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Welcome to the longest-running* yet least-read** blog on the internet! Here you'll find me writing about all the things that I write about, which strikes me, just now, as somewhat recursive. In any case, enjoy :)

* not true ** probably true

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Yes, it's the 'I Quit' post you knew was coming. You don't have to read it, but I DO have to write it.

As you may have surmised, I'm in the process of quitting smoking around here. At the risk of being boring I've got some thoughts I'd like to share about smoking and about quitting.

  • I consciously started smoking when I was 17, but in reality I have been addicted to nicotine literally all my life. My mom smoked during her pregnancy with me, and there was always someone smoking in the house growing up. I'd do my homework in the bar my mom managed, back in the day when beers cost a buck and everybody smoked in the bar, rather than huddled outside. My nurse grandmother smoked. Both my siblings smoked. Freaking everyone in my life smoked. Upon reflection, it's amazing it took me seventeen years to become an active smoker rather than just a passive one.
  • I've tried to quit many times in my life, using every method available except for hypnosis and acupuncture.
  • I've only had three periods in my life where I was smoke free long enough for the nicotine to leave my system: * At 19, during Army basic training (cold turkey, didn't even miss them, but stupidly picked up a pack the day of graduation 'because I could').  * At 24, due to a bet (who can go the longest without smoking a  cigarette? $50 says it's me) Also cold turkey, lasted a month, gave in/talked myself into listening to my psychological 'need'. Of course I still needed it. The bet was cigarettes, and I was finding every other form of nicotine when the cravings got too bad. I was keeping myself in a state of sporadic withdrawal. I just didn't understand it, then. I did learn that having a group of people to keep it positive made a huge difference. * At 37/38 (can't remember exactly at the moment), using Champix/Chantrix. Used it twice, actually. Details are a bit fuzzy. First time I suspect it caused depression, second time I know it caused some severe pain. Side effects just weren't worth it.
Lesson learned? Cold turkey works, if you do it right and don't get stupid. Other methods don't work/keep you hooked/have serious drawbacks.


For the non-smokers 

Here's something you should really sort out with yourself: Do you want to see a smoker quit, or do you want to have someone to look down on? You know what I mean, don't try and pretend otherwise.

Real disgust: Smoker gets into a lift, reeking of the half-cigarette he's tucked into his pocket to save for later.
Fake disgust: You see a smoker 15 meters away, immediately cover your nose and begin to 'cough'.

So which is it? Loving kindness, or somebody to loathe?

Another thing: You don't have to tell an adult smoker what he/she is doing is stupid. They know. They know all the facts, and beating them over the head with them isn't going to make them stop smoking. It's going to make them feel doomed and miserable and fatalistic, because they are addicted

No, not like you are addicted to Thin Mints or beef jerky. Addicted like the guy with a needle in his arm in a flophouse with feces smeared on the walls. 

He doesn't give a shit about your 'Oh, that's sooo disgusting. What a filthy habit.' It doesn't even register.

Nicotine affects the same area of the brain as heroin, for pete's sake. So you can take your statistics and shove- er, go make origami with them. The time for scare tactics is before they have their first puff. After the addiction has set its hooks in,  the only external factor that has a reasonable chance of success is loving kindness, steady positive pressure, and perhaps real heart-to-heart talks about 'why' they smoke (triggers), what it's like when they can't (withdrawal), and specific ways in which life would be better without the addiction ('you won't die so soon' just doesn't cut it).

Ok, that's my rant for day 6 of quitting. Think I'll go have a smoke now.



Jae Jagger said...

Good for you with struggling with the cravings.

God help the poor soul quitting smokes and booze at the same time.

DilettanteP said...

Good on you Michael!

Funny I was thinking about smokers and their addiction to smoking this morning at a very random time walking to the office.

I remembered persuading an ex grey arrangement to quit smoking or cut down (dude was doing a packet a day) and he said to me, "You don't understand addiction."

This morning I heard his voice in my head saying that and I finally understood as a non-smoker that "no, I don't."