Cigarettes

Long-time lurker; first-time poster. Female; 48 years old; widowed; living alone.

I am looking for help. I think something might be wrong with me. You see, I want to stop smoking. I do not wish to be a smoker any more. I want to be a non-smoker. I have been working hard on this for well over a year.

I’ve smoked for about 30 years. Average, around 20 cigarettes a day. In the past six months, I have read Allen Carr’s book twice. I listen to his CD two or three times a week. I listen to Susan Hepburn’s recording once a week or so while I’m working out at the gym. I listen to other recordings. I chew gum, drink water, wear patches, breathe deep. But still, I seem to be smoking.

I stopped drinking beer and wine. I stopped drinking coffee. I gave up tea. I gave up Coca Cola. I stopped all those things simply because they were so enjoyable with a cigarette. I haven’t gone back to the beverages. I started going to the gym regularly (this was huge. I’m so opposite of “athletic”. I’m a book-worm, knitting, sit-by-the-fireplace sort of gal). I stopped smoking in the house and in the car. Still, I smoke.

Years ago, I attended a Lung Association program. I then tried laser therapy and aversion therapy. I once tried hypnosis and that worked for an entire day. That was with a live hypnotist and a group. Hypnosis tapes don’t quite seem to cut it. I’ve had psychotherapy. No effect. I don’t handle meds well: tried Wellbutrin /Zyban – couldn’t take the side effects. I’m afraid to take Champix/Chantrix for the same reason.

Just over a week ago, I had some minor surgery and didn’t smoke the afternoon before, per my doctor’s orders. I didn’t smoke for two days after. I ate like a hog; gained ten pounds in seven days while recovering. But I was feeling calm and confident. I was actually breathing easier. On the third day, something happened. I had just one cigarette. Only one. It’s hard to recall exactly why. I’m not sure I can articulate the reason. Then, the following day, two. Yesterday, three. Today, I had five.

I’m disgusted with myself. I’m disappointed. I’m seriously frightened.

Before I had that first post-surgical cigarette, I held it in my hand and wondered who I could call to speak to. Like, a friend, someone who wouldn’t simply recite lung association statistics at me, but who would talk to me about what I was doing. I couldn’t think of a single soul. I don’t have any close friends; only acquaintances, and only one or two of those people smoke. So I guess I held my own private pity-party and lit one up.

I am sincerely seeking help here. Please don’t tell me about the terrible diseases I’m going to get. Please don’t recite medical facts about the physical damage from smoking, or statistics, or stories about how you recently buried your grandfather, uncle, etc. who was in agonizing pain for eons before the relief of death. Please don’t tell me about dying young. I don’t live in a vacuum. I know it. I’ve read about it. I’ve heard it. I’ve seen it. I’ve lived it.

My grandmother, a smoker to whom I was close, after years of emphysema, died of lung cancer. My father, also a smoker, died from lung cancer that went to his brain. I’ve had friends die of cancer and/or heart attacks. I’ve seen the effects of strokes firsthand. I have relatives who work in the medical field. I’ve read the most graphic books about the effects of smoking.

The end result of re-hashing all that information only seems to be a deep, black despair. Still, I smoke.

I feel like a loser. I feel stupid. I feel hopeless … beaten … doomed.

Is there any hope? Has anyone else been so addicted but managed to beat it? Are there any words, any modes of thinking, any programs, books, CDs, tips, advice?

There are many different methods to stop smoking. Some are more effective for some people, while others are more effective for other people. My thought would be to check with a hospital, human resources department at work, physician, county health department, or similar entity for some guidance as to what program might be most helpful for you.

For many folks, and I suspect you’re among them, the addiction to nicotine is amazingly strong. That doesn’t mean it can’t be overcome, but it can mean a well-planned multiprong approach may be necessary. That’s where the knowledge of stop-smoking professionals can be invaluable.

A sincere commitment to quitting is often essential, and it sounds like you have that, which is great. As you’ve seen, that may not be enough all by itself, but it’s something you can’t get from anyone but yourself. The other things you need can be obtained with the help of others. You’ve made the biggest step, find the right others to aid you and you can make the further steps you need.

