- Personal Health Information & Self-Help
Nicotine Addiction and Withdrawal
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 it part of the day without smoking cigarettes. Some made it the entire day without smoking cigarettes. One thing that we all agree on - quitting smoking is an extremely tough and uncomfortable experience (and that is putting it very mildly).
As embarrassing and frustrating as it is to admit that such a nasty habit can have such a stronghold on my life, I have to say that despite my best intentions and grandest efforts during the Great American Smokeout - I still smoke. Sigh. Obviously, I underestimated the power and control that I have given smoking cigarettes in my life. However, I do smoke much less now than before the Great American Smokeout, and I still declare that I am still committed and determined to quit.
I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume that I am not the only one who participated in the Great American Smokeout 2010 but is still smoking yet wants to quit smoking. In my opinion, the Great American Smokeout 2010 was still a huge success in my life because so many of my friends and family are still trying to quit smoking, thinking about quitting smoking, and/or have already quit smoking and plan to stay that way.
If you or someone you know is quitting smoking, please be encouraged to know that there are many of us out here who are in the struggle to quit smoking right along with you or your loved one. We CAN and we WILL quit smoking. We CAN take back control of our lives after giving that control over to smoking.
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My Nicotine Withdrawal Aid
Sugarfree Gum - I like to chew peppermint or cinnamon flavored sugar-free gum. I chew the sugar-free gum because I know that the gum loaded with sugar is very harmful for ones teeth.The gum not only keeps my mouth busy, but it smells good and taste fresh, too. Since I have a very keen sense of smell - especially when I am not smoking - it is important for me to be able to have pleasant smells to smell.
Menthol Cough Drops - Because I smoked menthol cigarettes for so many years, I miss the taste of menthol as much as I miss the habit of smoking. The menthol cough drops have not only helped to relieve some sore throat pain and cough that I believe was caused by smoking cigarettes, but have helped relieve my cravings for menthol. I also find that hard peppermint and cinnamon candy takes the edge off when I feel myself having menthol cravings. I recommend using sugar-free candy; however, a special treat of sugar packed candy every once in a while probably won't hurt much as long as healthy dental hygiene practices are followed.
Plastic Toothpicks - Plastic toothpicks don't splinter like wooden toothpicks and can be put away after use to be re-used at a later time. Not only do I chew on these and/or pick my teeth with them, I find myself twirling them with my fingers or holding them like a cigarette.
Exercise extreme caution if you use toothpicks as a smoking cessation aid. One day, something startled me, and the toothpick I was using was suddenly in my mouth instead of between my lips. I kinda giggled to myself as I imagined an epitaph that read "HERE LIES TIFFANY DELITE: SHE QUIT SMOKING AND CHOKED ON A TOOTHPICK" - now wouldn't that be something.
Exercising the "Will Muscles"
One thing I was quite anxious about was the physical nicotine withdrawals that I figured I was bound to experience from the sudden absence of nicotine into my body. In preparation for the nicotine withdrawals, I "exercised my will muscles" (as my dear friend and fellow Great American Smokeout participant, Vickie, says) in the weeks and months leading up to the Great American Smokeout in a variety of ways. Two weeks after the Great American Smokeout those particular "will muscles" that I focused on and exercised are still strong as ever!
Yes We Can!!
My Strong "Will Muscles"
Brand of Cigarettes: When I first started smoking in 1991, my brand of choice was Marlboro Light 100's. Eventually, I changed to Marlboro Medium 100's, but it didn't take long for me to switch to a menthol cigarette because I didn't really enjoy the taste of the regular cigarettes. Before I had even been smoking for a year, I switched to "Newport Kings in a box", and I have been faithful to those cigarettes for the past nearly 20 years.
In my plan to quit smoking, I began switching brands in the months leading up to the Great American Smokeout.
- First, I began smoking other brands of full-flavored menthol cigarettes.
- Second, not only was I avoiding the Newport brand, but I began smoking lighter menthol cigarettes. First, a menthol light. Then, I stepped down to a menthol ultra-light.
- Last, I switched from a menthol ultra-light to a non-menthol ultra-light cigarette.
Currently, I am smoking between 4 - 6 non-menthol, ultra-light cigarettes a day. In my opinion, that is a huge improvement from about six months ago when I was smoking 20 - 30 full flavored menthol cigarettes a day. Additionally, I asked my brother to let me try one of his Newports a couple of days ago. When I took a draw on his cigarette, I started coughing so bad that I almost messed my pants from both ends as well as nearly losing my breakfast!!
Smoking in the House: By the time I made the commitment to quit smoking, I had been smoking for 19 years. I smoked anywhere I wanted - in my house, around my kids, while watching TV, while cleaning. I didn't limit myself to any one room or area. I just smoked free reign at home whenever or wherever I pleased.
In the months leading up to the Great American Smokeout, I took steps to change my smoking routine in order to cut down on my triggers at home once I quit smoking.
- First, I limited myself from freely smoking in the house to only smoking in my bedroom.
- After a few weeks of only smoking in my bedroom, I quit smoking in the house altogether and limited myself to smoking outside or in the garage.
- In the days leading up to the Great American Smokeout 2010, I cleaned up the garage and made a single smoking area outside (in the side yard next to the garage - rather than near the door in the front or back yards).
Currently, I still do not smoke anywhere in my house. I have done some repainting and deep cleaning since quitting smoking in the house, and I was so happy when my parents came up for Thanksgiving this year (both non-smokers for almost 40 years) and couldn't smell any smoke in the house!!
Being in Public: For all of the years I smoked, I always carried my cigarettes with me everywhere I went. In the months leading up to the Great American Smokeout 2010, I began leaving my cigarettes at home when I knew I was only going to be gone for a few minutes. After a couple of weeks or so, I began leaving my cigarettes at home even if I knew I was going to be out and about for an hour or so. I gradually worked my way up to where I could be away from home for several hours without falling apart for a cigarette.
Currently, I rarely have cravings or urges when I am out, about, and away from the house. I even find myself being disgusted when I see cigarettes butts on the ground, by the smell of smoke on other people, and by the sight of nasty ashtrays!
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My Weak "Will Muscles"
Psychological and Emotional Warfare: Even though I began thoughtfully and methodically preparing myself for quitting smoking months before I actually set a quit date, I was in no way prepared for the feelings and emotions that were unleashed once that quit date arrived. In an earlier article, I refer to this unleashing of these feelings and emotions as "Unbelievable Psychological Warfare".
I was quite taken aback by it because through all of my research and preparation leading up to the day I planned to quit smoking, I can't remember reading or hearing about one person who just totally lost it so to speak and broke down and bawled like a baby. Furthermore, I don't remember ever feeling that way before during my previous attempts to quit smoking.
Social Aspect: One thing that I did not prepare for, did not really even think about for whatever reason, was the social aspect of smoking and how much I would miss that. I have smoked with my brother for years. My brother's girlfriend smokes. My "besties" all smoke. Just about everyone in my inner circle smokes! We all spend so much time laughing, joking, talking...socializing...all with a cigarette in our fingers!! Sometimes, the more we laugh, joke, and talk - the more we smoke!!
Since the Great American Smokeout, I have been talking to my friends and family about how much I enjoy smoking with them. I want them to understand that just because I have made the decision to stop smoking doesn't mean that they have to (although, I truly hope they all will because it is a horrible, nasty, filthy, killer habit...hehe), and that I love them no matter if I am smoking with them or not!
Being Home: In the months leading up to the Great American Smokeout, I quit smoking everywhere...except at home. Now, I find that I have the hardest time not smoking when I am home - especially, if I am not extremely busy with the kids and household duties.