Quitting Cigarettes Cold Turkey (Groan)
Cindy & Jerry are just back from the Armed Forces Public Health Conference in Hampton, Va. They were surprised at the tremendous interest in smoking cessation imagery, resources and information. If you or someone you know is feeling the need to end this highly addictive and deadly habit, read on.
Just for the record, quitting my 2.5 pack of non-filtered Camels a day (yes, you heard that right) back in 1969 was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’m not exaggerating. I was completely addicted and couldn’t imagine how I was going to ever stop. Smoking is the only thing I’ve ever been addicted to. And if I hadn’t been preggers and terrified of miscarrying (again), I’m not sure I ever would have.
These were the days of cold turkey - no patches and no pills. So after I stopped, all I basically thought about, 24/7, was how I was NOT smoking. This was a full time preoccupation for about 3 years, as I recall. And for about a decade, I’d have a repeating nightmare that I’d started smoking again, and I’d wake up kicking myself for falling off the wagon after all it had cost me to quit in the first place. Now I would have to go through that torture all over again. Then I’d realize it was only a dream, and I’d be flooded with relief.
All of which is to say, good people, if I can do it, so can you. I may be prouder of this achievement than anything else I’ve ever done, except maybe for having my kids.
So when I created A Meditation to Help You Stop Smoking, I put everything I could think of on that recording to positively (but realistically) reinforce motivation. So it highlights things to look forward to that I only discovered later: that your sense of smell and taste come back in amazing ways; that you can draw deeper, cleaner, more energizing, life-infusing breaths; that you not only stop the damage to your lungs, but you can reverse some of it; and that you come to applaud your own strength.
All I can say is, I came by writing that imagery very honestly! And I love to hear when it helps someone else quit. David Bresler’s, David Illig's and Emmett Miller’s imagery have the same impact with their own expert style, voice, focus and wording. Check it out if you feel you’re ready to make the shift.
In his terrific Whole Health Chicago Blog, David Edelberg MD has included this rant about smoking. This is really good information, so I’m taking the liberty of repeating it here, with kudos and thanks for this most excellent source of tips and warnings. What David says is true – smoking is one of the very worst optional things you can do to your health, and quitting is one of the best. Period. End of story.
And now, over to you, Dave:
Tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S. Globally, every year five million people die from tobacco-related deaths. In dramatic terms, the entire population of Chicago and half its suburbs dies every year.
Researchers at the Harvard Institute of Public Health wanted to determine what effect quitting smoking had on the overall health and longevity of women. They collected data on 104,519 women nurses, ages 30 to 55, over a 24-year period from 1980 to 2004.
Among these women, 12,483 died. Among those who died, approximately 1/3 had never smoked, 1/3 were current smokers, 1/3 were former smokers (two out of three deaths had a smoking history). Among the current smokers, 64% of the deaths were directly caused by smoking. Among the former smokers, 28% of the deaths were caused by smoking. That drop, from 64% to 28% is important. Quitting smoking helps.
The conclusion of the study was that if a woman stops smoking immediately, her risks of developing heart disease as a consequence of smoking start to drop from day one. Unfortunately, her lungs take longer to heal, and these risks continue for 20 years. The length of time you’ve smoked is important too. A teenager who starts smoking and continues through her adult life is in the highest risk group.
Can you stop? Definitely!
I believe that women start smoking to reduce stress and then become addicted to nicotine. If you remember from my book, The Triple Whammy Cure, women are more susceptible to stress because their level of stress-buffering serotonin is only a quarter that of men’s (even as women endure greater stress than men in day-to-day living).
For women, cigarettes act like comfort food for their calming effect. Men, by the way, have much less difficulty quitting than do women, in much the same way that men can give up chocolate (a serotonin booster) in an eye-blink, whereas some women emotionally crumble at the thought.
If you begin by raising your serotonin stress buffer before plunging into quitting, the whole process will be much easier. Following the Triple Whammy Cure guidelines (good nutrition, exercise, sunshine, supplements) will protect you from the shock of having your stress-mollifying Marlboro eliminated. If you happen to be taking an antidepressant (which also raises serotonin) and want to quit smoking, ask your doctor about a temporary dose increase during the withdrawal period. It will help.
In addition, smoking cessation programs do work. The prescription drug Chantix magically kills your interest in cigarettes. Nicotine patches reduce your dependence on nicotine and meeting with a quitting group is quite helpful. In solid clinical studies, acupuncture and Chinese herbs work as well.