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Diary of a Quitter
US$ 6.50 (+ tax)
This self-help book is a personal journey of the author’s experience of quitting cigarettes after smoking for twenty-eight years. It will identify and guide you through the most common pitfalls of quitting as well as give weapons to beat the nicotine monster. And if that’s not enough, there are some fun poems, songs and office graffiti thrown in to distract you while you quit.
SynergEbooks; June 2007
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The First Three Days
In the years that my financial status was, shall we say, less than affluent, I somehow still found the money to buy cigarettes. Only once had I made an attempt to quit (about 1986). There was no such thing as Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) in those days. My only weapon then was willpower and although I succeeded for three months it was terribly disappointing to discover how easy I could backslide into smoking again and for no apparent reason. I thought I’d beaten the addiction but I didn’t realise how wrong I was.
So when I tried to quit the first time, why did my will power crumble? The answer is that it did not crumble at all; my will simply changed its allegiance from resisting the urge to smoke to collaborating with my desire to smoke again. What many quitters come to personify as ‘Mr Nick O’teen’ and ‘the nicotine monster’ is merely a part of their personality that plays the role of the drug addict. Why this change of allegiance occurs will become clearer as we embark upon the journey to becoming a non-smoker.
I woke up on the morning of the 16th April with the knowledge that I had decided to quit smoking. The first serious cravings had not kicked in so I felt reasonably at ease with myself and the world. I got up, showered and dressed, stuck on the first NRT patch and made some coffee. It was a Sunday morning, which for me meant no working today. If I was going to go nuts on the first day I wanted to do it in the privacy of my own home.
The sun was shining and the day was turning out to be a pleasant one, so my wife, Sharon, suggested that we drive to a pub in the forest nearby for a drink in the beer garden. As many a smoker knows, they tend to smoke more when drinking alcohol. I had no understanding why it happened but I knew that I was no exception. With this in mind I thought twice about drinking alcohol so soon after quitting. Then again I had to tackle it sooner or later (or become tea-total!). Well, I thought to myself, if I am going to suffer I might as well do it with a pint in my hand. And with that notion we set off for the pub.
I recall that I was half way into my second pint of beer when the first serious bout of craving started. Clearly there was something about smoking and alcohol that affected a person’s level of nicotine. It was a subject to study later but for now I was just about strong enough to resist the first serious craving for nicotine.
A lot of people find the first day is really bad. It is reckoned that nicotine takes 72 hours to leave the body. But I was wearing a patch that delivered nicotine. So why did I feel at times as though I didn’t have one on? It had been a long time since I quit using nothing but my determination to quit (Most people nowadays call it ‘cold turkey’). I could not remember how bad it had been then. Perhaps if I had written down how bad it was I could have read it three months later before I committed the silly act of buying a packet of cigarettes.
I was finding the first day a lot more of a challenge than I thought it would be. It was only later that I understood that nicotine patches deliver a steady flow of nicotine into the body. Cigarettes, on the other hand, give you a ‘hit’ of nicotine every time you have one and that is what I was missing. Maybe I would have felt differently if I had used nicotine gum, lozenges or the inhaler because they tend to give you more of the hit effect. I had tried nicotine gum before and it tasted horrible to me, which was why I chose patches. I didn’t know about inhalers during the first week I quit and by the time I discovered them there was no point in trying them.
By late Sunday afternoon I felt tense. The nicotine cravings were powerful and almost raw in their intensity. Having run this particular gauntlet many years before you might say I was prepared for the experience. It didn’t make the cravings any easier but I knew that for many people the first day is the worst that the cravings would get. If you got through the first day without smoking you would already have conquered the worst day.
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