James Rambur Presents

Quitting Smoking

   Quitting smoking is always a good idea but not always easy. I have been at it off and on for twenty years. As I write this I am about a month short of a year. This is record territory as the longest I have been off before was 5 months. The key is not to give up. Through the many failed attempts I have learned a lot about the nature of the beast. Keep in mind that everyone is different, many can quit easily while some die still trying. I will try to offer some of my experience to help any of you in this endeavor.
   The easiest way to quit is not to start to begin with. Most of us learn this lesson too late. Those of you who don't smoke may do well to read this too as you will likely decide you don't want to learn these lessons first hand.
   The first time I quit I used the Ciggarest plan offered on TV. Listening to the motivational tape over and over for a month got me in a positive frame of mind. I then set a quit day and started the lobeline pills. My one mistake was to still have cigarettes around but it didn't bother me. I gave them to a neighbor a week or so later. I was off for several months when stress in my work triggered a bout of depression. It manifested itself as chronic fatigue. I would sleep 10 hours at night and fall asleep reading the paper in the morning. I was put on antidepressants none of which worked. When I started smoking again I got better. This is the first evidence that nicotine has a big effect on brain chemistry. When I was feeling better I quit smoking again. This was the start of a roller coaster ride. Every time I quit the depression would come back. Finally I was offered zyban, Welbutrin SR which was a godsend. The fog lifted and I felt better than ever. When I quit the pills the depression came back and it was no time at all before I was back on the cigarettes. I am now on welbutrin long term and doing fine.
   My first piece of advice is to not give in to just one. It has been my experience that instead of satisfying the craving it makes it worse. I would actually smoke more than I did before to catch up. It is also a good idea to make sure there are none around on quit day. That first one in the morning starts the cycle. I have used the patch many times and found them useful. It best to get off them as soon as possible because your system still expects that boost in the morning and that causes discomfort.
   Another hint is the phase of the moon. Anxiety associated with quitting is always worse during a full moon or a new moon. A quit day a week before or after a full moon would be advised. I remember one time with only a day or two off I couldn't sleep and the cravings were so bad I went to the store for a pack at 4 AM. On the way I looked up ans saw a lunar eclipse. The moon doesn't get any fuller than that.
   To this day I still have dreams about smoking. I usually feel bad about failing but it is nice to wake up and find the house doesn't stink.
   Time to update. I have fallen off the wagon a couple times since this was written. I still use Commit  to keep my sanity.

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