Quitting Smoking
June 14, 2005 1:30 PM   Subscribe

I'm finally doing it. I'm quitting smoking - yay me! Anybody who has done this (and succeeded) - how did you get over the rough patches when the urge to light up was almost too powerful to ignore?

I'm quitting for several reasons, number one being my health. I'm also just plain sick of it. I've been smoking a loooong time. I'm in the process of stepping down my intake. I gave myself a week to go from 1 pack per day to zero. At the end of the week, no more. Each day my goal is to eliminate another "cig-trigger" - for example, on Day 1, I quit smoking in the car. Day 2, no smoking after sunset (I seem to smoke a lot more at night than in the day). I'm on Day 3, and that was no smoking within an hour (before or after) a meal. I'm actually making quite a bit of progress and sticking to my plan. I think I can do this!

I'm trying to quit without gum, patches or drugs, or any other type of substitute. I'm really mentally ready and willing to quit smoking - at this point in my life it seems less about nicotine addiction than a pattern of smoking-related habits that I've developed over the years. That's why my self-imposed program is focused on shedding those habits, one by one. At this point (early in, admittedly) the only thing I've not had to deal with which usually sends me reaching for the pack is high stress or upset. I'm hoping for a stress-free week, but in case fate wants to test me, does anybody have any tips on how you dealt with stress while simultaneously quitting smoking? That's the main one I'm afraid I'll mess up on. Any other quit-smoking tips would be appreciated, also.
posted by contessa to Health & Fitness (40 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Just relax. Don't think of it as a huge event. What's important is that you can stretch the time between cigarettes. One day it's an hour, then next a day, then a month.

Disassociate events from smoking, it's the habit that'll get you.

Fate is a crutch, you're stronger than that.

Also, if you go into events with a full head of steam you'll get more done than with a head of smoke.
posted by stx23 at 1:45 PM on June 14, 2005

Your goal is quite auspicious, but a lot of people (especially long time smokers) find it really difficult to go from a regular habit to nothing in just a week.

Your plan of cutting back on "triggers" is a good one, but you should also allow yourself a trigger for when it is ok for you to smoke- as much as your mind wants to be rid of your addiction your body is still very heavily addicted, and giving yourself a specific way to succumb to that, on occasion, is something that will definitely help. If you can confine your smoking to one particular circumstance, then eventually when that occurs you will not feel the desire to smoke at all. I know it seems kind of counterproductive, but cold-turkey really is a difficult way to stop doing something which is so addictive and habitual.

For me, I decided that it was only ok for me to smoke if someone offered me a cigarette, and only if the proffered smoke was an American Spirit. That way I could enjoy an occasional smoke, because I still really wanted to smoke at that time. I've heard of other people having success with this method.

Another thing that might help would be to sit down and figure out how much you spent on smokes during the past year alone. The result will likely mortify you. Then if you feel the urge to buy a pack at the gas station, just ask yourself, "Do I really need to add to that figure? Do I need to waste any more of my money on this crap?"

Other than that, willpower is the only thing that will get you through. As long as you truly, desperately do not want to continue smoking you will pull through. Good luck!
posted by baphomet at 1:48 PM on June 14, 2005

I succeeded for 8 months. My best advice is keep yourself occupied, avoid things that you associate with smoking like say, coffee, or alcohol, and maybe have some gum or snacks around to keep your mouth busy.

Also, once you've beat it, don't delude yourself that you can go back to having one "once in a while." That's what sunk me.
posted by jonmc at 1:51 PM on June 14, 2005

I got through the day when I quit smoking 20 yrs ago by allowing myself a pipeload (tobacco) in the evening when I got home from work. after a while I just got too lazy to mess with a pipe and here I am clean 20 yrs later. You can do it and It's well worth it.
posted by ScotchLynx at 1:52 PM on June 14, 2005

Best answer: I woke up the morning of my 24th birthday and just threw my cigarettes away. I tried to quite a few times prior and succeeded for about 9 months once. I used the patch that time. The only quit that has ever stuck, though, was this last one when I just stopped. Period. That was eight years ago.

