Want to quit smoking? Here’s my story that I hope inspires you
So, you want to quit smoking cigarettes? Good for you. I don’t need to provide you with statistics about how bad smoking is for your body. It’s common knowledge, but quitting can often prove too much of a challenge even for light smokers. The best advice I can give you is don’t make a big deal about it.
Don’t post your journey on social media. Don’t designate a Quit Day. Don’t throw a dramatic cold turkey party. Don’t make a New Year’s Resolution. I tried all of those things and failed miserably each time. Yet, I did manage to eventually quit smoking and here is my 4-week program.
“As a man thinketh in his soul, so is he.” That’s a quote from the Bible (Proverbs 23:7) and the inspiration for a powerful self-help book by James Allen called As A Man Thinketh. I used this quote and philosophy to start my campaign to quit smoking. Week One was all about intention. It’s the easy week.
Every time that I lit a cigarette I told myself – “I don’t smoke cigarettes.” I chose this self-affirmation very carefully. I didn’t want to go with something like “I want to quit smoking.” Or “I need to quit smoking at some point.” My brain already knew that and these phrases weren’t specific enough.
I chose to tell myself that I am not a cigarette smoker every time I lit up a cigarette so that maybe my sub-conscious mind would feel as if it was doing something contrary to my true nature. I still smoked the same amount as usual, but each time that I pulled a cigarette out of the pack I said, “I don’t smoke cigarettes.”
By the end of the first week, it caused me to pause just long enough to contemplate what I was doing on a deeper level. So, week one was all about making the intention real and getting it deep into my mind.
For the second week I went out and bought a brand-new pack of cigarettes. I opened the pack and cut all the cigs in half. I still smoked at the same times during the day, but instead of getting the full hit of nicotine and all those 5000 chemicals, I reduced my intake by 50%. Cigarettes contain chemicals like formaldehyde, benzene, and arsenic, not just tobacco.
These are cancer-causing poisons that have no place in your body. Knowing this, I resisted the urge to double-up and smoke more. I just kept saying “I don’t smoke cigarettes.” and I would just smoke half.
This was a difficult week for sure, but I found that I wasn’t as addicted to nicotine as I previously thought. Actually, I was more addicted to the habit of smoking, inhaling and exhaling the smoke at certain times of day. I needed two cigarettes in the morning. I needed two cigarettes on my first work break.
I needed two cigarettes after lunch and so on and so on. When I smoked my sawed-off cigarettes, I was still maintaining the comforting habit of smoking, but something else was going on inside my body. I was weaning myself off cigarettes slowly and effectively. By the end of the week I noticed that I was less lethargic, less congested and had more energy.
On the first day of the third week I went out and bought a vaporizer. An e-cigarette or vape device will give you a hit of nicotine without any tar or carbon monoxide. Nicotine isn’t known to cause cancer if of itself, but it’s the other chemicals in cigarette smoke that are so dangerous to your health.
Health officials in England suggest that vaping is 95 percent safer than smoking cigarettes. Ministers of Parliament in England are even debating on whether or not to make e-cigarettes available by prescription and whether or not to lift the bans on vaping in public places as a way to reduce smoking in the UK.
The trick here is not to get too invested in vaping if you want to quit nicotine and cigarettes for good. That was my goal, so I bought the cheapest vaporizer I could find. I bought a MyBlu starter kit and a single pack of e-liquid pods for around $ 15 USD. I became an instant fan of vaping. I was elated that I no longer smelled like an ashtray and that I wasn’t inhaling smoke. Yet, it was difficult to tell how much nicotine I was getting because vaping delivers the nicotine in a different way than cigarettes.
You’re not finishing a cigarette, so you don’t know when you’re done. My best advice is to enjoy some experimentation to find your ideal amount. For me, I vaped at the same times of day that I would smoke cigarettes. About six or seven puffs seemed to be the equivalent for me of smoking one cigarette, but that could vary depending on the person.
Don’t make vaping a pavilion. Make it a bridge. It’s temporary, not your new thing. That’s what got me through the vaping stage. Instead of inhaling all those chemicals, now I was just getting my nicotine fix. I could see the finish line just up ahead.
This was the hardest week of all. Yet, I was already riding high from spending at least one week away from cigarettes. In week four, I even put away the vaporizer. I didn’t spend a lot of money on an expensive device, so it was easy to just put it away for a while. Instead, I picked up an all-black ink pen that looked and felt a bit like my vape pen.
At the prescribed times when I would take a puff, I just put the end of the pen in my mouth and pretended to smoke. Placebos alone have been proven to be widely ineffective at helping people quit. At first, there was no fooling my body. It protested this radical new placebo treatment by giving me severe headaches, nausea and irritability. My body was saying “where’s my stuff?” but I kept saying “I don’t smoke cigarettes.”
The urge to just pick up the vaporizer was strong, too. Eventually, I needed to also do something else to distract myself while I took a fake puff on my placebo pen. So, I would use that time to scroll through social media, write in my journal or talk on the phone.
As long as I took a few fake puffs on the pen, I didn’t feel like I was quitting. The days went by and before I knew it I was already getting ready for the weekend. I had gone at least two weeks without smoking cigarettes and one week without nicotine.
Surprisingly, the urge to smoke never quite went away. It’s been 6 months now and I still haven’t smoked, but my realization of just how powerfully-addictive nicotine and the habit of smoking were became glaringly obvious once I tried to quit. The findings of a research study from the Center for Global Tobacco Control found that over a period of time greater than one year, more than a third of participants relapsed within three years. It’s tough to quit and stay smoke-free. Stress is one of the greatest triggers, that and a ripping good night out drinking with your friends.
This is my method for quitting, but only long-term vigilance will keep cigarettes at bay. You can find your own path or seek professional help. There are prescription treatments, over-the-counter products and rehabilitation specialists who can cater a quit schedule to your specific needs.
So, please consider speaking to a healthcare professional about your desire to quit smoking. Don’t give up. Keep trying until something works. Just a week after you quit, you’ll have greater lung capacity, significantly reduced risk of heart attack, increased blood flow, better sexual performance and better self-esteem. So, build a bridge, guys. You can do it!