I smoked cigarettes and tried dab rigs under 50 for almost 25 years before quitting. I actually loved smoking, as one would think since I did it for so long. I loved the sparking up while driving, the first cigarette in the morning, the after-dinner palate cleanser, the before-bed relaxer, the “take a quick walk away from the cubicle, and stop staring at the monitor,” the just-for-fun, and all the other ones, too. After about 1 ½ years, I still find myself occasionally wanting to have one. Except I know now as I did when I was in the process of quitting, I cannot – not anymore.
This was my first hurdle in quitting, forcing myself mentally to stop what I had been doing for so long. I prepared by letting it sink in mentally, almost meditating, for a week prior to quitting that I just couldn’t do it anymore. The health risks and monetary costs just became too much. I prepared mentally because I knew there were consequences to quitting. It’s not only a physical addiction but a lifestyle as well. The after-dinner palate cleanser and taking a break from work aren’t just a nicotine need. They are not just a habit. To me, each cigarette is part of a lifestyle I chose but was now choosing to change. Similar to a retired athlete who misses the high competition, I would be denying myself pleasure and there was/is no replacing it. To get through it I was lowering my risks of not being healthy enough to enjoy life when I retire in about 25-30 years. The goal wasn’t to quit. It was/is the long term benefit. Have a goal, work towards it.
Past the first hurdle, I went with the nicotine gum this time. I had tried it years before, back when the only flavor was mud. Now they have multiple flavors out. In the past, I have also tried the lozenge, cold turkey, gradually slowing down, the prescription of inhibitor pills, and even the homeopathic method of herbs and licorice roots. I still think any of those methods could have worked, as well as the laser treatment if I had been ready to accept the consequences of quitting earlier. I started out with the 4mg gum and chewed it as suggested in the first few days. I went through 8-10 pieces per day. The first two days I was cranky. If I chewed the gum too much instead of “parking” it in my gums as the directions say to I would get the hiccups. To stop the hiccups I took out the gum and drank some water. I think hydration is important when using the gum, so I also made sure to drink extra water. I did get some digestive distress, a few times when I felt I need to rush to the bathroom, but no tragedies occurred. I also chewed regular gum as a way to keep me occupied when not chewing the nicotine gum.
On day three I broke away from the directions and started to decrease my gum consumption. I knew that if need be I could always take an extra piece. I still would have the desire to smoke, but I focused on my ultimate goal and fought off the urge. I was down to about four pieces per day when I finished the first box of 110. I switched to 2mg for the next box. I found I needed to re-up it to six pieces per day for a few days. I gradually slowed down to two pieces per day and took an extra piece if I was at a bar where I knew it’d be toughest mentally for me.
A year and a half later, I still chew a piece a day. I know I probably shouldn’t, but I still want the crutch. My guess is that the long term health risk to chewing the gum will be similar to one who drank two cups of coffee per day since both caffeine and nicotine are stimulants. I’m no doctor though.
As a side note, my wife had laser treatment to quit smoking. She says it cured her instantly. She didn’t even need one on the drive home from the first session. She’s been smoke-free for about five months. She still gets the desire to smoke every now and then too.
In the end, I recommend quitting. The gum worked great for me. The laser treatment worked great for my wife. The key to me was understanding that nothing replaces the habit or the lifestyle of things one does while smoking, get over it, and move forward towards that long term goal.