I had a many rough patches; mostly stress related. The key for me was thinking ahead six months to when I wouldn't be coughing a half-pound of crap up every morning. I also used breathing exercises whenever I got the urge. I'd stop whatever I was doing and focus on my breathing for five minutes or so. In the beginning I stopped a lot, but as time went on I needed the breaks less and less. Near the end of my habit I absolutely hated smoking... maybe that was a key to my success, I don't know.

I do know tha I could never have done it the way you're doing it. Too much temptation. For me, cold turkey was the only way to do it. Just throwing the things away and being done with it. And learning how to breathe again.

However you do it, good luck to you. It's a tough beast to kick, but it can be done.
posted by friezer at 1:56 PM on June 14, 2005

Focus on your breathing, and appreciate the clean air (if you have access to it). Start exercising for stress relief. Get into Yoga or something that focuses on your breathing. You are going to feel so much better. Prepare yourself.

Watch out for the 3 week and 3 month marks. Every time I relapse, it's around those dates.

And I will agree with jonmc in that very very very few ex-smokers can enjoy just one now and then once they've quit. My father-in-law quit for 6 years after getting acupuncture for the addiction, but I watched him bum a drag or a smoke here and there for the past year. Now he is back to a pack a day and rising.
posted by brheavy at 2:05 PM on June 14, 2005

Understanding that you don't want to use drugs, I just wanted to note that Zyban/Wellbutrin/bupropion from a quitter's perspective feels like quitting in the way you're describing, but with an extra shot of willpower. Rather than struggling to choose gum over nicotine, for example, you'd be able to rationally choose the gum, and that gum will satisfy your cravings. It also makes any overall "habit" adjustment that you seek more attainable.

I didn't want to mess with patches or any other supplements that would keep nicotine coming into my body. (So I guess I just messed with my brain).

It's a physical addiction, and your body thinks it needs nicotine to survive. It can eventually contribute significantly to your death. Rationally, it didn't make sense to not use whatever medical assistance was necessary. It's not really cheating when the end goal is saving your life.
posted by VulcanMike at 2:34 PM on June 14, 2005

Best answer: The key to beating the addiction is to understand that the only reason smoking makes you feel better at all is that it has made you feel worse in the first place by creating in your mind the feeling that you need a cigarette. All you are doing by smoking is feeding the nicotine hole in your brain your last smoke has created.

Aside from giving you a nicotine fix, the idea that smoking has any real effect on mood is an illusion. Ask yourself: if smoking one cigarette makes you feel better, why does chainsmoking three in a row make you feel a bit sick? Surely you should be the happiest person ever.

Smokers have celebratory cigarettes and cheer-up cigarettes because they are most conscious of their mood at those times. They smoke in an attempt to control it. Unfortunately the nicotine only speaks to the part of their brains which craves nicotine, and so depending on how long it's been since your last cigarette and how depleted your nicotine receptors are, the narcotic effect of a celebratory smoke can vary from 100% wow this is heaven to 0% this is disgusting.

The thing which enabled me to give up was the realization that smoking doesn't even taste good. Seriously. It doesn't taste like anything at all. Go ahead and try it!
posted by dydecker at 2:37 PM on June 14, 2005 [2 favorites]

I quit cold turkey in January for similar reasons. So far so good, it really does get easier as time goes by. I'd suggest focusing on all of the good you're doing, and all the nice things you'll be enjoying soon (breathing, smelling things, tasting things).

Stress is what prevented me from quitting for years. Every time I tried, something would set me off and I'd go right back to it with the promise of trying again when I was less stressed out. I realized that I was going to have to learn to deal at some point, and that stress was just an excuse for smoking again.

I found that crunchy things like pretzels or carrots, chewing a ton of sugar free gum, and drinking lots of water worked well to replace the habit part of it. When I got really stressed out I would breath like I was smoking; inhale deeply and blow it out slow, it may sound odd but it really helped.

There have been some other great posts & suggestions too - here, and here, they might help?
posted by sarahmelah at 2:43 PM on June 14, 2005

I quit (for 3 months now) by occasionally going to the neighborhood hookah bar...
This may not be feasible for you where you are at...but the idea is to replace the "bad" habit with a "good" habit...

