• Mon, Jan 9 2012

Quitting Smoking, Week 1: Not Totally Terrible (Maybe Because I Cheated?)

American Spirit yellow packSo here we are: One week after I vowed to quit smoking. One week down with no—er, few—cigarettes. Yeah, I failed at ‘cold turkey.’ I’m still calling the week a success—with only six cigarettes smoked, that’s less than one per day. I’ll take it. While trying for less this week, of course …

Why do I even still have cigarettes lying around, you might ask? That’s a good question, and one I’ve been asking myself. I left a half-finished back with my friend in Chicago after my ‘last night of smoking,’ on New Year’s Eve. But then I got home and remembered I had an unopened pack of American Spirit lights in my backpack. Yeah, I should’ve thrown them out. No, I didn’t do that. I will not buy another pack after this one is finished.

But with my (basically) one cigarette per day, the whole endeavor didn’t seem too bad. Whenever my boyfriend mentioned to any of our friends that I was quitting smoking, they said things like, “Oh, good for you!” and “Oh, that’s great!” To which I would respond, “I guess. I kinda hate it.” Because I do. I wish there was some magic way for smoking to be not terrible for me, but there isn’t and I’m accepting that, I swear. But I’m gonna sulk about it just a little bit.

Really, though, it hasn’t really been totally terrible. Maybe because I knew I was allowing myself that one cigarette per day, I didn’t feel too angry about spending most of the day nicotine-free. I think it also helps that it’s January—no outdoor patios or long walks which always trigger wanting to smoke, just the cold Indiana winter air which makes the idea of going out for a cigarette much less appealing (I don’t smoke in my apartment). A glass of red wine always triggers wanting to smoke, though, and I don’t know what to do about that. What do I do about that? [I guess not keep any cigarettes in the house ...]

So that’s week one. I talked to a doctor and got a prescription for bupropion, a drug prescribed as both an antidepressant (Wellbutrin) and a quit-smoking aid (Zyban). I took it the one previous time I tried to quit smoking, and found it helpful in somehow making cigarettes less appealing. I’m not sure how to explain it—and doctors aren’t sure exactly why it works at reducing tobacco cravings, either. It doesn’t work in the same way nicotine-replacement devices, like gum or patches, work. But it’s supposedly not related to the drug’s antidepressant abilities, either. You’re supposed to begin taking it 1 to 2 weeks before quitting smoking, and take it for 7-12 weeks after you totally quit, for up to a year. I just started taking it a few days ago, but I’m kinda hoping it works like an insurance policy against my failures of willpower.

Oh, and right now? Apparently, my bronchial tubes have relaxed and my energy levels should increase, according to this Blisstree post on what happens to your body such-and-such hours/days/years after you quit smoking. My blood pressure should already be decreasing, my sense of taste and smell getting stronger and my chance of heart attack going down. So there’s that, I guess.

Photo: GiantRobot.com

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  • jamie

    keep it up! you can do it. and yes, it totally sucks but it is doable. i had 2 cigarettes this week and i call it a win – that’s way better than the usual 70-100 i used to have every week.

    yay for us.

  • Ellen W.

    First- bully for you to be getting on this. Secondly- I think you’re totally right to be honest about how you feel about quitting. Be pissy when you feel pissy. When you’re in week four and suddenly have a craving that’s really, really tough to beat you can ask people to say again how proud and happy they are that you’re quitting. I thanked my Dad for quitting smoking at his 62 birthday party and he quit when he was 40.

    And yay for you too Jamie!

  • Matt

    Just a reminder, that quitting for 1 week then having 1 cigarette doesn’t mean you have failed and must start smoking again. You have made progress… keep it up. It sounds like you need something to keep your hands occupied, like Quit Tea http://www.quittea.com especially if you are a tea drinker!

  • brandon

    I am 39 years old and have always “enjoyed” smoking however physically I have known I needed to quit years ago. From shortness of breath to the stench smoke leaves on you. I spent five days this past week in the hospital having my gall bladder out / hernia operation and when I came home I decided to quit. I have smoked 5 cigarettes since I have been out of hospital (5 days now). That’s 5 in 10 days from 40 a day. My last cigarette gave me a severe headache so I think it’s time to quit for good, but it’s very difficult. Any suggesions?

  • robert

    Elizabeth and readers – please, please, please do yourself a favour and read Alan Carr’s Easyway to Stop Smoking. It puts a different spin on the nicotine addiction as well as helping to turn your thoughts of quitting into positives rather than negative.
    You may fail numerous times to quit, but don’t give up as Jamie said above.
    Sounds like you are succeeding judging by your follow up articles. By now you would have realised that the first 3 days really is the important step.