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How I Quit Smoking

Background

In late November, 2001, I quit smoking, after 30 years as a smoker, mostly a chainsmoker.

I hadn't really planned to quit -- I was going through menopause, and the doctor prescribed estrogen. Premarin warnings include one that states smoking increases the risk of blood clots -- that was enough to finally convince me to stop smoking.

Not only did the possibility of blood clots really scare me, but I was sick and tired of my doctor blaming every little complaint I had on smoking. I decided that if I stopped smoking, he'd not be able to do that anymore. It worked, too - a couple of months ago, I had an ear problem -- and he asked if I'd started smoking again -- and I was able to say "no". I got a lot of satisfaction from that!

I chain smoked for many years, 2 to 3 packs a day. 2 years before I finally quit for good, I'd decided to cut down -- instead of smoking almost nonstop, I just had a cigarette every 1/2 hour. After a few months, I increased the time to one cigarette every hour. This effectively reduced the number of cigarettes I had in a day.

It had been a long time since I'd enjoyed a cigarette. When I first started smoking, I used to really like having a smoke.

I thought that it would be very difficult to quit smoking - especially giving up that first smoke in the morning.

When I quit, November 29, 2001, I immediately started using Nicotine patches. I used Nicoderm, 14 mg. Although there is a 21 mg. patch available, I couldn't use them -- I experienced a racing heart, anxiety, etc. -- they were just too strong. The patch is changed every 24 hours.

I used the 14 mg. patches for 6 weeks, then went to the 7 mg. patches for another 4 weeks.

During that time, here's what I did to fight the nicotine withdrawal -- it is a physical addiction, so your body does have to withdraw -- but the discomfort passes, believe me. It took about 6 months until I forgot about smoking -- the thought of having a cigarette stopped coming so often. I began to think of myself as an nonsmoker, not as an ex-smoker!

Things to expect from nicotine patches:

1. very vivid dreams

2. disturbed sleep [waking often at night. This may be in relation to the withdrawal.]

3. slight soreness and redness from the patch


Things to do when the craving hits

1. exercise [walk around the house, around the block, do stretching exercises, run up and down stairs]

2. crafts [keeps the hands busy. I started to latch hook -- a very easy craft that most anyone can do -- and cross stitch.]

3. bathe, take a shower [think about washing away all the tobacco poisons]

4. floss and/or brush the teeth [think of how much whiter your teeth will look, and how much healthier your gums will be]

5. take a few deep breaths [you will probably notice, as I did, how much easier it is to breathe, and how fresh the air is]

6. shampoo your hair [how fresh and nice your hair will smell, with no cigarette smoke anymore!]

7. eat something or chew some gum [I decided I wouldn't worry about weight gain -- that quitting smoking was far more important than that. Tic Tacs and Certs are good. ]

8. have a fruit drink [juice is good for you, as is water. Those liquids can help flush all the cigarette poisons out of your system.]

9. avoid smokers, as much as possible [it's a lot easier to quit, if you aren't around the smell of cigarette smoke -- it smells good! My husband would go to the basement to have a smoke, while I was quitting. He quit smoking 6 months after I did. ]

10. keep an ashtray, full of ashes and cigarette butts handy. When the urge to have a smoke gets really bad, sniff that ashtray. [this worked for me. I couldn't stand the awful odor!]

11. practice will power [do you really want to be so addicted to something? I didn't -- I resented having to have a smoke! ]

12. you CAN quit. Just don't take that cigarette, as you experience a craving for one -- hold off on having that one, and the one after that...

13. make a list of all the reasons you're going to quit. Re-read the list often.

For a website on smokers' rights visit FOREST Online

Remember, just because someone doesn't like smoking, there is no need to be rude to a smoker...one never knows who will next have to bear the brunt of social ostracism! Good manners are important!

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Since I first wrote this page, there have been many advances in ways to quit smoking.

There are prescription medications as well as electronic cigarettes and so on.

If one thing does not work for you, try another. Some people find that hypnosis works for them, for example. Good luck!