Tuesday, March 24, 2009

This Becoming A Non-smoker Does Suck, Really, Lots

Whew, I started my relationship with RJR Camel non-filter - better known as straights - in 1971, awhile ago, somewhere over thirteen thousand packs ago or two hundred sixty thousand cigarettes ago. Yep, little paper tubes filled with the finest blend of domestic and Turkish tobaccos, so expensive that you were not to look for coupons or other incentives. Right up until that day a few weeks ago when I quit liking the taste I went along with that. I went along with the addiction and the expense because I enjoyed it, now I don't.

Oh boy, what I'm left with is my addiction. If you noted the numbers I gave you I think you can see that I am addicted at a very deep level, maybe cellular. I tossed coffee, a risky bet on whether I'd still have a marriage and friends, and the nicotine has been slashed. The first day of quitting involved 3 cigarettes and I held that until the day after Nick died which I think involved half a dozen and the last three days I've managed a couple puffs off my wife's cigarette, but today it's riding me hard. I tried a patch (wife's left over) the first day and decided that was stupid, my problem is nicotine not playing with my mouth.

My mouth is wrong, it is constantly searching for a sensation, my throat is tight, and my head is somehow twitchy and clogged. I'm not sure how much role caffeine is playing, but I'm skirting around the edges of non-functional. I do have another issue right now, that is somewhat less painful than a couple days ago, it is lurking around ready to jump out and bite me - resulting in tears. All this adds up to ... challenging. Well, I'm up for it - I do keep telling myself that, over and over and...

Damn, if you haven't started smoking or fairly recently did please think about this. You really don't want to be 38 years into this habit/addiction and trying to get off it. There is always an excuse, I used still liking it for a long time. It is true that I did still like it but I also was aware that I was deepening my addiction cigarette by cigarette. I'm not going to talk about how bad it is for you, you know it is at least hard on your lungs. Nope, I'll approach this from the addiction aspect, this isn't like a drink or two on odd occasions, there is scarcely such a smoker, the rest are addicts. I don't care for that label, but it sure is true, and it sure does suck when you decide to break it.

At 21 years clean and sober there are a couple differences going on with quitting cigarette versus alcohol and drugs. You see there are some things that happen with alcohol and drugs that are pretty immediate consequences, things like DUIIs, hangovers, broken stuff, police problems, visits to judges, unhappy employers (or EX), unhappy associates and with cigarettes it is pretty much potential problems well downstream. Pretty easy to minimize and rationalize at that, as though there wasn't that issue with A&D. That said, I have no intention of losing this one, but I do reserve the right to whine once in awhile.


Kevin said...

I can relate, Chuck. Been smoking for nearly 30 years, about 25 of that as a steady habit. I've quit a couple times. The first time was for about 6 months. I'd let a friend shoot me up with coke and that freaked me out sufficiently at the time that I stepped away from every vice... for a while. The second was a couple years ago when I quit for about 2 months. And by quit I mean no cheating.

Damned hard habit to deal with!

As you know we share the A&D thing. I'm right on your heels with coming up on 21 years clean.

Kicking cocaine and meth was nothing compared to nicotine. But then, as you say, it's easy to put off dealing with the downsides of nicotine because it's not near-term like A&D addiction inevitably is. My Significant Other doesn't like my smoking. But I've yet to come home late at night having spent every dime in my bank account on cigarettes, leaving nothing with which to buy food and gas until the next payday.

Zak Johnson said...

My neighbor died of emphysema last year. Nice lady; used to visit with her a lot and chat when she wheeled her oxygen tank out to the curb for a smoke--yep, oxygen tube in the nose and puffing away. They say it's a tougher addiction than heroine & I believe it. Think of it as Chief Joseph's revenge maybe.

Cold turkey is great, and I don't doubt you have the will power, but it rarely works. I'd recommend the nicotine gum for something to do psychologically and the nicotine tea is also very effective in curbing the urge. The timer system is said to be good to--schedule smokes for longer and longer intervals. I doubt the cravings will ever go away, it's another one of those one day at a time things. Props help.

