Friday, June 6, 2008

Quitting Smoking, Redux

So. I've come back around to another stab at quitting smoking, but I'm trying to be smart about it. Last time, I tried cold turkey (again) and it didn't work (again.)

So, Stage One, list all of the methods I've tried that didn't work:

Cold Turkey: Several times. Not a pretty sight, trust me.

Nicotine Inhaler: Yeah, these did squat for me, except give me something to grind my teeth on.

Nicotine Gum: Two words: Nasty Shit. Maybe it could have helped but after the third piece I just couldn't bring myself to use it anymore.

Meditation: Hey, it's my head, I can control it, right? Wrong.

Self-help style positive thinking: I put post-it notes with reasons I should stop smoking and motivational phrases everywhere. The major benefit of this was to give me targets when I got to the point of throwing things.

Homeopathic "Happy Camper" pills: Anti-depressants help with withdrawal symptoms. It's fairly well proven. Course, I figured I'd try the natural stuff because I could get it over the counter. I actually tried the brand name Happy Camper, main ingredient Kava Kava. I was happy enough on them, sort of floaty and "meh" inside. Problem is, the "meh" part. And, you know, the complete inability to show much emotion whatsoever.

Wellbutrin: After the Happy Campers, I decided to actually go to the doctor and see what she said. She slapped me on Wellbutrin and told me to use a nicotine replacement therapy. The Wellbutrin made me high as a kite in thirty minute cycles for about a week, and it did help a little with the worst of the mood issues, but over all it was yet another failure.

Some of these were tried in combination, some on their own. The only thing they all really have in common is the fact that they didn't work.

Stage Two, research methods that I haven't used.

Patches: Well, these I'm leery of, because they lower your blood pressure, and I run pretty low to begin with. As in, when I go to the doctor at home where the nurses know me they jokingly ask if I'm going to be dead today when they take my blood pressure. Grandpa can't use them for the same reason, except I think his doctor offered to just knock him in the head and toss him in a hole if he was that determined to kill himself.

Losenges: Hmm. I don't know if these lower your blood pressure, but I'm looking at them from the perspective of knowing myself. When I start putting things in my mouth when I'm trying to quit smoking... I don't stop. So, there's the definite chance that I'll just keep popping the suckers compulsively till I OD. Say what? Keep to the schedule? You're funny.

More Homeopathic Stuff: I've been researching this kind of stuff for a while, and there are several brand names that seem promising on the surface of things. Of course I don't trust claims of miracle cures, but looking more at the possible actual benefits there are a few that I feel might actually help.

The issue here, of course, is the lack of reliable studies. Certain things, like hypnosis or acupuncture, some people swear by, and others swear at. A serious shortage of independent information is an issue here. I'm discarding any methods or treatments that seem inherently dangerous, including one blogger's assertion that he quit smoking the simplest way in the world, no outside gimmicks necessary. He simply put his hands on his neck and squeezed for one minute every time he had a craving!

Now, every homeopathic quit smoking method or aid has it's own dedicated cheering section. Some of them are made up entirely of company stooges, and some of them aren't. Its digging through the hype to the real meat of the product that is the challenge, when faced with flashy ads and miracle claims.

Now, I'd love to putter my way through all of these methods till I found one that worked for me, but frankly, if I were that rich I'd hire someone to slap me upside the head every time I lit a smoke, or have myself put to sleep for a couple of weeks and in a small padded room for a couple more.

Thus, research.

I'm leaning towards methods that don't require me to take pills every day, because frankly I'm not that good at remembering them. That's why I use OrthoEvra instead of the pill. I know, I know, TMI.

That's not to say that I'm completely discounting methods with pills, just that they're not my first choice.

So. Calling all former smokers, all across the intarwebz! What worked for you? What were the upsides, the downsides, side effects? How was your mental state while using the product or method and were you able to stop using the product or method easily?

I want to know what didn't work for you as well. Why didn't it work?

I really want to know, folks, so please, email me, or leave a comment here. I don't care if you stumbled across this blog from an internet search, you're a regular reader, or a monkey with a computer and a pogo stick, I want to know. I want to know about any method or product that you've tried, I want to know about all of them. Even the ones I mentioned here as not working for me. Maybe I was doing it wrong, and you can set me straight.

Fun Fun Fun in the sun.


Funder said...

Good luck!

I quit for two years, with the nicotine patches. Side effects: STUNNINGLY BIZARRE DREAMS, the patches themselves itch like the devil, dreams, general feeling of not caring about anything, dreams, and extreme lethargy. Oh, and those dreams.

I stuck religiously to the plan and really wanted to quit, and quit I did. I think I tapered off the lowest dose in one week instead of two, because I was so sick of itchy patches and dreams.

Then two years later I started smoking again, cause I'm not too bright sometimes. I just tried to quit again with patches, but couldn't really muster up enough desire to Not Smoke. There's just not much in my life right now that I can look forward to, other than seeing my horses and smoking. The point is, you've got to want to break the mental addiction and then you can use any of those other tools (patches, gum, Wellbutrin, Chantix) to break the physical addiction.