You WANT to quit. That is GOOD. You have to really sincerely want to before you can. It’s still not easy, but you sound like you are at that point. I quit on Jan 1 of this year. I did it cold turkey, and that’s the only way that seems to really really work for most people. (Anecdotally speaking.) I was driving my car, finishing the last cigarette in a pack, and when I put it out, I looked at the butt and said to myself “That was the last one. You aren’t going to stop and buy a pack on the way home.” It was hard. I was a bitch. I’ve gained 20 lbs. I let my family and co-workers know that I had quit and not to give me a cigarette when I asked for one. They helped me through the rough part. I am one of those annoying non-smokers now. I can smell it on people and I haaaaaate it. I still want a cigarette about once a week or so, but I don’t want to smoke.

Good luck. There are quite a few people on this board who will be willing to give you moral support, and I am one of them. You CAN do it. We’re here for you.

My email is in my profile if you need to use it.

I have quit, and I didn’t particularly want to. (Actually, several times.) I quit when I was pregnant because I convinced myself if I had even one puff it would kill my baby, and that worked. Then I didn’t smoke while breastfeeding. I was still fighting it, and then I said, “Why am I still fighting this?” and started smoking again, even knowing it was stupid.

In February cigarettes went up from something like $4.80 to $5.05. I decided that was too much. When I started smoking, cigarettes cost something like 1/10 of my hourly pay (i.e., 32 cents a pack). If I were making $50 an hour I could afford them, but I’m not, and they crossed a line.

I am now trying to get a job where I make $50 an hour.

Supposedly, after a year or two, you feel better, physically. That actually has never happened to me. That would make it much easier, it seems to me. If you felt better and were breathing easier, and liked it, that should help.

You just have to tell yourself: Not smoking, not negotiable. I know some people who have had success with an affirmation sort of thing, writing down seven times (or whatever magical mystical number they pick) that they are a nonsmoker, they don’t want to smoke, and they don’t–and it works for them.

You can brainwash yourself successfully.

I can’t talk personally about quitting smoking, but remember that you are not a loser. What you are going through is HARD. You’re not stupid and you are not defeated. You want to quit and you are already well on the road to seeing that goal permanently accomplished.

When I look at all the things you have done successfully, I wonder why you think of yourself as a loser! You are incredibly disciplined!

I have read that some heroin addicts said that they found it harder to get off of heroin than quit smoking. But it can be done. I am 65. I quite smoking a year and a half ago – March of 2007 – when I found out that I have an aneurysm. No one told me to quit and I didn’t plan on it. I just thought maybe my chances would be better.

I already had something that was helping me. I was taking a medication called topamax for depression and compulsive eating. It seems to inhibit many compulsive behaviors. I stopped being a compulsive shopper and my need to urge to smoke dropped about a third from a pack a day to 12. I had to push myself a little to get there, but it was easier.

Then when I realized that I had this brain thingie and decided to quit, I went through the usual hell. One of the things that I found on the internet that helped enormously (and still does from time to time) was a little plastic tube that fits in a cigarette holder and looks like a cigarette The tube holds little rolls of “flavor.” Mine are menthol flavored. The end of the “cigarette” can be adjusted to allow air to flow through when you draw on the “cigarette.” I get something that feels like a cigarette and gives me a little hit of menthol. There is no smoke and I don’t usually keep it in my mouth very long. It seems to serve its purpose. If you are interested, I will see if I can find the information on the product. I found it on the internet.

I have the remainder of the pack that I was smoking when I quit still in my drawer. I got mad about something one night and decided I was going to have a cigarette. I took one puff. It tasted rancid. I just put it out and told myself to forget it. I’ve had no other problems.

You might consider that maybe you gave up to many things. If you are a sit by the fire kind of gal, maybe you might consider having a cup of tea or coffee, but not the cigarette.

Also, at one time in my life I was out of girlfriends. That was the most depressing period in my life. I didn’t see how I was ever going to be able to put together friendships again. Really. I was a hermit for years.

Everything began to change when I took some free courses that were offered at a local university. Now I’ve never had so many friends.

Usually I resent generalizations, but as a whole, women seem to respond well to good group friendships. Maybe that’s the next step for you as you practice not beating yourself up and cutting back on how much you smoke just by one or two cigarettes a day. Where will you find supportive women in your life?

Of course, there is always someone around here!

Now, kiddo, smile and remember “the little engine that could.” Your day will come.

Oh, and you might ask your doctor about Topamax. It might make you a little sleepy, but it really worked for me.

I have a “Why I Smoke” test that I have given patients. 18 questions that divide into 6 reasons for smoking.

