I hate cigarettes
August 5, 2006 3:58 PM   Subscribe

Quitting smoking makes me hate the world. How do I get over that?

Whenever I don't smoke cigarettes for over four days I start getting frustrated and grumpy. And it goes on for a long time. I stop finding enjoyment in most things.

I don't want to smoke cigarettes. I really have no desire to inhale and exhale smoke. I do, however, want to feel like I enjoy things and don't hate everything.

What should I do?
posted by mustcatchmooseandsquirrel to Health & Fitness (34 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Zyban will take the edge off pretty decently (and make smoking displeasurable), but it's still a struggle. Nictotine reeplacements will help somewhat, but don't give the immediate rush of a cig. Use one or the other, don't use both.
posted by orthogonality at 4:10 PM on August 5, 2006

In my experience the feeling that comes closest to that of quitting smoking is grief, and like grief, it's an emotion which becomes less intense as time goes by. You seem to have all the right intentions about quitting. Just take some comfort in the fact that these negative feelings will eventually dissipate.
posted by Neiltupper at 4:10 PM on August 5, 2006 [1 favorite]

Not to sound completely snarky, but um... what about the patch or the gum or the prescription (PDF)?

You're suffering from nicotine withdrawal, I'd assume. This causes people to get pissed.
posted by disillusioned at 4:15 PM on August 5, 2006

5 minutes of link searching, and I fail to hit preview. Mazel tov.
posted by disillusioned at 4:16 PM on August 5, 2006

The grumpy bit goes on a while for a lot of ex-smokers. Some people who have this issue to an uncomfortable degree, try talking to their doctors about a temporary course of Zyban/Wellbutrin, as noted upthread. The drugs do seem to work. Also, it helps to remember that the cravings are only really strong for about 10 minutes, and do decay in intensity over time. I also find that Scotch whiskey is good for drowning such cravings in the evening, if you don't drown 'em that way every night.

I've "quit" a bunch of times, always "cold turkey," once for 7 years; the latest try, since Feb.10, this year. I still get occasional strong cravings, and I did 6 1/2 years into the 7 year stint. It's normal, I guess. Personally, I like tobacco, in any smokable form, a lot.
posted by paulsc at 4:20 PM on August 5, 2006

Response by poster: I would really rather not take any sort of drug or nicotine replacement to deal with this. I know that I can go longer than a month without smoking and I know that after a while I stop hatign everything.

I just want a way to hate everything less and enjoy more than 1% of life while in this phase of not smoking.
posted by mustcatchmooseandsquirrel at 4:20 PM on August 5, 2006

"I just want a way to hate everything less and enjoy more than 1% of life while in this phase of not smoking."
posted by mustcatchmooseandsquirrel at 7:20 PM EST on August 5

Some people recommend launching into a big exercise program when you are quitting. Other people who advocate for this theory say its success stems from the notion that exercise can stimulate the brain to produce a lot of endorphins, and the body to tone up and recover aerobic capacity, and that all of that also counteracts depression, which nicotine withdrawal can encourage. I think there is some truth in that approach, but getting just the right amount of exercise, at the right times, in the early days of a quit smoking regimen, seems to be the difficult bit.
posted by paulsc at 4:34 PM on August 5, 2006

I suspect this is going to sound stupid and corny but I remember the feelings you describe so well, even though I qui t over ten years ago.

I used to counter those cravings with an exercise I thought of as "counting my blessings," even though I'm not remotely religious. I would think of all the things that could go wrong, that have gone wrong, in my life and mentally list them:

"At this moment I want SOME NICOTINE, but on the bright side, no one I love is dying of cancer, both of my dogs are safe and sound, I don't have pinkeye, my knees don't hurt, I'm not hungry, I haven't crashed my car, I don't have the flu, I haven't lost my wallet....etc. etc. etc. I would end with "My life is fabulous, and by not smoking, I'm making it more fabulouser."

I hope this helps. The cravings do get easier as time goes by, and you'll be so much healthier, you'll live longer and have so much more energy. Good luck!
posted by chocolatepeanutbuttercup at 4:45 PM on August 5, 2006 [4 favorites]

This, too, shall pass.

