Coping with the physical and psychological effects of nicotine withdrawal is arguably the biggest challenge to quitting smoking. IBA Member Debbie D. from The Dog Lady’s Den, a former carton a week smoker, offers some great tips and encouragement for those that are ready to break the habit.
I started smoking at the age of 12. This was back in 1967 when it was considered grown up and sophisticated. We were vacationing in Travemünde, on the Baltic Sea at the time. I looked and acted older than my age and it didn’t take long for me to befriend a group of 16-18-year-olds. There were nightly parties on the beach and everybody smoked, (tobacco, that is). In those days it was commonplace. My father was a heavy smoker and although my mother did not indulge, she tolerated it.
Naturally wanting to be part of the crowd, I accepted when someone offered me a cigarette. It made me a bit light-headed at first, but the taste wasn’t bad, so I had another and another after that. Thus, an addiction was born.
By the time I was 14, it was 3 to 4 packs a week. I got caught smoking on the school grounds, (strictly forbidden), so my mother was contacted. She tried a little reverse psychology, by putting an ashtray in my room. “We know you smoke and prefer that you do it at home”, she said.
Any guesses what happened after that? My consumption increased to a carton a week, (that’s 200 cigarettes!) within a couple more years. It stayed that way for decades.
In 2003, at the age of 48, I started feeling some side effects, such as difficulty breathing and minor chest pains. The former turned out to be asthma and not COPD, thank goodness! Heart tests were all normal, but this was enough to convince me to quit. One of the popular drugs of the day, called Zyban, (also known as the anti-depressant, Wellbutrin), took the edge off. It was still difficult for me to break both the physical addiction and the habit. After all, I had been a dedicated smoker for 36 years!
I discovered some ways to cope, which were originally published on Nov. 17, 2009. It’s New Year’s Resolution time, so hopefully, they will benefit someone again. If I could do it, anyone can!
TIPS FOR COPING WITH NICOTINE WITHDRAWAL
Everybody knows that smoking is unhealthy, but kicking the habit can be brutal! Speaking as a hardcore former smoker, I know exactly how difficult it is to quit and would like to share some of the things that helped me. I pretty much had a cigarette between my fingers all the time and this is the first thing that drove me crazy – what to do with my hands! I also missed that inhaling action and had trouble drawing a deep breath.
Tip #1: Take a plastic drinking straw, cut it down to the length of your cigarettes, (regular, king-size, etc.), and hold it like one. Suck some air through it when you feel the need to breathe deeply. (Don’t laugh; this really works!) When you are extremely stressed, go ahead and CHEW on it. (Yes!) You could alternatively get an inhaler made by the Nicorette Gum people, but that actually has nicotine in it, so the straw is better – and cheaper!
Tip #2: Chewing gum helps relieve the cravings, but stick to sugarless, so you don’t rot your teeth. Nicorette Gum is also available, but there’s the expense again, (and the nicotine).
Tip #3: Drink a large glass of water when you get a craving.
Tip #4: Stock up on low calorie, crunchy snacks and increase your exercise. Many people substitute food for cigarettes and gain weight. I did too, but, it’s still not as bad as smoking!
Tip #5: Think about how happy you will be when you break FREE of this nefarious habit! For those of you in colder climates, no more freezing your asses off in winter to satisfy that nicotine fit!
Hope this helps.
About the Author
Canine Innkeeper in suburban Toronto, Canada, known as “The Doglady”. Writer/website owner, photographer, animal lover, music fanatic, inveterate traveller. History, literature and cinema buff. Eternal “hippie/rockchick”. Binational, German/Canadian and multilingual. Looking for the next adventure!
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