I also had to quit drinking for a few weeks, and slowly reintroduce alcohol (this is what has sunk ALL of my previous attempts)

DO NOT under any circumstances rationalize even ONE cigarette after going without for more than 3 days (after 3 days you are physically nicotine free.) Doing so will ruin all of the hard work you are doing right now...
posted by schyler523 at 2:43 PM on June 14, 2005

When the urge hits fight it. Much simpler than it sounds. I smoked for 10 yrs and have not smoked for the past 3. You will never be a nonsmoker, just a reformed one. I still get urges, but each year they're weaker.

When the urge hits you - find something to do that occupies your hands and your mind. Start gardening, take up painting, build models, knitting, cats cradle etc... Once you've been able to get through an urge without picking up a cigarette the others will start to become easier.

The after meal cigarettes will be tough. You may find that your digestion process becomes a wee bit different. It will not be entirely pleasant, but WORTH IT. Soon enough you won't be coughing up yellow browny bits, your sense of smell will start to come back along with your taste buds. You'll continue coughing for a long while as your lungs try to cleanse themselves. It's all part of the process of your body trying to regain its health.

It is all worth it.
posted by Constant Reader at 2:49 PM on June 14, 2005

I was about to answer and remembered I've done this before. Three previous questions with lots of good answers. 1, 2, 3
And yea, I still can't say enough good about acupuncture.
posted by mss at 2:49 PM on June 14, 2005

I would suggest drinking water or something like that periodically during the day to give you something to do. If you decide to snack, make sure the snacks you eat are healthy for you (i.e., NOT out of a vending machine, as a general rule). I recommend low-carb snacks like cheese sticks and veggies.
posted by Doohickie at 2:54 PM on June 14, 2005

Response by poster: Wow, everyone -- thanks for all the good advice so far! (You know, I KNEW there had to be a quit-smoking question here in AskMe somewhere - my google keywords turned up things only tangentially related to my topic, though -- so thanks for the links to the other threads).

One thing I didn't mention is that when I do smoke (which is less and less each day), I actually have to FORCE myself to do it - really, at this point, it grosses me out so bad, and makes me feel bad, and I hate it, but I do it anyway to reinforce the reasons I'm quitting in the first place. I'm actually glad when I'm done my daily allotment of cigarettes, instead of feeling, "Oh crap, I need more cigarrettes..." Really, mentally, I am done. Physically, I am beginning to be more and more ill as each day passes at the thought & actions of continuing.

Also, I have begun drinking more water (though, you can pry the diet coke bottle out of my cold, dead hands) and eating fruit when I'm feeling ticky. Doing long walks as the weather allows (right now...not so much!). Tomorrow is no-smoking-at-work day. That'll be interesting.
posted by contessa at 3:01 PM on June 14, 2005

I quit many times, once for a bit over a year, but the urge was always there. This last time I quit (which has now also been about a year), after the first two weeks of only the occasional cigarette, when my lungs started clearing, I started running and swimming. I almost immediately lost the urges completely because every time I had one I could FEEL my breath getting shorter. Not fun.
Being lazy, I haven't stuck with the running and swimming. But I haven't wanted a cigarette, either, even when dead drunk and around old friends who still smoke, so I count it as a win.
posted by solotoro at 3:06 PM on June 14, 2005

Good luck, I hope you can do it without patches or gum. I could not. I quit about 10 years ago by using the patch for the first few weeks, and then by chewing the gum for almost a full year. I had tried many times and just found the psychical addiction too powerful: i.e., could not think, sleep, concentrate, etc.

I chalk my success up to the gum, pure and simple. I chewed a ton of the stuff--as much as I wanted for the first few months. Maybe 12 pieces a day. You are not supposed to do this, and I am sure it is bad for you (probably could give you a heart attack), but it broke my cigarette habit long enough for me to quit.

I second (or third) the idea that you can never, ever go back once you have quit. I have not had a single cigarette in about 10 years. I'm pretty sure I would have a total relapse if I did.
posted by Mid at 3:06 PM on June 14, 2005

What worked for me:

Deciding if I was a Smoker or Not A Smoker (Much like I am Not A Cannibal). It's a bright line. Like so many things, it's about changing how you think.

It's been almost 10 years (- 6 weeks exactly, but who's counting).

I did crutch on cigars for a bit. I smoked my last cigarette the night before my daughter was born. Hence the cigar/not smoking connection.
posted by lrivers at 3:08 PM on June 14, 2005 [1 favorite]

Contessa, sincere congratulations on making an honest effort. I hope you succeed in this difficult -- but attainable -- goal.

