Tuesday, September 20, 2011

How I Quit Smoking (6 months and counting...)

OK, I've been waiting to write about this because I didn't know if it was gonna stick. But it has, and so here is the announcement: I quit smoking. As of March 22, 2011, I have been a non-smoker, although I do confess, I have been seen occasionally slipping behind a dumpster for a drag with some shady characters, but these...er...slips...have been very few and far between. Essentially, I am smoke-free, but what has shocked me even more is how free I've become in general--a development I DID NOT anticipate.

First, I'll explain how I did it. After years of trying every quitting technique out there--Chantix (psychosis-inducing drug), Smokenders (very expensive), hyponosis (multiple sessions), homeopathy, plus some other methods I can no longer recall--I'd become completely despondent that anything would work for me, despite a very real desire to quit. With the exception of the morning and evening cigarette, I didn't even like smoking anymore. (I had just passed the half-a-pack-a-day mark when I quit.)

But then an intervention of sorts happened. I awoke in the middle of the night one evening to see a commercial on TV about yet another magic homeopathic elixir that would supposedly make me stop instantaneously. Thinking this was God speaking to me, I scribbled the web site down on a napkin, only to find out the next day via reviews on the web that the potion was a total scam.

Just as I was imagining the Great Spirit enjoying a knee-slapping "Gotcha!", I then discovered the real reason I'd been directed to the internet. Via some other reviews, all positive, I landed on Amazon, where I discovered over 800 four- and five-star reviews for a book titled "The Easy Way to Stop Smoking," written by a man named Allen Carr, who at his height was smoking five packs a day. As the book was just $8.99 (brand new!), I ordered it overnight and I kid you not...I received it at 5 p.m. on a Monday evening, read it twice, and by 6 p.m. Tuesday I'd smoked my last cigarette.

What was it about this book that was so different from everything else? How I wish I could answer that in some simple way. I was so astounded that his techniques were working every time I wanted to light up that I actually began obsessing over this strange mind control, which I guess was better than obsessing over cigarettes.

Of course, it did take some mental stamina those first three or four weeks to rid myself of the habit, but Carr anticipates every single thought, feeling and situation that will come up during this period and gives you the tools to, well...just say no. And he somehow makes it all a joyous experience!

I was going to write an essay here about the surprising emotional liberation that occurred after I quit, but I'll save that for my next post.

The truth is that, before this book, quitting smoking was extremely difficult for me, as it is for any nicotine addict, so I'm ecstatic to report that I found a way to be liberated from the evil cigarette.

But before sharing this wonderful news with my fellow bloggers, I obviously wanted to be sure the quit had stuck. I can tell you that it has (despite the occasional sneak...and I know! I'm playing with fire! I'll stop!), and I can't begin to tell you how much my life has changed.

If you're a smoker yourself and you truly want to stop, for the price of a pack you can buy this book and give yourself a true fighting chance against the odds that have been stacked against you for years by the tobacco companies, and by your own human vulnerability. It worked for me. I hope it works for you.