As a deluded fourteen year old, the choice to smoke was an easy one to make.
Prior to stopping on the 10th of August 2011, I had been a smoker my entire adult life, having started from the unripe young age of fourteen. As a teenager, I didn’t care about the health issues associated with smoking.
After all, taking risks is what being a teenager is all about. It doesn’t matter if it’s on a football field, a skateboard or at a party. When you risk your well being and manage to pull off a feat that appears daring, you gain “cool” points, at least in your own mind.
The more you experiment and break the rules, the “cooler” you become. Smoking showed everyone you didn’t give a crap, that you were grown up enough to make your own decisions and that you were a risk taker.
As a deluded fourteen year old, the choice to smoke was an easy one to make. A choice that would unfortunately become the most defining decision of my life.
During my youth, my body could handle almost everything I threw at it. The effects of binge drinking, drug use and cigarettes seemed negligible. It wasn’t until my mid twenties that I really started feeling the impact of cigarettes.
I developed a heavy smokers cough and as the years passed, increasingly felt like shit. Still, I continued to smoke. If I went without a smoke for more than an hour I became irate, couldn’t concentrate and couldn’t relax until I got my fix. I didn’t need a failed quit to know I was addicted, I just needed to live life as a smoker.
Over the last fifteen years, the financial cost of smoking has increased to incredible levels, as have the restrictions on where you can do it. All over the developed world, conscientious governments are placing huge taxes on tobacco and outlawing it’s use in public areas.
Billions of dollars are being spent on treating the negative health issues that come from tobacco smoke. QUIT promotions bombard the media with graphic images of smokers dying horrible deaths and leaving loved ones abandoned.
Smoking has become an incredibly anti social behavior, something to be ashamed of. Today, a person would have to be sick in the head to smoke, literally.
The heavily publicized health risks and the financial burden of my tobacco addiction motivated me to undertake several quit smoking campaigns. My early attempts were simple. I made an evening promise to myself that I would avoid that first cigarette in the morning.
I think the longest I managed was around 6 hours, at which point I always hit an unbreakable wall of cravings.
Failing at cold turkey proved just how severe my addiction was. There was no way I could beat the addiction without assistance. I moved onto Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT). I tried the patches, the gum and the lozenges.
The gum and lozenges just ended up being shoved into a draw or cupboard to collect dust, while the patches proved more effective and allowed me to reach new milestones. With patches I could finally go without a smoke for more then 24 hrs.
Unfortunately, NRT treatment only assists in suppressing the withdrawal symptoms from chemical dependency to nicotine and not the intricate and complex neurological effects of addiction. When a nicotine, tobacco smoking, junkie brain, goes untreated and unrecognized, lighting up is inevitable.
Several years ago, a new drug named Zyban appeared on the market. I had read claims that it was a “miracle” drug and that it actually stopped people wanting to smoke. Its power to help people quit was accidentally discovered through it’s use as an anti depressant.
Without hesitation I visited my doctor, received a prescription for the drug and set about my next quit campaign. The drug worked for a lot of people. I wasn’t one of them.
The next major attempt at quitting smoking came after reading Allen Carr’s “Easy Way To Stop Smoking.” The book was a best seller and Allen Carr was considered by some to be the champion of quit smoking coaches. His mantra is one that suggests stopping smoking is easy.
While the book raises some very interesting and positive ways to look at the addiction, it relies too heavily on a kind of cognitive “repression” therapy and “suggestive” hypnosis. This form of therapy has definitely worked for some people, it didn’t for me.
Throughout my history of failed attempts to stop smoking, Nicotine patches had been the only method to provided some resemblance of success. By success I refer to a decrease in tobacco consumption.
My nicotine addiction had only ever gotten stronger and the constant failures only served to re enforce a belief that quitting was impossible. I cursed myself time and again for not being strong enough to beat the addiction. I also increasingly cursed the cigarettes and the people who made them.
I felt utterly trapped and had resigned myself to the fact I was never going to be able to quit.
Then along came Champix.