How many times have you been asked, while in a social situation, “Do you mind if I smoke?” and before hearing your reply the person is lighting up. I used to say, “No, that’s fine,” to be polite. Now, I say “Yes, I do mind, but please feel free to smoke outside.”
I too, was a smoker – many years ago, before we (the medical profession) worked out how dangerous the habit really was, as well as being ridiculous in a social context. Rolling up dried plant leaves and sticking them in your mouth and setting fire to the end of it sounds like a pretty silly proposal, particularly when you now know it is dangerous.
Unfortunately, when you start smoking, it becomes very difficult to stop smoking. This is because smoking is not just a habit like chewing on a pencil when concentrating. Smoking is an addiction. What you have to realize is that nicotine is more addictive than heroin. I know that’s probably hard to believe, but that really is the crux of the matter. You take nicotine into all of your metabolic pathways until you “need” to have nicotine to be able to function. Nicotine becomes part of your metabolic chemical chains, and they don’t work properly without it. Now you can see just why you feel so dreadful when you go without cigarettes (nicotine) for any period of time.
To give up cigarettes there are many, many ways, ranging from acupuncture, hypnosis, the I Ching, acupressure, Nicotine Replacement Therapies (NRT), chewing gum, patches, nasal spray and many others all the way through to Cold Turkey!
Interestingly, all of the above methods need the smoker to become committed to ceasing cigarettes. The success rate really hangs on that commitment. Leaving aside hypnosis and acupuncture, about which I know very little, but the good books tell me do not enjoy high success rates, let’s look at the other methods. The majority rely on Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT). All the gums and sprays do is to make nicotine available for you in measured doses – much like cigarettes do. You get the craving, you chew the gum. You get the craving, you squirt the spray.
Patches are slightly different. They deliver the nicotine slowly over a 12 or 24 hour period and are supposed to stop the craving before it happens. But often do not.
After stabilizing on the NRT it is time to bring the dosage down, which is the next hurdle at which many fall. The end result can be cigarette smoking plus NRT – a potentially fatal combination. In fact, I strongly believe that NRT should only be done under close medical supervision. Too much nicotine can kill too!
So what is the best way? It’s called Cold Turkey. The proof is in the numbers. There has been enough research done and the prime factor is that the quitter has to be committed to the concept of becoming a non-smoker. Doing it (quitting) for somebody else, because you lost a bet, because you are being nagged into it by your wife, girlfriend, boyfriend is doomed to failure, I am afraid. This is something which requires your total commitment. 100 percent all the way. When I gave up smoking (yes, in my teenage years nobody thought that smoking was bad for you. Smoking was being cool and ‘adult’) and I thought it would be a bad scene for a couple of days, and then found that it was a couple of weeks of torture. Here I am almost three decades later and I could begin smoking again tomorrow. It requires dedication and commitment. Yours! No one else’s!
So, I admit that those who go Cold Turkey may go through a rough time with withdrawals initially, but the majority are still non-smokers after one year. The same cannot be said for the others. The “hard” way is ultimately the best way.
You have to make the decision to quit. You set the day. You tell all your friends that you are now a non-smoker – and you stick to it! Best of luck, the ball is in your court. (Or the ciggies are in your shirt pocket!)