Monday, February 21, 2011

On "Quitting"

It's been five days since my surgery and everything is going pretty well-- except, of course, for the fact that I can neither smoke nor drink alcohol for at least another eight to fifteen days (and that's an optimistic estimate).

I've been a smoker for almost exactly three years now and have never tried to quit, although there have been times when I consciously cut back, and periods of illness so severe that I didn't even want to smoke. Still, this is the longest I've ever gone without smoking since I started, and so I've been reading up on nicotine withdrawal and quitting hoping that there might be some useful tidbit out there somewhere about how to make this suck less.

I won't keep you in suspense: there's not. What I did find, however, is that people writing about quitting say the darndest things. For your enjoyment, I now present:


Under "Benefits of Quitting" from

"Many people who quit smoking are surprised by how good they feel!
They don’t need to smoke
They don’t have to find places to smoke
They don’t have to worry about their smoke bothering others
They smell good
Their cars, homes, and kids don’t smell like smoke
They can better smell food and other good smells
They feel more relaxed
They don’t have to make sure they always have cigarettes
They have more money"
Seriously, if this is the list of things I have to look forward to I might put off quitting even longer. This is just sad (and I can smell food and other good smells just fine, thank you!).

"Keep other things around instead of cigarettes. Try carrots, pickles, sunflower seeds, apples, celery, raisins, or sugarfree gum.

Wash your hands or the dishes when you want a cigarette very badly. Or take a shower.

Light incense or a candle instead of a cigarette.

Where you are and what is going on can make you crave a cigarette. A change of scene can really help. Go outside, or go to a different room. You can also try changing what you are doing."
"Yeah, Alex was a pretty cool guy before he quit. Now he reeks of pickles, leaves the middle of conversations to obsessively wash his hands with bleach and is always burning things. ... Yeah, you're right, I guess the Machinist does make a lot more sense now."

"7. Bake bread. Smell the wholesome, life-affirming, warm bread instead of deadly smoke.
17. Take a nap. Take a shower (you can't smoke there!)."
Oh yeah?

"18. Yell, sing, whine, howl like a wolf...
25. Wash and dry all ashtrays. Decide whether you should toss them or pack them away. Throw away all matches and lighters.
26. Paint. Sculpt. Make a mess. (Your hands will be too dirty to light a cigarette)."
No comment necessary, but one last one:
Exercise = Exorcism = Casting out evil spirits = Exercise
Exercise = Excise = Cutting off dead or diseased tissue = Exercise"
Okay then!

I may periodically update this as I find more, though, to be honest, reading about smoking is just making things worse. People who have quit: do you actually find all this neurotic self-affirmation stuff helpful? My grandmother, who's been a pack-a-day smoker since she was 17, quit cold turkey every time she got pregnant. Pretty sure that's how it'll be for me, when the time comes. Some friends have suggested I get an e-cigarette, or take up nicotine gum or patches, but come on, smokers, isn't it time we stopped lying? Quitting isn't hard because of the nicotine addiction. Quitting is hard because the physical act of smoking is amazing and because the habit has come to define us. Quitting is hard because I live with two smokers and the 4am conversations we have outside shivering in the cold while we get our fix simply wouldn't exist if not for our shared addictions. Quitting has nothing to do with nicotine. Give me a break. Quitting is about trading one kind of suicide for another.

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