I started smoking when I was in my early teens and continued off and on for the next 28 years. During that period there were a couple of quits which lasted several years. My last major attempt at quitting smoking was in 2005 in which I was able to stay smoke-free for just under 6 years. In 2011, I made the decision to throw my quit away one evening when I was in a stressful situation and decided that smoking a cigarette would relax me. When I took my first puff that evening I felt like I was home. I wondered why I had even quit smoking at all in the first place. I thought I enjoyed it and even thought to myself that smoking was the greatest thing on earth. I had no regrets, only satisfaction. I didn’t know a single thing about nicotine addiction and ignorantly believed all the lies. I was a junkie. No, not some junkie out on the street begging and stealing to feed my addiction but rather a well dressed professional with a wife and three wonderful children. But make no mistake about it, I was a junkie just the same in need of a fix of nicotine to make everything better. This one cigarette woke up my nicotine addiction and I continued to smoke for ~2 years.
In early December 2012 I went to see my Dr. about something unrelated and before I left I decided to mention that I wanted to quit smoking but enjoyed it too much. I told him that I could quit if I really wanted to, I just didn’t want to. I told him that I wanted to quit smoking for my family because they meant everything to me and I knew that the cigarettes would eventually catch up with me if I didn’t quit for good.
In a nutshell, he told me I was full of shit. He told me that my family wasn’t the most important thing in my life, cigarettes were. He also went on to tell me that I was an addict to which I laughed and said “you’re telling me that I’m an addict because I’m smoking tobacco? It’s not like I’m shooting heroin or snorting cocaine.” He chuckled to himself and said “you’re the exact definition of an addict and the only reason why you’re not out on the streets stealing to feed your addiction is because cigarettes are legal.” I was mad as I sat there. How could this man say these things to me? I really do enjoy smoking. I sat and I listened. He gave me a prescription for Wellbutrin XL to help me quit smoking. I told him that I didn’t need any medication to quit smoking and he informed me that I had been smoking for nearly 28 years with several failed attempts at quitting and whatever I was doing was not working.
After about 5 days the medication started to work to the point that after 2 or 3 pulls on a cigarette, I would get sick to my stomach and be on the verge of puking. Still, I lit one cigarette after another hoping that the nausea would not last, but it did and finally on December 17, 2012, I decided that I had enough and quit. This time I stayed nicotine free for 9 months and was sure I would never smoke again. I spent hour after hour, day after day reading everything I could about nicotine addiction. I watched the documentaries about the evil tobacco companies (which are on this website and very good I might add), joined a support group online and was sure I had all the answers to staying quit for good. But as things go, I relapsed again in September 2013 because of one reason; I still believed that the cigarette had something to offer me.
After all of the reading and learning about nicotine addiction, none of it mattered because somewhere in the back of my mind I still believed in the cigarette. Thankfully, my relapse was short-lived and lasted only 1 week and 1 pack of cigarettes. What a shame it was to light the first of some 20 odd cigarettes after being smoke-free for ~9 months.
Those 9 months prior that I speak of, although smoke-free, I was still believing somewhere in the back of my mind that cigarettes could offer me something because of my triumphant reunion with them nearly two years prior. It was all a big lie perpetuated by me. When I bought that pack in October I thought it would help. After reading Allen Carr’s book several times and being proactive for so many months, who was I kidding? The only thing I got from it was emptiness. It was at this moment and 19 cigarettes later that I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that cigarettes could not do a damn thing for me. It took a one week relapse for me to 100% believe that no matter what happens in life, no matter how crappy I feel, cigarettes will not do anything.
With each and every cigarette I analyzed how I felt. From the very first pull on that cigarette I was ultra aware of how I was feeling. I remembered Allen Carr. I remembered the lies. I remembered all the former smokers in the support group. I recalled all I had read about this addiction. I was still waiting for the enjoyment because I thought it really existed. Not only did I not get one bit of enjoyment from any of it, but I also found out the hard way that there isn’t a single thing enjoyable about smoking. It wasn’t until I truly understood that I got nothing from smoking that I willingly put the cigarettes down without any medication and without a second thought.
However, close to the end of that week of smoking I could feel the addiction coming on strong. Had I not chosen to quit smoking on October 7th, 2013, I feel that I would have fallen back into a full blown nicotine addiction and smoking 30-40 cigarettes per day as that was my usual routine. I was probably just a few cigarettes away from this happening and it was scary to relive those feelings of being physically and mentally addicted to smoking constantly needing to feed the throngs of nicotine withdrawal. This is not a place that I ever want to revisit.
If you think that you enjoy smoking or that is somehow relaxes you, then you still think that smoking cigarettes can still offer you something of benefit. This is romanticizing the cigarette, also known as junkie thinking, whether you want to believe it or not. Leaving this door open is dangerous because something will happen along the way that will allow the addiction to creep in and when you least expect it, you’ve relapsed.
If you think that you enjoyed anything about smoking it means that you’re depriving yourself or giving up something that you enjoy when you quit smoking. The worst case scenario is a relapse and the next worse thing is a constant battle.
Someone once used drugs and sex was as an analogy to quitting smoking. This is false and cannot be compared because sex and drugs such as heroin, are enjoyable the first time they are tried. The first time many heroin users shoot up they loved it. How many of us loved our first cigarette? None. Smoking is not enjoyable and so long as you believe that it is or was, you’re only making staying quit much harder than it needs to be. Actually, quitting smoking can be enjoyable if you’re able to focus on your body and how it’s repairing itself. Your lungs. Your skin. Your teeth. The newly learned discipline that you’ve used because you never thought you could quit smoking, much less even wanted to quit.
Lastly, a relapse doesn’t happen without first romancing or allowing junkie thinking to creep in. No situation, as bad as it may be, will force you to smoke unless you’re still believing that you can get something from the cigarette. Quitting smoking takes no action, only non-action. Don’t ever take another puff. Remember “N.O.P.E.” each and every day and make it a priority over life and all of it’s ups and downs. Never smoke again. Not one puff, ever (N.O.P.E.).