There's a whole bunch of quit smoking websites, like this one, with a whole bunch of people suffering what you are right now. Beware the sunshine enemas, of course, but maybe someone will have a solution that suits you.

For me, exercise was key (and I hate exercise) and reminding myself that I couldn't trust my feelings (or even thoughts) in the early stages.

Seven months, five days, 9 hours, 48 minutes and 32 seconds. 2174 cigarettes not smoked, saving $760.93. this time - not like I'm counting or anything.

posted by b33j at 4:54 PM on August 5, 2006

I second Zyban.

Quit May 5, 2000.
posted by k8t at 4:55 PM on August 5, 2006

Interesting, paulsc -- I just had my last cigarette on Wednesday, and I had started spending my life at the gym as of 17 July.

Try it, Boris. I find that the exercise makes a huge difference in my mood -- I get agitated, I just head to the gym. I never was one of these jog for the master-race people but it sure is working for me now.

Then again -- Wellbutrin!
posted by Methylviolet at 5:10 PM on August 5, 2006

Serial killing worked for me, then I found Zyban made me feel even better.
posted by buggzzee23 at 5:10 PM on August 5, 2006

This one had all the earmarks of being one of b33j's "sunshine enemas" when I heard it, but...

Look, I love to smoke while driving down country roads in my pickup. Gimme a crisp autumn morning, a fresh pack of Kents, and 50 miles of 2 lane to cover in my Chevy, and I could be driving straight into Armageddon a happy man. So I was driving along in my Chevy, on a cool Florida winter morning, down a stretch of Highway 17, about February 21, cussing under my breath that there wasn't a single butt in the truck, and no convenience stores in sight, when who but the good Dr. Andrew Weil M.D. (he of the great grey mane, and successful holistic medicine franchise) came on NPR (well, ya gotta take the good with the bad) and started talking about breathing techniques, and demonstrating some of them on air.

So I'm listening, and driving, and cussing and there's still no store, and he says "C'mon, try it." to the announcer, and so I tried it, too, being as there wasn't a single butt in the truck, and

It worked. Who'd a thunk it? He contends mindful breathing can stimulate the vagus nerve in a good way, but I don't know anything about that.

Got me through most of March, too. But I haven't been doing it lately, it being so simple a technique, it's dead easy to forget. Glad you asked the question, mustcatchmooseandsquirrel, and jogged my memory.
posted by paulsc at 5:37 PM on August 5, 2006


time heals all wounds

be patient
posted by caddis at 5:43 PM on August 5, 2006

Not the greatest answer, but at least it's coming from an ex-chainsmoker.

Accept the discomfort, grief, and negative feelings you get from not smoking as legitmate suffering caused by your past actions.

If you try to avoid the legitmate suffering, or think that for some reason you shouldn't have to experience it, it will go on for a long, long time.

If you accept how you are feeling as 100% legitimate since you caused it through your past ways and actions, it will suddenly dimish and become more manageable.

Crazy but true, at least in my experience.
posted by milarepa at 5:56 PM on August 5, 2006 [1 favorite]

wellbutrin - seriously
posted by Pressed Rat at 6:03 PM on August 5, 2006

Go to the gym and hate some weights. The release of testosterone, adrenaline, endorphins and human growth hormone will give you a euphoric high which will help you feel better for awhile.
posted by rinkjustice at 6:06 PM on August 5, 2006

Support. Someone to give you a hug, or perhaps a nice long kiss and tell you that they enjoy the lack of smoke on your breath.

No, I didn't have that luxury.

I hated hated hated the zyban/wellbutrin. Couldn't sleep, jittery all the time, and the first few days on medication (which I was to continue smoking as normal) I got no satisfaction out of smoking which made things worse (I defended my MSc thesis the third day on Zyban and the last day of smoking while on it).

It got so bad that I cut myself to a half dose and I still couldn't sleep so stopped the zyban.

