I sent this letter to a friend tonight.
I am posting it because I know you fine people will correct me if I am wrong on any points, and perhaps add things you might have said that could help. Thank you in advance! Later I will suggest that my friend reads this thread.
I also thought that perhaps if I was going through an illness like my pneumonia bout a few years ago, I might do an Internet search for something like this. Maybe someone reading will have the lightbulb they need.
Kay (Gold & 5/6s)
Believe it or not, you could find a silver lining in being sick this week. I am sending you info I was never given back in the day, in case you have also never been given this info directly and decide to make being sick an opportunity.
Talking to you today reminded me of the time I had pneumonia (1998 I think). What I did was not smoke for several days because I was so sick, and then resume once I was better. Other times I was sick I was torn between smoking and not, sometimes just smoking a little. I didn't know several things. I know you know that smoking makes your throat sorer when you are sick. You may know some other things listed here. Bear with me in case some of it is useful to you this week or later. Here is a short list of things I didn't know…
- Each time I didn't smoke during an illness, I felt twice as rotten because I was also in withdrawal. (I am not suggesting you smoke this week because of this, by the way.) As a smoker, each time our nicotine serum level drops below our minimum tolerance level as active addicts, we go into withdrawal. That's why we hang for a cigarette after a long meeting, etc. when we are actively smoking. And actually since you and I are not particularly heavy smokers, when we are actively smoking, we are in withdrawal a lot of every day and have learned to white knuckle through its initial effects.
- Each time I had "just one" smoke, I got sent back to the beginning (the worst of withdrawal) and had to start over again. That is an undeniable physical reality of drug addiction, including nicotine.
- Nicotine, which is the worst of it, and 90% of its metabolites are out of your system in 72 hours. If you choose to not smoke this week, you are already through the worst of withdrawal in 3 days, and have a leg up on quitting permanently. This is one of the most common times smokers successfully quit for good, by making this an opportunity. The rest of the 4000 chemicals in cigarettes are largely out of your system in 2 weeks, and most authorities assert that the actual physiological adjustment process is about ten days to two weeks, though in a small percentage a bit longer.
- Often when I tried to quit (sick or not) I would have a craving in those first few days and relapse because I was sure this craving was not going to go away, or fear that I would ache for a smoke forever. Have a gander at this graph…
… and freak me out!, physical craves last a maximum of 3 minutes. Smokers have trouble in the beginning judging those 3 minutes (there is like a slo' mo' experience going on), but if you watch a clock, it is actually true. And you know you can make it through 3 minutes at a time.
- What you are doing after the physical craving is done with is 'trigger busting'. That is, disassociating your connections of smoking with normal activities or events, emotions, etc. (I'm sure you know that, but there's more.) Typically a trigger only has to be 'busted' once or a few times for the connection to be broken. Examples: The driving home trigger was one of my absolute worst; in less than a week it was gone. The sigh-what-a-nice-sunset trigger was not a particularly strong one for me and I have no recollection of busting it.
I'm getting ahead of myself talking about trigger busting now. If you decide to make this an opportunity, I have lots more info on trigger busting that I can send you when you get there.
In the meantime, reading and applying these two articles made an almost unbelievable difference in the symptoms I didn't have when I quit this time, compared to previous times. I used to get the shakes badly when I tried to quit before. There are other symptoms also that these articles address. Anyway, none this time and I am certain that was just because I increased how much fruit juice I drank and decreased my caffeine intake during the first two weeks.
There is more. If you want to start working on this one day at a time, let me know and I would be happy to be provide more resource information to you.
You probably remember me quitting smoking. I remember telling you I wasn't telling most people until the 3-month mark in case it didn't "take". You know what, my fear that I would lose control during a trigger was astronomically worse than any craving or trigger or even whole day of them that I actually experienced. I'm not saying it was all easy, even with the info I found, but it was infinitely more doable than I believed.
I haven't had a single trigger for over a year and sometime I'll list all the improvements I didn't expect in my life since I quit.
PS If you decide to take the plunge, do not consider "Nicotine Replacement Therapies" (NRT): the patch, the gum and so on. There is no "replacement" and they should be sued for being able to advertise IMHO. Another time we'll talk marketing, though I think you know more about marketing than me. Anyway, they are merely different delivery devices for nicotine. They contain nicotine. They perpetuate the addiction. They put you on a schedule of withdrawal symptoms that lasts 4 to 6 months! Studies show success with these techniques are actually the same as cold turkey the first time someone tries NRT, and 0% (yes that says zero) the second and later times you try NRT. So even if you've never tried it before, your chances are the same as with Cold Turkey quitting, but you get completely through withdrawal with Cold Turkey quitting in a maximum of 2 weeks (vs. 4 to 6 months).
PPS If you want to email or give me a call about any of this, feel free.