My first week quitting smoking was not totally terrible, but that’s because I still smoked about one cigarette each day. Last week got off to a bad start, but ended with me being a Paragon of Willpower. And (gasp) even learning something in the process.
Starting out last week, I still had that yellow pack of American Spirits tucked away behind a zipper in my purse. On Sunday, I smoked one. On Monday, I smoked two. When I reached for my second one Tuesday morning, I knew I had to get rid of the pack, even though it still had about eight cigarettes left in it. I deposited it outside my favorite coffee shop and tried not to look like a terrorist. Since then, I have had zero cigarettes.
Clearly, I am not good with moderation. I had kind of suspected going in that cold turkey would be what it takes for me, and the Case of the Emergency Cigarette Pack seems to prove it. ‘Emergency cigarettes’ do not stay emergency cigarettes with me. But out of possession? Out of mind. My thoughts about smoking were definitely more frequent when I knew I had a pack stashed.
Of course, maybe I’ve already been helped by the bupropion (aka Wellbutrin or Zyban, an antidepressant that’s also prescribed for quitting smoking). I’ve been taking it for about two weeks now, which is when the drug is supposed to start kicking in.
I suppose the fact that I’m taking bupropion means you can’t really classify my quitting strategy as ‘cold turkey.’ But I am avoiding nicotine replacement products, like nicotine patches or gum,* and last week, I got a little validation about this decision. A study of adults trying to quit smoking found those who used nicotine replacement products were no less likely to relapse than cold-turkey quitters.
… the latest results are in line with other studies that have found little — if any — benefit from the products when used by smokers in real life. In some cases, studies have found that people who use products like nicotine patches and gums are more likely to relapse than their counterparts who go cold turkey.
There are many explanations for this, of course. But my pet theory is that the nicotine replacement versus cold turkey conundrum mirrors the dieting versus ‘lifestyle changes’ dilemma. Diets help people drop weight quick, but most dieters gain back some or all of the weight when they quit dieting. To keep the weight off (and stay healthier) long-term, people need to commit to healthy (not just low-calorie) eating, avoid the pervasive processed food culture in America and make physical activity a daily habit. It requires a mindset overhaul more than just simple behavior changes. Maybe nicotine replacement products help squash physical cravings for nicotine in the short-term, but backfire in the long-term, much as strict dieting often does.