Every minute without smoking is another minute toward freedom from addiction. Congratulations as your minutes accrue ever longer!
posted by five fresh fish at 3:15 PM on June 14, 2005

Lots of good advice here. Good luck quitting, it will be one of the best things you ever do for yourself. I've been cigarette free for about 7 years now after an 8 year habit. The thought that helped me quit, my mantra, so to speak, was this:

Millions of people don't smoke every single day of their lives.

That and water. Lots of water.
posted by fletchmuy at 3:19 PM on June 14, 2005

I smoked for seven years and quit three times, the last time was for good (3 years ago). I did a few things different the final time.
1. The absolute most important thing: I was ready to quit. You said this is true for you, and that is fantastic. I kept thinking about what was going to happen (and who I would be) if I didn't quit. I realized that I wasn't going to die young, and I didn't want to suffer through middle- and old-age because of some stupid addiction.
2. I quit cold turkey. The first two times I tried to step down and cut back, but it didn't work. I kept making excuses for why I one extra cigarette didn't count or didn't matter. This may be different for you, but the only way I could do it was all-out.
3. I finally admitted to myself that I couldn't quit without an aid of some sort (which I had previously thought I could), so I chose Nicorette gum. I bought a pack of like 50 pieces, but I only ever ate 2. I never tried to substitute the gum for cigarettes, I just wanted it as a backup. The times when I really wanted a cigarette, I knew that I wasn't going to cheat and have a smoke, I was going to have a piece of gum. I carried it with me for probably a year.
4. I have never touched a cigarette since I quit. Again, this may be different for different people, but I feel that rationalizing cigarettes every now and then only hurts your overall achievement, and is very mentally dangerous.
A few other things which may or not be helpful, I stopped going out drinking for about two months because of the association between drinking and smoking in my mind, and I started working out which I believed helped push the built-up toxins out of my body faster. Whether this is true or not, it certainly seemed to help.
I didn't feel really safe until maybe a year and a half after I quit, and I still dream about smoking when I am really stressed out (but the dreams have a very negative feel to them, like I am doing something that I don't want to).
Good luck, it's really hard but totally worth it in so many ways!
posted by Who_Am_I at 3:21 PM on June 14, 2005 [1 favorite]

I agree - lots of good advice here.

I quit cold turkey after 20+ yrs as a fairly heavy smoker. The first week or so sucked - many intense cravings but none lasting more than a few minutes.

I found that reminding myself that I was not "trying" to quit smoking but rather was now a non-smoker helped a lot. Once the initial physical addiction is gone it becomes a relatively simple mind game. What worked for me was instead of seeking an alternative for the cravings (physical or psychological) such as gum or patches or pills or avoiding drinking/bars or whatever - I met them face on and essentially told them to fuck off. :) Silly maybe - but it's worked thus far.

Also DO NOT even have one cigarette. One will become two and you'll have to deal with the damned first few days of quitting all over again.

Good luck!
posted by birdsong at 3:24 PM on June 14, 2005

The best advice I read about smoking and stress was to think about is really going on when you are having a stress smoke. You're taking time out from the stressful situation and deep breathing with a cigarette. Can you do the same without the cigarette? Of course you can. Just leave the situation, go sit down, and deep breathe for 2 minutes.

When it gets tough, remember why you quit. Your singing voice will come back, your skin will get pinker, your teeth will get whiter, you'll have a lot more money, you won't have to clean that icky sticky crap off the insides of your windows, you will smell better and taste better (and so will everything else) and did I mention the money?

So, Brava, Contessa!!! I am the living breathing proof that a 2 pack a day habit can be kicked (8 years and counting). Welcome to the club.
posted by puddinghead at 3:36 PM on June 14, 2005

