21 years ago I was a hopeless alcoholic wreck. My drinking had cost me everything important in my life and most of that which wasn't particularly important. Finally, after my umpteenth attempt, I staggered into AA and got sober. Five years later when my sobriety was fairly secure, I decided it was time to do something about my smoking.
There were no NicAnon (Nicotine Anonymous) meetings in my town but I was able to use many of the principles of AA to help me stay away from the cigarettes. Mostly mental strategies, but then it was always my head which lead me back to the smokes. Here are a few:
*One day at a time. (In the early stages I had to do it one minute at a time)
*I only have to be one day off the ciggies once. If I don't light up I never have to face that first day, that first week etc again.
*How Important is it? That thing that is driving me nuts - is it worth dying for?
*Prayer. Even if you don't believe in it. Try it, it does calm the nerves.
*How bad are the withdrawals? I asked myself this. At times I thought I was going nuts but when I slowed down and took an objective look at them I realised my withdrawal symptoms were no worse that a cold or a mild stomach bug. Not even bad enough to take time off work. (I realise things are different for everyone; this was my experience)
It also helped to find someone to quit with, and when I did my quit friend and I shared openly about how we felt.
I armed myself with everything I could. I had a video, I think it was called The Easy Way to Quit Smoking. What I took from this was a better understanding of the nature of addiction, of the con job nicotine had done on my body and mind. The following paraphrase was very important to me:
Understand that nicotine does absolutely nothing for you except satisfy the craving for nicotine. That's it. Nicotine does not calm your nerves; it actually increases your pulse and blood pressure, aggravating your nerves. It does calm down the craving for nicotine and this feels like a nerve tonic. But that is the con. All it has done is ease the craving for the very thing that caused the anxiety.
Understanding this helped me enormously. I wish I could be sure of the proper title and the author of this video. It was tremendous.
I hope reading this is of help to someone. Quitting the fags has been tough, but so rewarding. I feel better, that horrible black cloud no longer hangs over me. I used to be terrified of what I was doing to my health.
It is now about 16 years since I quit and today I rarely think of smoking. I am free. What a blessing!
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