I smoked for twenty-four years and never thought I would be able to quit. Like most people, I started smoking when I was drinking alcohol. In my case, I started in college. I loved the head rush of smoking one or two cigarettes. I always said to myself that I would never buy a pack. It’s amazing how powerful addiction truly is, I was buying packs before I ever realized I was buying packs and by the time reason could catch up with impulse, I was hooked. The addiction continued for twenty-four years.
When I was trying to quit something that I found incredibly helpful was attending Nicotine Anonymous (“NA”) meetings. Before attending NA meetings I ordered the “big book” and other literature published by the organization. The literature was incredibly powerful to read. I had never really read anything before that touched me so profoundly as some of the stories I read in NA literature. I had no idea that others had struggled so deeply with their addiction to nicotine. Drugs and alcohol yes, but nicotine no. Finally, I found other people who were as serious as I was to quit smoking and to put it in their past.
After reading the material, I attended meetings in New York City. I was blown away by the deep sharing at these meetings and the intensity with which others were battling their addiction. Some were successful and had quit long-term, others were back and forth between smoking and quitting, and others were simply unable to quit. A gentleman who I befriended attended with his oxygen tank given he had advanced COPD. Irrespective, he was unable to quit. It was that powerful an addiction for him. It is completely surreal to sit next to someone whose clothes smell like smoke, goes everywhere with his oxygen tank, gets completely winded with even the most minimal physical activity and is STILL unable to quit smoking. The good news is he started doing very light cardio under the careful watch of medical professionals and the last time I saw him he had many months free of smoking.
It was seeing others succeed and hearing their stories that lead me to the conclusion that my enemy could be defeated. It laid an optimistic foundation for me to build upon, to eradicate the scourge of cigarettes from my life.
I highly recommend Nicotine Anonymous literature and attending meetings as part of an overall battle plan to quit. The good thing about Nicotine Anonymous is that they have telephone and online meetings for folks who are too sick to attend in person and/or for places where in-person meetings are not available.
For more information, visit their website at: www.nicotine-anonymous.org
By the way, after smoking for twenty-four years, I had my last cigarette on September 26, 2013.
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