Five, was my “magic” number. It was how many days it took to break through the most intense hurdle of my quit, the chemical dependency. Having been a heavy, long term smoker, the physical cost of my quit was always going to be high.
I had learnt an enormous amount from my preceding failures. My last quit, my Chantix quit, taught me that quitting smoking was genuinely possible, all I needed to focus on, was the survival of my quit during those first five, critical days. After that, I would be well and truly on a path toward freedom.
In the time since my last quit, I had also learnt a lot more about my addiction, how it physically altered my brain and what would actually happen to my brain once I had quit smoking. I knew exactly what to expect and how I was going to overcome each and every challenge along the way. I also knew, that I had to do everything physically possible to bring the battle into my favor.
So I did.
Some people can tolerate being around others when they quit. Not me. I was a hater, a shouter and a curser. For this reason, my wife and I agreed that she would again take the boys and stay at her mothers for the week. This part of the journey, had to be done alone and with my head buried deep in a pillow.
I also made sure I didn’t need to go anywhere, wasn’t needed by anyone, and everyone who needed to know that I was quitting, had been told. I was to be left alone. Anger, was not going to be an excuse for relapse.
Doing whatever it would take, also meant being a hundred percent ok with the notion, that as a quitter, I was going to pack on the kilos. I knew that once I had successfully quit smoking, I would be in a better position to lose the extra weight and get fit. This allowed me to use, what is arguably, one of the ultimate tools for quitting smoking; sugar.
As such, my quit smoking supply pack had included the following;
- 20 Chocolate Paddle Pop Ice Creams.
- 20 Banana Paddle Pop Ice Creams.
- 2 Packets of Arnott’s Mint Slice Biscuits.
- 2 Packets of Arnott’s Gaiety Biscuits.
- 1 Box of Arnott’s BBQ Shapes.
- 1 Box of Arnott’s Pizza Shapes.
- 1 Pack of Doritos.
- 2 Packets of Mixed Lollies.
- 2 Blocks of Chocolate.
- 2 Packets of Twiggy Meat Sticks.
- 2 Bottles of plain Mineral Water.
- 2 Bottles of flavored Mineral Water.
- 4 or 5 Oranges.
- 1 x Entourage, the complete series.
I had enough crave crushing, dopamine inducing sweet stuffs, to supply a child’s birthday party. Extreme measures for an extreme addiction.
Note: If you are thinking of doing the same, check with your doctor and make sure you are aware of any risks.
You would think that having consumed all that sugar and over a short period of time, I would have been bouncing off the walls. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Prior to quitting smoking, I would drink around seven cups of coffee per day. Given that every coffee I consumed also included a side of nicotine, I figured it would only make things harder if I had continued to drink it. So having quit caffeine and nicotine, both at the same time, the biggest physical symptom I had felt beside craving, was fatigue. A god send during a quit smoking campaign, if ever there was one.
If there is one thing I am most thankful for, it is the fact that fatigue had been extreme during my quit. Having had no need to be anywhere, no one to disturb me and a comfortable bed available to me, I was able to sleep away some of the hardest periods of my chemical withdrawal.
When awake, I was able to sedate most of my cravings by consuming ridiculous amounts of sugar, in turn, giving me a quick shot of dopamine. When that failed, I resorted to screaming at the top of my lungs into a pillow, while punching away at the mattress beneath.
Despite my preparations, there were definitely still times when the only thing that stood between myself and the nicotine demon, was the rage of my own will to stop smoking and be free of this ridiculous affliction. I had taken refuge in the knowledge, that no matter how bad and how real it had become, my brain was healing and that it would get better.
Ultimately, I believe that my success in overcoming the chemical dependency to nicotine, was not due to the fact that I had quit cold turkey, but rather, me being absolutely prepared and willing to do everything I possibly could, to quit smoking and help my brain heal.