Interesting - you are doing something I did when I quit, which is forcing yourself to smoke. Really, now that you are so grossed out by it, you've developed your own form of aversion therapy. I quit over 20 years ago in one night, using the following technique:
1. Bought the worst tasting menthol cigarette I knew of.
2. Made myself smoke every one of them (at least three drags).
3. Did not allow myself to re-light any of them (no butts).
4. Each time I lit up, I told myself "This is making me sick." (it was, truly).
By the time I was done, I felt sick to my stomach and was glad to see the end of them. I purged my apartment of all paraphernalia and never looked back. Six months later I had to find a different line of work because I couldn't take the smoke (I was a waitress). Both the easiest and hardest thing I've ever done, but absolute one of the best things I've ever done.
Don't give up, and don't smoke! I did have one cigarette about three years later - and threw up within about a half hour. That was all I needed to know that I never needed another one.
posted by dbmcd at 3:43 PM on June 14, 2005

contessa, if you want to read more along the lines of my answer above you could pick up Allan Carr's excellent book The Easy Way To Stop Smoking. His method of demystifying smoking really worked for me.
posted by dydecker at 3:48 PM on June 14, 2005

Best answer: I haven't smoked in around two years; I quit cold turkey. Don't follow the advice here that you can smoke something else or smoke now and then... just don't smoke.

Things I found helpful- (I smoked for seven years...)

1. take vitamins and drink lots of water. Consider a mood-elevating substance like Ginseng or Gingko or Green tea. You'll be totally shocked at how good you feel when you're intaking nutritional/stimulants and not poison.

2. Get plenty of sleep. Take naps instead of smoking. I slept a *lot*. If you can, have sex.

3. Do what you're already doing.. I replaced cigs with hot food and jerky- nuts work too. Having something to chew on/eat INSTEAD of smoking works well, and your cravings eventually shift onto the new thing.. every so often I just *have* to have a big piece of quality jerky. I had a small toothbrush with me for after meals.. I'd just go to the bathroom and brush. Sounds crazy, but it really kills that after-meal cigarette craving.

4. Use the time you'd have spent smoking to do something you enjoy. Instead of a cig break, I'd actually have an "internet break" where I'd allow myself to waste time.

5. avoid bars and smoking and smokers... for a while. introduce yourself back to it slowly. eventually you will start to hate the smell of smoke... I can barely go to a bar now because of the reek.

6. Don't let seasonal changes, trips, significant others, funerals, whatever make you smoke again. Nothing is worth it..

7. Keep in mind that tobacco companies are evil, and that you're paying them to destroy your health and you will pay again to try to repair it when you end a wheezing old dishrag..

Good luck.
posted by fake at 3:50 PM on June 14, 2005 [1 favorite]

In 2 weeks I'll have quit smoking 4 years ago. I quit cold turkey. I didn't plan it actually, I was just driving to work one day, and I said to myself, "I'm not gonna have a cigarette today on my drive to work." And I didn't. I told a co-worker, and he reverse-psychologied me ("oh, you'll be smoking again by lunchtime," etc.), and I hate to admit that it worked.

I don't know if I was ever really physically addicted (I could go a full day without smoking if I was with my parents - I never smoked around them), but I found the habit was hard to break. Every couple hours at work, I'd find myself standing up, ready to go outside for a smoke. I'd just go walk down the hall or something instead.

I think the thing that helped me quit was realizing that smoking was a choice. I could choose to light a cigarette or not to light one. Every time I wanted one, I said to myself, "I'm choosing not to have a smoke right now." It sounds simplistic, but it worked. If I had to have something, I'd go get a soda, or a small snack or something.

There was an online community at the time where people would have quit diaries/journals, and I admit, I kept one. I didn't really write much, but it was interesting reading about other people who were having a really tough time quitting. If anything, that helped me to realize that I wasn't having such a bad time, and that dispite the fact that everyone around me was smoking (most of my friends at the time smoked, and bars in my area still allowed smoking), there were other people who were trying to do what I was doing.

I do occasionally miss it, but not nearly as much as I thought I would. And I don't think I miss the nicotine, but I just miss holding a cigarette. I had one cigarette about 4 months after I quit (at a Halloween party), and I didn't enjoy it as much as I expected to, and I gave the pack to a friend. I just had another one a couple months ago (I just kinda wanted one), and I didn't enjoy it at all. I thought I missed the taste of them, but when I had this most recent one, I really couldn't believe that I used to like it. Hope your expierence is similar.

Also - Quitnet has this nifty little thing (I think they call it the "gadget") where you plug in how much you smoked, your "quit date", and how much you paid per pack, and it tells you how many cigarettes you haven't smoked and how much cash you've saved. You might not need this motivation, but it's a neat little tool.

