Quitting smoking, my first attempt
Jessica Klymchuk, Guest Columnist Ω
There are several things you could choose to do that are scientifically proven to kill you, like jumping off a skyscraper, running into high-speed traffic or going skydiving without a parachute. But me, I chose to smoke.
I don’t know why I started smoking. Maybe it had something to do with realizing the Pink Ladies really did look cool when they smoked and taking a drag made Tyler Durden the badass he really was. It definitely wasn’t because I had a death wish.
The World Health Organization said that tobacco was responsible for 12 per cent of all deaths among adults aged 30 and over and 71 per cent of all lung cancer deaths.
These stats tell you something you already know: smoking is really bad for you. Health Canada tells you this right on cigarette packages: heart disease, oral cancer, stroke, blindness, bladder cancer, and chronic bronchitis etc. – “Just breathing is torture.”
Tyler Durden didn’t get lung cancer and the Pink Ladies never hacked their way through their day at Rydell High due to an increasingly problematic smoker’s cough.
However cool I decided smoking made me, three months ago I decided to quit. I decided that my addiction to a more expensive brand of cancer sticks was a blow to my student budget and smoking made me feel like I could throw up anyways. So why not give it up?
Easier said than done. Duh.
Health Canada says nicotine is as addictive as heroin. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention did a study that showed only 6.2 per cent of smokers were able to successfully quit in 2011.
I lasted three days. After that I lasted about two months before sneaking another.
However, I don’t think I completely failed. Having a handful of cigarettes in three months is a great improvement from two packs a week but no cigarette comes without risk. I’m fighting a battle that many smokers are familiar with.
Ninety per cent of quitters relapse and it’s usually within the first three months.
To avoid this imminent relapse you should have a strategy, which I did not. I quit cold turkey because I only smoked five times a day anyways, which is the hardest and the least effective way to quit. Studies show that 25 per cent of smokers who use medication to help them quit will stay smoke-free for over six months. If you’re a heavy smoker, quitting cold turkey won’t work.
Nicotine replacement therapy – the patch or the gum – is the most common aid for quitting smoking. E-cigarettes – the cigarettes of the future – are getting popular too, but they aren’t approved for sale by Health Canada. These help with nicotine withdrawals, sans the tobacco.
Even without meds I didn’t suffer from withdrawals, like insomnia or nervousness, and my cravings only lasted a couple weeks. So why did I cheat?
Booze. To successfully quit an addiction you have to know your triggers and my biggest trigger is alcohol. It’s also brutal to be around friends who smoke. Luckily, stress is not a trigger for me.
Know your triggers and wear armor to battle – keep your hands busy, avoid smoking areas, change your routines to avoid places and times where you would normally smoke and, most importantly, remind yourself why you want to quit.
This is a continuing struggle for me. The good news is that smokers who quit before they are 35 have mortality rates similar to those that never smoked at all. There is still hope for me after all.