Quitting Smoking

by allisoncoyle

This isn’t something I’m proud of or particularly enjoy discussing, but I think it’s good to reach out to others who struggle with it as well and offer one another support.

As of today, I’ve gone a week without a cigarette, which is tantamount to running a marathon, in my book. It’s easy for non-smokers to scoff and act as though they can relate because they went vegetarian for lent once when they were 20. Studies have now shown that nicotine is harder to kick than heroin. And damn, do I feel it. You’d think the first day or two would be the most difficult, but they weren’t, at all really. I’m hurting way more after a week than I was the first day. I assume it’s because I still had nicotine built up in my system, so my body wasn’t in total detox/panic mode. Right now, I have that horrible anxious feeling in my chest (smokers, you guys get it!), in addition to feeling jittery, perpetually annoyed and on the verge of flipping tables, and, frankly, sad. I’m sad because I REALLY enjoyed smoking. Haha. And I wasn’t even smoking that many (4-5 a day), so I’m sure my detox symptoms only scratch the surface of what others have dealt with in their attempts to quit. Aside from the physical cravings, a big part of smoking is psychological and habitual. As I said before, I really enjoyed smoking, so that alone is a tough factor to battle. Other smokers will understand…it’s not just a nicotine addiction, it’s a lifestyle addiction. I love smoking in the car, after a good meal, when I go for walks at night with my friends, and literally everytime I see someone on tv with a cig. Haha. It’s so much more than non-smokers realize. It becomes an integral part of your life. I don’t like coffee, but a lot of people struggle with not having a cigarette with their morning coffee. I’m primarily struggling with not smoking in the car. For all the suffering thus far, I’ve noticed two changes already. Before I smoked, I didn’t have to work to keep my teeth white. I just brushed, flossed, and used mouthwash twice a day, and people would ask me what kind of whitener I used. When I began smoking, I had to start using whitener, which still didn’t get my teeth as white as they were before I smoked. Within a week, my teeth are already dramatically whiter, and someone actually complimented me earlier on my teeth. The second change is not having to clear my throat anymore, which is motivation enough to stick this out. You don’t realize how much you were clearing your throat until you don’t have to anymore. It was incredibly irritating when I would try to sing and had to clear my throat every minute or so. I noticed it was also beginning to affect my range, which freaked me out and was a big part of why I decided to quit.

I started smoking at 16 when I landed my first job, primarily because it gave me a reason to go outside and get away from people. As smoking is a socially recognized addiction, pretty much any and every manager will respect your need to step outside a few times during your shift if it’s smoking related. Lol. Bad decision in retrospect, but I did kick the habit about six months after I started when I realized I was NEEDING cigarettes more often than I WANTED them. I was in the clear for four years, until I started interning at The Daily Caller in D.C. and suddenly, after two ridiculously hectic and tightly controlled internships, had the leeway and freedom to work as I pleased. I started going for walks around McPherson Square two or three times a day, just to clear my head and get away from my computer screen. By the third or fourth week of my internship, I began smoking once or twice a day during my walks as a way to de-stress and relax. Might I add quickly, contrary to how the media portrays smokers, a lot of us aren’t ashamed of our choice. We probably regret starting, solely because of the addiction, but I don’t feel any sort of shame or embarrassment about the act of smoking. To the contrary, when I see other smokers, I tip my non-existent hat and feel borderline proud of being a part of a dying practice (get it…dying…BECAUSE IT KILLS YOU xD). I digress. All was well for a while, until, again, as with my first round of smoking, I began to notice I was needing to smoke more often than I wanted to smoke. I should have stopped at that point, as I did when I was 16, but I didn’t. And now my addiction is full-blown. And I’m on the verge of throwing a temper tantrum of epic proportions, the likes of which my friends and family have never witnessed. So that’s where my detox is at.

Ultimately, it came down to this: I didn’t particularly want to quit, for a myriad of reasons, but my reasons for not wanting to quit were outweighed by the number of reasons why I SHOULD. And if I’m struggling this much and only smoking 4 or 5 cigarettes a day, how much more difficult will it be for me to stop in five years when I’m smoking 10 a day? There’s never a good or easy time to quit. There will always be reasons why today isn’t a good day. And if you don’t want to quit, you shouldn’t be pressured into doing so. There are no words for how much I hate those effing anti-smoking/TRUTH commercials. They’re insulting, insensitive, ignorant, and ultimately, unproductive. How is berating someone and telling them how stupid and irresponsible they are helpful? No lie, when those commercials come on, I usually laugh and think, “Wow, a cig sounds really good right now,” before I step outside and have me a smoke.

If you’re trying to quit or have contemplated quitting, I’d love to get some feedback and see how others have handled/are handling it. Thanks for reading muh rant!