video illustrates how our brains have receptors in which nicotine fits perfectly. Not only the that...the more we feed our body nicotine, the more nicotine receptors are "born". When we deprive our body of nicotine by say, for instance, quitting smoking, the nicotine receptors start screaming at us for their nicotine fix.
If we give in and feed the body nicotine, then the misbehaving receptors in our brain calm down quickly. If we starve our body of nicotine, then the misbehaving receptors still calm down, but usually not before we get a headache, or start sweating, or get irritable, or shaky, or any other number of nicotine withdrawal symptoms. Additionally, if we continue to starve our bodies of nicotine, the the nicotine receptors slowly begin to die off.
Another reason that it is so hard to quit is simply the force of habit itself. Think about anything in your life that you have ever tried to change. Maybe at one time you decided you wanted to change how much you weigh or your overall level of personal fitness. Perhaps, you may have wanted to leave an unhealthy relationship, or move to a new town, or quit a dead end job. Or perhaps you can remember taking the bottle away from one of your children or know somebody who has done so. The point is...change is hard. Period.
In his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven Covey defines "habit as the intersection of knowledge, skill, and desire. Now, I have the knowledge I need to know how to quit smoking. I could simply just not light the next one. Or I could just not buy another pack. I even know that smoking cigarettes hurts me. As for skill to quit smoking, I have that too. I am capable of not lighting another cigarette. I am even capable of not buying another pack. It's the road of desire that I haven't reached yet. I do desire to quit smoking. I just don't desire to go through the hell I feel when those nicotine withdrawals start kicking my butt.
Tell us your story!
NEVER Quit Quitting!!
I am determined to keep on quitting smoking until I actually quit smoking...if that even makes any sense. I mean, it makes sense to me, but I'm not sure if it makes sense to anybody else. I don't want to smoke anymore, and I am going to figure out whatever I have to do so that I can quit doing it...without killing myself or anybody else, of course!!
For everyone else out there who maybe has tried to quit smoking and been surprised and just how hard it is...I urge you to keep on quitting, too!! If nothing else, look forward to this year's Great American Smoke Out, which will be held this year on November 21, 2013 - one week before Thanksgiving. Give yourself, your family, and your friends something else to be truly thankful about this year. Commit to your health. Commit to yourself. Commit to quit! I have. I hope you will, too!
You May Also Enjoy
- Great American Smokeout: Help for Quitting Smoking
I used the Great American Smokeout as a target quit date since millions of others put down the smokes on this day. Read to find out why you should too!
- Great American Smokeout: The Next 48 Hours Without Smoking Cigarettes
I am writing and publishing this article on Friday, November 19, 2010, the day after the American Cancer Society's most recent Great American Smokeout that took place on Thursday, November 18, 2010. I will...
- Great American Smokeout: 2 Weeks of Plastic Toothpicks!
I, along with several friends and some family - not to mention scores of others around the globe - participated in the 35th annual Great American Smokeout on November 18, 2010, with varied results. Some made...
- Erowid Tobacco Vault : Info on Nicotine Content of Cigarette Brands
The FTC's Report of the Nicotine, Tar and Carbon Monoxide contents of the smoke of 1206 brands of domestic cigarettes.