One Way To Quit Smoking

Jim Muckle

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Could I start smoking again?

In a heartbeat.

I love it.

One stressful event, seriously stressful event, and I’d want a smoke, and a scotch too if it was available.

No, I’m no hero.

But I didn’t want to smoke anymore. It got in the way of my working on apartments, painting, doing a job I was involved in. Suddenly I’d have this overwhelming desire to have a smoke, and I really didn’t want to. I wanted to keep working and complete the project I was involved with.

But, I didn’t know how to quit.

I looked at the patches but they were way too expensive.

I remembered reading an article years ago of a study done in the Netherlands that stated that if you could resist the urge to have a cigarette for 15 seconds that you would forget about wanting one until the next urge hit, and if you continued resisting the urges for 15 seconds then the spans between urges would continue to grow longer and longer.

Their study had shown that even people who had quit for 13 years would still have the urge for a smoke, but if they could resist it for 15 seconds it would pass.

Armed with that knowledge I tried quitting.

It didn’t work. I would want one so bad that life didn’t seem worth living without it.

I’d cave in.

Plus, being around friends who smoked didn’t help. It was a contagion that went hand in hand with being with them. Everyone lit up and got high. The high I am told is caused by the nicotine triggering a chemical called dopamine in your brain which sends a pleasurable feeling to you. You want to continue having the pleasurable feeling so you continue lighting up.

Makes sense.

And if you started as a young boy back when it was cool to smoke then you’ve also got this psychological thing going on that you’re a man, or grown-up, or something like that if you smoke.

I read an ad in an old magazine printed in the early 1900’s that said the deeper you inhaled the better it was for you.

But, we know better now.

It’s an addiction.

And not a healthy one.

Although, I recently read another article that stated that nicotine may counteract the effects of Alzheimer’s.

Now wouldn’t that be something.

Maybe in my old age, older than now, when I’m living in Paris and walking the streets alone, I’ll light up and enjoy a good smoke.

I do love it.

But in the meantime I’ve been off them for nearly two years.

But the theory of waiting 15 seconds after each urge, the desire to quit, the knowledge of knowing that it was bad for me, and that it stunk up my clothes and the apartment, and that I was an addict, still wasn’t enough to get me to quit.

There was one element missing.


Real fear.

Sometimes when I would have a smoke my throat would hurt.

Momentary, sharp pains.

It really scared me.

That fear, linked with the 15 second theory, got me prepared to quit.

But then there were the friends. The brotherhood of smokers. What would I do about them?

I stopped seeing them, temporarily, until I had gotten through the first days of not smoking, and even then it was difficult because they would say in a kind of derogatory way, “Oh, you quit smoking, yeah right. " But, I later discovered that they accepted me as a non-smoker too.

Also, I took up chocolate.

Paul Newman’s sweet dark chocolate.

I get a pleasurable calming feeling from chocolate.

And the less or smaller piece I eat the more flavor I derive from it.

Chocolate is America’s favorite taste.

And, I have read that dark chocolate helps keep arteries cholesterol free, has more health promoting plant chemicals than broccoli or Brussels sprouts, has more antioxidants than green tea, red wine or blueberries, and is good for my teeth.

A nice tradeoff.

A healthy addiction.

Was it easy to quit smoking?

Absolutely not.

I made several attempts. I threw countless packs of cigarettes away.

Could I do it again?

I don’t know. I’ve heard that giving up smoking is harder than kicking heroine.

But it’s been almost two years now.

Do I still have a desire to have a smoke when I’m around friends that smoke?

Yep, but it’s not as strong as it used to be, and I remember the fear, that real fear, take a deep breath, and wait 15 seconds and the urge magically disappears.

I will have to continue practicing this for the rest of my life, because if I give in I’ll be hooked again, wanting just one more, wanting that high.

But the nice thing now is, I forget about smoking for days, weeks, and months at a time.

So it may sound odd to say, but I wish you real fear.

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