  1. Stimulation- you smoke to perk your self up, give yourself a “lift”

  2. Handling- the ritual of lighting a cigarette and watching the smoke

  3. Pleasure- you like smoking, you smoke when you feel comfortable

  4. Relaxation/Tension reduction - you smoke when you are upset or stressed to “relax”

  5. Craving - running out of cigarettes is unbearable, nicotine craving

  6. Habit- automatic, associated with certain situations (always smoke in car, smoke after a meal)

When you figure out what you want the cigarette to “do” for you, then you can think of an alternative that doesn’t involve smoking.

An example: No smoking allowed in workplace, have to go outside to smoke. “Needing” a cigarette is a reason to get up from your desk and take a break. It’s not the cigarette necessarily, it may be needing a break. You have to give yourself permission to take a break away from your desk without smoking.
(The military was bad about this at one point. They had “cigarette breaks”, if you smoked, you could stop what you were doing and have a cigarette. If you didn’t smoke, you had to keep working! Not a good incentive to be a non-smoker!)

I am sure you have heard many ways people quit smoking but I will give you mine.

My way of quitting was to never quit.

Let me explain.

Every time I threw the cigarettes out I felt deprived and had the craving that you describe. So I simply kept the cigarettes and smoked one when I REALLY wanted one. I knew I REALLY wanted one was I had deprived myself for three or four times that day already. Within a few weeks I had lowered the nicotine enough that all I had was the mental addiction to conquer. Which is just as hard if not harder. However, pretty soon I would light one and say, I don’t want this…I am not enjoying it…it isn’t worth having to wash my hands and smell this yuck on my clothing for the next few hours.

I still consider myself a smoker. I will bum a cigarette at a casino or sometimes when around other smokers. Maybe ten a year. I keep clove cigarettes in the house so I know I can have one if I need that comforting ritual of taking one out, lighting it and watching the smoke as I exhale. I have never smoked an entire one.

The point it sometimes it is easier to not have to say NEVER and still break the deathly habit.
Good luck

It’s almost three years since I became a non-smoker. I had quit dozens of times before that and started up again in the 20+ years I’d smoked.

That time, I’d keep telling myself “I don’t smoke anymore”. Anytime I got the urge, I’d repeat that like a mantra. I also found that a dry toothbrush was oddly comforting when the urge was especially strong.

It was a rough…I’d say six weeks? But, you can beat this. Even if you slip up, don’t beat yourself up over it. Just do it again. You CAN do this.

I still have an ocassional dream where I smoke again. I am usually disgusted with myself, but i know the urge is still there. I won’t give into it, but it’s still there.

…every attempt to quit, even if not successful, is a step in the right direction. You’ll need an upbeat attititude to do this - don’t let the cigarettes be the crutch or the source of your despair. Its easy to light up when you’re feeling sorry for yourself.

I think there’s a lot of good advice here. I could not do it cold turkey - weaned to a certain point (3x day) then stopped. Even then needed a substitute for the ritual. Someone mentioned a cigarette-like device - I found that interesting. My substitute were those horrible herbal cigarettes - smoked those when the craving got really bad…did not satisfy the additiction, but the habit to some extent. If you believe in God, pray for help. I knew I would not have the willpower to not smoke if the opportunity arose…the key was not keeping them in the house.

Not sure if any of this helps, but it sounds like you are serious and taking steps in the right direction. KUDOS for the habits you have already quit - thats a great first step!

Wrigleys DoubleMint Gum.

And get into a support group.

See your MD.

I don’t smoke - never have - but I’ve been reading this thread because my mom, age 62, is a lifelong smoker, and I desperately want her to quit. At least the OP wants to quit… I don’t think my mom even wants to quit. I have spent my entire life trying to get her to quit, ever since I was a small child. But nothing has worked so far. I am really not looking forward to watching her die a slow, painful death from lung cancer :frowning:

What about the people who only smoke when they are drinking? How on Earth did you manage to not smoke with that first beer? I could quit smoking if I could quit drinking, but I don’t really want to do that. Congrats to everyone who has overcome the habit.

Chanitx

it works.

you are no loser, only a smoker who has trouble quitting. :slight_smile:

I didn’t expect to be typing these words today: I’m overwhelmed by the responses here.

I wonder if anyone could ever be able to truly understand how helpful the words in this thread are to me. The insight and ideas are invaluable, not to mention the positive support (instead of the usual judgment and quotes about the scary health effects).

