Sometime early this year I decided that I wanted to eventually stop smoking, but with a few precautions…
I didn’t want it to be a hard withdrawal experience. I didn’t want to feel stressed out by it. I didn’t want to gain weight as a result of it. I didn’t want it to wreak havoc on my digestive system, something that always seemed to happen at my former attempts to quit.
So over the next few months whenever the time felt right, I would meditate on the idea. I told myself that I’d just wake up one day and be a non-smoker. I told myself that in the past the smoking had served a need for me, but that the need (whatever it was) had gone away, and now I was simply smoking out of habit. I told myself that when I stopped smoking I would NOT feel awful physically like I had so many times in the past, but actually BETTER. I repeated all of the caveats over and over, and then I waited for the universe of auto suggestion to work its magic.
Around this same time, I ran out of coffee. When it happened, I noticed that I had a huge jar of tea sitting on my kitchen counter and told myself that given my limited income, I would finish the tea before buying more coffee. The first day was kinda weird. I was a huge coffee drinker, and I’d developed a ritual of getting up each morning and drinking two to three cups on my outside deck while I smoked and woke up. I loved my coffee. The tea had less caffeine, so it didn’t give me the same jolt in the morning. After a few days, however, I decided I liked it more. It was a smoother caffeine-high. I noticed that I wasn’t as jumpy and that my stomach felt better, too. My biggest surprise was having my morning headaches disappear. I thought those headaches came from grogginess or red wine. No, it turns out it was caffeine withdrawal!!! As a result, when the jar was emptied, I went and bought some more tea. I haven’t had a cup of coffee or the desire for one since then.
A month or so ago, I was sitting outside on my deck in the morning, drinking my tea and smoking my cigarettes when I was struck with an idea. Wouldn’t it be great if someone made a non-nicotine cigarette that could replace my regular cigarettes just like I’d done with the coffee and tea? I’ve done both cold-turkey and the patch when trying to quit. They both sucked for me. My favorite thing about smoking is the smoking part and while the nicotine patch is a teensy bit easier than the cold turkey approach, when the patch runs out, it feels like you have to quit ALL over again even though you haven’t smoked in months.
And then there’s the awfulness of the nicotine addiction. You can go months without smoking and then have a really bad day. A day so bad; that you just have to have a cigarette. You buy a pack, take a few puffs, decide it tastes awful, and put the cigarette out. Then a few days later, you have a nicotine craving, and this time you smoke half of the cigarette. No big deal, but within a month you’re back to a pack a day after that long awful quit you went through! How awesome would it be if months down the road when one of those bad days came, you could pick up a cigarette and NOT get re-addicted to the nicotine?
Well, I searched on Yahoo and Google for non-nicotine cigarettes. They exist. There are actually a few different kinds and after a little research, I decided to go with a brand that used cured lettuce in place of tobacco…seriously. When the carton came, I put it up and waited until I felt like it was time. Again, I mention waiting until the time felt right… it seems to be working for me.
The day eventually came when I tried the lettuce cigarettes. I’d bought 14 packs and told myself that I wouldn’t buy real cigarettes until I smoked all of the lettuce ones, much like the tea. At my normal rate, this would take two weeks. The first three days were somewhat like the coffee situation – slightly annoying and weird, but not awful. They tasted different and went out fairly easily. My body could tell something was off, but whenever I felt a little nervy I could still go outside and smoke a ‘cigarette.’ The biggest thing I noticed was that I was super tired for the first few days…which now makes sense, given that I was self-dosing myself with a stimulant every hour for the last seventeen years.
Thank goodness, I wasn’t working and took a LOT of naps during those days. I tried to imagine what it would be like if I was at a job and felt groggy, spacey, and then irritable. But thankfully, I was without a job and could just nap it off.
The first two days I smoked my regular pack of real cigarettes a day. The next few days, it was more like 5-7 cigarettes a day. Then 3-4 followed by 1-2, and 0-1. I didn’t consciously cut down each day. I just found myself wanting them less and less. This might have something to do with the fact that cigarettes smell awful and can require consumption in extreme elements (wind, cold, rain), neither of which is particularly appealing if you aren’t at the same time feeding an addiction and/or getting a high. Three weeks later, I still have nine packs left.