This is a personal narrative of my journey to being nicotine-free. I will outline every detail of how I started and quit smoking – cold turkey – to the best of my recollection.
It is my hope that this story will motivate and inspire others not to start smoking.
For those that may already have, I hope it will motivate you to quit smoking cold turkey as soon as possible.
This is NOT another story of how I used some magical product to help me quit smoking.
In fact, nicotine gums and patches did not help me in the long term. They were too expensive and their effects were short-lived.
Cigarette smoke is a harmful substance, one that contains hundreds (if not thousands) of lethal chemicals.
Unfortunately for smokers, our bodies will only crave one – nicotine. To get it, you have to make do with inhaling numerous time bombs for the pleasure of quenching your thirst for nicotine.
Is it really worth it?
Smoking causes cancer and a host of other lethal health complications.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tobacco use kills at least 7 million people every year. Smoking kills about 480,000 people in the U.S. alone, 41,000 of which are caused by secondhand exposure to cigarette smoke.
Unfortunately, these statistics are not enough to deter cigarette smoking.
Every day, more than 300 young people under the age of 19 become daily cigarette smokers, while over 2000 more smoke their first cigarette.
Smoking leads to disease and disability and harms nearly every organ of the body.
More than 16 million Americans are living with a disease caused by smoking.
For every person who dies because of smoking, at least 30 people live with a serious smoking-related illness.
Smoking causes cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
Smoking also increases risk for tuberculosis, certain eye diseases, and problems of the immune system, including rheumatoid arthritis.
Smoking is a known cause of erectile dysfunction in males.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The worst part about all this is that I was well aware of these risks way before I started smoking.
But like most of other people who have found themselves in the unhygienic, smelly, and lustful cell that is a smoker’s life, I decided to ignore common knowledge.
I remember frowning at anyone who reminded me of the reality.
I went on to become a smoker for the next 7 years.
On a normal day, I would throw away about eight cigarette buds (and that’s only if I hadn’t taken any alcoholic drink).
I was never an alcohol addict though. Beer just multiplied my thirst for nicotine a thousand fold.
I know firsthand the problems of a smoker, including a stinky mouth, foul moods in the morning, regrets, and so forth.
More importantly, I know the struggles of one trying to quit smoking cold turkey.
It was never an easy job for me. Actually, am still struggling with the occasional moments when am about to jump right back into the bandwagon.
But I always manage to ward off that feeling, and so can you!
I want to share my little secret with you.
Now I know it is not scientifically proven, but if it worked for me, it deserves to be out there so it can help someone else too.
It’s a story full of regrets and self-hate, one that am not proud of at all, but one that deserves to be told nonetheless.
Read on. It just might help you too!
So how did I start and why didn’t i quit smoking sooner?
It was back in 2013.
I was a second year student in campus, with the whole world in front of me.
I could have made any choice I wanted back then.
After all, my parents were far away and could not influence my decision making. I was finally free from their constant monitoring (so I thought).
Am sure you all know the feeling that comes with newly found freedom as a teenager.
You can explore anything. Life at that time is through trial and error.
Try this and that until you find something that you and your body feel comfortable with.
Don’t get me wrong though. I didn’t do hard drugs (lucky me!). But maybe that’s because they weren’t easily available where I was. Who knows, maybe I would given them a try too! I guess we’ll never know….lol!
Back to the main story!
So, am in my first semester of my second year of campus. Very excited!
I have finally figured out how the world works, right? Am a young adult after all (or am I?).
I had travelled over 200 kilometers from my home town to the university, settled down in my new hostel (albeit with some difficulties), and started making a few friends. I even reconnected with my old buddies from high school and life was just starting to be a whole lot of fun!
Like every other smoker, I loved smoking,
I loved the feeling I got from every puff, the satisfaction that I could not get from any other substance.
I DID NOT WANT TO QUIT! No excuses this time!
My first cigarette
So one day, my friends and I could not afford the occasional ‘drink’ we liked to have on Friday evenings.
But that ‘little devil’ inside us keeps telling us to find something exciting to do! Its Friday after all and everyone seems to be having a good time but us!
Let me be honest here!
Back then, it was the norm to be found drunk on a Friday. In our little, twisted minds, we were conforming to the ways and requirements of the adult world.
You know how people claim to be relieving stress by downing loads of alcohol? So were we.
Come to think of it now, am not sure were actually stressed. From where I stand now, am pretty sure we were just using that excuse to justify our bad and unhealthy behaviors.
So we eventually decided to give in to our inner desires.
And that’s how I smoked my first cigarette! How I wish I hadn’t started that journey! How I wish I had stayed in my hostel room that evening! But you know what they say about wishes and horses, right?
Now, no one gets hooked to cigarettes by smoking one stick! But keep doing it and you’ll definitely be looking for nicotine patches and gums at some point in life to help you quit smoking. By the way, these didn’t help me either, at least not in the long term. Their effects were short-lived and were too expensive I had to drop them eventually.
7 years later, I was still smoking. My mornings started with at least 2 cigarettes.
I would smoke many more throughout the day, and repeat the routine the following morning.
But I eventually had to quit smoking.
So how did I do it?
Will Power. Commitment. Support. Repeat
The secret to permanently breaking any bad habit is to love something greater than the habit
Smoking is perhaps (one of) the hardest substances to quit.
In Lukhman Pambra’s words;
smoking is neither an art nor a sport. Better to liberate yourself before the body retaliates, for its vengeance would be a furious blow enthused out of all the bygone years’ mercy you thanklessly thought you were entitled to.
One of the first steps in quitting smoking is to believe deep in your soul that you NEED to quit smoking.
You need to find a reason to quit if the threat of certain death isn’t enough for you (it wasn’t for me).
For me, the reason was very personal so I won’t reveal it here, but find one that’s closest to your heart and stick by it.
It could be the fear of death, or wanting to live a healthier life, or for your kids’/spouse’s sake, or to stop stinking…whatever!
Keep reminding yourself of this reason, no matter how tough it gets along the way.
This is the only way you master the inner strength you need to quit cold turkey.
More importantly, find a source of support for your decision.
My source of support was my wife, so it doesn’t have to be a group of random strangers.
Support groups can help if you have access to one, but that was not so in my case.
Look to your friends and family. Tell them of your intention and ask for their moral support!
Trust me, it helps!
Support multiplies your chance of successfully quitting smoking.
Then comes the feeling that makes you want to quit even more – the feeling of being in control of your life.
Nothin’ feels better than knowing that you aren’t a slave to anything, that you can wake up and not think of your first cigarette before even saying good morning to your spouse and kids!
It sounds easy, I know, but it isn’t.
You have to deal with nicotine withdrawl symptoms once in a while, but it’s not big deal if you know what your goal is.
But that is not meant to demotivate you.
Think about it this way. If you were to face Goliath every day knowing that you would kill him every time, wouldn’t you do it?
Knowing that am defeating addiction every day kept me going.
I was (and still am) determined to kick the habit for good!
And although I still get accessional urges, it’s this feeling that gets me through.
May the pride of conquering an addiction cold turkey be your guide and savior.
May your fear of losing not stand in your way to success.
You can do it too.
I am looking forward to reading your success stories in the comments section.
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See you on the next post. Feel free to leave your questions and comments below and I will respond to each and every one of them!