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.