Exactly 4 weeks ago, the war to Nicotine started. I had no idea what it was going to be like. I did know that I had a big addiction, started early in life before I could have adult memories without nicotine involved. I also knew that my family history was not going to help much: my father, a huge 3-pack-a-day smoker, was in great shape until he had a heart attack at 78. He finally quit at that point, and lived to 82 in not so bad conditions. My brother and I both were similar type of smokers for many decades, enjoying every cig smoked together, meditating about life. At times, meditations to the level of finding all the possible reasons why this huge conspiracy against smokers was put together. All in all, all those millions addicted to the pleasures of smoke cannot be all wrong?
You get the picture.
So, it is not so surprising, to learn that the battle first, and now he war to Nicotine, is taking a lot of effort. I have posted a few updates here and there, and this one is going to be the update after 4 weeks of war.
To set the stage, I have been smoking since the age of 14. I don’t count the first two years, I was smoking very little and inhaling very little, but around 16 I started smoking regularly, around a half pack a day. By 18, I was smoking a pack. That stayed for a long time, but around 30 I was smoking 2 packs and sometimes a few cigs over. After moving to America, smoking went back down to a pack, pack and a half for a few years, then down to a pack when the e-cigs helped supplementing. In the final stages, I switched to American Spirit Turquoise and, given the huge amount of nicotine radicals with those (about 4 times a red marlboro), I had reduced to a stable 13-14 cigs a day.
So here’s me, smoking what turns out to be the last cigarette, in my car, a minute before walking into my first hypnosis seminar to stop smoking. I had no hopes and no expectations.
The seminar was good. I really liked the guy, and the way the small crowd was sharing the same exact type of feelings, shame, fears, pride, shame. The guy said “there’s a whole bunch of very bad looking lungs in this room tonight”. He pointed at the addiction coming from our families, every single one smoker in there agreed. The he showed some technicalities about the addiction. How nicotine alters dopamine receptors, so we need more nicotine to feel the dopamine that our brains normally releases. Then he talked to us about supplements, not pushing at all, just explaining how a somber mix can help. More on that later, cause hat really helped me. Then we went for break. I took the pack out twice, and twice put it back. I didn’t need that cigarette.
After break, he guided us on getting up and some of us took out cigs pack and lighter, and tossed on the floor. He was good at giving us a reason, in our closest affects, to quit. I quit for my boy. My boy became my Superhero, and also a potential victim to defend. Hat image works. The. We went for hypnosis. That worked as for relaxing me, and giving me a glimpse of pain associated with smoke, but not much more.
Thing is, after all this I bought 4 months worth of supplements ($400), disposed of my ashtray in the car, and any smoke paraphernalia, and started the first battle.
The first few hours are really tough. Not unbearable, but you start realizing that the innocent drug you’ve been taking for so long is not all that innocent.
After 24 hours, the pangs and withdrawals are almost unbearable. I went through extreme irritability – and I am normally a calm guy – spurts of hunger, headaches, restless legs syndrome… But I resisted. He best choices in these first crucial hours were:
1- Support from family and friends
2- get rid of anything to smoke
3- do not deprive yourself of drinks or coffee. The trick is to dissociate them from nicotine, not deprive you of those pleasures
4- realizing the war is against NICOTINE, not just smoking. No nicotine is allowed in your body anymore whatsoever.
5- a snack, a sip of water, a candy, anything helps distract the cravings
6- one of the apps like Quit, for quitters communities, helps a lot
7- “the easy way to stop smoking” is a good read exactly at this time. It sounds a little obsolete, but some of the messages are super powerful
8- seek help and support from friends who have quit
9- absolutely take those supplements. Magnesium in the morning, DLPA and lung reconstruction at lunch, DLPA again in the pm, tryptophan before going to bed. These will help for at least 3 weeks.
10- enjoy the special trip. There is a breeze in the battle. Enjoy reading about the money saved. Enjoy your senses coming back, and not having to deal with nasty ash anymore.
[to be continued]