Every year, I approach this anniversary, often tentatively, as if I don’t quite believe it.
To place things in context, I smoked from a young age, despite my initial aversion. Within a few years, I became a chain-smoker and would smoke between forty and sixty a day, often late at night. I smoked through flu and pneumonia.
I made countless attempts to quit but always relapsed, especially on the problematic third day – the most challenging day for people hoping to quit. I believed I would never succeed in stopping as I couldn’t imagine life without cigarettes.
I particularly liked the smell of cigarettes, the acrid taste, the sensation of the smoke in my throat, even when I couldn’t stop coughing. For me, the habit wasn’t disgusting, just addictive and costly, financially.
Nearly ten years ago, a practice nurse carried out tests and informed me that my true lung age was significantly higher than my actual age. The comparison to old age really shocked and worried me. After agreeing on a quit smoking date, I spent a week smoking ceaselessly, in order to prepare mentally. I reached a point where I felt ready and in the early hours of Monday 23 July 2012, I smoked my final cigarette. I have never relapsed. No secret cigarette. No drag on a cigarette.
I should mention that I didn’t stop cold turkey. I used Nicorette as an aid, and I still do. Some people disagree strongly with the use of Nicorette, but I can only state that it worked for me. The smoke itself is dangerous. The chemicals. Not small amounts of nicotine that one gets from Nicorette.
In conclusion, I would make three points:
A person generally needs a strong reason for wanting to give up smoking, especially after years of addiction. I don’t believe the financial cost alone is a powerful enough reason.
For many, no smoking means never having a cigarette again, even socially. The idea of just-one-cigarette/then try-again rarely works.
Cravings usually become challenging, unbearably so, after 48 hours of smoking the last cigarette (ie the so-called “third day”).
Of course other ex-smokers will have their own methods and techniques. Not everyone will agree with my approach – but it has worked for me for nearly ten years and I expect it will continue to do so.
Till next time.