Stopping - guidance appreciated

ABOUT ME/HOW I STARTED

Hello,

Compared to many on this forum I guess I'm a comparatively recent/moderate smoker, yet I don't really feel like I could be much more addicted. I started 'socially' at uni a couple of years back and maybe got through a pack or 2 a week - they probably became a crutch for me at social occasions without my realising but I never felt dependent on them to get through a whole day and would never smoke when back at home for the holidays (didn't want my parents knowing).

MORE RECENTLY/MY DECISION TO QUIT

I got a job 6 months ago and randomly picked up a pack on one of the first days at an induction course (looking back, taking my social cue from the fact that some other newbies and a trainer were smoking outside). Since then I've quickly got into a 10-15 a day habit that hitherto I've found impossible to stop. Having been in pretty decent physical shape beforehand, I now feel unhealthy, poorly rested, and often out of breath. I despise the stale smell on my breath and fingers as well as the sense that it’s clinging to my suit and maybe people can smell it on me. I'm also spending 20%+ of my disposable income per month on cigarettes - something I can little afford given that my work requires me to shell out travel expenses each month before getting reimbursed. I've had money to fall back on up to this point, but if I continue I'm inevitably going to be faced with nightmare cash flow issues to go with the obvious damage I’m doing to myself day in day out (I hadn’t forgotten that part).

MY WITHDRAWALS – HOW TO MANAGE THEM?

Taking into account all of the above therefore, I'm QUITTING from tomorrow! I feel more positive about this attempt than most of my prior ones – I’m hopefully going to have this forum to rely on, and I’ve been spurred into action by watching the Bryan Curtis clip on Youtube, which is as horrifying as it is moving. Nevertheless, I’m still slightly concerned that despite the boldness of my current resolution I’ll inevitably relapse before long, regardless of how much I know that I’ve got to, and deep down want to, stop.

What keeps me coming back is that (and perhaps this is true for everyone) the basic craving for nicotine manifests itself in pretty bleak depressions – all the negatives in my life come to the foreground and overwhelm any enthusiasm I have for activities I normally enjoy – regrets about the past couple of years and failing my degree, being currently single and prone to strong feelings of loneliness. I get sudden surges of anger, frustration and jealousy when I haven’t smoked for a while and my mind wanders into places I’d rather it didn’t. Even whilst hating smoking, as long I have a cigarette to hand I’m pretty heavily anaesthetised to these emotions and the weed seems like the lesser of two evils. Cigarettes also seem most indispensable to me when I’m home after work, and want to kick back after a long day – they provide a private and solitary contemplative outlet away from having to deal with day to day stresses and strains. My ultimate question is how best to avoid or mitigate the sense of loss that inevitably arises when I decide to abstain, and give up the comfort and reassurance that smoking provides me?

That’s about it in a (rather large) nutshell. Hopefully this post hasn’t been too long and self-indulgent/self-pitying. If so I apologise, but I thought it might help to get as many specifics off my chest to better help somebody (anybody :)) give advice that will aid me going forward.

Thanks for reading.

7 Replies

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  • Hi Adastra, welcome to the site.

    Whether you've been smoking for two years or twenty if the habit has a hold of you it's hard to shake. But you have to keep in the forefront of your mind that IT CAN BE DONE. There is not something special about you that makes you more addicted than anyone else (I used to tell myself this!). Everyone has it in them to quit.

    You've very eloquently expressed two major issues you have with breaking the habit: you clearly understand yourself and your addiction very well and that is actually something in your favour. If you can identify what is triggering the desire to smoke it is in some ways easier to combat.

    This is particularly true of the second issue - that 'solitary and contemplative outlet' which you miss, and which makes your resolve weaken.( I think that will strike a chord with a lot of us. People often describe the feeling as something akin to losing a friend.) Overcoming that trigger can really be helped by distraction and substitution. Find a displacement activity. Write a journal? Play some music? Draw, paint, bake, meditate, exercise... whatever suits your personality! There's nothing about breathing smoke in and out which is particularly conducive to contemplation - you've just got into the habit of thinking that. Like every other aspect of the habit (cig after a meal, cig on the way to work or whatever) it is a trigger that can be broken.

    With regards to the rather more serious problem of depression, you'll find you're not alone there either. Lots of people on this site have experienced various degrees of depression when quitting. I don't know you well enough to know whether this is clinical depression or quitting-related malaise. If the former, then you should really see your GP to discuss ways to help you through.

    The feelings you describe are lousy, but again you have to apply your mind to this: in what way, precisely, does inhaling a bunch of toxins help with these issues you're facing? You say they anaesthetise your emotions, but scientifically speaking, that's not true. Psychologically speaking, perhaps it is so - maybe you're giving rein to self destructive urges in order to dull the other feelings. But understanding this part of your addiction is the key. Maybe you need to look at this quitting process as a way to shake up your life in more ways than one.

    What I can say is that in my two plus years on this site I've seen quitters overcome really severe bouts of depression and come out the other side. None of them have regretted it.