My friend quit with Chantix and he said it was relatively painless. Minor side effect of suicidal tendencies, however.

Anyway, good luck!

Anonymous said...

When I quit for good many years ago, I thought about what I did when I "lit one up", and decided my habit had several areas that neede to be addressed. One- I would reach for the pack of smokes without even thinking about it; and two, I would sometimes have a butt in my mouth for some time before lighting up. Sometimes I didn't light up, but would put the cigarette down. So, I started carrying Tic-Tacs in my shirt pocket- when I (on "autopilot") would reach for my pocket There Was Something There to reach for. And, I could open the pack, shake out a Tic-Tac, and pop it in my mouth. Coupla things going on here; the automatic physical action of reaching and finding and opening was satisfied; I didn't have to break that habit. Second, the "oral habit" of sticking something in my mouth was satisfied, and the Tic-Tacs lasted a while . Unexpected Bonus: my breath smelled better and my mouth felt 'fresher'. The nicotine cravings were dealt with by will power because I was determined to quit. As a side note my wife was trying to quit and used every thing in the book, but couldn't, and her smoking contributed to her untimely death four years, four months, and 25 days ago- but who's counting?
You're an intelligent young lady, so I suggest that you think about the hows , whys, and wherefores, and figure out what may help you to quit. You CAN DO IT! Look what you've done with Monkey. Here's to you and success!

Anonymous said...

I quit cold turkey, but it was the evening before we left home on a family vacation. No commute, no work, no "normal" occasions to smoke. Gotta admit, right after dinner was tough to handle. It helped to be with my kids, because they were the real reason I quit, anyway.

The previous failures were because I hadn't convinced myself I was going to die early from the cigarettes.

What I missed: they said "you'll taste all your food again" and "you'll have so much more energy and stamina" and "you'll breathe so much easier". I'm still waiting. It's been 9 years.

Snigglefrits said...

I quit for 6 months several times, but am back at it again. (It's killer when the husband smokes too and why I always fall off the wagon)

I too have normally low blood pressure. I used the patch the last time I quit without any ill effects in that respect, but started having to tape them on with duct tape. For whatever reason, after the first month or so, when I would put one on, the site would get hot, go to sweating and the patch would slither off.

Wellbutrin was another method I tried. After about a week, I realized I was looking at folks in the grocery store and thinking of the most fun way to kill each of them. Seriously. I went home and flushed the pills immediately.

The most effective way to quit is to really want to. Doesn't matter how much gum you chew or how many pills you swallow, if you don't want to quit, you won't.

Just don't try to give up any other habits at the same time and don't start the week you're PMSing.

Good luck with quiting though! And if all else fails, try what I considered doing myself- put the patch over your mouth. ;)

Jeffro said...

Fear worked for me. The quadruple bypass and cryomaze procedure kinda sealed the deal.

It was easier to quit because I was sealed off from the world while hospitalized. They do frown on smoking while you are a resident of their fine institution.

Anonymous said...

First things first, you have to want to quit. going about it with the mindset of, "Oh well, I suppose I'll give quitting another shot," is setting yourself up for failure.

When I quit, it was cold turkey from two-packs a day. That first month was hell. There was definately a lot of cussing, mumbling under my breath, and a whole lot of pacing.

I kept my hands busy by keeping a cheap knock-about knife and whetstone beside my computer, and whenever I'd catch myself reaching for a pack of smokes, I'd grab that knife and stone and sharpen the blade; the ritual and repetition was soothing.

People avoided me that first month or so, and I'm certain my roommates were tad bit concerned about me, but not dealing with people did help.

I avoided bars for six months or so after quitting, and that helped immensely.

Though to this day, I'm convinced succeeding had nothing to do willpower or desire, just plain, simple damned fool stubbornness.

After the first year, I've laxed a bit, and I do have a cigar or bit of pipe tobacco from time to time drinking and hanging out with friends, but I've avoided picking up cigarettes again, mainly because I remember all too well the hell I went through quitting.

Barbara said...

Chantix twice. Lozenges, gum, patches (allergic). What finally worked for me? Conversion and a lot of prayer - along with a quick warning wakeup call through my haggling with God over it ...something to do with it being better to have never found The Way than to know it and go back to the old ways, about being a slave to whatever masters you, something about a dog returning to its vomit, and washing a sow only for it to wallow in the mud.

Hey. You asked. But...cold turkey and NO withdrawals. None. Nada. Not even gorging myself.

Anonymous said...

Cold Turkey.

Well, cold turkey and self loathing if you don't do it. You'll quit if you want to bad enough. Whinging that the various methods and drugs don't work, is just blaming something else for your own failures.

