My Smoking Story, and How I Finally Quit Tobacco
I smoked my first cigarette in 2002. We were drinking at a college party and I thought, "What the heck, I'll try a smoke." One thing lead to another, and like it does for so many people, I was hooked within a few weeks. At my worst, I was smoking a pack and a half a day.
I was young and I thought I had plenty of time to quit. Quitting turned out to be just as hard as everyone said it would be. My first real attempt was in 2005. I had only been smoking for a few years, but the physical dependence was strong. I've heard before that you only need to be smoking for a few months for it to be just as hard to quit as a 'seasoned' smoker.
The first time I tried to quit smoking I lasted for about 3 days. I remember feeling physically sick, irritated, angry, and all around pissed off. It was terrible. I then slipped into smoking little cigars, convincing myself that this was better. Within a week, I was back to smoking cigarettes.
I tried several times over the next few years to quit. The longest I ever went was a few days, but I found my biggest obstacle was the urge to smoke when drinking alcohol. I would be doing great, and then I would have a couple of beers and voila, I'd smoke half a pack. Then I'd just jump right back into it.
I kept trying to quit, and I got to the point in the last few years where I would only smoke when I drank. I thought that was good, but then realized I have a couple of drinks at least a few days out of the week. So I was essentially still a smoker. I was smoking about 3 packs a week.
What finally pushed me to quit altogether was the fact that I was starting to notice harmful effects. My tongue would get dry, irritated, and have a white coating from time to time. It hurt. It looked bad. It was always after a night of smoking. I was finding that I was having a hard time catching my breath after walking up a hill, or up stairs. I'm a big guy, but not that big that I should be gasping for air. My voice was getting weak. While broadcasting, the end of my phrases were getting breathy. My voice was being affected. I would try to take a deep breath, and I would feel the tightness in my airways. I would wheeze when I laughed. It was time to just quit. I knew I could. I basically already had worked my way down to just one crutch... smoking when drinking.
It happened to be on Halloween when I smoked my last cigarette. I didn't even plan on it that way. I didn't smoke the cig and say "This is my last one." It wasn't until the next day when I decided not to go buy a new pack. Instead, I went out and bought a decent e cigarette. Not one of those cheap disposable ones, but a starter kit. I got the "e-juice" with hardly any nicotine in it. Because I didn't really need the nicotine. At this point, I just needed something to do with my hands when I'm drinking. I needed that mechanism.
So if I was out having a couple of drinks and got the urge to smoke, I would pull out my e cig and take a few puffs. It saved me from buying or bumming a cigarette. I don't use the e cigarette often, and only as an emergency if I'm having a cocktail and the urge hits. I don't think e cigs are a miracle cure. I'm sure they are somewhat harmful to you. I've read up about them, and I do believe they are safer than cigarettes. I'll go on about the difference between the two in another post. But for now, it worked to keep me from going back.
I feel better and I breathe easier. My voice is stronger, and I no longer gasp for air like I was before. I don't snore at night anymore, my sense of smell is improving, and I don't stink link a cigarette anymore. It feels pretty good. Just yesterday I was cleaning out a toolbox in my garage and I found a half a pack of camel lights. Without even hesitating, I threw them in the garbage. That's never happened before.
I guess if I had any advice to someone who's trying to quit smoking is to keep trying and find a method that works for you. Don't give up. I tried at least 10 times to quit smoking before I finally had the willpower. I'm not gonna say I've won the battle, because it's been over a month. But I'm taking it a day at a time and I'm optimistic about the future.