How To Quit Smoking Cold Turkey
Do You Really Want To Quit Smoking?
Are you sure you really want to quit smoking? I know that you know all about the health risks. Lung cancer, emphysema, chronic bronchitis. You know your fingers are nicotine stained, your teeth are yellow, and that if you smoke long enough you will look much older than you actually are. You know you are spending hundreds of dollars a year. But do you really want to quit smoking?
I ask the question, because for a number of years, my answer was no. I did not really want to quit smoking. I enjoyed smoking. I liked the way it made me feel. A cigarette after a good meal, or good sex, was almost as enjoyable as the activity that preceded it. The first thing I did every morning and the last thing I did every night was smoke a cigarette. Smoking was a large part of my life, and I wasn't sure what life would be like without cigarettes.
What finally changed my mind? Maybe it was the sore throat that woke me every morning. Followed by an hour or more of a hacking cough. Maybe it was realizing that every over 40 smoker I knew had all these little unattractive lines and wrinkles around their lips. Maybe it was knowing that my 5 year old smelled like cigarettes because her mommy smoked. For whatever reason, on November 11, 1987, I threw away a full carton of cigarettes and quit for good.
It was hard. It was really, really hard. And even now, sometimes when I am really stressed, I crave the feeling that a nice long drag on a cigarette would give me. When I look in the mirror and notice my extra 20 pounds, I long for the cigarettes that will suppress my appetite and help me lose weight. Twenty years later there are still times when I want a cigarette.
A good friend once confessed to me, "I am only a puff away from a pack a day." and that certainly rings true to me. I sometimes think the only thing that keeps me from starting back is the knowledge that I would have to quit again. And I don't want to have to quit again, nicotine withdrawal is no fun!
So having told you all that, I ask you again, do you really want to quit smoking? Even if you answer no, or you're not sure, read on. Maybe I can change your mind.
Benefits of Quitting
Do I really need to go over the health benefits of quitting? Honestly, you probably don't care. If you are like most people, you won't really believe that you will get lung cancer, or emphysema, or heart disease or any of the other hundreds of health issues that smoking causes. You will look to the rare 90 year old who has smoked like a chimney for 80 years and isn't about to quit now, and think to yourself, that will be me. I know that is the way I thought. Smoking caused other people to be short of breath and need little bottles of oxygen at the grocery store. Me, I was special. I could smoke without damaging my health.
But there were things I couldn't ignore. Like the ever present overflowing ashtrays in every room in the house. The car that smelled like cigarettes. The burn marks from dropped cigarettes on my bedspread, the seats of my car, even on my favorite pair of pants. I began to notice that cigarettes made my house and my car dirty. And sure you could clean it up, but with two smokers in the house how long would it be before someone dropped an ash on the carpet? One benefit of quitting, a cleaner house.
And then there was the aforementioned 5 year old. She had asthma. For awhile I actually had convinced myself that my smoking wasn't making it worse. (Or even the cause in the first place.) I could go smoke outside, but she would follow me outside and want to cuddle and be close. Plus I spent so much time smoking it would be hard to get anything else done if I was always going outside for a smoke.
It also got to the point where I couldn't avoid my fingers and my teeth. They were yellow, and ugly. And that is the reason that finally got me to quit. Vanity. Cigarettes make you ugly.The evidence was right there. Yellow teeth are not attractive. I had yellow teeth. YUCK!
Books on Stopping Smoking
Why Quit Cold Turkey
I quit before the advent of Nicorette and other stop smoking aids. There were only two choices at the time. You could quit cold turkey, or you could "taper off" and gradually quit smoking. I didn't know anyone who had actually quit by tapering off, and it made more sense just to throw the cigarettes away and get them out of the house. Why prolong the misery? Better to just do it and get it over with.
Now there are many patches, gums, and pills that profess to help you stop smoking. There is even an electronic cigarette that will not only give you a dose of nicotine, but let you have the experience of smoking, without the smoke. I don't know if I would have used any of them.
I have many friends who quit smoking cigarettes and have been smoke free for months or even years. But they have never been nicotine free. They still have the addiction to nicotine. The goal is to not only become smoke free, but to become addiction free.
Then there is the fact, that like many pharmaceuticals, the pills and patches that you can use to help you quit smoking are not without side effects of their own. Reported side effects to nicotine replacement therapies include hair loss, damage to teeth, and high blood pressure.
So while getting your nicotine from gum or a patch might be marginally better than getting it from a cigarette, it is still by no means a way to become healthier.
And as a final reason why not to use these stop smoking aids, there is some question as to their actual effectiveness, due to the fact that anyone trying to quit cigarettes will know if they are being given a placebo.
When You Quit Smoking, Cravings Diminish After 72 Hours
How To Sop Smoking
I hope by now you really want to quit smoking. When you quit cold turkey, the first 72 hours are pretty rough. But then the cravings will start to diminish. It really helps to know that most cravings only last about 3 minutes. It is good to know that In less time than it takes to smoke a cigarette the craving should pass. Here are some suggestions on how to deal with the cravings when you stop smoking cold turkey.
Don't carry cigarettes. Don't have them in your house, your car, or anywhere. Make it as difficult as possible for you to get a cigarette.
Take it one day, even one hour at a time. Don't think about the long term. Just try and make it from the time you get up, until the time you go to bed.
Be prepared to deal with cravings. Surprisingly for me, deep breathing, was a great help. Keep crunchy snacks on hand.
Drink fruit juice for the first three days. Nicotine is a blood sugar stabilizer and your body will need to relearn how to regulate your blood sugar without nicotine. In 3 days you shouldn't need the fruit juice any more.
Hang out where you can't smoke. Movie theaters are good, as well as the homes of non-smoking friends. Better yet, hang out with your ex-smoker friends. They won't let you relapse.
- Make a list of all the reasons why you want to quit. Make sure they are really selfish reasons. Keep the list where you used to keep your cigarettes. Read the list when you have a craving.
For me, once I was through the first day of withdrawal, I knew I didn't want to do that again! Once you have quit, the only reason to start again is either because you want to continue smoking until it kills you, or you like going through nicotine withdrawal and you want to repeat the process. Think about that when considering "just one more cigarette".