SuperMidget said it better than I can, but could be describing my experience too. The big problem for me was I wasn't smart enough to avoid bars. Going to the bar with my friends more than once resulted in me "bummin' a gert." After a few drinks the certain knowledge that I'd be spending the next 2-3 weeks having to quit all over again didn't bother me. I eventually quit going to bars almost completely, and haven't relapsed in over 10 years.

I'd wish you good luck, but it really isn't luck, it is will power.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm a monkey with a borrowed computer and a pogo stick. (Actually, I've been reading your blog forever, and you still owe us some stories that you promised)


Get a prescription for Chantix. You smoke pretty much like you used to, but the medicine prevents your brain from getting anything from the nicotine, so smoking becomes kind of pointless..... so you smoke less, and less and less.

Both my wife and I are on it. I've gone from almost 2 packs/day to 1-4 cigarettes a day in about 4 months without even TRYING to quit. Basically, Chantix took all the fun out of smoking!

Good Luck!

Oh, yeah! Chantix also produces incredibly vivid dreams. I love mine. They are strange, but not scary or bad, just INTERESTING. I usually wonder what will I experience tonight... My wife, OTOH, does not like hers. Her dreams are vivid and less fun.

Also, I would recommend taking Chantix on an empty stomach, with a full glass of water. Some people experience mild nausea for 5-20 minutes. I had no problem with it, UNTIL my wife started complaining about it. Now, thanks to the power of suggestion, I have to be careful what I do after I take it, so I don't get motion sick for about 15 minutes.

Anyway, I would heavily recommend Chantix. You could quit much quicker, if you actually make an effort. It might help if you try to only smoke outside. That way, after a few weeks the effort of stopping what you're doing and going outside will many times seem like not worth it.

Let me know if you'd like more details.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Oh, I forgot. My wife ramped up too quickly the Chantix dose. It was HILARIOUS to watch. She was still physically addicted, so she'd go outside to smoke. After smoking half a cigarette, she'd realize she wasn't absorbing the nicotine. She'd get pissed off and throw away the cigarette. An hour later, rinse and repeat! Very entertaining to watch.

(yes, I realize that I'm an asshole. I have been informed many times)

Crucis said...

I'm 61. I quite in the winter of 1983. I'd tried a couple of times before and went back smoking within a week.

When it comes down to it, you have to WANT to quite. All the self-help, drugs, tapering off won't help a bit if you don't WANT them to work.

I did it the hard way. I ran out one day at work and just didn't buy any more. Yep, cold turkey.

It was HELL! After 6 months, I finally quit thinking about smoking every 5 minutes, but to this day, I still dream about staring again and it's been 25 years since I quit.

Too many people think that if they can just find that magic bullet, they'll quit. Well, there is no magic bullet. You have to want to quit every minute of every day or you'll never do it.

Yes, it's all about will power. You either do it, or quit whining about it.

Anonymous said...


Thirty years ago I was burning two packs a day. Then, a coworker mentioned that she was planning to attend a "stop-smoking via hypnosis" session sponsored by the American Lung Association. I joined her and, from the time I walked out the door of that session, I have neither smoked nor wanted to.

I can be in the company of smokers without any reaction.

I experienced no adverse side-effects.

Google "american lung association hypnosis smoking" plus your state for more info.

YMMV. Good luck.


Christina RN LMT said...

I'm not a smoker, but two of my co-workers quit using Chantix, and neither of them experienced any side effects, either.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

For me it was watching my Father-in-law die of lung cancer. It has been 18 years and I still miss him. The image burned in my brain of him in the hospital has kept me from smoking, I want to see my grandchildren. The reality is your desire to quit has to be stronger than your desire to smoke. Find that reason and you will make it. Good luck.

Priest said...

I have never really wanted to quit, probably because I've yet to find a method for dealing with stress that is quite as effective for me.
There have been times when it's been advantageous for me to take breaks though and here's what I've done:
1)Stay away from drinking, when that first drop of firewater hits my lips I smoke like a plugged chimney.
2)Get a jar and use it to hold the cost of cigarrettes for you every day. I've got one hell of a cheapie streak in me and that money adds up fast.
3)I took up chewing gum. I needed something to satisfy the oral fixation (no pun intended). Same with my hands. I got one of those little squishy balls and played with it. Worked better than my first idea of flicking my knife open and shut. Liberal acquaintances said it scared them, my conservative friends just said it was annoying as hell.

Things that didn't work:

1. Knocking boots. I was about 18 and trying to take a break and someone mentioned this one. Worked great to distract for a bit but afterwards.....
2. Working out. Since I also smoke to relax it's definitely a craving I have after a hard workout.

As I implied above, I still smoke. So this whole comment definitely strays into FWIW territory. By the way, I definitely enjoy your blog.

Dedicated_Dad said...

You might want to reconsider the nicotene gum. It's available in all sorts of flavors now, and I actually like it.

Two words:

"Fruit Chill."

I still smoke like a chimney, but when I can't, fruit chill keeps me from killing someone.

Personally, I'm going for Chantix. I know several people who have quit successfully using it, with no withdrawals.


Dedicated_Dad said...




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