I had my first cigarette when I was sixteen years old. By the time I was eighteen, in correlation with my ability to buy them on my own, I was a full time smoker. Coming from my background, I should have been the anti-smoking poster child. My beloved grandmother died of Emphysema & after many vacations spent suffering in her smoke-clouded house, I grew up with a healthy dislike of cigarettes. By the time I was a freshmen in high school, my brother was a heavy smoker. I used to love borrowing his comfortable flannels & hoodies to wear to school, but they reeked of smoke, causing everyone to believe I was a smoker. I can remember feeling mortified as people would sniff me, wrinkle their noses in disgust, and ask, “You’re a smoker?” I would adamantly deny it, swearing I would never be that.
Cut to a few years later & you would be hard-pressed to find me out & about without my trusted Marlboro Reds. Who can explain the appeal of cigarettes to someone who doesn’t or has never smoked? That first drag in the morning, the standard smoke with your coffee or beer, the social aspect of taking your work time smoke breaks? The post-sex cigarette? It is a need so strong that you will brave single digit weather to stand shivering outside, clutching your cigarette and taking a deep drag despite a hearty bout of bronchitis.
Yes, you know it’s gross. You know it’s bad for you. You’ve heard the same warnings & stories as every other non-smoker who feels the need to remind you of the dangers of smoking. But you don’t care…because you’re ADDICTED.
You tell yourself I smoke because I like it. I’ll quit when I’m ready. It’s not like I’m gonna smoke forever. You get annoyed with your friends, family, & random strangers who nag you about your habit. After all, it’s NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS.
I finally quit because I was tired of feeling like crap. Every year like clockwork I suffered through colds, bronchitis, etc. It was ruining my skin, my teeth, and my hair. I stunk. And guys would tell me, faces displaying their disgust, “I’m sorry-you taste like an ashtray.”
It was soooooooooooo hard to quit. The truth was, yes I was addicted. But I also LIKED smoking. I was a smoker-it was part of my identity. Quitting not only temporarily made me feel like a raging madwoman coming off the tracks, but it required me to change many of my behaviors, habits, and daily routines.
Every year, tons of people make it their New Year’s resolution to quit smoking. And often, those people fall of the wagon. Once they do, they feel discouraged & they give up. I’ve been there-done that. I know how hard it is to quit. But the truth is, I did quit. I have also watched many of my friends & family quit. I can say for certain, I have never met a former smoker who regrets the decision to kick the habit.
Our next episode of Sorry We’re Perfect is all about maintaining your New Year’s resolution. Quitting smoking is one of the most common resolutions and a very difficult one to keep, but difficult doesn’t mean impossible. If you made it your resolution to become smoke free, this year or in years past, or if you have just decided you want to quit, there are many resources to help you.
I’ve had many friends find success with the Patch, but they all suggest following the full program that weans you off. It’s a little pricey, but no more than you spend on a week of cigarettes. Others like the gum (although I’ve tried it & I think it’s disgusting) or good old-fashioned cold turkey. There are even those who swear by less conventional methods like hypnotherapy & acupuncture. How easy/hard it is to quit depends on the person, the will power, and the length of time you’ve been smoking, but it’s totally doable.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to hotlines, support groups, and your loved ones. There is no shame in quitting smoking, in fact it’s quite the achievement, and if you fall off the wagon you just have to get back on. For more information or resources on quitting smoking, check out http://www.smokefree.gov/ & be sure to listen to our show this coming Wed.