Quit Smoking - Now What?
June 6, 2004 11:54 PM   Subscribe

BodilyFunctionFilter: Five weeks smoke free - huzzah! - however, I am worried that I am not hacking up any lung hommous from 8+ years of a reasonably rastafarian rock n roll lifestyle. I am breathing great, but i *know* there should be stuff coming out ... is my worry justifed?
posted by elphTeq to Health & Fitness (26 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
this isn't going to be pretty in terms of answers!

i quit smoking after about 10 years, i started to notice the hacking up stage roughly 2 weeks after quitting. it went on for about a month afterwards.

were you a heavy smoker? and also, the, ahem, *brand* that you smoked could have made a difference as well.

good luck and stay quit!
posted by triv at 2:31 AM on June 7, 2004

good luck and stay quit!

I was a light smoker for 20+ years till this February - i didnt really hack anything up. I used to smoke what we call rolling tobacco in the uk, which i guess is not all that common in the states.
It is said to have fewer impurities in it, so that may explain. I certainly think brand has some thing to do with it.
posted by dash_slot- at 3:29 AM on June 7, 2004

I was a 10-a-dayer until two years ago. I did a fair bit of non productive coughing after giving up, but that didn't last long. Best of luck, you've already done the hardest part.
posted by viama at 3:53 AM on June 7, 2004

I smoked a pack a day, both rolling tobacco and filtered cigarettes. I didn't hack up much at all after quitting.
posted by soplerfo at 4:05 AM on June 7, 2004

Think of it this way: your body may be finally able to deal with the toxins via the normal pathways (your liver, kidneys and skin) without having to send it back out the way it came!
Congratulations, you've done a very good thing for yourself. Treat yourself to a nice warm bath a few times a week, and try to drink lots more water than normal. This should help to process all the junk.
posted by nprigoda at 4:47 AM on June 7, 2004

Try getting some vitamin C. Your body wastes a large amount of that vitamin moving the toxins out of your system.

dash_slot: You can definately find roll tobacco in the States. In Oregon, there are high quality tobacco stores in the Portland area that have very fine tobacco, from 555 up. I used to roll my own. It is not common to see someone smoking them, but you can certainly get them.
posted by Keyser Soze at 4:54 AM on June 7, 2004 [1 favorite]

I was also a light smoker, from the age of 14 to 21. When I quit I remember coughing, but not coughing anything up.
posted by JoanArkham at 6:08 AM on June 7, 2004

I've quit ... uh, several times, actually ... and have never hacked anything up. I did once have a really bad asthmatic reaction, and had an inhaler for about a month, so that's something to look out for. My doc said it's a fairly common reaction.
posted by WolfDaddy at 6:14 AM on June 7, 2004

I've been a heavy smoker for the best part of 25 years. A few years ago I managed to give up for 6 months. I coughed quite a lot after a couple of weeks but never produced much errrr, material. I wouldn't worry about it, just be grateful it isn't more icky.
posted by squealy at 6:19 AM on June 7, 2004

elphTeq, most of the hack-upable stuff will be reabsorbed into your system, and your bod, in all of its infinite wisdom, will find other ways to detox it, when and if it needs to. Congrats on quitting.
posted by iconomy at 7:16 AM on June 7, 2004

Whenever I quit I exercise A LOT. Lots of heavy breathing usually gets me to hack some stuff up. Other than that, when I'm relaxed there isn't too much ... umm ... expectorant.
posted by TurkishGolds at 7:21 AM on June 7, 2004

I'm actually thinking about quitting again within the next few weeks. My success (albeit, short-term) in the past has been the direct result of nicotine patches. I'm fine without cigarettes for a few months when I'm on the patch, but then as soon as I stop the patch I start smoking again. Anyone know of a good alternative to the patch? There are so many products these days, including tons that are nicotine-free. They're all so expensive, I'm curious to hear reviews.
posted by TurkishGolds at 7:26 AM on June 7, 2004

Congratulations! I quit four years ago after about 15 years of moderate to heavy smoking. I don't recall coughing up much at all, so if I was expectorating, it wasn't enough to be notable. Enjoy your fresh, clean lungs!

Re: non-patch quitting alternatives. I'm one of those horrible people who quit by... not smoking. Whenever I'd want a cigarette (which was pretty much constantly at first, then less so, although I still have occasional white-knuckle cravings and probably have two or three dreams a year that I'm smoking again) I'd just do something else until I forgot about it. My other brilliant strategy was to eat whatever I wanted. I figured I could lose the weight later (which I did, although it took me a few years to get around to it) but that I didn't need to stress myself out over dieting on top of trying to quit smoking. Basically I just turned all my energy towards not smoking, until not smoking became more of a habit than smoking.

Yes, it sucked. But eventually you'll have to learn to not smoke without a patch or gum, no matter what you use to get over the initial hump. I did have a friend who had great sucess quitting with Zyban, so that's something to look into if it's still available as a smoking cessation aid.
posted by jennyb at 7:52 AM on June 7, 2004

I tried Zyban -- it didn't work at all for me. Those smoking dreams are THE WORST. My smoking dreams were so intense, I could feel the inhale sensation, the buzz, everything. I'd wake up tormented by it. The other tough thing is what I call "temporarily forgetting that you've quit." Example: In an awful movie or a long meeting you think to yourself, "I can't wait until this is over so that I can have a cigarette ....... doh!"
posted by TurkishGolds at 8:56 AM on June 7, 2004

This is not an answer to your question, but as someone who has "quit" several times, and who is in the process of "quitting" again (18 days!), I have two words of advice:


An alcoholic who hasn't had a drink in 20 years isn't a "former alcoholic", he's a "recovering alocholic". It's the same with smoking. You can't have any cigarettes. Zero. You can't have "just one at the bar". Even if you manage to stick to one, eventually that one will turn to two, which will turn to four, which will turn to a pack in the glove box of you car "for emergencies".

