This week I celebrated one year of being cigarette free! It’s an enormous accomplishment. I smoked for 25 years. Normally folks tell you how some amazing product helped them reach their goal, but my experience is that no drug will help you quit if you’re not ready to give cigarettes up. Once your mind is set, the body may be weak, but the mind is so much stronger. One year into my decision to quit, I still have daily temptations and cravings – yes, it’s that serious – but today I recognize that smoking is not an option. Part of my recovery is accepting that I can never believe that I’ve beat my addiction. You don’t beat addictions; you simply fight them – daily.
Here are my suggestions for folks who are trying to quit smoking:
** Set a specific date/time
Understand that you have the power to set yourself up to succeed or fail. The first step in succeeding is insisting that you hold yourself accountable for when you will stop smoking. Know the date/time in advance and do not deviate from this time for any reason. The first days are critical to your success so do not schedule to quit smoking on the weekend that you’re hanging with your buddies OR the morning of your BIG year-end review. Keep it real and set your quit date/time around the beginning of an average week.
**Rid Yourself of Temptation
Cigarettes, ash trays and matches must be disposed of the night before, if not the morning of, your scheduled quit time. At your scheduled quit date/time you should not light up one last cigarette or permit yourself to indulge in a final “good-bye” drag. It’s over. Your smoking cessation has begun. All cigarettes must be disposed of in a place where they cannot be retrieved. Cigarettes should be flushed down a toilet, sent down a trash compactor or tossed into a public trash can. This is especially important because an addict in withdrawal will retrieve their disposed cigarettes out of a baboons ass if need be.
**First Couple of Weeks Are Crucial
If you’re serious about quitting, understand that the first couple of weeks are crucial. You should refrain from hanging out in public bars or clubs to avoid your free access to smoking paraphernalia. Friends who smoke should be avoided in the first two weeks and if they can’t be avoided they must understand that they cannot smoke in your home or your car. You will be on edge the first couple of weeks and are at your weakest point – physically and mentally. Do not set yourself up to fail by believing you can interact with smokers and refrain from smoking. STAY CLEAR OF ALL POTENTIAL FRIENDS, FAMILY OR SITUATIONS THAT MAY FACILITATE SMOKING.
**You Can Never Have a Social Puff
Accept that you are a recovering addict. The smoking addiction is considered more powerful than an addiction to heroin. You can NEVER partake in a casual/social puff from a cigarette. You will undermine your efforts and trigger a tidal wave of defeat and relapse if you indulge yourself. You don’t have to be judgmental toward your smoking pals, but you also don’t have to be the punk that gets smoke blown in their face or are disrespected when you ask that folks don’t smoke in your home or car. Luckily, laws in most states are on your side and your smoking buddies will be forced to smoke outside of any club/bar environment you go to.
**One Day at a Time
If you’re really an addict (you smoked every day) you’ll notice that even after a few weeks, months, etc. you still desire a cigarette. Don’t dismay. You have to take it one day at a time. Build on each day by recognizing that you have overcome so far and will overcome again. Keep count of how long you have been smoke free to provide self-encouragement of what you will lose if you fail.
** Tackle Other Issues Only After You Have Smoking Cessation Under Control
There is a potential to gain 10-40 lbs when you quit smoking simply from replacing cigarettes with food/snack items. Understand that no matter how bad your temporary food/snack smoke replacements are, they can NEVER be as bad as the cigarettes you were smoking. Once you’ve managed the desire to smoke, you can begin to attack any issues that you may have developed with replacing your cigarettes with food items.
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Start at the beginning if you try and fail.
It isn’t easy, but it is rewarding to quit smoking. My desire to smoke is still there – ONE YEAR LATER – but the satisfaction at knowing that I have control over my behavior helps me to live healthier; smoke free.
Keep passin’ the open windows…