This month marks my one year smoke free anniversary! It feels great to have that monkey off my back! I feel very confident that I will never pick up the habit again. The purpose of this post is to detail how I accomplished this incredibly difficult feat in hopes that it will help others on their journey to smoke free living. If your serious about quitting smoking then read on!
I smoked a pack a day for 22 years! Of course I tried to quit a few times. I used the patch and tried the gum and lozenges.I would maybe quit for a day or two and then some excuse would come along and I'd buy a pack. Nothing I tried worked for me. I knew it wasn't good for me, my wife and kids were always on my case about it, and I hated the need to pull over or step outside every hour. Even with all that knowledge and support I never found success. It seemed as if I was out of options to help me quit. I tried what I could and refused to go as far as the pills like Chantix as I always found the list of side effects at the end of the commercial quite scary. So it seemed I was just bound to be a smoker for the rest of my days. That is until September of 2019 came around.
In September 2019 I found my reason to quit. Finding my real motivating factor to quit is what enabled me to start my journey to smoke free living. In order to be successful, you need to find the reason/motivation that makes you NEED to put down the smokes for good. It cannot be that your wife wants you to stop or your kids, it has to be you! They can't quit for you, only you can do that which is the reason why you need your own personal motivation to stop.
There are a vast variety of reasons you could use for motivation. It could be the money, the smell, the amount of time it takes away from your day, or of course the fact your killing yourself. Whatever reason hits home the most for you, that's what you will you use. For me it was money. I was in a bit of a tight spot trying to make ends meets. I realized that there was 80$/week or 320$/month in cigarette expenditures. It came down to either smokes or paying the bills. Since I have a overwhelming fear of getting behind on expenses I was able to channel this fear and use it as a way to convince myself not to smoke. That helped me get started.
Now that you have your driving force to help you conquer your addiction you must use it to mentally prepare for the road ahead. It takes a few days to get yourself mentally ready to quit. It took me 3 days of really focusing on why I wanted to quit, how my life would improve, and wrapping my head around the idea that I am saying goodbye to an emotional and physical crutch I used for years. During those three days every time I smoked I would have a discussion with myself. I would reaffirm my motivation to quit every time. I'd ask myself why are you still smoking when you can't afford it? Why are you outside by yourself when your family is inside? Why do you want your kids to make a sour face when they hug you due to the cigarette smell? After constantly reminding myself why I needed (not wanted) to quit for three days straight I was ready.
I woke up in the middle of the night, stumbled outside and lit a smoke as I had done many times before. Halfway through I decided enough was enough. NO MORE! I was tired of wasting my money, waking up at night to smoke, and killing myself slowly. That night I finally accepted that the negatives far outweighed the positives and that I NEEDED to quit. This would be my last cigarette! I went back to bed, woke up in the morning and my quit began. I used the patch for the first three days to help calm the cravings. After three days I decided to let go of the patch. This was almost like day one all over again, extremely difficult but not impossible! If you choose to use a quit smoking aid to get started by all means do so. However, as soon as you are comfortable ditch the aid so your real quit can begin.
Tips for Cravings:
Cravings are a the reason why most fail their quit. Cravings are both mental and physical. Physically after 3-4 days your body is free of nicotine, from this point on it's a mental game. There are many ways to help yourself get through the physical cravings. Some people chew gum or candy or toothpicks. Others swish and spit with mouthwash when the cravings come. Which method is best? Simple, whichever one helps you the most. Everyone is different, try all the tricks and then pick whats best for you.
For me the mental part was quite difficult. I found two practices were the most beneficial when it came to my mental quit. First, I didn't tell anyone I was quitting, If someone noticed I told them I didn't want to talk about it. When you quit you think about smoking all the time, there is no need to discuss it and bring thoughts of smoking into your mind. You want your mind as far away from this topic as possible. Second, take a break, distance yourself, and quietly get through it. When a really strong craving would come on I would take a quit smoking break. I would find a spot away from the person or situation that triggered the craving, then I would take five. I would sit quietly and repeat over and over in my head, THIS WILL PASS, THIS WILL PASS. I would do this for as long as needed for the craving to pass. You will know when it passes, you will feel like a cloud has been lifted off your mind. You will be able to think clearly and move on with your day. These are two crucial steps you must include when you quit. You wont be able to succeed with out a strong way to cope mentally.
You must overcome your physical and mental cravings to have success! The secret to quitting is to find the coping mechanisms that work best for you. Repeat these coping processes until the cravings are gone and you no longer need them. Once you have accomplished this you have truly quit smoking and you can start living!
In Summary, Quitting smoking is extremely difficult and extremely necessary. In order to succeed the following must happen. You must find your motivation that creates a burning need within you to quit. Everyone has the need they just need to do some reflecting to find it. Once you have found your needs you should mentally prepare to quit. Take a few days burn that need into your brain so it's all you think about every time you smoke. Once you have had enough of your own lectures, break the smokes in half and quit. Use whatever aids you need, especially in the first 3 days to get you started, but get off them as soon as possible. Use the mental tips above to help survive the cravings. I guarantee you the cravings will pass, you just need to wait them out. Once you get through the beginning stages (about 3 weeks) then you can start re-learning how to live. This may sound strange, but if you have smoked for a long time it will be necessary. Just keep using the mental tips, keep chewing gum, and keep distancing yourself from nicotine triggers! Do that and you will have a great chance of conquering nicotine forever! I wish you the best of luck and would love to hear your the story of you quit! Please feel free to share!
Thanks for reading!
A little bit about me! I'm a family man with a lovely wife and three awesome boys. I have a bit of an entrepreneur bug. I started and sold my own company twice ( small businesses but the experience was valuable), I've dabbled in real estate, been an Ebay reseller, and also spent many years in management roles which is my current stream of income ( plus a few side streams I've put together). I'd say all in all I'm your typical guy trying to make a better life for his Family.