(I was crossing the border when I was a couple of weeks into the zyban regimen - thankfully back into Canada - after a sleepless night after drinking with some Seattle Mechazins and I was sweating and jittery and tense. Luckily, I didn't get "inspected.")
posted by porpoise at 6:10 PM on August 5, 2006

An exercize regimen worked for me too, but not as well eating shitloads of cheeseburgers. Kopp's cheeseburgers - buns slathered with a couple tablespoons of real butter topped with fried onions that I could burp for a day and a half. I worked my way up to running three miles a day and still gained 25 pounds. But seriously, food. Eat lots of food.
posted by klarck at 6:38 PM on August 5, 2006

You'll be over it in no time. Keep at it.

Just remember: You'll feel worse if you give up and start smoking again.
posted by notyou at 6:43 PM on August 5, 2006

Best answer: I quit smoking March 1st of this year after a pack-a-day habit I'd had for 20 years.

For three weeks or so, while I detoxed from the nicotine, I felt like I was going completely insane. In order to avoid murdering people, or punching out all of the windows in my house, I ended up drinking myself into a stupor every day. Every time I craved a drag off a ciggie, I would swig some beer.

I started chewing gum, all kinds of gum (other than nicotine gum), in order to replace the hand/mouth/habit bits of my addiction. I was chewing like two packs of gum per day. This helped some with the nervous energy. The gum helped me while I was at work, and could not drink beer.

Drinking beer to help get through the alcohol cravings also helped me tolerate being exposed to alcohol without being tempted to smoke, once the worst of the chemical dependancy withdrawal symptoms had abated.

In the mornings, I would also lift weights, and try to get myself as "pumped up" as possible (mood wise).

I also did no small amount of self-brainwashing the entire time, by repeatedly telling myself the following things:
1) my nicotine cravings would not be solved by smoking a cigarette. ( I know it's a lie, but it helped.)
2) I am a non-smoker.
3) People who smoke are disgusting.
4) People who smoke end up with hideous skin.
5) I can put up with anything for three weeks.
6) Even though I'm eventually going to die no matter what, I prefer that it not happen soon. I prefer not to have a neck hole. I prefer not to have my jaw sawn off. I prefer not to set myself on fire by smoking while I'm on oxygen.
7) People who continue to smoke after contracting a life-threatening illness from smoking are helpless idiots, and I am stronger than they are.

I think that it helped me a lot to know that I only had to put up with the craziness for a fixed amount of time. That the chemical withdrawal stuff would go away. I turned the corner after three weeks. I can now love the world again.

You can do it.
posted by popechunk at 6:56 PM on August 5, 2006 [2 favorites]

lots of people smoke to feel better, they are self-medicating an underlying feeling of sadness--ok maybe depression even

yes, i became quite depressed after i quit smoking, bad enough to need medication

in any case, the depression was masked by the smoking, or made better by it. it came out when i stopped smoking.

i don't know what it will take for you to turn your feelings around. if you find yourself eating too much or drinking more alcohol than usual, beware.

good luck
posted by subatomiczoo at 6:59 PM on August 5, 2006 [1 favorite]

I should also mention that I think it's important for those three weeks to suck a bit. I think cold turkey is the way to go.

My reasoning is that I never, ever want to go through that again. I have firmly linked the two in my head: if I smoke another cigarette, the three week clock of doom starts all over again.
posted by popechunk at 7:08 PM on August 5, 2006

If you can, avoid the chemical solutions. They just lead to a new addiction in many cases. If you can't do it without them don't despair. Of course they are orders of magnitude better issues to deal with than tobacco. Taking up a new healthy activity, such as cycling or running, can be a great distraction, especially since the smoking really hurts the new healthy activity. Of course if you crash on this, you will crash on two fronts and thus crash and burn. Sometimes the knowledge of that keeps you motivated.

Good luck to you in any case. I say a little prayer for your success. Regardless of religious faith, the collective faith of Ask Me seems to be a positive. We know you can and will succeed.
posted by caddis at 7:15 PM on August 5, 2006

Oh my gosh Popechunk has it exactly. The three-week clock of Doom.

(Though personally I felt more like that when I had to quit smoking because I was pregnant -- that felt more imposed on me, this I want to do)

I forgot to tell you, but yes, I too have the alcohol-stupor thing going. A beer at bedtime has been most efficaeous.

