Quitting smoking is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my entire life. A smoker for fifteen years, I was actively trying to quit smoking for the last four years of that time. I didn’t know how I would ever do it! I seemed destined to fail, like maybe I just wasn’t strong enough. Maybe I would always be a smoker and I was destined to have to die young, leaving my friends and family behind because I was weak.
These are the thoughts that plagued me and a burrowed deep into my subconscious. It was like torture. I felt like I was trying to quit once a week, and maybe I did. Like an idiot, though, I always went back to my stupid, comfortable habit. Like a lover in the night, I would sneak it back into my life, sometimes hiding it from my partner and family.
If it sounds like the behavior of a drug addict, well that’s because that’s exactly what it was. Honestly, It took a lot of work to quit and it’s a really personal journey. Here’s my advice on how to quit smoking;
1.) Decide you want it. That you really want it. If you don’t, it really won’t ever take. You’ll keep going back to it. I thought I wanted to quit, but really I didn’t. I still identified with it and glamorized it. I’d gaze at people smoking and not see them for what they truly are, addicts, but as a special club that I wanted back into.
2.) Mourn the loss of your habit. Accept it. It sucks. Yes, you’ll be healthier as a non-smoker — You’ll smell better, You’ll be smug — But you’re losing a close friend, a habit. Don’t ignore your feelings. I cried. You might too and that’s okay.
3.) Follow the NOPE rule. N.O.P.E stands for ‘not one puff ever.” I don’t know what it is about this little thing, but it has really helped me. I think of it every time I get a craving. One of the things that held me back during previous quits was that I thought I was past the addiction. That I could have “just one.” I can’t. You can’t. Accept it and move on.
4.) Download an app! I’ve used Livestrong and Smoke Free. Both are good. I think Livestrong is a little bit spammy, BUT it has a social aspect that Smoke Free doesn’t. I used the subreddit /r/stopsmoking for the social help and the Smoke Free app for the daily stats and journaling.
5.) Don’t drink. I can’t say it enough. Why torture yourself? Commit to at least one month of sobriety to help you in your quit. If you really can’t say no to alcohol for a month, well there’s a subreddit for that too (/r/stopdrinking), not to mention a bunch of 12 step programs. Be strong!