Quitting Smoking: One man's story.
The Secret Smoker
I confess I was a secret smoker. First of all I hid it from my parents who would certainly not approve, or to put it another way they would go crazy about it. It was no big deal though, I was a casual social smoker for years. The occasional cigarette with a drink or the odd cigar from time to time if the occasion called for it. But then of course I would have 16 cigarettes left in the packet of 20 I bought. So I would tell myself I would just finish them off and then leave off for a while, it worked too. I would finish a packet and not smoke again until the next social occasion.
I can drag on this story in all of the minute details but you know where it's going. Before long there was no gaps, the conclusion of one packet immediately lead to the purchase of another. I never admitted this to anyone. Many people knew I smoked, lets be honest you can't hide the smell but none knew how much. I lied to everyone. My work colleagues believed I only smoked at work, my girlfriend believed I only smoked at home, some people thought I only chain smoked when I was having a drink. If I felt I had stretched the credibility of my lie too far to be seen smoking in front of my girlfriend I went and walked the dog or claimed to need to go to the shop. Any reason to sneak off and smoke.No one knew I smoked at every given opportunity all day every day.
Even know I don't know why I felt the need to lie. I am confessing here, I still have not in life to the people I deceived nor do I feel I ever will.
A great help to people when quitting smoking is the help and support of friends and family. My lies denied me this, how could I tell people how hard it was to give up a major habit and addiction when as far as they were aware I only smoked the occasional cigarette? I couldn't I was doing this alone.
The hardest part of it all was the questions, I knew plenty of people who had quit smoking for good, people with bigger habits than myself. My parents included but I could not bring myself to ask and confess my secret.
- What is the best way?
- Should I use Nicotine Gum or Patches?
- Why is it so hard?
- Are the NHS no smoking clinics worth visiting?
- Should I take Champix (Varenicline)?
But most of all I just wanted to know how long until it gets easy? How long until I stop thinking about cigarettes?
How I did it.
I went to an NHS no smoking drop in clinic. It was one of the best decisions I have made in recent memory. The people were friendly and none judgemental and encouraged me to come back and share my success story and gave me a real pat on the back.
I did it with the aid of Champix or Varenicline to give it the correct name. It is advised that you use this medication for a period of 12 weeks. You will find great in depth articles about how it works, but in brief it partially blocks the receptors in your brain that respond to nicotine reducing the pleasure or experience you get from smoking, thereby reducing your desire to smoke. I did not follow the advice I was given, not deliberately or with any sense of defiance I just kept forgetting.
This is how it worked for me. I was told to take the pills and not aim to quit smoking until between day 8 and day 14. It was very important I was advised to quit before day 14 or the effectiveness of the pills may be over ridden by the cigarettes. I quit on day 7.
The pills take care of the physical cravings, all I had to take care of was the mental cravings. My actual desire to smoke. It came as a great surprise to me to discover I actually quite liked smoking. In fact I more than liked it, I loved it. The little routines, the little rewards. Standing at the back door last thing at night watching the dog potter around the garden while I killed the time with a smoke. Or that 10 minute walk from my car to the office (I don't have a good parking space) when I smoked I actually enjoyed that walk. Now it is just a chore.
The pills make it much, much easier or did for me. I cannot in good conscience recommend them to others as they are a prescription medication and medical advice should be sought as with all medication there are possible side effects including drowsiness, sickness and even depression.
I continued to take the pills until day 25. Although this massively cut short the advised time scale it was sufficient for me to get the ball rolling. All I needed was the kick to get me started and will power did the rest. I was advised that is because I really wanted to quit for me and not because I know that I should and that it makes sense to quit. But because I wanted to.
For the record I have numerous failed attempts behind me so if your reading this for inspiration and have failed before don't worry.
Have you quit? If so how?
- I am financially way better off
- I have more free time. Amazing how much time in a day I spent smoking.
- I don't have to lie about it.
- My Skin is better.
- I am calmer.
Things that did not work for me
- Will power alone. I am not that strong of character. Where will power is concerned I have decided to quit on a morning when I arise and buy cigarettes in the first shop I pass within the hour.
- Lozanges and Gum - I found the taste so revolting that if anything it made me want to smoke to get rid of the taste.
- Patches - I am a hairy guy and sticking things to myself is fine, taking them off it not fun.
The Big question.
As I mentioned before there was one question that plagued me and plagues me still. But I think i have figured it out.
How long until I stop missing cigarettes?
The answer I am sorry to say for me at least is that I believe I will never stop missing them, a part of me will always be a smoker. I will always miss that feeling of a much wanted or needed cigarette. The calming effect (Although doctors advise me this is an illusion as it increases blood pressure) the satisfaction. I think about smoking at least once a day and often catch myself thinking I would very much like to have one. Oddly as a cigarette smoker I have found I crave cigars which I only smoked occasionally.
I'm sorry to say it is not the answer I wanted to hear nor the answer I wanted to give, but it is what it is.
Is it really that bad?
No, not at all. I miss cigarettes and I suspect I always will. This is not the case for everyone I'm sure but despite the fact that I miss them I am thrilled I quit smoking. The benefits massively outweigh the drawbacks.
Money wise I calculated in the first month I was £162.00 better off.
Things I can do with £162.00
- Fly to Amsterdam and back stay overnight in a hotel.
- Take my girlfriend to the cinema and out for a meal 3 or 4 times.
- Pay the road tax on my car for a year.
Other lifestyle benefits include better sex, food tastes better, exercise becomes easier, skin improves and a longer life.
And in the end....
I don't know, it has been a matter of months but I feel like I am quit for good. I accept that I may slip up and I could easily start again. But I do not think I will.
I am not really qualified to give anyone any advice, this is not about advice it is about sharing my own experience with others who may or may not benefit from hearing it. But here is a fe summarising tips.
- Don't lie about it. The support helps and it is better if you don't have to get it from strangers in a clinic like me.
- Just keep going it does get easier.
- Reward yourself, use the saved money for a treat.
- Keep track! Count the days since you quit or count the money you have saved. By watching my number of days go up and my amount of money increase I knew I did not want to ruin my total by going back to zero.
If your quitting good luck, it's worth it.