This may come as a surprise to those closest to me: I am still a cigarette addict.
My History of Smoking
I have been been an off-again, on-again smoker since I picked up my first dreadful cigarette when I was fourteen. Back then my best friend smoked, and I thought the look of smoke coming out of someone’s mouth was cool. As nasty as the cigarettes tasted, I persisted and eventually found I could not live without them.
Being fourteen and a smoker is not a good thing. You always have to bum cigarettes or beg people to buy packs for you at the store. Sometimes I stole my packs when I couldn’t find a buyer. I was that addicted.
I was fired from my first job in Fairbanks, Alaska for being an underage smoker. My boss caught me smoking behind the building and terminated me on the spot. Yet I still continued to smoke.
My First Real Attempt at Quitting
It wasn’t until I was about nineteen that I made my first real effort to quit smoking. I was in college. Funds were tight. I didn’t want to dim my prospects with any ladies over my nasty habit. I was worried about life insurance and my health.
I enlisted the help of one of my college classmates to be my accountability partner. I told him to ask me everyday he saw me if I had had a cigarette. He kept his word and I was able to quit. This college classmate is still one of my best buddies and I talk to him almost every day. Yet, he doesn’t know I have picked up the habit again until now. I was too ashamed to let him in on my dirty little secret. I am still ashamed.
I had quit smoking cigarettes for roughly five years. Every now and then I treated myself to a cigar or even a cigarette in a bar, but I never considered myself addicted. It was always in the back of my mind that I could be addicted again, but I knew what it was like to be addicted to cigarettes and convinced myself I was not picking up my old habit.
Then disaster struck. A great personal disappointment left me alone. I was unbelievably stressed. I started drinking. I started smoking. And slowly, I became addicted to cigarettes again. All the reasons I had original quit for during my college years were gone. Funds weren’t so tight anymore. I already have good life insurance. And there were no longer any prospects of women. So I became a cigarette addict all over again. People who had known me for years stopped to ask me what was wrong as I fumigated my lungs. People I knew were shocked that I would voluntarily tear my lungs apart.
About the same time in my life, I began working out heavily to relieve much of the stress I was under. I know it doesn’t make sense to start working out and smoking at the same time, but that’s what I did. Eventually I could run three miles rather easily, even under the pack-a-day habit I had just started. However, after several months, the cigarettes had taken their toll. I could run my three miles, but I ran them gasping for air.
I needed to quit. I just had no willpower.
What a Cigarette Addiction is Like
A cigarette addiction is tough to describe to a non-smoker. However, there is one analogy that I think might fit well. It is men and their sexual desire. Just as men always crave or think about sex, cigarette smokers always crave and think about cigarettes. Cigarette smokers’ lives revolve around cigarettes. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are all set up around cigarettes. An hour long meeting is an ordeal. A movie seems too long. Being in a non-smoking restaurant is like torture.
For an addicted smoker, a cigarette is a best friend. Cigarettes are there when no one else is. Cigarettes help pass the time. Cigarettes turn what are rather boring and mundane events eventful. A cigarette gives a smoker a reason to take a walk at night, or see the sun set. Cigarettes are there.
As addictive as cigarettes are, how does one quit? The first time I quit, I quit cold turkey. However, I knew I couldn’t quit that way this time. All the reasons I quit for the first time were gone. At least when I was having a nervous fit the first time, I could remind myself of all the reasons I wanted to kick the habit. As I said already, the reasons are gone. But I needed to quit.
My Current Attempt to Quit
On a whim (and a very expensive whim at that), I went to my doctor and asked him about a smoking drug called Chantix. I’m not trying to advertise for the drug, but I’d like to explain my experience while taking it. I bought the drug in early December, but I never used it until the beginning of this year. I didn’t intend to make quitting smoking my New Year’s resolution, but New Years day was the day I began taking the drug. I figured it was now or never.
I was really skeptical when taking the first pills. I still loved cigarettes and was still a pack-a-day smoker. However, I noticed something different after the first week. A pack was lasting me almost two days. I had reduced my smoking without even realizing it. For the first time since August, I was able to wake up in the morning and resist the calling for a cigarette before breakfast. I was still smoking, but smoking much less.
I entered week two of the drug, and starting noticing what the drug was trying to accomplish. It was trying to turn me against my dear friend Mr. Cigarette. I was smoking less and less, and when I did smoke, I didn’t enjoy it as much. The comfort I felt after taking the first few drags wasn’t there. It was as if the drug was blocking the soothing effects of the cigarette.
A few days ago, I went out for a cigarette break at work. I was outside for two minutes and was bored. The cigarette tasted horrible, and it wasn’t doing anything for me. I actually looked at the cigarette and thought, “Geez, how long is this thing going to take?” It was as if cigarette smoking had become a chore. Since I don’t like chores, I threw the pack away.
My Current Status
It has been two days since I picked up what will hopefully be my last cigarette. As many times as I have tried to quit, this is by far the easiest time I’ve had. I ask for your prayers and support in quiting this dreadful habit. I know it’s early and I may very well start back up again. But I don’t want to. Cigarettes run someone’s life like a clock, and I’d like to have my life back.
I still get cravings, but the drug reduces (if not eliminates) the cravings I have, and I know that the drug will make that cigarette I give in to a dreadful experience. I will post an update in a month regarding my quest to end my love-affair with cigarettes.
Thanks for reading.