My Struggle With Stopping Smoking

Stopping smoking is a struggle and not an easy journey at all.  It requires a great deal of planning and willpower.  A lot of people have tried and failed many times because they had underestimated their would-be journey to quitting.


It is hard not to get into smoking when you grew up around smokers.  My mom, dad, and their friends who were often in our house always smoked.  At age 10, I started stealing cigarettes from my mom and sneaked out to have a puff.


From Sticks To Packs

In high school, I smoked about one to two sticks a day without fail.  As I started college, I tried stopping for a while.   But when I tried drinking alcohol and joining new friends in the bar, I went back to smoking again.  I enjoyed the perfect combination of alcohol and cigarettes.  Once in a while, when I would go home during school breaks, we will be talking while drinking and puffing the cigar and that was our favorite bonding activity.


When I started working, I now can afford to buy packs of cigarettes that I could finish a pack in a day.   Why I do that much?  Work has become stressful, boredom sometimes strikes when you are living alone, and jumping from one relationship to another just seemed depressing and tiring. The sticks in my fingers were just the things that stayed constant in my life and kept me company and entertained me.


The Struggle Is Real

I was very much aware that smoking was bad for me, but I just did not have enough strength and willpower to stop. I didn’t have the know-how to do it correctly.

For many long-term smokers, cigarettes have become a fixture in daily life. At some point, however, nearly all people who smoke wish they didn’t—and strongly desire to do something about it. — Marni Amsellem, PhD

I tried quitting smoking thrice. The first one was during my college days and the second attempt was when I had my first serious relationship.   My girlfriend wanted me to stop smoking because of its harmful effects on health, so I tried.  But I relapsed, and she did not like it, and it was one of the reasons why we broke up.



My Nicotine Cravings

During those two times that I attempted to stop smoking, the next few hours and days were the toughest, a real struggle in the journey of a smoker who wanted to quit.  Nicotine cravings and nicotine withdrawal caused me to experience insomnia, easy fatigability, irritability, anxiety, headaches, and I often hunger.  It was a feeling no one would want to go through, and among the reasons why many fail in their attempts.

The need to smoke is affected by many factors. Some of them involve a physiological addiction to nicotine. However, the situation also affects the need to smoke. — Art Markman Ph.D.

Brazenness On Patches And Gums

When I planned on stopping, I tried asking for medical advice, and I thought it would be easier this time and that I will be successful in my second attempt.  The doctor recommended that I use patches and gum to overcome my cravings.


But maybe just like any other medication, it has a different effect on each.   In my case, the discomfort did not go away.  I still had the craving for nicotine just as worse as the first time.  I felt that the patches and gums gave me false hope.




How I Succeeded

Planning early on when you want to accomplish something is essential for you to succeed.


This time, I did not take stopping my smoking habit too lightly.   I did plan ahead, and it helped me maximize the good feeling when I was experiencing nicotine withdrawal and craving.  I went on a vacation which gave me a more relaxed environment as I restarted quitting again.  Because I was less pressured, I did not get too irritable. I was able to sleep better, and the headaches and feeling tired became less than what I had experienced before.  Exercise and taking a walk outdoors helped me a great deal to fight anxiety and boredom.


And one of the most important things that had helped me succeed in my quitting was surrounding myself with people who supported and wanted to see me quit successfully. They were my family, close friends, and my ex-girlfriend, who is now my loving wife.

Instead of focusing on interventions that reduce smoking and its harmful effects, however, there is the option that involves using an alternative strategy of effectively preventing, reducing or eliminating smoking through popularizing mind-body exercises, such as Tai Chi, yoga, hiking or walking, Qigong or other mental-physical activities. — Key Sun Ph.D.