And if I can think of a ladylike way to say this, you may find it a helpful insight -- another benefit of the gym is that you can store mental pictures of the 20-year-old hotness you see there for later use. This also helps with the nervous energy.
posted by Methylviolet at 7:25 PM on August 5, 2006

"... 4) People who smoke end up with hideous skin. ..."
posted by popechunk at 9:56 PM EST on August 5

Picking up on what popechunk posted above regarding skin, I do think some lines around my eyes and the corners of my mouth have become less pronounced in the last 6 months, rather than more so. I don't bruise as easily, and seem to have less pronounced histamine reactions to bug bites and vegetative irritants.

Vain I'm not, but even a weathered old guy notices changes.
posted by paulsc at 7:26 PM on August 5, 2006

Oh yeah, it is so easy to spot the heavy smokers just by their pallid skin. If you are unsure, just smell their smokey breath. At a recent deposition attended by an acquaintance of mine the doctor being deposed really threw the attorney deposing him off her game by commenting on her smoking (cancer was an issue in the suit). It was as if she was overwhelmed with her own mortality rather than with the issue at hand. It also scares away suitors and employers. We are talking here about the skin of a two pack a day or similar smoker, but even the lesser smokers affect their complexion. It is just more subtle.
posted by caddis at 7:46 PM on August 5, 2006

I quit cold turkey on the third try and it was absolutely the hardest thing I've ever done in my life.

Two things helped:

1. Total avoidance. Don't go anywhere you associate with smoking. If there's a bar you hang out at regularly, stop going. If there are people with whom you associate for one reason or another with smoking, like that one friend who's always the person with whom you sit and chain smoke while talking, beg their forgiveness in advance for refusing to hang out with them for the next month. If coffee makes you want to smoke, switch to tea. Always get to class/work/whatever ten minutes early so you have time to smoke before going inside? Start showing up without the time to devote to that.

The incredibly deep way smoking had ingrained itself in the daily activities of my life took a long time to go away. Avoiding these things completely for about two months made all the difference. I was very addicted and have absolutely no willpower, so you may be able to do it only for a week or two and get the same benefits.

2. Vanity. This may only work if you're a little neurotic about your appearance, but it helped me. I looked closely at every person on the street I saw who was smoking, and realized that they all looked at least ten years older than they probably were. This pinged something deep within my psyche, something that said, "You're pretty homely right now, and if you take away the one thing you've got going for you [which is that people consistantly guess my age at roughly seven years younger than I am], you'll be the ugliest woman alive." While probably evidence that I could use some therapy for my body dysmorphic disorder or something, it did the trick, because the last thing I want is to think I'm uglier than I already think I am.

Good luck.
posted by jesourie at 7:48 PM on August 5, 2006 [1 favorite]

I quit cold turkey almost a year ago after 12 years of a pack a day. Allen Carr's Easy Way to Quit Smoking somehow reconfigured my thoughts and there was never a time when I almost smoked. It was a breeze. I had tried before and the feeling of deprivation caused me to snap at people etc.

A few more thought (some of these are Allen's, some mine, I can't tell the difference anymore(:

1) When I see people with unappealing skin and a miserable demeanor, I sense they are smokers and I'm usually right.

2) We recommend no substitutes whatsoever because substitutes reinforce the idea that you are being deprived of something when you are actually being deprived of nothing whatsoever. On the other hand, the sensation of beer in my mouth and the back of my throat helped.

3) Quitting smoking is easy. It isn't harder than getting over a small cold, once you realize that you are being deprived of nothing. Healing feels nice once you realize that is what is happening.

4) Relax and let yourself gravitate towards the cigarettes and see how far you actually go. Don't fight it. You won't actually smoke.

5) When you read the book, turn off your critical thinking skills. In other words, don't let the fact that you are smarter than Allen Carr keep you from letting him help you.
posted by Aghast. at 10:09 PM on August 5, 2006 [1 favorite]

Best answer: yeah, welcome to my world!

I quite smoking 16 years ago this month...

My current list of angry white men heroes:
Hunter S. Thompson
Lewis Black
Henry Rollings
Penn Jillette

To name a few.

