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All People > crazymama_Lori > crazymama_Lori Blog > 2017 > March

Back in 2015, in November, I vowed I would quit smoking when my last child left the nest.  She was my drama queen, my stressor.  She's always had troubles with anxiety ever since she was small.  She finally went on anti-depressants and began to calm down when she reached 18.  It was a long road for that girl.  Back in 2015 I had the alcohol licked and didn't use that as an excuse anymore for dealing with my stress.  The only thing left was my cigarettes.  I clung on to those with all of my might.  In my mind at the time, that was keeping my sanity.


I began cold turkey and was crawling the walls.  Just too much going on all at one time.  I knew if I wanted this to stick I needed to concentrate on one thing and work on the reasons first why I smoked.  During most of the month in January I tracked those cigarettes.  It gave me a summary at the end when I was most likely to smoke, what was triggering me the most.  One thing I never filled out at that time was how I planned to separate from them.  I was of the thought that 3 to 4 weeks this will all be gone.  Make it through NML and it will all be gone.  Somehow someway this will all disappear.  It's only smoking.........


The emotional ties and ritualistic behavior is what makes quitting smoking so difficult.  My life at one time evolved around smoking.  For most of my time so far here on earth, since I was 12, I used smoking to replace "things" for me.  The biggest "replacement" was a stress reliever.  When I was angry, frustrated, worried, I thought smoking calmed me down. How many times I've said, OMG, I need a cigarette right now, I have to have a cigarette to calm down.  I think I realized that more clearly one day about 2 or so months into my quit and my youngest called me because she was fighting with her fiance.  Stressed to the max.  I got frustrated, got off the phone and the first thought was I need a cigarette.  I got up and did something else and the thought passed.  That was elation for me later.  I thought to myself, see you can do this.  Those things never did anything for you.


So in closing, listen to the elders when they tell you this gets easier.  This will never go away; it just gets easier.  I remember writing to you all last year around this time, A flick of the wrist, the slightest of hand, it's all an illusion.  Life pretty well stayed the same but I just look at it differently now.  My daughter moved back home but it's only temporary until she gets back on her feet.  She's grown, I've grown, we've both grown.  It's calmer here now.  I used to use this time every single year to mourn my mother's death.  I changed things last year and planted a tree in her honor.  Her body is gone but her soul lives forever.  Whenever spring arrives, it will bloom again.  That one red cardinal will come back and land on that tree every single morning until the snow flies again.  We can't stop life; we can only appreciate what it teaches us......   

So many new members joining again. It amazes me how many join the site and then just stop. I think they don't last because they don't take the time to read and learn. I researched all different types of programs for quitting smoking. There was the herbal method, the hypnosis, the e-cigarette, the drops. I can't even begin to tell you how much money I've spent over the years just to quit smoking. But you see, that's what I did wrong. I was quitting a habit. Something I was doing every single day sometimes without even thinking about it or even needing it. Years ago they would pound into your head it was the tar that was killing people. So they made these funky air filters and created these ultra light cigarettes. Basically smoking air, but with a few thousand chemicals and the drug thrown in there for good measure.




I mean, think about it, the patch wasn't available to the consumer until the early '80s. I remember trying that back then. It was marketed for “kicking the habit”. Did absolutely nothing for me, but then I didn't have any knowledge about addiction. How nicotine works in the brain. How we use smoking to replace things. Why it is so difficult to stop. No one gave me any reading materials or even directed me to any resources. Back then the internet was pretty sketchy and very slow. I called the 1-800 line that they gave in the little trial box they gave me at the doctor's office and it was a recorded message. I failed and I failed until finally in the '90s they decided to have more and more information about this thing called addiction. Pfft, that can't be me, I only smoked. That's for alcoholics and for drug addicts. That can't apply to me at all.




I researched and researched and found this site and read the materials they had on here while I was still smoking and failing on quitting and smoking and failing. Well, you know what, I never faithfully tracked my cigarettes AND completed the section about beating my triggers. My triggers would show up and boom, I was right back to smoking again. I can't tell you how many times I started and stopped in the month of December and most of January until I finally got the hang of it. They've got steps listed on here for a reason. You can't just magically decide one day, I'm joining this site and magically I'll quit smoking. There's work to be done here.




