- Personal Health Information & Self-Help
The Easiest Way to Quit Smoking
My Experience of Quitting Smoking
If there is one thing I truly regret in my life, it was my foolish decision to start smoking. To make matters worse I had gone through all of my school years without feeling the need to take up the habit, in spite of peer pressure and the fact most of my friends frequently could be found behind the bike sheds having a sneaky ciggie. In fact the reason I started smoking was due to a stressful and violent relationship I was in around 1989. I was aged 18, and remember having a particularly bad row with my boyfriend having found out he had secretly got engaged to someone else and was due to get married in 3 weeks time.
At the time I worked in a petrol station as a cashier, and on the day I had heard this awful news I sat at work asking myself what other people do when they get stressed. The answers I came up with were that they either turned to drink, or they smoked. As I didn't really like the idea of becoming an alcoholic I decided to try smoking instead. I purchased a packet of cigarettes from the shelves behind me and lit one up, (this was in the days when you could openly smoke, even at work). It tasted horrid, and made me feel very sick and lightheaded, and I remember thinking "How does anyone manage to smoke loads of these in a day?". Stupidly I made myself persevere and managed to get myself up to 4 a day, still not enjoying them at all. Somehow as time went on the amount I smoked crept up to around 20 per day, and by this time I was well and truly hooked.
In the past I had always thought that people who said it was hard to give up smoking were making excuses, as the way I saw it, if they simply didn't buy any, they wouldn't smoke. I didn't come from a smoking family, so had no experience of anyone trying to quit around me. It was only when years later I decided to try to stop smoking that I found out how hard it really was.
Firstly I tried simple willpower, the result being my turning into an irritable, bad tempered, crazy woman that everyone (including myself) tried to avoid. This clearly wasn't going as easy as I thought! In an effort not alienate everyone around me I then decided to try a different method, hypnosis. No luck here either, even though I tried it twice, I guess I am simply not a good candidate for hypnotherapy as I soon began smoking again.
A few years went by, and by this time I was into my mid twenties. In a further effort to clean up my life I thought it would be worth trying the Nicotine patches. I have to admit these were pretty successful for me, and I managed to quit for a whole 6 months, before making the mistake of thinking I now had the habit under control and would be fine just having one. It began with me "borrowing" a few off my friends, closely followed by my feeling guilty and buying them the occasional packet to make up for it, then getting to the stage where I bought 10 cigarettes purely to keep in my drawer at work so I wouldn't need to ask for cigarettes from other people. This was a downhill slippery slope, and before I knew what had happened I was back on 20 a day and smoking at home as well. You have no idea how hard I kicked myself, and how horribly guilty I felt about being back to where it all started.
This went on for a further number of years until eventually my then Husband and I both decided we wanted to give up. As a new approach we tried acupuncture, which involved having a small needle inserted around the earlobe area. We were then left with a very small bobble ended needle inserted in our ear and were told to "twiddle" it whenever we craved a cigarette. I estimate we lasted about a week before we were back into our old habits. Again it simply didn't seem to help, and I was becoming increasingly panicked about the level of addiction I had reached, especially as ultimately I would have liked to have children.
Sadly my Husband died within a few years, before we ever had the chance to either have children or quit smoking. I decided to return to the island of Guernsey where I grew up. Shortly after returning to Guernsey (still smoking), I was given the opportunity to move to Tenerife and start a new life. Living in Tenerife made it doubly hard to quit the smoking habit because cigarettes (including UK brands) were incredibly cheap and therefore virtually everyone smoked. I didn't even attempt it whilst there, and it was only 3 years later when I returned to Guernsey again that I decided it was time to have another go.
I signed up to the local "Quitline" group, and opted to try the new drug on the market called "Zyban". It had been given some bad press due to a couple of people having died whilst on it, but this was due to them being on other medications that had clashed with the Zyban. I was reassured to hear that this was considered the "easy way" to give up smoking. The plan was to take one Zyban Tablet a day for 10 days whilst continuing to smoke. At the end of the 10 days you stop smoking and up the Zyban to two tablets a day. Apparently the Zyban switched off the receptors in the brain that tell you that you need another cigarette. It was a two month course that if obtained through "Quitline" enabled you to only pay the standard prescription rate rather than the £130 they would normally cost. I had to see my Doctor to confirm he was happy for me to take them, which fortunately he was. I was warned that they would increase the effect alcohol had on me though, so that after only one glass of wine I would feel as if I had drunk at least three, a bonus I thought!
The experience was pretty amazing actually, as during the first 10 days of both smoking and taking the Zyban I found the cigarettes were progressively tasting worse and worse, to the extent I was counting down the days and couldn't wait to stop smoking. When I did stop I found it truly easy, and could quite happily be surrounded by smokers without feeling any need to have a cigarette myself. I stoppped taking the Zyban after only a month, and continued not smoking for a total of six months. Disaster struck when I lost my job, and I decided one night just to have one cigarette to alleviate my stress levels. Fatal, before I knew it I was back to 20 a day and hooked all over again. I tried to take the remaining packet of Zyban I had left, but for some reason they don't seem to work the second time and the horrible taste of the cigarettes was not so intense.
