Friday, March 30, 2007

No Smoking

As I type this, I have been Smoke Free for 33 days.

I tried my first cigarette on a summer camp overnight camping trip in 1980. I was 13.

I have been smoking regularly since I was 15. Until February 26, 2007 at 1:00 pm (the exact time I quit smoking), I hadn’t gone more than 12 hours without smoking a cigarette for the last 25 years.

I have tried to quit before, but always went back. I really think I have quit this time. To all my fellow smokers from an ex-smoker, I wanted to pass on all the techniques I am using.

Warning: My pointers are working for me. I can’t guarantee they will work for you too. At least two of them are the opposite of what the Quit Smoking books tell you to do.

#1 -
Zyban is a wonder drug.

About six months ago, I had a physical. I told my physician that I really wanted to quit smoking. He prescribed Zyban. It does not contain nicotine, but does greatly decrease nicotine withdrawal. The instructions say to start taking it a week before you plan on quitting smoking. That way, the drug will build up in your system.

I didn’t read the instructions so I started taking it the day I quit smoking. It seems to have worked just as well – at least with me. I didn’t have ANY physical nicotine withdrawals! Amazing.

Psychological withdrawals are another subject.

Stick with your regular routine – and add more stuff to it.

I am very set in my daily routine. (My friend Gina has said that I would be very easy to assassinate. You can pick any time of any day and know exactly where I am day-to-day, week-to-week.)

A major part of my routine used to be smoking. On weekdays, I would have my first cigarette of the day right after I got up in the morning at 6:35 am. My second would be after I had dressed for work, but before I had brushed my teeth – at 7:10 am. My third of the day would be around 11:00 am, when I took a break at work. My fourth would be at 5:10 p.m., when I had gotten home from work and settled in a bit. And so on.

Since I have quit smoking, I have an extra 15 minutes in the morning to fill – and with an activity that wouldn’t remind me of smoking. I have found myself taking very long morning showers.

In the evenings, I fill my time - and my mind - with anything that will keep me busy. So far, I have cleaned out all of my closets and every kitchen cabinet. I also find myself not going directly home after work so I won’t be reminded of that after-work cigarette.

Quit drinking alcohol.

For so many years, I would pop open a beer and light a cigarette. Damn, a cigarette tastes so much better with a beer – and vise versa. On days I wouldn’t drink beer I might have four cigarettes. On my drinking days, I could easily have three times that.

The past times I have tried to quit smoking, alcohol has always been the catalyst for my starting again. This time I realize that I cannot have ANY alcohol – at least for the first two weeks.

And I definitely can’t go to a bar for at least the first month. Being around beer AND smokers would be really hard.

I am now beginning week four so I have been drinking a bit of beer – but always quit (usually after two and a half beers) when I get the urge to smoke.

Chew lots of gum.

And brush your teeth a lot. Every time I get a craving for a cigarette, I pop a Dentyne Ice Arctic Chill – the best gum ever – into my mouth. It gives my mouth something to do and I eventually lose the urge for a cigarette in my mouth. The first week, I was chewing around 15 pieces of gum a day.

When I am home and thinking about smoking, I brush my teeth. The first week I must have brushed my teeth five times per day. Now – in week four – I am down to my regular twice daily.

Quit on the spot. Don’t work up to it.

Every past time I had tried to quit, I had set a definite quit date. This time, I said to myself that I would quit “after Mardi Gras, after Steve’s bachelor party, and after these two packs of cigarettes are gone”. On February 26 at 1:00 pm, I smoked a cigarette. When I was done I looked in my pack and realized that I was out of cigarettes. I said, “Well, I guess that’s it. I’m now a non-smoker.”

And 33 day later, I still am.

More on this subject in my next post.


Breezy said...


jason said...

I had heard something from someone somewhere about your quitting smoking, but I had thought it might be one of those urban myths.
I scoffed. :)
The miracles of science never cease to amaze, will they?


nolageek said...

I'm so proud! Good for you.

Trixie said...

One day at a time right?

Steve's been smoke-free for a year now and he was smoking several packs a week when he quit - he credits his success to a combination of Xanax and Wellbutrin.


Silly Monkey said...

OMG, I'm SO amazingly proud of you, Marshall! I know how hard addictions are to give up. Congratulations!

I've done the tooth brushing thing when trying to quit junk food. Things just don't taste the same when you can still taste the toothpaste. And by the time the toothpase taste is gone, so is the craving.

Now what the hell did your parents get you for your birthday? You said you'd tell me Saturday afternoon.