There's the first 30 days where you're crawling the walls, don't want to go anywhere, isolating yourself. The next 30 days you're angry, you're sad, you're sadgry (angry and sad all at once). You're tired and can't seem to sleep. You're pacing the floors. When is this ever going to end !!!!!! Then the lightbulb comes on and you start to reflect inside. You figure out some of your personal demons or issues. You start helping people. You still ponder in this time, and we've all done it and I have no clue why, if I try just one, it won't stick. I won't go back. Ah, yes, that happens before the first year. Well, that's just our addictive brains giving it that one last shot, one last time. We've all been there. The smart ones just smile and grumble nice try and go about their day. The unsure ones will obssess about it and remain having a stranglehold on that fleeting thought. The uncommitted ones will give in.




You see you have to commit to never ever smoke again because it will always be there. They stare at you in grocery stores, liquor stores, gas stations. They do that little can-can dance when you're checking out. I remember in those first 30 days just simply staring at those things. I would purposely go to another checkout lane so that I didn't have to look at them. I remember the first time they threw a carton in front of me thinking that was what I was in there for. It was like hot lava. Oh, no, I quit. Ah, the look in their eyes like yeah, right. 40 days later, hey, Lori, how's the no smoking going? Absolutely great, have almost a month and a half in. Instead of the tobacco section loving me, the bakery section became my best friend for a few months.




But to wrap up here, I remember when they would tell me it would get easier. I would roll my eyes and not believe them. I would grumble to myself, yeah, when. They would tell me to make it through NML (130 days or so), it will get easier. I'm a late bloomer. It took me until day 195 to finally feel normal, back to my old self. This you cannot rush. This you cannot take a pill and it will be gone in 10 days. This you have to take your time and learn from it, experience it, nuture it, beat the heck out of it. You have to learn that you are driving this bus. You are in control. You are your worst enemy. You are the one who will make or break this. If you really want this, you are willing to commit, you are going to stick by it no matter what it takes, you, my friend, will be an EX-smoker. It's just something you used to do.......

Ready....... here, let's go over to this side over here.  The success to quitting is  YOU.  Only you can make you quit.  Not a patch, not a pill, not a lozenge, not gum.  If you believe that those things will make you quit and keep you quit, I'll guarantee you that you will go back to smoking the minute something frustrates you, angers you, upsets you, depresses you.


Just this morning the dogs were not cooperating with me.  Barking their full head off.  I don't need that over these next couple days because I'm tied to my computer doing daily copy for my job.  I have a specified time period I have to get work completed.  I don't have time to screw around with them today.  


Now, I can take the easy way out, run to the store and buy a pack of cigarettes because I'm frustrated, but I know that that's not going to make them stop barking.  That will not make me calm for the rest of the day so I can concentrate on my time sensitive material.  A Xanax might, but a cigarette won't.  There was my trigger, frustration, anger.  But you know what, it doesn't bother me now.  I've proven to myself that that cigarette doesn't make this all magically go away.  I, me, myself, makes this easier, makes this go away.


Do me a favor, will you?   Instead of impulsively running to go get a cigarette because you're bored, depressed, angry, upset, etc., STOP, deep breath in for 8 seconds, hold for 5, deep breath out for 6 to 8 seconds, rinse and repeat.  Now, get up and do something else.  YOU can do this......... psst, it's all YOU

I've seen this time and time again.  Granted I have not researched smokers for 10 or 15 years.  I am not a psychologist, doctor, research analyst.  I am simply a nonsmoker trying to help others with their quit and stay quit.  There is no right or wrong way to do this.  I will tell you that I have spent a huge part of 3 years reading everything I can to understand why the brain works the way it does in the addictive mind.  Why people are drawn back, what causes them to relapse.  There's so much information out there on the web that can be found about why the brain works the way it does.  Going to the library or reading the encyclopedia to find information is slowly drifting away.  We're in the electronic age.  Everything is on Kindle or PDF, downloaded in an electronic format.


There so much information that can be found on this site by using the magnifying glass, the search feature.  Wonderful articles written by Dale and Giulia who have spent an enormous amount of time sharing their wisdom with you.  Nobody wants to read the scientific articles with using words that most do not understand without at least some level of medical knowledge.  Again, there is no right or wrong way to quit smoking.  There are websites out there you can join that only believe in cold turkey.  You slip up, you are kicked out.  That would have never worked for me because I am the type of person that doesn't like the do it my way or the highway type of attitude.  For some that's the only way to do it.  For me, it would have never worked.  I tried to quit cold turkey.  The longest I made it was 10 days, My 10-day fail, but boy did I ever change that.  