Funny/Mindblowing: My gadget is telling me that I haven't smoked for 1448 days, I haven't smoked 21,732 cigarettes (I smoked about 15 a day), and I've saved $3,801 (based on 2001 cig prices). Crazy! And! Where's my $3,800?!?
posted by AlisonM at 3:57 PM on June 14, 2005

First let me say that there are many ways to go about this. Some things work for some, and not others. You have to find what works for you.

I started smoking when I was 14. Two packs a day. Always. I took breaks, but never succeeded in quitting for more than a few months.

When I was 28, I got pregnant. Decided if I cut down to 10 a day, it would be OK. My body was already so messed up from the pregnancy that I really didn't notice any withdrawal this time.

Then I discovered a good friend, who was about 55 had a spot on her lung. I quit cold turkey. Kept a glass of water with a lemon wedge handy at all times, which I felt helped. Told everyone there would be NO smoking around the baby (which also protected me from temptation for a good long time). About 2 months after I quit, I had 2 puffs of a friends cigarette and found it totally VILE.

When it got really difficult, I pictured being at my daughter's graduation(s), etc. And then I said to myself, "there there, if you really still miss it when you're 75 you can go back." And those two things made it much easier. Being around for my children. And knowing it wasn't really forever. My friend died just after my son was born, 5 years later. My daughter is now 23 and I am still nicotine-free and celebrating that fact.

Good luck to you!
posted by altobarb at 4:04 PM on June 14, 2005

I know a hypnotherapist who says that she has a great success rate in helping people to quit smoking, and it only takes a couple sessions or so. That might be something you want to consider.
posted by jeri at 4:11 PM on June 14, 2005

I agree with AlisonM that a stop-smoking meter is hugely helpful. I can't tell you how many times I felt I HAD to smoke, but resisted because I didn't want to reset my meter. The one I used was from http://www.silkquit.org/ and it's free. It's not web-based; you download it for use on your own computer. It runs continuously and can be on constant display if you so choose.
posted by wryly at 4:33 PM on June 14, 2005

Pack-a-day Winstons huffer, quit cold turkey four years ago or so, with a few single-cig relapses in the first few months.

1. Started running. That way I could feel every cig's damage.

2. When tempted, imagined myself in a hospital bed with children and grandchildren at my side weeping, tube up my nose. In the background someone is saying, "60 is so young."
posted by sacre_bleu at 4:37 PM on June 14, 2005

Second vote for dydecker's suggestion, the Easy Way to Stop Smoking, it's very logical and repetitive but simple and encouraging, and it works. Keep it at hand for reading when you feel like you might relapse, I don't have a copy at the moment and keep falling off the wagon.
posted by penguin pie at 5:38 PM on June 14, 2005

I just celebrated my 1 year quitting anniversary after 29 years of smoking (and 28.83 years of trying to quit, and I'm not exaggerating in the least). I found that every time I wanted a cigarette if I just killed an annoying or obnoxious person my craving would go away. Now I can go almost a whole day without committing a single murder! And I have so much more energy!

OK, seriously, I spelled out what worked for me in a previous ask.metafilter thread in October 2004. I've backed-off a bit on my zealousness (for example, I'm friends again with a couple of smokers that I'd abandoned in the early phases of my quit), but I found that rabidity absolutely necessary at the beginning. In previous quits lasting as long as several months there was always a wistful longing lurking in the back of my mind. That's completely gone now. I won't smoke again and won't miss it either.
posted by TimeFactor at 6:51 PM on June 14, 2005

Best answer: I smoked from ages 11 to 29, so 18 years. I quit last October. I used the three D method to get past cravings -- when the urge hits:

Delay -- Tell yourself you can have one in 20 minutes. Within 5 minutes I'd be over it.

Do something else -- Simple. Do something other than smoke.

Drink water -- Have a glass of water.

Last week the most overwhelming urge I've had since I quit came over me. I used the three D method to get over it, but I was pretty shocked. My father, who quit in the early 90s, still gets urges once in awhile.

The key is that you can't just have one once in awhile. One will become two will become ten will become a pack. You've just got to stop.