I totally still hate the world. But I don't stink. I don't wake up with a nasty hack. I can smell and taste food (I hate the world less during those times, same when I'm having a great cup of coffee) and having more money to spend on good food, coffee and beer.

You can totally hate all those... FUCKERS! and still quit and have reasons to quit my friend. :)
posted by smallerdemon at 10:40 PM on August 5, 2006

I often get frustrated and grumpy. It goes on for long periods of time. I don't find enjoyment in most things. That's regardless whether or not I smoke. That's not because I'm an ex-smoker. It's because I suffer from depression. If I ever woke up one morning smiling and happy and joyful, THEN I'd think there was something wrong with me and I'd probably go see a doctor.

If you get frustrated and grumpy, perhaps you should accept the fact that that's just your way. Quit medicating or blaming your personality on nicotene or the lack of it.

I quit three years ago. Took it up again a year and a half ago due to stress. Stopped again last April, for good this time. In fact, both times I stopped smoking, it was on April 13th. I didn't use a patch. I didn't use the gum. I did the math.

With cigarette prices as they are, I can no longer rationalize paying for something that was just making it harder to climb staircases. I simply realized it's illogical to smoke, as much as I wanted to. The shits who keep pushing sin taxes won out.

I smoked a pack and a half a day. I averaged that out to three bucks a day. Thirty dollars every ten days. That's ninety dollars a month I was spending on smoking. Over a thousand dollars a year. Up in smoke. If I had never started smoking, I'd now have twenty thousand dollars more than I do, either saved up or in other resources than I have now. I mean I probably woulda spent it, but I woulda spent it on something other than smoke.

I pissed away twenty thousand dollars. I used twenty thousand dollars to increase my risk of cancer. Not very bright, but I was young and foolish. Every time I feel the urge now to smoke a cigarette, I do the math.
posted by ZachsMind at 12:30 AM on August 6, 2006

I'm preparing to kick the habit, too.

I am concerned about the patch not working for me because I tried it about a decade ago and the adhesive blistered my skin. I use Veteran's Administration medical and I mentioned my concern to my doctor. She said I would have to call an 800 number before the VA would send me the patch.

I talked to a local pharmacist who said they got lots of complaints about the blistering; so, I bought a box of nicotine gum. Of course, without me calling the 800 number, the VA mailed me 5 boxes of the patch.

If anyone has any feedback about the patch (the adhesive) causing blistering, I'm all ears. I get blisters from the band aids they usually use when I get a blood draw so I ask for a childrens' band aid to mitigate that.

The boxes are a 6-week course: 2 x 21 mg (7 patches/box), 1 x 14 mg (14 patches/box), and 2 x 7 mg (7 patches/box). I haven't opened them.

I think I'm going to use the gum and I would be happy to send the patches to someone who wanted them. I'd like to recoup the $40- copay ($8/box) and the postage (which wouldn't be much). I have a valid email address in my profile if anyone is interested.

I'm not much interested in using Wellbutrin; but, the VA will give it to me if I really need it. I get pretty nasty when I'm without nicotine. They won't give me the gum, which is why I'd like to get my money back out of the patches.

I bought a bicycle and am starting to get an exercise routine going before I stop buying cigarettes and start the gum. I also bookmarked paulsc's "breathing exercise" link and looked up Allen Carr's web site after reading Aghast's comment.

If anyone has other suggestions, like herbal aides or anything, I would appreciate the information. Thanks for the information everyone has posted.
posted by taosbat at 12:10 PM on August 6, 2006

Cinnamon toothpicks. And patience.
posted by Merdryn at 2:08 PM on August 6, 2006


70 percent success rate on helping people quit smoking, significantly higher odds than ANY other method.

Went for hypno myself on Thursday last week to stop smoking. It's monday morning now and I can't even imagine smoking a cigarette.

Prior to going for hypnotherapy I tried stopping cold turkey 3 or 4 times, and each time my personality was replaced by that of the incredible hulk.

Sorry for the bitty infomercialish sounding response but i'm very tired, too tired to be posting on here, but I wanted to make the suggestion to you because it was so successful for me and I had similar difficulties to you.
posted by chrissyboy at 9:12 PM on August 6, 2006

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