Help me come up with a quitting-smoking Plan B
December 29, 2011 1:01 PM   Subscribe

So I kind of made up my mind a few days ago to quit smoking via the Wellbutrin/Zyban method. But now I can't get a Doctor's appointment until Feb 8 and I'm already losing my resolve!

I wanted to get the ball rolling as soon as I made the decision and my research has led me to choose the Wellbutrin/Zyban course of action mostly because of the reports that it becomes effective pretty quickly, and I also have a more emotional dependence on smoking than a physical one--I'm more scared of losing the emotional crutch than dealing with the addiction aspect.

What should I do? Go ahead and try and quit cold turkey (I'm not interested in the gums or lozenges or patches) then feel bad about myself if I fail? Or should I wait until I get a prescription to try and quit?

Mostly--what should I be doing right now considering I haven't had a cigarette in almost 24 hours and hoped to have started on meds today but can't? What steps should/can I take right this minute? I've already read the Alan Carr book and don't want to use gums/patches/lozenges.

Also, how much do these drugs generally cost if you don't have insurance? I'm in NYC if that matters at all.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (25 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not interested in the gums or lozenges or patches

Is there a reason? I could not have quit -- well, down from a pack a day to a cigarette or two at a party every other month -- without the patch, and I already take that medication. I don't know how much you smoke or for how long, or how long you've tried NOT smoking, but quelling nic fits makes quitting a lot easier.

Zyban is not going to magically prevent you from wanting a cigarette as if you never had one in your life. Due to the unfortunate nature of addiction, that doesn't really ever go away. It'll just make it easier to say "no."

Target should have the cheapest medication prices, AFAIK. Call them up and ask how much generic bupropion hydrochloride is.
posted by griphus at 1:11 PM on December 29, 2011

i think what you should do is enjoy every puff on every cigarette you smoke until you quit. it sounds like you're just screwing with your own head at the moment. you had a plan, right? so stopping smoking now is breaking your plan, right? so you've put yourself in a no-win situation, which is the weakest possible position from which to successfully quit. try following through on your original plan, which was to quit via the Wellbutrin/Zyban method, which as you know should be carried out under a doctor's supervision.
posted by facetious at 1:13 PM on December 29, 2011

Wellbutrin/Zyban/bupropion is widely available without a prescription on the Internet, if you're in a hurry. I've had good luck with InHousePharmacy in the past.
posted by killdevil at 1:13 PM on December 29, 2011

Anonymous, generic Wellbutrin isn't too bad. I believe it is called Bupropion, and is about four bucks a day. It is nothing with insurance--can you find a day clinic? If you create a disposable email address I can contact you with more information. What dosage are you looking at?
posted by mecran01 at 1:14 PM on December 29, 2011

and i should say, full disclosure, I quit by using the patch for approximately 1 year. it's been 10 years since then, and i've never been troubled by the desire to smoke.
posted by facetious at 1:15 PM on December 29, 2011

Whoops, Bupropion is about $1.33 a day, at the url referenced above.
posted by mecran01 at 1:16 PM on December 29, 2011

Various strengths of Bupropion (generic Zyban) are around $35 for 60 pills at Costco's online pharmacy.
posted by needs more cowbell at 1:19 PM on December 29, 2011

Also, it looks like Minute Clinics might prescribe it.
posted by needs more cowbell at 1:25 PM on December 29, 2011

Non-smoking Bupropion taker here, I would suggest making the appointment now no matter what, and if you can find a place with an earlier appointment then schedule that instead. Until that date you can make whatever attempts to quit you like, if one of them succeeds then cool, you can cancel the appointment. If, however, you don't succeed by Feb 8th you have a set in stone drop dead date. The day of your appointment is the day you start your medication assisted full effort attempt to knock that smoking shit off.

As for the buprops, you may want to consider getting the Bupropion XL formulation. You can pop one in the morning and have it last all day.
posted by cirrostratus at 1:28 PM on December 29, 2011

Mod note: From the OP:
I wanted to give for a throwaway email address for the commentors.

I also wanted to respond to say that:

I have been able to successfully cut down over the years to only about 4 or 5 cigarettes a day and my smoking is dependent on my routine. Sometimes when I'm busy enough, I don't smoke at all or even desire to. I don't really experience heavy cravings. I don't have 'nic fits' generally.

I'm not interested in the lozenges/patches/gums because I feel like they won't work for me because they aren't treating the real problem, which is emotional dependence, which is why I'm going for the meds. And if I already feel like they won't work, they probably won't, right? Like reverse placebo or something?

I am just looking to make it 'easier to say 'no'' currently.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:32 PM on December 29, 2011

What happens when you take Wellbutrin/Zyban is that you can suck for dear life on a cigarette to no avail, you will get nothing from it. You can still smoke all you like, but it's an exercise in frustration unless you just like the physical habit. So maybe that is the help you need. Or maybe you just need a different coping strategy to do instead of smoking.
posted by provoliminal at 1:35 PM on December 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

I don't know if this will help you, but I quit cold turkey after a few attempts because I started exercising. It scared the shit out of me that I could not take a full, complete breath in my late 20's. Which lead to some deep thinking about all the damage I was doing to myself and my body. With all the sickness you could already randomly get, it seemed foolish to up the ante by smoking. Maybe you should print out some nasty lung pictures and look at those for awhile. When you feel like smoking, look at them again.
posted by Elizabeth907 at 1:56 PM on December 29, 2011

After years and years of trying and being basically successful so far at quitting this year, my advice is to not worry about it. If the Wellbutrin doesn't take, just keep smoking. It's only a few a day, and you've been doing it this long, another year or whatever it's going to make a huge difference. Either you smoke, or you don't; either you want to quit enough to do it, or you don't.