Good luck. It's the best thing I've ever done. If someone told me that tomorrow I was gonna die, I still wouldn't light up.
posted by xyzzy at 7:26 PM on June 14, 2005

My mom smoked for 30 years before she finally quit 2 years ago. She hasn't touched a cigarette since. She found that chewing gum (of the non-nicotine kind) and eating pistachios (gave her something to do with her hands) really helped her quit. Good luck!
posted by geeky at 7:58 PM on June 14, 2005

This thread did it for me! Delay and distract, drink water - and the very best of luck from me. :)

For the first few weeks oral-fixation I chewed on carrot sticks. I hate gum, but I'm sure gum would work as well.
posted by dabitch at 4:17 AM on June 15, 2005

I quit on my 30th bday, after~15 years of smoking & trying to stop numerous times. The difference on my successful go at it was my ability to stay focussed on why I wanted to quit. In the first weeks, I backslid a few times for partial smokes, but didn't have a whole cigarette. I told myself that no matter how matter people I pissed off, that it was worth quitting - to the point of losing my job or my girlfriend. I also took the Zyban and chewed the gum. The Zyban made a small but noticeable difference in my ability to keep quitting in perspective. It has been 3+ years now and it got easy after a while.

It was very nice to fly from Virginia to Arizona and not stress the need for smoke along the way.
posted by john m at 4:20 AM on June 15, 2005

For urges, I found that simply miming smoking was a surprisingly good help.
posted by transient at 8:23 AM on June 15, 2005

I quit when I got pregnant, and stayed smoke free the entire time I was breastfeeding...and then, poof...one mad weekend in NYC with the girls and I was hooked again.

I've been trying the weaning process...and it's not really terribly successful for me. Probably because I *know* there's smokes in the house somewhere, and so if I can get the boy down for a nap, or I finally get him to bed, I anticipate going outside alone, sitting on the edge of the pond, and having a smoke as a detox (ha) from the day.

So, I've decided to go cold turkey too. I'm starting tomorrow morning. I have 2 more cigarettes left in the pack that I hope is the last one I ever open.

We could start a support group. :)

Of course, I'll be making myself healthier, but you realize this means that all my pond-time will now be spent feeding my already fat ducks and Jurassic sized catfish. It's going to look like Larson land out at Casa Chaos.
posted by dejah420 at 6:52 PM on June 15, 2005

Two pieces of advice:

First, at the risk of sounding Yoda-like: Don't quit; simply do not smoke. "Quitting" is a big deal. It's an activity, an ongoing stuggle; quitting is active, not passive. Not smoking, on the other hand, is passive. It's a little deconstructionalist, yes, but it has worked for me. It's not the only tool you need to help you over your addiction, but it should help. When someone asks if you're quitting, say no, that you're just not smoking at the moment. My own addictive mind has an easier time with this, too, since it doesn't sound like "I'll never smoke again", which tends to send me dashing for the smoke shop.

Second, my advice for anyone trying to outlive any addiction or compulsion: try to learn the difference between when your mind is telling you something true and when it's bullshitting you. Sounds easy, but it's hard. Addictive cues are lies your addiction tells you to keep you acting within the addiction. The biggest, perhaps only, challenge to overcoming any addiction is learning how to recognize a lie about you, and stand up for the truth. Good luck.
posted by squirrel at 10:34 PM on June 15, 2005 [2 favorites]

The urge to smoke will come in waves, which will only last a few minutes. If you delay, as mentioned, it becomes much easier and the waves become less frequent.

Try to spend as much time outside as you can; play tennis, go for walks, jogs, bike rides or just sit outdoors. For some reason, at least for me, being outside reduces the urge to smoke.

Drink lots of water.

Chew on toothpicks - lots of hand to mouth activity. For some reason, when I first quit (28 years ago), I was actually worried about what I would do with my hands. Don't worry, you'll have plenty of things to do. (Although some might be bad habits themselves.)

Don't identify or define yourself as a "smoker"; that will just lead you to smoke again because that's what "smokers" ar e supposed to do.

Take it seriously - it really is a vitally important decision. Without being melodramatic, try to envision the logical and likely outcome of continuing to smoke: Sitting in a doctor's office and being told "Well, I have some very bad news for you ...

I wish you and anyone else who is quitting the best of luck.

One last thing, there must be Millions of people who have quit. There is no reason at all why you can't be one of them.
posted by cjb10350 at 6:20 PM on June 16, 2005

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