Giving Up

Giving up is hard to do – it’s certainly something that isn’t easy at all, but with certain addictions it’s probably the most significant thing you can do to improve your health in one step. Feel envious all you people without addictions, it’s something you can’t do to feel better, but really don’t be envious at all, the damage is already done and it ain’t easy… not one bit.

Ask 99% of smokers and the cry will be “I wish I’d never started at all”, but try to take away their beloved cigarettes and it’ll  be fury and spits of “don’t tell me what to do” etc…. or is that just me.

Note, please consult your doctor before employing any of these ideas, also please note that these are my own personal thoughts and that they may not work well for other individuals.

Smoking

My particular addiction….. I’ve been smoking for decades, I’ve smoked very heavily (sixty a day and going to Heaven soon was the humourless way I used to describe it) and I’ve given up on numerous occasions but during this I’ve somehow managed (yes sixty, yes seriously and more on weekends) to maintain my health and until a year and a half ago I had managed to successfully give up for three/four years. A moment of weakness and I was back on them again, I had forgotten how addictive they could be and after a 10 mile road race I’d celebrated with some cigars, two days later I was back on 20 cigarettes a day.

So how to give up smoking, I’ve tried many different methods some with much more success than others, I do know however that it is a personal thing and what works for one person will not necessarily… you know the rest.

I think that there are many methods of giving up, the real secret is to find a method of not starting again, that’s the trick. Whatever vehicle you use for stopping is pretty important but it’s in those moments of weakness the methods you employ to stop restarting that are more important.

First of all though, you will need to truly want to give up smoking and with that in mind you’ll then you need to pick a day on which to take on this onerous task, try to pick a time that’s not just before an event such as a holiday or birthday etc. and work towards that day.

After that you need a method to give up….

  • Cold turkey

It might seem strange but the best way to  give up smoking  sometimes just to stop. I do this all the time (really successful then 🙂 ) and a couple of weeks later I’m back puffing away. As a method of stopping it’s a great way to do actually stop, but it is sometimes the easiest method to break. For a few days you’ll be irritable and a bleeding hateful person to be around so employing this method can be a bit traumatic for your loved ones and work colleagues and for this reason it is the easiest to break during these first days, you tend to find the excuse to start again of it being for the benefit for mankind and world peace.

I do like this method though as it gets you there quicker than any other. The benefits from this come much quicker and if you manage to get through those first couple of days then you’ll be enjoying better sleep and a lighter chest before the first week  is out. It just doesn’t spin out all the torture, there’s no need to find your way to the pharmacist every week to get the patches, there’s no need to chew on gum all day, it’s just a clean and tidy way to stop.

I know too that the times that I’ve managed to stop for years have been using cold turkey and sometimes a mixture of cold turkey and a couple of days of patches to take the edge off.

  • Patches

I love patches, they’re great they manage to take away all that edginess when giving up smoking. They can be used over weeks and weeks to slowly diminish ones nicotine intake, but you can do what I do and use them for the first couple of days of giving up. This way you first attack the habit of handling and using cigarettes all the time and then you can have a crack at the nicotine a couple of days later once the malleable addiction has subsided. I like this method and it means that you’re not soo mean for the first few days and then get off the full nicotine experience really quickly.

I have however used the full patch experience and have gone through the full regimen, this proved very very successful too.

With patches too you get to enjoy the technicolour dreams, I’ve had experiences under patches that involve a full week of sleep in a night, me watching an opera I’d written (full score, dances, costumes the lot) in a night, basically it can all get a bit Yellow Submarine but the dreams really are wonderful.

  • Gum

Never tried before, probably pretty much the same as patches but you tend to look like Alex Ferguson and I’m sure you can’t chew in your sleep so no uber-great dreams. I think that they’d be pretty good for those moments where you really need a fag. I bought some once when I was having a cold turkey stint, I never go around to having them though.

  • Drugs

Well these are quick fixes that we all want, the thing is the consequences are just as high. I tried Zyban years ago, it really did work, one day you’d be enjoying a cigarette the next minute you’d just be getting nothing from them. It was really surreal, you’d be sat there chain-smoking trying to get something from them but nothing would work at all. This did work but the consequences were that I suffered from paranoia and a feeling of distinct unease for ages after and during taking them. It really wasn’t worth it and it took ages to shake the side-effects, one side effect was losing a rather gorgeous partner I had at the time (it’s easy to blame the Zyban though heheh).

Still they do work and that’s a good thing, if you don’t suffer side-effects then that’s doubly good, I would expect them to affect everyone differently but I really think with things like this you don’t get something so effective for no consequences.

Just take care…. and remember that drinking humungous amounts of alcohol seems make nicotine work again.

  • Electronic cigarettes

These seem to be brilliant, the people I know who use them in anger love them. These are really a satisfying way of giving up or even stopping cigarettes but maintaining nicotine intakes without the same risks (yet to be fully assessed) while still having that smoking something feeling. I find too that people who use these devices still have the benefit of having all the smoking paraphernalia too, they have the batteries, the rinky dinky charging boxes, the different flavours the lot. They’re pretty great, but if you really wish to give in they are prolonging the inevitable, however if you do carry on you might find a healthier friend in these.

I did smoke a cheapy I once got from a service station and they did taste of socks to me though.

Just found this – this is another form of electronic cigarette – talking ciggies heheh.

  • Hypnosis

Not too sure about this, the only time I ever had hypnosis was when I wanted to get through a bunch of exams in a hypnotic trance, munching facts and regurgitating them at exam time. I turned to a local hypnotist and he put me under – yeah right – by telling me I had a brick in one hand, hey I think he wants me put my arm down and a balloon in the other, guess what. He was so successful in helping me memorise everything that would come my way that I forgot the booster appointment the week after.

