Guide Health

How to Quit Smoking

There is no question, that amongst the hardest things an average person may have to do these days, to improve one’s health is to a) lose weight and b) quit smoking. If you are of the lucky percentile that is the correct weight, and does not smoke, I say, well done! But for those of you cursed with the task of either one of choices a or b above, I sympathize entirely.

My piece here will deal exclusively with my smoking habit which began quite late, relatively speaking, at 22 years of age. I was in the final year of college, facing into my critical final exams. A room mate, seeing my stress, jokingly suggested I have a cigarette to help relax my frayed nerves. Being a non-smoker at the time, I refused. However later on that evening, I took him up on the offer and puffed my first cigarette. After the initial nausea and aversion, I persevered and soon found that I could not do without my new found ‘crutch’. I knew full well I was on the road to poor health and even poorer finances, given the price of cigarettes at that time, and the fact I was not working yet.

It was also the start of my journey to actually quitting them. In fact after the first packet, I gave them up, trusting my will power alone not to purchase the next packet. However, within 2 days I found myself asking the local shop assistant for the same ones again. Cursing inwardly, at my weakness, I resolved to not smoke them. But in this also, I failed. As soon as the next perceived stress event entered my life, I was puffing away gladly and thus the bond was complete.

It took me 15 years to finally kick them, and I will outline the methods I used. There is nothing special or unique about what I did, but in order to quit smoking, you need to be strong and mentally ready to give them up. Lets examine the first method, will power.

Giving up smoking through will power, especially for a heavy smoker, is next to impossible for the average man or woman. I don’t want to discourage this method, as its often the first one we use in order to quit smoking. The first thing to do is to to set a date in which you will quit smoking. Write it down! This date should be within two weeks of when you write it down otherwise you will get forgetful and your motivation will sag. You must decide on that date whether you will go ‘cold turkey’ and quit straightaway, or resolve to halve the amount you currently smoke, halving again within 10 days and so on until you finally are no longer smoking. Personally I found the cold turkey method far more effective, at least for the short term. And it can work for you too. I found that the act of taking out a cigarette was almost sub conscious, and so I started sucking hard candy or lollipops, Kojak style. I also found that I put on weight through eating more food, perhaps in response to my cravings and ultimately, I found myself within 4 weeks back on the cigarettes again.

My next method was acupuncture. This I found had no effect for me, but I have talked to people who have successfully overcome their nicotine addiction through this method. It is worth a try. It does not hurt, and indeed I found the actual experience of the tiny needles quite relaxing. This method can be expensive too, but it may or may not work for you.

The third method is hypnotherapy. For me this was the one I had the best hope for and to a certain degree it does work. The hypnotherapist would suggest to my subconscious that I did not want the cigarette and that I would feel sick everytime I lit up one. This worked for me for some time but in order for you to continue abstinence from the cigarette, you need to make regular check ups with him/her. Unfortunately, I did not do this and my lapses allowed me to overcome the sub conscious mental barrier, once a stress event loomed on the horizon. I do recommend that you find a good hypnotherapist, and try this out. Get recommendations for the best and be prepared to pay big bucks. It may well save your life.

The 4th method is nicotine patches. Again, you will find some people think they are the best thing since sliced bread, however I found their effect negligible and ultimately I ended up putting on patches like tattoos while lighting up on the other, or so it seemed. Gum is also available and this chewing mechanism may also help with the need to open something and put into your mouth, as you do with a cigarette. Vape with 18650 battery is still questionable. Some say it is a good alternative while some people say it is not. So when considering vape, it is advisable to conduct your own research first and try to ask medical professionals so you can fully decide about it. 

Ultimately though it was through the worst way that I learned to quit. I had a close friend, not the person who gave me the first cigarette, but another smoker, who after smoking since he was 13, was diagnosed with lung cancer, terminal, at age 41. He went very quickly, within months, and left behind a young family, utterly devastated. He blamed cigarettes and his inability to give up for his predicament. I was shocked into looking at cigarettes as a mortal enemy and not as a ‘friend’ who you would look to in times of happiness or stress.

Within a month of his diagnosis, I had given them up. It sometimes takes a real personal shock to shake you out of lethargy and laziness. I realize that many people reading this would prefer that I had a practical solution as to how to give up smoking, but if you want to quit, look around you and resolve to stop today. Tell as many people as possible that you are intending to quit or have quit. This will prevent them offering you a cigarette socially. Out of sight, out of mind.

I wish you all the best in your attempts to quit the dreaded ‘weed’

Brian
Brian
Brian Singleton a retired news editor and tech enthusiast. He shares a deep love for science and technology and wishes to connect with others through this his content.

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