    It's a tough addiction to break (and 99% of it is psychological and bugger all to do with nicotene). But ultimately it is the same for everyone. It's about waking up each day and saying to yourself "I choose not to smoke today". Gradually you can and will overcome any trigger, and the longer you go on the easier it becomes to do, I promise. The freedom you experience is worth all the pain, I promise you that, too.

    You'll find huge amounts of support and understanding on this forum, so use it lots.

    Go for it.

    Helen

    PS - your name is well chosen, but don't forget the second part: Ad astra per aspera. Through hardship.... TO THE STARS.

  • First of all well done for your decision. It really is one of the best you will EVER make.

    Hello Adastra - Great name!

    I had help with Champix for this quit. I had a very long quit under my belt years ago, but started again having "just the one" that turned into another 15 years smoking and gawd knows how many tens of thousands of cigs. Just could not get started with this quit, hence the Champix.

    My first quit I did cold turkey and I managed it by just putting off the crave by thinking I'd just not light up for the next hour, 1/2 hour or even 5 minutes. I also had the cleanest, tidiest house in the world and knitted for England.

    Even in my smoking days I'd go the whole day at work without even thinking about lighting up, but it was the first thing I did when I got home. You have not smoked at home, so you know can do without and nothing bad happens to you.:) Concentrate on how you think and how you manage without when you are at home. Also use this forum as much as you need. You'll get great support here from lovely like-minded people. xxx

  • Thank you Helsbelles and Becky! I actually read your replies quite some time ago - it's just taken me such a long time to post in return as my resolve failed fairly soon after my initial post and I've continued to smoke for the past 2-3 months. So out of a mix of embarrassment and resignation I haven't revisited here in a while. Makes me laugh given how resolute I sound re-reading myself!

    1st of the month yesterday though = 6th resolution to stop this year, and as of now, I've already been a non smoker for 1 day, 5 hours and 17 minutes. I feel in a better frame of mind to quit now than I have done with any of my previous attempts so hopefully I can keep it going.

    I'm going to keep a quit diary on here and take it day by day.

    Thanks again for your advice - all the best.

  • Thank you Helsbelles and Becky! I actually read your replies quite some time ago - it's just taken me such a long time to post in return as my resolve failed fairly soon after my initial post and I've continued to smoke for the past 2-3 months. So out of a mix of embarrassment and resignation I haven't revisited here in a while. Makes me laugh given how resolute I sound re-reading myself!

    1st of the month yesterday though = 6th resolution to stop this year, and as of now, I've already been a non smoker for 1 day, 5 hours and 17 minutes. I feel in a better frame of mind to quit now than I have done with any of my previous attempts so hopefully I can keep it going.

    I'm going to keep a quit diary on here and take it day by day.

    Thanks again for your advice - all the best.

    Hi Adastra and welcome back :)

    I'm sorry to hear that your last attempt didn't work out, but there is no reason for this one to end the same way. You seem to really want this and determination really is a great start.

    Will you be using an NRT product this time round, or are you quitting cold turey?

    Have you read/heard of Allen Carr's Easyway to Stop Smoking? A popular book/aid generally and there are definately some parts of the book you will be able to keep with you and remember, if not all.

    Also, is there anything you've been able to bring forward from your last quit? Anything you want to try this time? Something that didn't work for you last time?

    Good luck and hope to see you posting on here again soon :)

  • Welcome Adastra. Good luck with your quit. If you want it you will do it. It won't be easy ( I was 60 fags a day) but it can be done. My favorite manta back then (18 months, 7 days quit) was and still is NOPE....Not one puff ever! I saw it on here and used it constantly. If you really want to quit, nothing will stop you. I live with a smoker and my kids smoke. I still love the smell of a cig but will never light one up again. That is my promise to myself.

    Keep us updated on how you are doing and just know you are with the greatest group of people for your quit. They helped me so much...just knowing they would understand and stand by and help was so important to me....ppat

  • Hello Adastra,

    Well, where to start.... truth is beginning with Helen and going on down the line of posts I find I've nothing more really to add (because all their comments, insight and advise were spot on!).

    Sooo I will just tell you that I am one of those here that has made many attempts (4) this spring at quitting and each time the road ahead gets a bit clearer and I can only speak for today but now I can't see myself going back ever!! Tomorrow I may be looking for all sorts of support because that's kind of how the early days go. some you sail through and some so damn difficult.

    The other thing I am learning is there really is no silver bullet, just a lot of hard work, grit and determination is required. One day it will all seem so much easier and you and I will both come out on the other side. Sometimes it just feels like we are never going to get there.

    By the way, there was so much in your original post that I personally identified with it almost felt like I could have written it. Almost eerie really.

    So there you have it. You now have lots of quit buddies and I am only 5 days in so if you want to hang with someone whose quit is close to yours well then I am here. (Sometimes it helps to have someone who is in the same place in the quit as you).

    A very warm welcome to you, and I wish you much success. Help is only a mouse click away anytime!!!

    ~Sherri

  • Thanks again everyone - I ended up relapsing again this week :(

    Just made my first quit diary post though - something I hadn't got around to doing until now.

    forum.nosmokingday.org.uk/s...

    Promised myself to update it daily - hope it will have the desired effect.

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