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Sunday, October 16, 2011

No Smoking: A Journey From Addiction

   “Do you have a cigarette?”
   “No, I don’t smoke.”
   I don’t smoke...not anymore. I haven’t been asked for a cigarette in years, and so haven’t reflected on the subject in a very long time. I began to reflect now, as I walked passed a man gripped in the throws of a craving for a cigarette. Was I the first person he asked? With not much foot traffic in this particular area, it seemed likely he would be at the mercy of his craving for some time. Then...I was very glad to be able to proclaim that I wasn’t a smoker. No, “glad” doesn't quite cover it....more like elated, because it had not always been so.
   I started out like many, very young, and through experimentation. In my youth, there was very little anyone could tell me...because I knew it all. Well, I knew everything except that those few puffs on the stolen cigarette of my best friend’s mother would make me a smoker at thirteen years old...and have me smoking for the next twelve years. I’d tried to quit many times, but it was never for very long...and I don’t think I was really serious about the effort. I didn’t get serious until after my aunt past away from cancer. She was a long time smoker. The road to becoming a ex-smoker wasn’t an easy one...and it wasn’t like anything I had ever read or heard about from others that shared how they did it.
   Quitting smoking isn’t an easy thing to do for most. Sure, there are some people that quit cold-turkey and never look back...but the majority of people struggle with kicking the habit. Smoking is physically and mentally addictive. I applaud everyone reading this that is an ex-smoker...and implore any smoker reading this to do all you can to stop.
   The next part of this story will be viewed very differently depending on your particular personal beliefs...but this is my story, and I’m sticking to it. One day I became so distraught at my inability to stop...and still struggling with grief from the passing of my aunt, I knelt in prayer with complete sincerity in my heart. My only request was to be able to stop smoking. I stopped trying to quit after that figuring that if it was meant to be, then it would be...and I would finally get a palatable taste of divine intervention. I expected to wake up one day soon with no desire or craving to smoke and to be cured of my addiction in a snap. It didn’t happen...and I kept lighting up. I don’t know why I had the impression that miracles happen quickly...or exactly like you think they should, but the reality of my miracle will always be something to remember. Two weeks after my prayer, at the age of twenty-five...I caught chicken pox.
   To say I caught chicken pox is an understatement. My body morphed itself into something out of a horror film and I became something that barely passed for a humanoid. The reactions of everyone that saw me was not unlike the reactions of anyone seeing the Elephant Man unexpectedly for the first time. As bad as I looked, that wasn’t the worst of it...because I had more pox on the inside of me than I did on the outside. I developed pneumonia...severely, and had to be hospitalized for a while. Smoking was no longer an issue for me, replaced by breathing. Every breath, no matter how small, was absolutely agonizing. I have no comparison reference because I have never felt pain quite like that before. The pain was never ending as long as I breathed...and found myself trying to hold my breath to avoid the agony. The matrimony of life and pain was my simple reality.
   By the time this unique experience was behind me and I was back to normal operations, it had been almost two months since I had a smoke. The physical addiction was gone, even though the mental addiction lingered...but without the support of my body, it had no chance to reclaim me. I was done...free from the servitude of a habit that held absolutely no benefit for me.
   As I look around, I see the changing times as smoking is less welcomed in the workplace and eateries and the rising cost of the habit borders on obscene. Health is becoming an issue of increasing awareness that more are taking seriously. We live in a country where most choices are free and we are free to make bad ones. I’m not one to wish failure on a business or anyone earning a living...but unless they can find a better use for tobacco, I hope the industry collapses like a wrong move in a Jenga game.

18 comments:

  1. Wow. What a story! I'm sorry you had to go through all of that but, boy, what a happy ending! I still remember the Calvin and Hobbes cartoon where Calvin looks up a store sign that said he couldn't buy cigarettes until he was 18. "18! By then I'll know better!" It's sad how many people have gotten addicted before that age...and after.

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    1. Yes...it's a real tragedy. Hopefully we can turn things around with increased awareness and active participation in making some real changes that benefit the people...not the tobacco companies.

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  2. I grew up in a household that really frowned on smoking and I just saw what smokers endured as they got older. That impression was enough to convince me that there were no decent qualities behind it. It also didn't help that smokers stick... and they never seemed to notice. Brave for this post!

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    1. Some things just need to be written...this post was one of those things.

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  3. I am an ex-smoker of nearly 20 years. I started at 17 and smoked until about 18 months ago. Sorry to sound like an ass, but I quit cold turkey and it was easy for me. If I knew it would be so easy, I would have done it years earlier.

    In your post,you talked of the physical and mental cravings and they were tortuous for a while. Particularly the mental ones. I have heard that the physical yearning for nicotine passes within 72 hours (mine seamed to fade after 24), but breaking the mental habit is the toughest thing for most smokers.

    Quitting smoking is not something you can enter into lightly. You need a plan, you need to be ready and you have to want to do it. For most of my 20 years of smoking I never wanted to quit. I heard the stories, saw the pictures of blackened lungs and throat cancers and I had made an educated decision to continue to smoke. I enjoyed it. It helped me on numerous levels. It was my pacifier, it was my time waster, it was my smoke-break enabler, it was my social key.

    Then one morning I woke up with just a single cigarette left in the last pack in the carton. Yes I bought my smokes by the carton, it helped with budgeting. I decided there and then that this would be my last cigarette. I stepped outside, lit it, enjoyed it immensely stubbed it out and that was it.

    I already had a plan in place. I knew where my habitual cigarette triggers were and I was prepared. Those mental triggers are where most quitters quit. Someone wanting to quit smoking needs to be aware of where and when they light up. After meals, with a cup of coffee, the last traffic lights before arriving at work. Once you know when you will be succeptable to temptation you can resist.

    Everyone needs to quit in their own way in their own time, and some will never quit. I don't want to sound like a typical reformed smoker, but truly, the easiest way to quit smoking is to not start.

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  4. The effects of smoking to our health are well-documented and even better known. There are those who started early and tried to quit after 10 or 15 years, but find it hard doing so. Well, with the help of technology, people can now quit the habit gradually. Here comes the electronic cigarette.

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  5. Hello! I was addicted to nicotine for about 14 years and this March I tried hypnosis therapy and it worked. It finally worked..

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    1. That's excellent news that you were finally able to break the addiction. Hypnosis is an option that isn't well promoted, although it will certainly have benefit to some. Do you mind sharing the source of your success for others that might like to try the option...?

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  6. Thanks for the story, I am currently in the throes of quitting for my fourth time. I, like many others, find it easy to overcome the physical addiction but I keep finding myself falling back into the nasty old habit time after time, even after quitting for over a year. I truly do believe that once you are a smoker you will always have a vulnerability to tobacco, even after years cigarette free. But on the other hand some people seem to be able to drop it like it's nothing with little to no difficulty. I think it really depends on the person just like alcohol and drug addictions and that is why some methods work for some but not for others. Anyway, love a good quit story, thanks!

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    1. The fourth time or the fortieth...as long as you never give up on quitting, I believe you will be successful with permanent results. I'm glad my experience has continued to motivate you toward your goal.

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  7. This is an amazing article. Thanks for sharing this article.
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    1. Thank you for taking the time to read it...:-)

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  8. Thank you so much for sharing this great blog.Very inspiring and helpful too.Hope you continue to share more of your ideas.I will definitely love to read. custom vape mods

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  9. I really dislike smoking, and haven't for a long time now, but I do like e cigs, there very good and I use cloudcig all the time.

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