At this moment in time, I can happily describe myself as a quitter – but not quite a non-smoker. The road has been hard and the journey long, and as I write, it is almost 10 weeks since I started to try to quit smoking cigarettes. I reckon there are as many reasons for why it is hard to quit smoking cigarettes as there are people trying to stop smoking them! Here are just a few, alongside some painful personal experiences.
The nicotine in tobacco is addictive. It gives you a lift, a buzz, a relaxing few moments, the second you light up and start to inhale the first cigarette of the day. As with anything addictive, just one hit is never going to be enough, so as time goes on, the smoker finds that he or she needs more and more hits. At least, in all honesty, that is how it happened with me. I used to have maybe eight cigarettes, but when I began my attempts to quit, I was smoking 25 a day, sometimes more. All because the nicotine had got me addicted. The good news is, that after only 48 hours, the nicotine in the system is gone.
But that is a hard place to be in, because the nicotine receptors in the brain, and the smoker’s body itself start to crave replacement. You really are missing that nicotine. It can make you suffer depression and mood-swings, irritability and so forth, all because of nicotine withdrawal. Often, you begin to feel hunger pangs and eat sweet stuff and candy to replace the emptiness you feel without your “fix” which results in weight gain for some people trying desperately to quit. So there you have quite a few reasons for why it is hard to quit smoking cigarettes; bad moods, getting fat and physical discomfort.
No matter how much better you feel physically, if you always enjoyed a smoke in a social gathering, and find you cannot do this any more due to your quitting plans, then once again it becomes hard, as you experience feelings of deprivation. You might even find yourself biting your nails or shredding paper napkins, just to keep your empty hands occupied. Or if, like me, you found that cigarettes acted as a comfort and emotional crutch, and something bad or traumatic occurs, you will find it hard not to be able to reach for a pack of cigarettes and light one up. That is why I failed after three and a half weeks, when I lost a wonderful friend. Two weeks later, I started the journey again.
Fortunately, I was able to access help from my doctor. He sent me to see a counsellor who then started me on Champix, which is a version of a drug called Varenicline. It somehow affects the nicotine receptors and makes cigarettes taste so foul you feel sick if you puff even a few drags. Aversion therapy? Maybe, but so far, two weeks after ‘Quit Day’ I have not had a cigarette and nor do I want one. I am supported by meeting my counsellor once a week for a short time and in another three weeks, I can stop taking the tablets.
It is at that point that I guess the moment of truth will occur. Believe me, I know just why it is so hard to quit smoking cigarettes, both mentally and emotionally, but my message is to never stop trying to quit. Not only will you feel healthier, you will smell much nicer and be a bit better off financially. All of which can be powerful motivators, so use them well.