Anyway there’s lots of evidence to support that hypnosis does work and don’t discount it if it you think it might work for you then shop around a bit, find someone with good references and give it a go.

Don’t use an evil hypnotist though…..

  • Alan Carr’s books and seminars

I nearly forgot this, the book Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Stop Smoking: Be a Happy Non-smoker for the Rest of Your Life is a multiple zillion seller and it worked for me, well it worked for me for a period. I found it excellent and it still makes me firmly understand the tiny effect that smoking has and that it really shouldn’t be that tricky to crack. There are some people I know of who’ve found it patronising but I suppose some people might read it that way, put that behind you and it really is a very helpful book and the sales back that up. The other week I actually was sat in a taxi and I got talking with the driver about smoking. It turned out he’d been as heavy a smoker as I had – 60 a day and going to heaven soon – and he’d tried everything. For a bit of a laugh he’d attended an Alan Carr seminar held by the man himself, he’d been promised as many ciggies as he could smoke from Alan’s bulging suitcase of cigarettes and thought it sounded a tempting proposition. Turns out that after the session and after being told by Alan to smoke the last couple of ciggies he’d not had a cigarette since. This was sixteen years ago.

OK that’s enough for the time being.

The trick is not to start again.

First as I mentioned earlier, do avoid those situations where you might start up again, you don’t have to do this forever just try not to do them for the first couple of weeks. Really dangerous times are Christmas and New Year, birthdays, holidays, nights out etc…

Try carrying a pack of gum, if you have a really bad moment then popping a strip of nicotine might make it better.

However what I do is this, I keep a list, I don’t carry it but I do make it out and I do carry it in my head. The important things to remember are that cigarettes are instantly addictive if you think you can handle just a couple then you’re misleading yourself, they really will drag you down again. Another thing to remember is one I got from the Alan Carr book (sheesh I should mention that in the list above along with counselling) that the buzz you get from them is teeny, I find myself in a layby or wherever I can now legally smoke (usually being stared at with disgust by a bunch of doggers 🙂 it really is that socially unacceptable now) and once the first puff has barely gone there’s just nothing. It really is absolutely nothing, once that first breath is gone that’s it, you’re just smoking the rest of the cigarette and the rest in the pack out of habit. There is sometimes a bit of dizziness but really that’s pretty unpleasant, the smoking high lasts seconds, minutes at best, the rest of it is pretty unpleasant when you add it all up, you’re just sustaining a habit that’s painful to stop but painful to continue.

Anyway here’s my list and reasoning of why not to smoke, I think I listed this out one evening after spending another night trying to find somewhere suitable to smoke where no-one could see me doing it, shy smokers syndrome.

Really read this and take note. Smoking is awful, the up is momentary and the downs are huge. You get nothing at all out of it and it doesn’t help in any way. The up is a brief spell of dizziness you get on your first one, the rest are just to feed the addiction. Please please please don’t ever do it again it’s a hateful thing. I’ve just finished my last one and I feel shit.

  • Death breath
  • Car stinks
  • Dangerous lay-bys
  • Travel taking forever
  • Endless mints
  • Second-class citizen
  • Enormous cost
  • Missing Izzi while standing out back in the rain
  • Kissing Izzi with death breath
  • Acid reflux
  • Danger outside pubs
  • Cheating my parents
  • Smoking in garden avoiding neighbours
  • Late getting to work
  • Bad sleep
  • Tight chest
  • Pains in chest
  • Slow running times
  • Clothes stinking
  • Covered in ash
  • Burns in car
  • Brown fingers
  • Littering
  • Sea front smoking just bloody embarrassing
  • Stinging eyes
  • Smokers’ droop
  • Going to shops all the time
  • Lank hair
  • Excuses while buying them
  • Stigma
  • Death
  • Other terrible stuff
  • Not seeing Izzi grow up
  • Upsetting parents et
  • Ageing
  • Memory going
  • Nervous all the time
  • Mood changes
  • Cold muscles
  • Burying fag ends
  • Barely any good feeling or change
  • Crusty nose
  • Bad circulation

Some of these are pretty bizarre, I might try to explain them all one day but hey not at this moment.

Giving up smoking is better than doing anything for one’s health short of giving up crack cocaine, it really will do more good for your health than becoming a marathon runner. Take if from me the only way I remained healthy while smoking was to run all the time, I was up at dawn and running in order to stop my lungs collapsing in fug of tar due to my 60 a day habit. The smoking kept me whippet thin and this coupled with running made me a very competitive runner. I would finish a race and head for the nearest icecream van selling ciggies, this would be met with derision and disgust by the club runners I finished with, if anyone got a bit too insulting my general retort was “well I beat you”. One year I was told that I might be the first official smoker to finish The Great North Run and I was the first in shorts to queue in the beer tent in shorts, my Mum would be so proud. I did find too that half way through long runs an extra incentive could be gotten through fancying a smoke and my pace would pick up significantly.

Anyway that’s the lengths I went to stay fit while smoking, my plan now is to reap the benefits of not smoking while getting back into running.

Trust me on this though, if you do crack smoking then do allow a significant amount of time before you tackle the next part of the regimen. Trying to give up and then the very next week start to run would be taking on just too much. Your body will still be in a state of flux at this point and it will be taking on just too much at once, I realised this on the 11th May 2013 and I suggest you read that entry should you fancy mixing up the giving up with the starting fitness.

Anyway good luck all and everyone.