Quitting Update

Last week, I had a little rant here concerning my tobacco habit.  I thought that I’d give you an update.  A week ago Monday, when I published the aforementioned post, I’d just finished my fourth cigarette for the day.  That evening, I did have a fifth one.  On Tuesday, I had one cigarette in the evening, and did the same on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.  On Saturday, I smoked one of my brother’s cigarettes in the afternoon while we were out shooting, and then I had a small cigar that evening.  Yesterday, I did not smoke anything, but I did hit my cheapo e-cigarette a couple of times, not that it counts for anything.  I now understand why people recommend not buying one of the cheap ones.  If it does indeed release nicotine, it is in such trace amounts that it is pretty much undetectable.  So it’s not really any more comfort than a placebo.  I haven’t even bothered to use it today.

So, the last nicotine that I’ve really had was on Saturday evening.  And, I’m okay.  I haven’t yelled at anyone today, and I don’t feel like I’m sick or irritable.  Yeah, I miss my smokes and would really like to have one, but I’m finally feeling like not having a cigarette.  My relatives seemed shocked but supportive when I told them yesterday.  It’s been hard on Jennifer, but she’s been supportive.  Honestly, I didn’t expect this kind of success.  When I first brought it up last week, it was so flippant and off the cuff that I pretty much figured I’d have a fresh pack again in a couple of days. I would have bought more by now anyway – even if I hadn’t over-smoked last weekend.  I wonder if the girls at the smoke shop miss me yet…

Over the weekend, I discovered that visualizing the euphoria that comes along with the nicotine fix actually helps stave off the cravings.  Every smoker describes it differently.  To me, it’s like butter and tingly extremities.  It’s very much a tactile sensation in the fingers and toes.  I never much thought about how awesome it feels until I didn’t have it anymore.  Nicotine doesn’t affect everyone, of course.  Jennifer never gets the buzz or head rush, and will never be addicted to smoking because of that.  But for those of us who are sensitive to nicotine, it is quite euphoric.  I’m not going to lie – I already miss it quite a bit.  But, it doesn’t consume all of my thought like it did early on last week.  In fact, sometimes I’ll come to the realization that I haven’t even thought about tobacco in hours.

I can again smell things that I couldn’t for a long time.  When I’m with a group of people, not only can I smell anyone’s cologne, deodorant, and laundry detergent (or lack thereof), I can usually tell what they last ate and whether they own a pet.  Oh, and not only can I spot out the smokers in a crowd, I can usually tell you what brand they smoke at this point.  I assumed that I would regain some lost olfactory prowess, but I had no clue I’d see results so soon!

Caffeine helps with the cravings too.  I suppose the two stimulants are similar enough that they’ll largely interchange in my system.  I know that elevated levels of coffee don’t give me the shakes like when I had a constant stream of tobacco.  Caffeine also hasn’t been keeping me up at night (which is a first).  I’m drinking more coffee than usual, but that amounts to an extra cup some days.  Not a big deal.  I have been afraid of how quitting might affect me psychologically because I have surmised that my original start to smoking was self-medication for mild depression.  Although not necessarily unfounded, it seems that my fear turned out to not be an issue.

The short-term plan remains what it has been.  I’ve gone over forty hours with no nicotine, no crutch, no patch, no gum, pills, or any such stuff, and I’m in no danger of tearing anyone’s head off.  I may as well stay the course.  The long-term plan is different.  As successful as this has been so far, I’d like to leave my options open to having an occasional smoke once in a while.  Although I hate being subject to the addiction, I just like tobacco too much to not even consider the possibility of occasional usage.  I feel like I ought to have a good six weeks of cold turkey first though.  I’ve got one of my good cigarettes left and I think it would be lovely to have on Christmas if I can be good until then.  If it proves to be too hard to be a non-smoker who indulges in an occasional smoke, I’ll figure out something different then.  That’s not like playing with fire, is it?

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8 thoughts on “Quitting Update

  1. It is like playing with fire. I once quit completely for over 6 months. Then I thought it wouldn’t be a big deal to have an occasional smoke. I was back to smoking as much as ever within about 3 weeks. I still smoke occasionally when I bum one off of a co-worker. It’s always a struggle, but I’ve come to the realization that the benefits of not smoking outweigh the benefits of smoking, to me.

  2. I agree with Brandon. The “occasional” will turn into “well…one more won’t hurt” to “I had a really stressful day and I NEED it”…before you know it you’ll be doing a pack a day again.

    For me quitting was HARD. That’s probably the main thing that keeps me from even trying it again…knowing that I’d eventually have to quit again and not wanting to go through that for the third time (or is it fourth? I don’t remember).

    Another thing is a realization I came to after quitting the first time and trying the occasional smoker thing: cigarettes taste like crap.

    When your taste buds and sense of smell aren’t crippled from smoking a pack a day, it’s really difficult to enjoy the sensation of the nicotine when you’re thinking the whole time “this tastes TERRIBLE”.

    The temptation is to smoke more often to keep the nicotine rush going but to get used to the taste so it doesn’t taste so bad to you.

    My solution is: when I decide to have that “occasional” smoke, I buy a good cigar or two.

    Cigars are much better made than cigarettes, use better tobacco and are aged properly. They actually taste good, even when you haven’t had one in a while. As an added benefit, they don’t have all those nasty additives that Cigarettes have and that contribute to their cancer causing properties.

    You still get some nicotine from them, but not nearly as much as a cigarette because you don’t (or at least most people don’t) inhale the smoke. Because the nicotine concentration isn’t as high, although you get some of that euphoric reaction, it isn’t as strong and, therefore, as addictive.

    I can buy a couple of good cigars, smoke them over the course of a few days and enjoy them thoroughly, but not have another one for weeks or months and not miss it a bit. And because I don’t have to do it, and can buy cigars rarely and only when I can afford them, I can justify spending a bit more and getting good ones.

    If you’re determined to enjoy the occasional smoke, that’s what I’d recommend.

    But, hey…whatever floats your boat.

  3. Awesome Michael. I’m Inspired. I don’t smoke but I do chew. Skoal to be precise. I’m at the end of my current can and should be buying a new one today. If you can quit smoking I can quit Skoal. If you can keep clean I’ll do the same.

    Dang. Just typing those words makes me miss it already. If we both make it to the end of the year that’ll convince me we’ve both beaten this particular monkey. I’ll spend the money I saved on a new holster from you for Lu.

    What do you think?

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