[This post was initially written January 6th, but has lingered in the Drafts folder for one reason or another.]
My cessation plan begins with really wanting to quit. That’s the foundation.
That’s also the hardest part because I love smoke in general and acknowledging that love is important. So when we—Honeybee and I, decided that quitting was officially on the radar in August/September of 2015, we had a vague timeframe of “January” but it wasn’t necessarily associated with New Years initially. Proceed with caution on New Year’s Resolutions. Actually, the plan was to get one of those larger vaporizer pens with nicotine juice and just step down that way, but when I visited the vape shop, the whole set up was gonna cost me $70 plus juices. That amount is not too expensive compared to buying cigarettes for the rest of my life, but from that moment I decided to strive for a life without having to pay that $. Because if there’s one thing I love more than smoke, it’s making deals, discounts and saving money.
Again, back in August, September, October and the first week of November I enjoyed all the smoky treats I wanted, with emphasis on excess. I also invested in extra incense, candles and the like. Embrace all the smoke! The more I smoked without restriction, the more I realized it was really only a few choice smokes I enjoyed most throughout the day, otherwise just having ambient smoke in the room was enough. (This is where I say this plan may not work for everyone cause I was never one of those smokers who got up and had to have a smoke first thing in the morning. I enjoyed that on the occasional early day with coffee, but it didn’t have to be the first thing I did and there’s a major smoker distinction there. Matt, is definitely a first thing smoker and he’s much more comfortable using the gradual juice method, so $70 was a worthy investment for him, I digress…)
Once mid-November hit I smoked every cigarette with the very clear thought, “enjoy this, time is running out.” This step was crucial for me. I didn’t want to arrive at quitting day and feel like I still had more smoking to do, if that makes sense. It initially made me smoke more, but it evened out again. To give you perspective, 6-7 a day was a lot for me, it would even out to about 4-5. From mid-November I set my Google calendar with an even amount of days (until January, my general target) of stepping down from 5 a day to 1. From there I just did what the Google machine said until a funny thing happened. By the end of December I realized that it was more frustrating keeping track of how many smokes I could have (and watching myself sometimes negotiate more into the plan) or when I would have that ONE. I had Marlboro Lights and Camel Lights stashed away, I would only pull out so many for the day which I kept in my cigarette case, separate. I grew (more) fond of my cigarette case and built that into the ritual. So when it was time to just finally be done with tobacco, it happened to be New Year’s Eve. I bought like 10 pre-rolled joints (the big, 1 gram ones) from the recreational shop as well as hand-rolling my own tiny joints, too. For the whole weekend I was allowed to smoke all the weed I wanted. It really helps that I did this during off work/off school time, not that I operate any heavy machinery or anything, but I definitely needed the time to just be. Anytime I wanted to reach for a cigarette I had this pre-rolled tiny cigarette-like thing there for me, in that same cigarette case. And that’s pretty much that.
[Keep in mind, this solution is not viable for everyone. I live in Washington State where recreational cannabis is legal and I’m so thankful it is because it helped me get rid of a more dangerous habit. And, yes, I can imagine you may be thinking this is just replacing one bad habit with another, but marijuana is not addictive in the same way tobacco is so I’m able to quench the smoke craving without inhaling those same chemicals. The difference is huge. After that weekend, I immediately stepped down in the amount of herb enjoyed, no cessation plan necessary. It just feels natural.]
Somewhere along the way, I learned that it takes 3 days for the main effect of nicotine addiction to leave the blood and after that you’re just fighting your habit. (And this may or may not be super scientifically accurate, I think it is, but I also may’ve forgotten and I’m not making an effort to find out otherwise because my 3-day-buffer-mantra made this happen for me. Just make it to the 3rd day, then you’re home free! I kept telling myself and that shit works!)
Nicotine is usually detectable in a blood test for 1-3 days after the consumption of a tobacco product.* However, the length of time that nicotine stays in your system may vary based on how much or how often you smoke, and may also be affected by your age and general health. Google - Mar 23, 2015
Find a way to make the first 3 days bearable, check. Then making sure I either rebuilt old habits (ciga-joints in the old, familiar cigarette case) or fashioned new ones (anytime I wanted a smoke January 1-3 I, instead did a 30 second plank, so the abs are getting stronger / sexier, too!) became the necessity, but sometimes that backfired because I definitely used to love a cigarette after working out, but again, ciga-joints to the rescue! Obviously, I can’t smoke that much weed all the time, but it’s weed, so there’s only so much you even can smoke anyway and, again, its only those choice moments of the day when I really enjoy it. I have a cheap nicotine vape that cost me like $5 for emergencies, but I haven’t had to use it yet. For me, it’s easy to be smoke free at work / school, a non-smoking campus. There is a smoking area near where I work, but it’s also winter time, so it’s really easy to let myself be distracted with work. At home is where my struggle is, but I got the hardest part out of the way first, by doing all the “hard quitting” while I was home for the holidays.
So, yeah, it’s a combination of things beginning with really wanting to quit at its very root. Oh, I also borrowed a book and I can say it helped a little too. For real, I literally opened it up to a random page wherein the author discusses how there’s nothing—no satisfaction—that comes from cigarettes. The only relief you get is from the initial discomfort that was caused by the first cigarettes themselves. He obviously explained it better than I did, but -seriously- in those, like, 3 pages I was like yup, okay. Woot. And I haven’t picked up the book since, but that did help.
It can be tough, but you can do it! It’s all about wanting to! But another factor that helps me is this whole natural hair journey
. I equate getting fed up in those last few days of smoking to that time when I couldn’t take the two different hair types anymore. I did the mini big chop and (even though my hair was shorter than it had ever been I) felt so much better. I think I’m at 23 months of relaxer-free curl glory. It took 20 months to just begin
to unleash its cuteness. Smoking a cigarette now would be like getting a relaxer and straightening my hair. No way I’m going back. Can I say this is a foolproof plan? No. It has a lot of caveats and took a long time to get comfortable with. Today is
, March 14th and we’re 3 ½ months cigarette free! And I don’t even want one. It’s odd that the previous sentence makes me proud and yet I can look back on smoking fondly. It was a time in my life and that time has come and gone.
Are you thinking of quitting, too? Quit before? Quitting again? You can do it and I believe in you. Tell me your story in the comments! Need more inspiration? Find out What Happens When You Quit Smoking
. And thanks for sticking with me in the Real Talk series. If you missed it, check out Real Talk 01: Conquering Anxiety
. Yes, this blog is about sunshine, but you can’t have sunshine without rain. You can’t have victory without something to defeat.