I started smoking in 2005, but I did it ‘only when I drink’ which is a sorry excuse. Once my body got a taste for the nicotine and I got into the habit of always doing something with my hands, I was hooked. By the summer of 2006, I was smoking a half a pack a day. By 2007, I was smoking a pack a day.
Looking back on it, I was always insulted when people would ask me, “You know the risks, right?” I would reply by saying, “Of course I do, what do you think I am, stupid?” In reality, they may actually have thought I was stupid, or something worse, for knowing the health risks associated with smoking and still doing it anyway. That’s dangerous behavior no matter which way you slice it.
As the year drug on, I struggled on a teeter toter between ‘loving’ to smoke and the health risks. I think it’s hard to fathom just how serious the risks are when they aren’t immediately apparent. Even as members of my family were diagnosed with cancer, I’d sneak away to smoke. It started to get to me, but at the time, I told myself I wasn’t ready to quit.
As hopeless as I felt, in 2012, I quit smoking for good. How did I do it? Here are some tips that helped me:
-Remove yourself from situations where the compulsion to smoke is the worst. For me, it was going out drinking with my friends. Identify what does it for you.
-Do something else with your hands and mouth. A huge trigger for me was driving, so while I drove I’d chew gum and squeeze a stress ball.
-Fill your down time with other things. If you feel like lighting up, grab a bottle of water to drink instead. I’m artistic, so I would fill my time with teaching myself to paint. See one example of this, above.
-Remind yourself of the risks. For me, this didn’t work until I started to chip away at the habit. Once the habit started to fall apart, I reminded myself of all the health risks.
-Get support! This is key, because it’s a safe bet that many of your good friends and family members also smoke. I joined a group on Facebook for people who are quitting. Some of the information shared concerning how much more healthy your lungs can be even after a week of not smoking is compelling.
Typical tips for quitting smoking never worked for me. So, try to figure out what little things will work for you. The finality of the word quit was too much for me. I like having options. So, for the entire time I was quitting, I kept a half used pack of cigarettes in my car, so I knew it wasn’t final, and I could smoke any time I wanted. That same pack has been sitting in my car for a year and a half now.