Both my parents died from smoking-related illnesses. My mother was 57 and my father was 73. Mother was diagnosed with emphysema and lung cancer. Father died from throat cancer.
Watching their slowly deteriorating health decline and subsequent deaths were devastating for my siblings and me.
We grew up in a generation that advertised cigarettes on TV. It was cool to smoke. At 16 years old, I became a smoker. Twenty years later, after a 2 year-long battle, I finally became an ex-smoker. That happened in the early 1980’s.
I never wanted my children to witness the slow, agonizing deaths my parents endured. They were my incentive to quit, along with my wish to please my Creator.
At this time I am helping my 36 year-old daughter to quit. Happily, two of my grown children are now ex-smokers! The kinds of questions she comes up with, I am ecstatic to help answer. The questions she has asked me, were the same ones I tried to finf ansers for in my quest to be a “non-smoker”.
Question: “I’ve tried to quit before. Its just too hard! Why cant I just stop smoking?
Answer: Nicotine withdrawal is the culprit. The psychological addiction (habit) is hard to break. It is a problem for every addicted smoker. In three weeks you can break ithe habit and it gets much easier sfter that. So, please keep Keep trying!
Question: I hear people put on wieght and I dont want that to happen to me!”Will I gain a lot of weight”?
Answer: The average ex-smoker may gain a few pounds at first. As you adjust to being a non-smoker you can always work on those 5 or so extra pounds afterwards! Further, not all people gain weight.
Question: All my friends smoke, so how do I get around that?
Answer: Tell your friends you are DEAD SERIOUS about quitting and not going to be SERIOUSLY DEAD from not quitting! Set a good example for them! If necessary, tell them you need to limit association with them temporarily….until you become an ex-smoker. But, don’t be surprised if you find it hard to be around smokers, once you beat this. You will notice cigarette smoker’s smell smoky in their clothes, hair, car and home. After awhile, you will notice how bad it smells.
Question: What is the best way to stop?
Answer: By trial and error you will find your own way to quit. It is an individual effort. Talk to all who have successfully quit. Get medical advice. There is an abundance of literature out there now, helping people to stop smoking. Recently, doctors are now offering a medication called Chantix to help relieve cravings. Go and seek out if this may be good for you to tryl
Question: My nerves get on edge and it makes me wonder how long before I stop crawling the walls and being the biggest grouch I know?
Answer: “Speaking from experience as well as what I have since read, it takes approximately 3 weeks of being smoke-free before you rid yourself of the habit physically and psychologically and can feel like yourself again.
Now I asked her a question: What is better, to be a living grouch for 3 weeks or a smoker facing an early grave?
Answer: I want to live, Mom….I’m going to keep trying!
Every smoker trying to stop smoking faces battles. Remember though, you can and will win the war and just accept that battles are a part of it. For some these are few, for others they may be many.
As I mentioned it took me two years to win my war on smoking. I tried various methods including one humorous one.
I had sent away for this supposed breath freshener mouth spray that was supposed to create a chemical reaction to any cigarette smoked. Well, it came in the mail and so I asked my brother, “John, try this new breath spray I bought and see if you like it”. He did and said it tasted fine.
About 10 minutes later he was reading a newspaper and lit up a cigarette. All of a sudden, he jumped up gasping, “What to blankety blank is wrong with this cigarette, its terrible!”
I, of course, was in hysterical laughter and couldn’t tell him. Needless to say, when I did tell him he was not happy to learn he had been a part of an innocent experiment!
In all seriousness, I won my battle by going cold turkey, as some describe it. During the 2 years I tried everything I could and nothing else worked for me. The withdrawal was hard, but so worth it in the end.
As I remind my daughter, it is a personal journey, a struggle worth every battle. When you succeed, and you will, you will add many more miles of good health to your life’s path. And you will never have to fear watching someone you love with all your heart, die from a smoking-related illness.
When a loved one is trying so hard to stop smoking, be kind, patient and supportive. Remember, especially if you were never a smoker, stopping smoking is one of the very hardest things in life to accomplish. Some have said, “it was easier to give up heroine,” (I read that in a magazine about addictions), such is the grasp and tight hold cigareets have on their victims. The key is to never give up!
There are government resources that offer free help and answer even more questions about quitting. They are available at:
Smokefree.gov 1-800-QUIT-NOW Q&A about smoking cessation (a fact sheet from the National Cancer Institue.