There must be something wrong with me. Uncle Charlie quit easily—Why can’t I??

Blog Post created by dr_hurt on Apr 11, 2008

Everyone knows an ‘Uncle Charlie’ – who after smoking for 25 years just quit smoking one day, no problems, no relapse – he never looked back. For every Uncle Charlie, there are thousands of smokers who have gone through a seemingly unending struggle to stop smoking. These smokers blame themselves for being ‘weak’ or having a flaw in their character when comparing themselves to Uncle Charlie. That unfair comparison can cause discouragement and can squash a person’s confidence.

Why is it an unfair comparison? Being exposed to nicotine from cigarettes will affect different people in different ways. Remember that cigarettes today are designed to almost instantaneously deliver high doses of nicotine to your brain. Some people, who experiment with smoking usually as a teenager, never become addicted while others become addicted very quickly. The difference is in how nicotine creates distinct physical changes in the brain receptors of some people which in large part are due to genetics. In that respect, Uncle Charlie was just genetically “wired” differently than the addicted smoker.

So, if you are not like Uncle Charlie, and you have tried many times to stop - keep with it. Work with the EX Program to develop your plan to build better strategies to manage craving, withdrawal, and relapse. You also may need to try a new medication or combination of medications. Talk to your health care provider about that. Most of all don’t become discouraged. There is hope and there is help, but you will have to use all your tools to put this behind you. Visit the EX Web site, set up a profile, and follow the plan. http://www.becomeanex.org

Dr. Richard D. Hurt is an internationally recognized expert on tobacco dependence. A native of Murray, Kentucky, he joined Mayo Clinic in 1976 and is now a Professor of Medicine at its College of Medicine. In 1988, he founded the Mayo Clinic Nicotine Dependence Center and since then its staff has treated over 33,000 patients for tobacco dependence. Send your questions directly to Dr. Hurt at AskTheExpert@becomeanex.org