You see, there are the happy quitters and the "other" quitters.  I never found that I had increased energy.  My sleeping never went back to normal.  I'm not elated that I quit.  I just simply conquered something that was controlling me.  Telling me it was my way or the highway.  I'll admit, I like the smell of smoke.  I don't like the smell of smoke on a person.  I like the smell of a freshly lit match.  I don't like the smell of an ashtray.  But you see with me, I see these statements of I like the smell of a lilac tree.  I don't like the smell of those old Avon sachets that they used to have in the liliac scent.  To me those things are saying the same thing.  They are only statements of my likes and dislikes.  I don't see me saying I like the smell of smoke is going to have me running out and lighting up again.  I just like the smell.  It reminds me of my father when he was alive.  When I first quit, I panicked at the thought of enjoying the smell.  But I've learned it's only a thought; it's not an action.  You get my drift, right?  


I'm not a super calm, happy person by nature.  I'm in awe of those people that finds good in everything.  I am a Type A personality all the way.  I have to excel at what I do.  I'm a workaholic.  I don't have a lot of patience sometimes.  I see a wrong or something I find offensive, I speak up about it.  I'm the bull in the china shop.  I have a very strong personality.  I have very strong morals.  That's probably why smoking worked for me.  My little addictive self told me it was calming me, consoling me, telling me I'll fight the fight with you.  Stop the Ride, I want to get off !!!!!!!!!  or I'm tired 


I think I actually saw the nicotine addiction/dependence more clearly when I was researching addiction in general.  I read blogs of people addicted to heroin and oxycodone and trying to get clean.  All the advice, some good, some really crazy.  But I saw a similarity of what they thought that drug was doing for them and what drew them back.  For oxycodone, it's physically out of your system in three days.  From then on is all the understanding of what made them go there in the first place.  Conversely, alcohol is out of your system in two to four days when you're an alcoholic.  Again from then on is the understanding of what made them go there in the first place.  For nicotine dependence, nicotine is out of your system in two weeks.  From then on is the understanding of what made them go there in the first place.  Do you see a pattern forming here?


Think about it, if you weren't addicted, then tell me why it's so hard to quit and for some to stay quit for a length of time.  Isn't this food for thought.  Plain and simple, a cigarette, that little white stick, is your habit.  The hand to mouth action that you perform every single day for almost 20 to 40 times a day.  We have the capacity to relearn a habit and break it.  If not break it, replace it with something else.  Oh, there's some naysayers that will say, well, then I'll just buy an e-cig with 0 percent nicotine and I'll beat this.  But aren't you reinforcing the hand to mouth habit?  Here is an article by the American Lung Association concerning this latest fix-all solution, E-cigarettes and Lung Health | American Lung Association.  I don't know if any of you have tried those, but they're just plain old nasty.  By taking that route, you are still performing the hand to mouth motion and thus retaining the association with smoking.  So how is the habit being broken?  Another interesting article from Harvard University E-cigarettes: Good news, bad news - Harvard Health Blog - Harvard Health Publications.  Further into the article is a study they performed using different testing groups:  

Studies about e-cigarettes and smoking behavior show conflicting results. E-cigarettes were mildly helpful in kicking the habit in one clinical trial. In other studies, e-cigarette use did not increase quit rates, or was even associated with a higher risk of continuing to smoke. A recent review concluded that real-world use of e-cigarettes is associated with lower quit rates.


Nicotine by nature is in tobacco that's put into that white tube along with all those wonderful chemicals thrown in for good measure that you are addicted to.  It's the nicotine that makes you warm and fuzzy.  Not the cigarette; it's what is in it that does.  It's the nicotine that gives you the rush, the hit of dopamine, the good feeling.  There's other ways of doing that, 10 Ways to Increase Dopamine to Boost Your Productivity - Endless Events.  Expand your mind to find other outlets.  Believe it or not, you don't need that cigarette to do anything for you.  You're just allowing it to make you think that it does.........