I have smoked on and off routinely for the better part of a decade now, and I’m attempting to quit yet again. I love cigarettes, and there is nothing better when you’re stuck in a conflict zone doing soldiery things, but I’m done with that and can’t think of a good reason to keep smoking anymore. In my opinion, quitting smoking cigarettes is pretty easy if you have a competitive personality. This is due largely to the drive to succeed. Simply put, you are attempting to beat yourself in a game. There is a process to make it work though, and if you don’t follow it, you may not be as successful in your attempt. This is how I do it, but I cannot guarantee the process will do the job for everyone.

First of all, a disclaimer, I have only done this a few times, and I seem to pick up smoking a year or so after each time I quit; so I guess I really never quit. There are no substitutes that can truly fill in, and even if they could, it would just be replacing one addiction with another. Sunflower seeds, gum, vaping, etc. None of it will work out in my opinion. You have to stop cold turkey — that is mind over matter, not substitution.

To start, I have to make it through the first three days because that is when cravings are worst. Those first few days are brutal, rage-filled, and depressing — waves of emotion that cannot be helped as my body withdrawals from lack of nicotine. I usually start with a hangover because I never want to smoke when I have one; it’s almost like a free day.

On the fourth day, it becomes a competition to see how long I can go. The cravings, while still present, become far less frequent at this point and the withdrawals have ended — giving me a level head. In boot camp, they told us to make it from meal to meal and day to day. So that’s what I do. I get to the next meal and take it day by day, then aim for one more week. Eventually, I’m at a month, and the cravings are all but a faint memory.

The hard part I have found is that one cigarette leads to many, not through the cravings but sheer complacency.  I smoke once, and nothing happens. I start smoking when only if I’m drinking, and nothing happens. Then I smoke only on weekends. Then only once a day. Before I realize it, I’m a full-time smoker again and have to repeat the process. I suppose that’s the part where being driven to succeed comes into play most obviously.

If at first you do not succeed, try, try again.

Featured image courtesy of the author.

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