Quitting Smoking at 5 Months

My last cigarette was smoked on November 14th. I was taking Chantix at the time and, although my experience with Chantix wasn't fucked up like this guy's experience, when my dosage increased to 1 milligram twice a day, I experienced plenty of insomnia, vivid dreams, and stomach pains. My PM dose of Chantix felt like it burned a hole in my stomach every night.

I began to dread taking the Chantix. Two weeks after the 14th marked a month on the Chantix and a fortnight free of cigarettes. Like all smokers, I had "quit" numerous times in the past and I knew how bad the withdrawal symptoms could get. Chantix helped take the edge off. It made me apathetic towards smoking. But, I felt that the side effects likely outweighed the withdrawal symptoms at that point.

So, at the end of November, I stopped the Chantix. Within a week or so, the cravings hit. If you've never had the pleasure, cravings are full body. Even your lungs demand nicotine. It took until sometime in January for the cravings to fully subside. By that time, the tightness in my chest had dissipated and my abilities to taste and smell had returned. After spending time around the coworkers formerly known as my fellow smokers, I realized the extent to which I smelled tremendously awful and I apologized to a few of my nonsmoking friends.

Sometime around the end of February I overcame my mental addiction. This means that I honestly believe that I'll never smoke again. Until I overcame the mental aspect of my nicotine addiction, I could only speculate.

For the most part during my quitting smoking experience, I was relaxed. In the past I had claimed slavery to my addiction. "I don't smoke cigarettes, cigarettes smoke me," I thought amidst agitation and mental confusion. This mentality was, in all honesty, a subconscious effort on my part to sabotage my attempt at quitting. And it worked repeatedly.

This and past quitting experiences have created in my mind a conceptualization of addiction that's shaped like a disk. When you stop using, you cut out the middle. The ring shaped remnant is composed of every excuse to start using again. Excuses vary but among what I've heard and used myself are "It's just not my time," "I'll do it later," "I enjoy it too much to quit," and "I'll quit when I move and make friends who don't smoke."

Unless you deal honestly with the excuses, they'll continuously push inward until the disk is whole and you're using again. In other words, you have to want to quit regardless of your circumstances. No amount of Chantix and Commit can compensate for personal agency.

So, I've been smoke free for five months. It feels like a great weight has been lifted and an anchor cut. I can't relive all my years of poor health habits but I can forge ahead now with a sense of freedom. You know, it's funny. As a teenager I measured my passing into adulthood by that which, at certain ages, availed themselves to me. But now as an adult I understand that adulthood cannot be imposed by the larger society. It's about what we choose to do and choose not to do. It's about valuing our personal agency and taking responsibility.


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