Yes, I work well with affirmations. (Why didn’t I think of that?!?)

Yes, I smoke for each and every reason on that list. It only makes sense to find a substitute for each one (rather than simply trying to chew gum and breathe for all of them).

I do need friends. I’ve become a hermit, too.

All the ideas and input gathered here are giving me hope.

Truly. This is all so helpful. You’ve not only given me hope but also a renewed resolve. Thank you, thank you.

Please, if anyone else has any thing further to offer, please post it here – it hadn’t occurred to me, until now, that others may benefit from reading this.

Again, I want to express my gratitude. (I’ll keep you posted on my progress)

You’re no longer in denial, as so many other smokers are. That’s more than half the battle. You’re in a good place, you *can *do this.

I am neither a doctor nor a smoker, but one thing that struck me from the tone of your OP is that you sound depressed, in the clinical sense. You have plenty of legitimate reason to feel so, of course. But I imagine that feeling that way can’t be extremely helpful with quitting, either. I know when I get really depressed my eating habits fall to crap, simply because I’m more likely to say “F*ck it, I don’t care, it’s not like it matters…”

So I’d consider addressing that as a separate medical issue, which will hopefully, eventually, give you a better foundation for quitting too. If you go back to therapy, don’t just focus on the smoking, try to explore some of the broader issues, too… a professional is going to have a better idea how to approach this than I am.

You can consider another anti-depressant too… you may have fewer side effects with another kind.

Socializing (in a non-smoking environment, given the circumstances) may help with the depression too. Even if you’re not there talking about Big Issues, human contact is important to emotional balance.

The idea is, if you feel better in general, you’re less likely to need smoking to make you feel better in whatever way it does for you. It may be partly a self-medicating / self-comforting thing on top of the physical addiction.

Chantix, baby. Chantix.

I’ve told my Chantix story before, so excuse please if this is old news.

Chantix stopped my cravings cold. It’s been over a year and I still wish I could smoke sometimes (old coping mechanism) when I’m pissed off, anxious, bored, in a good mood. But that’s a desire to take my shit out on myself, not a physical craving.

I never ever get the itchy under the skin I will kill you and your mother, too, for a cigarette craving ever.

The standard way to use Chantix is a 30-day starter pack (IIRC) then three months of daily dosing. My doctor told me - when I panicked at the thought of only having the crutch for three months! - that it can be extended for six months to a year. I thought for certain - certain! - that I’d need it for at least six months.

Halfway through my second month, the cravings just stopped. Like a switch.

The pleasure I’d gotten from smoking had been rapidly decreasing up to then, so much so that I had to force myself to smoke. It’s weird taking a drag and not getting a hit. All you get is smoke in your lungs. Huh. Weird.

Anyway, I did have weird dreams for two days or so. I take SSRI’s, but had NO suicidal thoughts, homicidal thoughts or any other -idal thoughts. It was a breeze.

If your insurance doesn’t cover it, shop around. My local grocery store priced it 30% below Walgreens.

I smoked like a fiend for 30 years (2 packs a day at least) and I finally managed to quit about three years ago, after literally hundreds of attempts. I did it with the patch, cinnamon gum, deep breathing. I also took up new hobbies to keep my hands busy. I found it took about 3 weeks to get over the worst of the habit (not the addiction, that took about 3 days.) Keep going! If you slip, try again!
After I had been off cigarettes for about 6 months, I had a “no smoking” sign tattooed on my ankle. I don’t let anyone smoke in my house or car anymore. It gets easier the more time passes. I still have cravings, but only for a few seconds, and not bad enough to make me light up.

Smoking a cigarette every now and again works for some people, but it consistently tripped me up each time I tried to quit. What worked for me was a combination of a bad flu (couldn’t smoke for 3 days), a poster at my doctors office that said, “Quitting smoking is the best thing you can do for your health today.” and some advice I read on this very board that said,

It sounds painfully simple, but I repeat it whenever I think, “Well, I’ll just have the one…”

I quit nearly 7 months, a separation, a change in living circumstances and one teenaged son going into high school ago… and that simple sentence has gotten me through it all.

Everybody is different, just keep looking until you find what works for you. The greatest part of quitting is that once you’re getting through your day without a cigarette, you have this sense of achievment that naturally carries over in other areas of your life. “If I can do this, then I can do that.”

Good luck to you!