Phil said...

Whine and bitch all you want, Chuck, but never give in to the impulse. The only way to be a non-smoker is to not smoke.

ThePoliticalCat said...

Well, don't that suck? I didn't smoke a thing from about two days before surgery to two weeks after, but I'm back and struggling now, dammit. People say, "Well, you're not really a smoker, with a five fag-a-week habit," but as far as my lungs are concerned be it one a year or a pack a day, it's still an addiction. My heart goes out to you, my friend. What helps with teh mouth: chewing. Gum, mints, whatever else you can do. Also lots of brushing. Iced water or iced tea. Nothing helps with the shakes 'n aches. In honor of you, I'll give quitting another bash. I'm down to 3 a day now, but I'll see if I can get through this week without one more. Feck! And the hands keep looking for things to do, too, tearing matches off books, lighting little fires. Stick with it, I send good thoughts.

PS: Been smoking 44 years, went from 4 pks/day to 3 cigs/day. Damned habit.

Kevin said...

Wow. 4 packs to 3 cigs per day is a hell of an accomplishment that you ought to be proud of. I'm sure any long-time smoker would agree.

Svensker said...

Keep it up. It is horribly hard -- a friend who was a junkie and an alcoholic said that quitting smokes was worse than junk or booze. But, if you quit and unveil the non-smoker that you are, you'll never have to go through it again. Whereas if you wiffle out, then you gotta start the whole process over again.

Get help if you need it. The patch, nicotine pills, of course, but also maybe check with your doc about getting some anti-depressants. Or a natural way to do it by with inosotol (powder or pills) or GABA http://www.puritan.com/body-building-sports-nutrition-043/gaba-complex-008906?cm_mmc=Google-_-Amino_Gaba-_-gaba-_-Broad%20Ad_2431851511|-|100000000000000003755&afid=27&safid=Google&scid=6831&cm_guid=1-_-100000000000000003755-_-2431851511

If you're self-medicating with nicotine because of OCD, anxiety, etc., the inosotol and GABA can really help. Speaking from experience.

Good luck, hang in, you can do it. BE the non-smoker.

kathleenmaher said...

I quit smoking 25 years ago. It was the hardest thing I've ever done but I wanted to become a mother the month after my little sister was killed by a drunk driver. Then, too, the boy who'd sneaked out of class to smoke with me in high school had just died of lung cancer at 23.
I quit by allowing myself one cigarette an hour, then one every hour and 1/2, one ever two hours, etc. When I was down to smoking one every ten hours, it wasn't so much an addiction as that mouth and hand thing. I chewed toothpicks and still find them in my oldest jackets.
But to this day, when I'm under stress, it takes all I've gotnot to snatch a cigarette from a stranger loitering on the sidewalk. People smoke outside the grocery store and there are many times when I fight the urge to sink to me knees I want one so bad.
A few years ago someone handed me a joint that didn't know was laced with tobacco: two days to recover.
I wouldn't risk smoking tobacco for anything in the world because I will never undergo the torment of having to quit again.
Please know that in my heart and soul, I'm fighting for you. If you can quit now--you will never come anywhere near resuming the habit. What a dreadful time for you! But for what it's worth, I'm pulling for you night and day.
If you don't quit now, it'll probably be five years before you can brave so much trauma again.
PS. It would help if your wife could quit with you, but we all have our limits and she's up against the worst any mother should ever even have to imagine. Tell her I'm thinking of her, too.

Chuck Butcher said...

I sure am not going to go through this crap again so I guess it'll just have to stick.

Anonymous said...

Stick with it Chuck, just blame the coffee for the jitters and headaches (genuine caffeine withdrawal symptoms--might make it easier to avoid the cigarette temptation that rears its head on occasion by having something else to blame). Alx.