I first tried smoking at age 10 and I thought it was disgusting. Two years later, I tried again and almost became a smoker, but I was caught in the act of buying by a family member and consequently reprimanded. From age sixteen on, I’d occasionally have a cigarette at parties on the weekends. What had started as an occasional habit had become an addiction by age 20.
My family home was a non-smoking one. When I moved out, I found myself immersed into a series of smoking environments: friends, roommates, college, bars, clubs, work. I grew up in Spain where one could purchase tobacco without an ID (at least when I was a teenager) and smoke at work and at college until 2006, and at bars and clubs until 2011.
You don’t have to be a heavy smoker to find it hard to quit. My daily count was often between five and ten cigarettes. However, it took me many attempts to quit. Some would last a few days… or hours. I can recall a couple of times I went some months without smoking: when I was 23, I freed myself for four months; two years later, I was able to go six months without tobacco.
I finally quit smoking at age 30. On April 25th, 2014, I became an ex-smoker: I lighted my last cigarette at 7pm. I didn’t even finish it. I threw it into a small pyre in which I burned all the smoking items, including the remaining cigarettes I still had. That was my farewell to that friend (or fiend?) that had been with me in so many moments during the past ten years.
READ: Smoking Cessation
The first month was the hardest: I became Mr. Wild Mood Swings for a while; I could barely focus: something as easy as reading a book suddenly felt impossible; I felt I had to learn to do certain things, like it was my first time; and there were the feared cravings. It’s usually the hardest time: your body is starting to detox and is missing its long-time companion. But as soon as three days had passed since I quit, I had already started to feel more alive and less stressed. I started to be more active, so I’d walk four miles home from work. In addition, I felt more full of life, cleaner and healthier.
As time went on, cravings started to happen less and less frequently. I wish I could remember the last time it happened, but I’m afraid I can’t. I had to deal with anxiety, since I realized I had been masking it with tobacco. This can look off-putting, but I’d rather deal with this issue for some time and get it eventually solved than constantly increasing my chances of starting the process of a fatal disease. On a more positive note, one notices the beautiful process of the body healing itself: less colds, less wrinkles, better looking skin, greater sexual drive…
I believe the key to succeed is to give up the control fantasy. Let’s admit it: tobacco is a drug and smoking is addictive. Therefore, you’ll never conquer it, since an addiction can only take you deeper into it. Unless you choose to cut it completely off: that’s when you are in control. That’s when you win!