I tried to read a couple of well known books on how to give up smoking quickly, both of which came with an accompanying Hypnosis CD. Neither of them worked for me and I fell back into the routine of regular smoking.
By this time I was remarried, and both my new Husband and I decided we wanted to try for a baby. My Doctor told us we had to stop smoking, especially as I had a history of fertility problems. This time I lasted about 3 months, and then feeling disheartened by the lack of any sign of my getting pregnant we both relapsed again. It was only when I started to research fertility problems on the internet I discovered just how much smoking could be affecting my chances. Blood tests had shown me that I possibly had a low ovarian egg reserve and that I could be heading into early menopause. I discovered from the internet that this can be caused by smoking, and that smoking could also be killing my eggs before they could be fertilised. I also had a problem with keeping my weight up to healthy levels, and the lack of appetite was partly also down to my smoking. This was a big wake up call to both of us, especially when at the age of 38 time is running out to get pregnant in, and the odds of even a healthy woman conceiving after the age of 35 start to drop considerably.
Well, you guessed it, we decided to quit again and booked ourselves back into "Quitline". We attended for the first time on Wednesday 9th April 2008, and decided to give the NRT (Nicotine Replacement Thereapy) a try, (or in my case, a further try). We chose Sunday 13th of April as our new quit date, and fingers crossed so far we are doing okay. Obviously we are only in our 4th day at time of writing this, but we feel pretty good so far and are getting used to not smoking. I think the incentive of wanting a baby has acted as a fantastic motivation, and as I am seeing a fertility specialist now, we feel this is the perfect time to try and do everything we can to achieve success.
I hope to keep adding to this Hub so that I can keep you updated on our progress, and share any experiences we have in the course of quitting this nasty habit. It would be nice to think that someone out there will read this and decide they too want to give up, and will feel able to find support and understanding when they feel the urge to weaken and return to smoking. I will happily welcome any questions anyone may have, and would be very interested to hear of other people's experiences and what worked for them.
Quitline again tonight, so will post again soon to let you know how we are doing.
My Husband and I.
July 9th 2008
My apologies for taking so long to update this hub, but my attempts to quit smoking using the NRT (Nicotine Replacement Therapy) patches failed fairly quickly. My Husband Richard had the same problem, and so we lapsed back into smoking for a while. Ultimately I went back to our local "Quitline", and asked to try the drug Champix instead. This has been far more effective, and apart from slight nausea and dreaming more at night, I have had no real side effects. Much like the Zyban, it stops the chemical in your brain that tells you to have a cigarette, and you pretty much forget to smoke. I have also found that I am not too bothered if I am around other people who smoke, and that I find the smell of the cigarettes very sickly now.
Richard has somehow managed to almost stop completely using willpower alone, and whilst I am still taking the Champix, both of us have only had about 2 or 3 cigarettes in the whole of the last fortnight. At time of writing this I have not smoked for about 5 days, and am coping very well. It has been a couple of months since I was last a "proper smoker".
Sadly my fertility specialist has told me that although I am desperate for a baby, due to internal adhesions and endometriosis I am unlikely to get pregant without IVF, which is prohibitively expensive for us. This means that stopping smoking may not help in my case, but I am still going to stick with it just in case it helps even a tiny bit to improve my chances.
Keep checking into this Hub, as I shall update you on how we are getting on in another few weeks time.
Good luck in your own efforts to quit in the meantime.
October 27th 2008
Lapsed badly back into smoking and got expelled from our local Quitline Group for 'not honouring our committment'. Since then however we have signed up for this fabulous online course called Nicotine Solutions. The course involves weekly sessions via Skype, and is run by a lovely lady called Lela. We just had our first session last night, and we came away feeling really optimistic that this really will work for us. At first we have to carry on smoking, but after six weeks of the course we stop, apparently with very little, if any, desire to smoke again at all.
The great thing is that wherever in the world you are it is possible to take Lela's course because of how easy it is to utilise Skype for the purposes of the sessions. Lela is in San Francisco and we are in Guernsey in the Channel Islands, yet it has not caused any problem at all.
Certainly after talking with Lela and experiencing our first session we are both very confident now that we will succeed with her support. She has a 90% success rate, which is fantastic. Having tried virtually every other quitting method known to man, at last we think we have found something that will work for us. The support offered is so much more than other things we were recommended, e.g. The Allan Carr book, and the How to Stop Smoking in One Hour Book, (needless to say both of these methods failed for us).
I highly recommend anyone gives this course a try, and you can follow my online diary of how it is going for us if you go to my new Hub on the subject: http://hubpages.com/hub/My-Diary-of-Giving-up-Smoking-with-the-Nicotine-Solutions-Course