So here I am, 365 days on from my last smoke.
I had intended to quit on Friday 18th July 2008, but my packet had lasted me until mid day on Thursday, and Iâ€™d bought the lozenges in the morning so I thought what the heck, bring it forward by half a day!
It was the end of lunch time, I sat on a bench in bright sunshine and took a little time to smoke my last ever cigarette. As I got closer to the filter I became more aware and wondered exactly how low I should smoke it, seeing as that was it. Well actually I left a reasonable butt, stubbed it out and went back to work.
What had led me to another yet attempt to quit was that I had been involved in a discussion on a martial arts forum about smoking and when I read back my â€œanswersâ€ I could see that I was in denial! At that point I had a moment of clarity, and accepted that I was smoking because I am addicted to nicotine. I had known but ignored the fact for years but it wasnâ€™t until that point that I actually associated myself with drug addicts, alcoholics and even to an extent people with eating disorders.
Up until that point I had been through a series of failed quits some longish some very short and even at one point I would repeat a cycle of not smoking for a couple of weeks then reward myself for abstaining byâ€¦.. smoking!!
I decided to get some help and advice and Iâ€™d been on here in 2006 so I came back. I was quickly pointed in the direction of reeducating myself and changing my mindset. It worked, I donâ€™t know if I would have succeeded if I hadnâ€™t managed to do so but even if I had I know that it would have been a much tougher ride.
Now over the last year I have seen many people come through the forum some succeed and some fail, but the really noticeable thing is that those who embrace the idea of educating themselves about nicotine addiction and manage to change their frame of mind to accept that quitting is not a sacrifice are the ones most likely to succeed.
It seems to me that a quit runs through several stages,
To start with its tough and you just have to resist the urge to smoke. Itâ€™s new and exciting you count the hours, days, weeks and months. As you get further into the quit you start to get used to living life as a non smoker as you continually repeat situations that you used to associate with smoking, but as a non smoker. Eventually having done that enough you get quite practiced at living as a non smoker and it becomes normal but situations which you havenâ€™t practiced can still crop up and make you rely on your resolve, once again.
The endurance stage which is the physical withdrawal from nicotine which really only lasts up to a couple of weeks after you stop using nicotine. Everything else is in the mind, and probably trickier to deal with as a result!
So what does that mean to me now? Well if I said that the thought of smoking never crossed my mind I would be lying, I still fancy one from time to time but I understand that the temptation to smoke is only due to deep seated associations with either pleasure or coping, a kind of nostalgia. I know that the fact that I smoked in those situations is didnâ€™t mean the nicotine helped me it was just that I needed to deal with the craving to top up my nicotine levels before I could get on with living my life.
If I still saw smoking as a forbidden pleasure I would eventually fail in a moment of weakness. Could I have the odd one or two now and again? Well who knows, in the past I have tried it and always gone back to smoking, as a result. The fact is I wonâ€™t and the reason I wonâ€™t is that I donâ€™t want to. I donâ€™t want to be a social smoker or an occasional smoker I am a non smoker and intend to stay that way!
It may sound a clichÃ© but it is true, that if I can anyone can. Smoking is a choice and itâ€™s your choice whether you do it or not.
My advice: Choose health, wealth and control.