On Quitting Smoking – January 19, 2016

Chart showing the side effects of nicotine

Over the last few weeks I’ve been working on my body and my life.  The first step has been to stop smoking.  You can do a lot of things to stop smoking but basically you have just stop.  The problem is you have to understand what you’re actually up against, and what you’re up against is an addiction to nicotine.

The thing that many people don’t understand when you say that a smoker is a nicotine addict it that we’re talking about the same sort of phenomenon as a person addicted to alcohol, cocaine or an opiate.  Here are a few symptoms taken from an article on Medical News Today (click the link for the full list):

“Signs and symptoms of substance addiction may include:

  • The person takes the substance and cannot stop – in many cases, such as nicotine, alcohol or drug dependence, at least one serious attempt was made to give up, but unsuccessfully.
  • Withdrawal symptoms – when body levels of that substance go below a certain level the patient has physical and mood-related symptoms. There are cravings, bouts of moodiness, bad temper, poor focus, a feeling of being depressed and empty, frustration, anger, bitterness and resentment.
  • There may suddenly be increased appetite. Insomnia is a common symptom of withdrawal. In some cases the individual may have constipation or diarrhea. With some substances, withdrawal can trigger violence, trembling, seizures, hallucinations, and sweats.
  • Addiction continues despite health problem awareness – the individual continues taking the substance regularly, even though they have developed illnesses linked to it. For example, a smoker may continue smoking even after a lung or heart condition develops.
  • Social and/or recreational sacrifices – some activities are given up because of an addiction to something. For example, an alcoholic may turn down an invitation to go camping or spend a day out on a boat if no alcohol is available, a smoker may decide not to meet up with friends in a smoke-free pub or restaurant.
  • Maintaining a good supply – people who are addicted to a substance will always make sure they have a good supply of it, even if they do not have much money. Sacrifices may be made in the house budget to make sure the substance is as plentiful as possible. …

And what causes addiction, here I’m talking about nicotine addiction, but it’s no different for someone who becomes addicted to alcohol or other substance.

My personal idea on the subject is that, once one becomes aware that one is dealing with an addiction and not just a “bad habit”, one can begin to face the problem for what it is and make life changes which will help one to stop smoking. So, I gave up caffeinated coffee, cut out the alcohol (both of these tend to call nicotine cravings), regulated my diet to avoid sugar compensation … another substance that is pretty addictive and triggers dopamine and I’ve been trying to increase my exercise. I actually had mild withdrawal symptoms compared so some of the things other people have had to go through – the most bothersome was (and sometimes still is) lack of concentration plus I had problems sleeping at night, I felt irritable, but living alone, there was no one to be irritable with, a little melancholic at one moment a little hyper the next and very very lazy.  Giving up caffeinated coffee wiped out the insomnia, but replaced it with a couple of days of constant drowsiness – where I could fall asleep typing!

Fortunately, over the years I’d restricted my smoking to two areas of the house, the terrace or the loggia.  I usually smoked alone, rarely in public (most places one can’t smoke anyway) and I smoked around 6 cigarettes a day.  Unfortunately, sometimes I’d interrupt my writing to go for a cigarette and this has created a few problems.

If there is one thing though that I know about addiction problems is that even one encounter with the substance (in this case a single encounter with nicotine) will set the symptoms off again and a relapse is guaranteed. This is the basic law of Addiction and you can’t break that law and stay clean, ask any alcoholic. So this would be true if my substance were alcohol, heroin or cocaine.  Once an addiction has been wired into your brain, there’s no taking down the system, it’s yours for life.

If you don’t smoke, don’t start and if you do and want to stop, it’s possible, but in my opinion the only way to do it is to stop smoking, no shilly-shallying about it. If you have a group of friends to help, or if you can find a group like smokers anonymous, you’re very lucky indeed and so take full advantage of that opportunity.  However, substituting with nicotine inhalers is not a way to stop, it’s only prolonging the inevitable end of going through the symptoms of quitting.  If you do want to quit smoking but not give up nicotine, an idea I’d played with for a year, that can also be a solution – using inhalers (some are quite chic).  It all depends on what you want to do. I decided that I’d rather give up on nicotine, which is first and foremost a highly toxic natural insecticide. But if you want to know what nicotine is  read HERE.  Oh and I feel it’s a strike against another unethical multinational industry

My next discussion will be food and yes, I’m going to start addressing the obesity epidemic that is covering the globe and some of the crazies foisted onto the public as good nutrition. Ciao,  Bastet.