I have gone for two years at a time without a cigarette--only to slowly creep back into a pack-a-day habit over the course of several months. It never leaves you.

But congratulations on five weeks smoke-free! Here's to a lifetime more!
posted by jpoulos at 9:01 AM on June 7, 2004

jpoulos is very right. I'd like to add, cheating is cheating no matter what -- there are NO excuses. I used to sit around and think of ways to justify just one cigarette. I decided that it was ok to smoke one Ultra-Light if I was drunk, this is what eventually led me back to a pack/day.
posted by TurkishGolds at 9:14 AM on June 7, 2004

There's no moment like in "Alien" where something pops out of your chest. It would be nice if that happened, because then you could imagine that what you were really coughing up was your own addiction. I quit the same way jennyb did, after learning the hard way what jpoulos said. Good luck!
posted by coelecanth at 9:22 AM on June 7, 2004

What jpoulos said. I fell back in the hole after two years smoke-free, by just having an occasional one at the bar. Now I'm back to a pack a day and feeling like a complete idiot.
posted by fuzz at 10:12 AM on June 7, 2004

I quit a year and a half ago when I found out I was pregnant, after smoking 10+ years (about a half-pack a day, menthol). I'd already quit the year before, but it creeped back in because I was around smokers - then I started waitressing, in which you don't get a break unless you stop for a smoke. I didn't hack anything up either time I quit cold.

I remember reading a study that said after ten years or less of light to moderate smoking, going smoke-free for a year put your body back at 95% of its lung capacity and down to a normal risk of heart trouble. So I guess unless you overload it or you're already at physical risk, your body can process those toxins reasonably well for a while - for most people, it's after smoking for 20 or more years that they start to get the big bad effects. So I read. IANAD.

Quitting works by learning to not-smoke. Pregnancy really helped me not-smoke, but I'm sure that's not an option for most people, heh. Anti-smoking laws in bars/restaurants, which I don't necessarily agree with, helped a lot too - you learn that you can go out and not-smoke, because you're around all these other people not-smoking also. Good luck!
posted by Melinika at 11:08 AM on June 7, 2004

I never hacked up anything when I quit. I was at 1/2 a pack a day for five years.
posted by scarabic at 11:30 AM on June 7, 2004

I'd second the no-cheating thing. I gave up once then cheated by sharing the odd spliff and before I knew I was back on the ciggies. Not good.

Personally I didn't do any of the hacking up when I quit although I do seem to recall getting a couple of nasty colds after the first month or so.
posted by dodgygeezer at 1:01 PM on June 7, 2004

There's another side to cheating. Namely, if you backslide, it isn't all over. If you fall off the wagon at a bar one night, you just start again in the morning.

This isn't to give you an excuse for sneaking them in. But don't beat yourself up and give in after a relapse either.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:04 PM on June 7, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks for all the support guys - it's been a tough gauntlet to run :)

My story: I smoked probably a pack a day as well as 4 or 5 spliffs a night - the amount of pot tar that i have ingested was what really was worrying me (plus all those graveyard shifts spent on caged podiums in haze of smoke machines, human and mechanical, taking many many deep, aerobic breaths :)

Of course, I have tried quitting at leat twice every year since I started, the last time using the Smokenders programme surviving 4 months, so I am full aware of how easy it is to slip back into comfortable habits - but this time it's been different, thanks to the help of this book (nb. there is no easy way, but the book gave me some excellent tools), and the love of a woman i did not want to lose.

The clincher argument for me was so simple - you are not "giving up" smoking, you are "escaping" smoking. I had never thought of it in those terms, this simple phrase provided me with the potential world view of seeing a life/identity beyond being a smoker.

Now that i am over the habit, I am left looking at the causes of my compulsive behaviour, which is a whole different kettle of fish (now wonder i turend to drugs!). Too much emotional and physical energy to cope with for this australian ten-fingered ex-rasta mac sloth :) It's all very exciting and different.

I am a little worried now that my body is dealing with the gunk on the inside, though - I demand the satisfaction of an expulsive harsh cough and viscous black phlegm!
posted by elphTeq at 5:17 PM on June 7, 2004

Another perspective--using smokeless tobacco to quit smoking. Apparently the actual smoking is much worse on you than the raw tobacco exposure.
posted by NortonDC at 6:29 PM on June 7, 2004

I 'quit' for 8 months, about 9 years ago. I used the patch and believe it helped a lot. But the real trick for me was exercise. My worst cravings for smoke occurred evenings after work. About 45 minutes of bike riding killed it, and the net result was I quit smoking AND lost weight! (my natural state is very sloth like).

Back sliding is far too easy, however. Don't have a single one, just as a number of folks have said.

Anyone planning to quit, a bit of advice: First, stop smoking in your home. Get used to that, it helps!
posted by Goofyy at 5:16 AM on June 8, 2004

oh, i forgot about the dreams too!

anyone else get that? even now, 3 years after quitting, i'll dream that i'm smoking and wake up guilty. i'm guessing that my unconcious mind just can't let it go...
posted by triv at 12:15 PM on June 8, 2004

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