Quitting Smoking: The Allure of a Fresh Cigarette
Posted by Anni on Tuesday, March 27th, 2012
I’m not too proud to admit it: I used to be a smoker. It started after high school. All my friends were doing it and I thought, “I’ll just do it sometimes, I won’t get addicted.” These are the famous last thoughts of smokers everywhere… right before they find themselves standing in line at the pharmacy, about to buy a pack of Marlboro reds. I remember my first cigarette: heavy, metallic, and disgusting. It made me feel like my head was floating. I felt nauseous. But, because of my friends and their wicked ways, I persevered. Back then it was easier to be a smoker: you could smoke anywhere! Pretty soon, I was addicted, and that addiction was no joke. Cigarettes take hold and they don’t let go.
It’s amazing what an addicted person will say to justify a habit. When my mom would give me a hard time about smoking I’d make all manner of excuses. First I said I’d quit after college. Then, after college, I said I’d quit before graduate school. It was always the wrong time. I have to do my taxes this month, quitting is out of the question. My cat just died, I can’t quit! I’ll quit once I get a job. I have a new job, it’s overwhelming, I need to smoke. My younger sister smokes now and I hear the exact same words coming out of her mouth. It’s so frustrating that you can’t stop someone from doing something stupid until they figure it out on their own. Why do we all have to learn the hard way? For me, the scary advertising campaigns with images of burnt lungs and huge tumors did nothing. I had to decide it was time.
I smoked for about six years. It wasn’t until I met my husband (then boyfriend) that I started to think about quitting. He was a former smoker when we met and he wasn’t thrilled with my stinky breath and clothes. One day I woke up feeling particularly gross and I said to him, “I’m quitting smoking today and I need your help.” This was simultaneously the best and worst thing I ever did. My husband is a man with a plan: he takes things seriously. That sentence was justification for about a year of torture. He hid my cigarettes, poured water on them, threw them out the car window, and crushed them under his foot. I tried to sneak a smoke whenever I could and he was a maniac—he could smell smoke on me from a mile away.
It drove me absolutely crazy at the time, but I don’t think I could have quit successfully without his help. I also used the patch. Studies are mixed, but I found it reduced the intensely unpleasant physical craving so I could focus on my emotional dependence. Today, I’ve been smoke-free for longer than I was a smoker. Now if only I could get my pesky sister to quit!
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