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My experience in quitting smoking and depression and why nicotine replacement therapy didn't work for me.

Updated on April 12, 2013

I have tried to stop smoking so many times over the last twenty years. I'm 17 weeks smoke free and have high hopes this time – I'll tell you why later. I have tried a variety of NRT (Nicotine Replacement Therapy) such as inhalers, patches, gums and other aids such as herbal and placebo (nicotine free) cigarettes. However the type of nicotine replacement I settled on is nicotine gum.

I'll give you a little bit of a background into my experiences of quitting before I tell you why nicotine replacement therapy didn't work for me. This article is purely an account of my experience and is in no why a scientific report. I'm not a doctor and I'm sure there are plenty of facts and figures out there that contradict my view. I do not wish to dispute medical science but purely give my view from a test subject that has been trying to quit using these products over the last ten years or so. I hope in some way my account may contribute to and help shape positive outcomes in the advancement of aids to smoking cessation.

Basically I started smoking at the age of seventeen, while at college. A friend offered me a roll up and I was pretty much hooked instantly. When I realised I was actually addicted I decided that it was ok as practically everyone else smoked that was around me. It was cool to smoke and after all I had to keep up appearances. I decided I would quit in a year or two.

My first attempts at quitting weren't very serious and only lasted a day or two at best and this carried on for about ten years. Eventually I was able to give up for about three months which was great but again I went back to it and about five years later I managed to give up for almost a whole year, about 10 or11 months.

Over the last five years I have been actively trying to quit. I used nicotine gum and I thought it really did help the cravings. As part of the Nicotine withdrawal process I found I ate more and drank much more alcohol than I used to. The nicotine gum didn't really have any effect on this either. Going to the pub with friends was very difficult as they would smoke and all I had was peanuts and a pint and I want through both like it was going out of fashion. I must have given up for about 6 months per year, but always I would go back to it and eventually I started asking myself why did I do this.

They say there is two types of withdrawal during quitting smoking:

  1. The physical cravings.
  2. The psychological cravings.

Getting through the nicotine withdrawal stage was easy. You expect the cravings when they come along and you can deal with them. In fact if anything my resolve to keep smoke free is at it's highest during the withdrawal process. It's only after I was technically out of the physical craving period (6 weeks by the NHS standards) did I seem at my most susceptible to returning back to smoking. And the worst thing is that it never seemed to go away!

One thing I always seemed to suffer from during quitting smoking was moderate depression. I'm not a person who usually suffers from depression so I have done a bit of research and found that there is a link between depression and nicotine withdrawal. Quite often the depression is what always brought me back to smoking, thus creating a vicious circle. I quit, get depressed as a side effect, then cure my depression with a cigarette.

I would try harder and harder to stave off depression, improving diet and fitness, making sure I got out and about and tried to generally enjoy life. It just seemed that this mountain of negativity was always right in front of me and it became insurmountable. Eventually it would take just one day where everything had gone wrong and that was it, back to buying some tobacco and deciding I would just go out for a walk and smoke two or three, just to get my head straight and then throw them away and get back on with it. Once I had done that though, it became the next day or maybe a couple of days later, and I'd end up doing the same thing and before I knew it I was back to smoking.

It was then when I realised that my nicotine gum wasn't helping.

If nicotine withdrawal was making me depressed, then all I was doing was making that process longer by taking nicotine gum. Chewing the gum gave my brain nicotine so that it continued to expect and crave it. As it wasn't giving me the same amount of nicotine as I would take from smoking, I was therefore continuing to experience withdrawal. As I kept chewing the gum, all I achieved was to be in a permanent state of withdrawal, therefore a permanent state of depression. The continued depression eventually lead me back to smoking.

The only conclusion I could make of this was if I was going to achieve success at all with quitting smoking then I needed to get the nicotine out of my body as quickly as possible and as far away from the idea of smoking as I could I needed to make that depression period as small as possible as I knew my resolve can only last for so long against withdrawing.

This leads me to my latest attempt. I'm seventeen weeks in and feeling great. Most people would consider themselves “cured” by now but I won't let my guard down for one minute. Right at the start of this attempt I decided to go cold turkey, no nicotine gum, no NRT of any kind. Yes I felt depressed as part of the process of withdrawing but that pretty much lifted by 8 weeks at best and hasn't returned. After the eight weeks I was able to turn my back on smoking and put all that negativity all under one roof and leave it behind me.

I feel like my head is in a really good place right now and very positive for a smoke free future. Christmas Eve was my last cigarette. I want to get to Christmas Eve this year and celebrate one year smoke free.

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Just as a side note I did have a load of links to some really good YouTube documentaries about how the tobacco industry manipulated the social consciousness in order to further it's own success against the odds of legislation. These have been removed.

These links were to the documentary "The Tobacco Industry". Described as: A history of the tobacco industry's lies and scams. From the US in 1953 to Africa today, the controversy between individual responsibility and corporate greed is portrayed in a lucid, undaunted manner.

From scientific frauds to working with organized crime, tobacco companies show their hidden agenda more clearly than ever in this theatrically released documentary.

More than three years of investigating all over the world has allowed Nadia Collot to decipher the attitudes of an industry that, in spite of many prevention campaigns still expands its power at the cost of public health. Three aspects of industry

They were removed because: "Copyright infringement" and the YouTube user terminated because: "WiseUpWorld has been terminated because we (YouTube) received multiple third-party claims of copyright infringement regarding material the user posted."

For reference purposes the YouTube urls were:

I'm going to look into this and provide an update and hopefully repost the videos if they exist.


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    • alanrammel profile image

      alanrammel 5 years ago from Whitby, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom

      Damn! Just over a week ago I smoked four cigarettes!! Hell, I'm all in a spin now. I haven't smoked anything since then but I'm kicking myself every day because of it! It was a really stressful day, like really stressful, nothing like what I've had in years, I had been through the mill with a tough situation at work and also I had to deal with complications on a personal nature and I just went out and bought some and smoked them!!! I threw the rest away the next day, however my resolve really has taken a big knock and I'm worried that it has broken my strength to keep this up! What can I do!!!???

    • alanrammel profile image

      alanrammel 5 years ago from Whitby, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom

      Even though it has got a lot easier I don't think I'll ever unlearn it. In some respects those days you have where you wake up feeling like you have to smoke are much harder to deal with because it has caught you off guard.

    • profile image

      Shelle0824 5 years ago

      I quit nearly 5 years ago. My husband has a hub on how I was able to quit cold turkey by playing sudoku every time the cravings popped up. The oral fixation was probably harder for me to overcome than the nicotine. What surprised my husband though was that even though I had been smoke free for over a year, a craving popped up out of the blue one day. It has not happened for a long time now. I wonder. If we conditioned our brains for over 20 years to expect cigarettes, how long does it take for our brains to unlearn the activity.

    • alanrammel profile image

      alanrammel 5 years ago from Whitby, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom

      Thanks very much. I'll get there I'm sure.

    • Charlotte B Plum profile image

      Charlotte B Plum 5 years ago

      Thank you for sharing your story with us! You should be proud of yourself. And yes, I too want you to get to Christmas eve smoke free! Keep at it!