Not to be pithy, but you're already a third past the hardest part, the first few days. Go buy a bag of lollipops to keep in your pocket and ride it out. The only thing required to quit smoking is to not smoke, everything else can be a mind-game. Sure, you have NYE coming up and that might be a trying moment or two for you (gravitate toward non-smokers), but it's not going to be the end of the world if you don't stop smoking, get your prescription, or whatever, until January 5.

and I also have a more emotional dependence on smoking than a physical one--I'm more scared of losing the emotional crutch than dealing with the addiction aspect.

Lastly, even if you ignore my paragraphs above, this is a b.s. lie that nicotine tells you to keep you from even trying to quit. One thing I have learned each time I've quit (shush, you), is that it's never as unpleasant as I think it's going to be, especially as such "emotional" considerations give way to the physical benefits. And you know what? It's paying attention to these "emotional" triggers that gets me smoking again, every time. Start thinking of these connections as problems that smoking causes, rather than feelings that smoking cures.
posted by rhizome at 1:57 PM on December 29, 2011

I am just looking to make it 'easier to say 'no'' currently.

That's basically what the patch/lozenge/etc. is for. Anyone who tries to quit completely relying on them fails, just like completely relying on the medication is doomed to failure. They're basically like training wheels for quitting; they're just there to take the edge off and let you concentrate on the hard part. You still have to do 90% of the work in quitting.

Regardless of whether you think they're helping, they are, simply because your body is being fed a steady stream of nicotine that you then lower until you don't need it. Meanwhile, you still have to quit smoking, which is the hard part. I remember sitting in my political science class rubbing the patch on my arm just to remind myself that its there and that there is nicotine in me and that it could be worse. And that helped.
posted by griphus at 2:01 PM on December 29, 2011

no offense, OP, but your psychological theory is wrong, and it's going to make it much, much harder to quit if you misinterpret every impulse to smoke as having emotional roots. basically, it's just a way to blame and shame yourself for your own completely innocent chemical dependence, and as such is just adding insult to injury.
posted by facetious at 2:18 PM on December 29, 2011 [4 favorites]

I was prescribed Wellbutrin as an antidepressant many years ago when I was a smoker. I had no idea that it was the same thing as Zyban and I had no idea what was going on when smoking became weirdly ungratifying and pointless. Yes, it did magically prevent me from ever smoking again, and I would advise you to spend whatever it takes to get it. It really works (at least it did for me). Good luck!
posted by Wordwoman at 2:23 PM on December 29, 2011

As a data point, I was prescribed Wellbutrin for anxiety. It did not make smoking less fun or anything. I did eventually quit cold turkey, and maybe Wellbutrin helped with that. But I'm surprised to read so many people saying it had a drastic effect on their enjoyment of cigarettes, it definitely doesn't do that for everyone.
posted by wildcrdj at 2:41 PM on December 29, 2011

Lose your resolve all you want to...just don't buy any more cigarettes before your appointment. Don't quit cold turkey right this second--you'll still make your appointment, get your prescription, start the regimen; just see how long you can go, in the meantime, without buying any more. It's a lot easier not to smoke them if they're not right there in the house with you, taunting you.

Which is lame mind-trickery, but use whatever it takes to quit. Personally, I used the discovery of a tumor in my left lung as a motivation to quit (lucky for me, a benign granuloma as it turns out)...but even with the motivation, it still took that basic step of not having them around to really quit.
posted by mittens at 3:17 PM on December 29, 2011

Forgive me for not answering your question directly, but have you considered using electronic cigarettes on the way to quitting? I made the switch about three months ago and it was relatively painless; I still get my nicotine but the dependency is way, way, way down. I forgot the ecigarette for two family gatherings the day after christmas and I was fine. Like, not completely hooked anymore.

me mail if you want to hear the rantings of a convert.
posted by mearls at 3:26 PM on December 29, 2011

You may want to have a contingency plan if the Wellbutrin side effects are more than you want to handle.
posted by Ardiril at 3:36 PM on December 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

The way you actually use the drug bupropion to stop smoking is that you take it for two weeks. While still smoking. After the two weeks pass, the drug has taken full effect, and cigarettes feel weird and pointless, and the urge to smoke is severely diminshed.

So you can simply put your resolve on hold and just smoke until you get the prescription.

Bupropion-supported smoking cessation is a quite interesting experience. I recommend you try it.
posted by krilli at 5:09 PM on December 29, 2011

Zyban is not recommended or approved for people who smoke fewer than 10 cigarettes per day. Also, some people (like me, for instance) have very unpleasant side effects from the drug. You may want to explore other options.
posted by kamikazegopher at 7:49 PM on December 29, 2011

Zyban is not going to magically prevent you from wanting a cigarette as if you never had one in your life.

Actually that is not true --- or at least, it was not true for me. I smoked for years (and loved it!), and Zyban did for me what it did for WordWoman -- it made smoking completely joyless and uninteresting. Stopping happened naturally, within a week, with zero effort on my part.

So, I hear you on wanting to keep resolved and not backslide. But honestly, if Zyban is effective for you, willpower will be a non-issue. It will indeed be magical.

Kamikazegopher mentions side effects. Zyban made me feel a bit speedy, and I had vivid dreams. It wasn't great, but not a dealbreaker.
posted by Susan PG at 1:05 AM on December 30, 2011

Anecdote on side effects: I LOVED the side effects. I was focused, energetic, awake. (Not manic though, just a little bit better than usual.)
posted by krilli at 6:54 AM on December 30, 2011

I LOVED the side effects. - I kept shitting myself.
posted by Ardiril at 10:51 PM on December 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

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