A tobacco-free Year …

Sometime in the last few days, I marked the one year anniversary of quitting smoking.  I don’t remember the exact date … and that was an intentional thing as I didn’t want to be constantly obsessing over the exact time since I quit.  I do know it was somewhere around the middle of January last year … it was the result of a New Year’s Resolution (I didn’t tell anyone about it until I did it), but it took some time in the new year to actually implement.  I know that by the 18th of 2006, I had already quit.

Over all, as I look back on the last year, I have to say it was easier than I expected.  I have gained some weight (though I am still less than my max weight while I was smoking … my jeans got tight, but I haven’t had to buy new clothes yet, lol), but I haven’t experienced the cravings I expected to, though they do crop up in odd places, lol.

A lot of people ask me how I did it.  The truth is, I looked into a lot of different methods, and I actually think I spent a few years using that ‘research’ as an excuse not to quit … I couldn’t find any definitive info on what was the best method.  In the end, I did start using nicotine patches, but I’d be curious to hear other people’s experience with them … as I look back on the experience, I don’t think they were terribly effective in my case.  I only used them for a few weeks, less than half of the recommended time.  While using them, it did seem to provide some amount of psychological assistance at times, but it didn’t really do anything to curb my craving to smoke … I’d still have very strong physical cravings, especially if I smelled smoke from others.

I used them for, at most, 4 weeks, and then stopped.  The fascinating thing I recall thinking was that my cravings didn’t seem to change in any way … the joke I told at the time was, the only difference is that “now I have cravings, but my arm DOESN’T itch anymore.”  I honestly didn’t see any difference in how I felt using the patches, vs using nothing, though its hard to know if the same would have been true 4 weeks earlier when I initially quit.  Ultimately, I can’t say the patches were ineffective in helping me quit, but I can’t really say they were effective either.

For me, ultimately, it came down to a decision, and little more.  I’d ‘tried to quit’ in the past, with efforts lasting as long as 3 months … three previous ‘attempts’ if I remember correctly.  The difference between then and now is a simple, but remarkable one.  In the past, I craved more than nicotine, more than an addictive drug … I still wanted to smoke.  This time, I truly didn’t want to anymore … I truly saw how dirty, how wasteful, how ridiculous an activity it actually is, and I stopped wanting to smoke.  That was the real key to quitting for me, and I think for a lot of people … all the ‘methods’ in the world will be wholly ineffective if you still want to smoke, and as soon as you truly decide you want to stop, you have no need of any method other than not having another cigarette.  Its simplistic, perhaps, but I know it worked for me.  I don’t know it would work for others, but I also have no reason to believe it wouldn’t.


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