Quitting Cigarettes: Some Simple Ass Bullshit You Can Do Over A Weekend

April, 2017 by Ely Pierce

Recently I passed the two year mark for being nicotine free

Two years ago I decided I was finally done paying out the nose to make myself sick and miserable. Naturally this anniversary made me reflect on how much my perception of cigarette smoking has changed over the last two years, now that every aspect of nicotine addiction has fully disintegrated from my lifestyle. And I cant tell you how grateful I am that it’s behind me. I’m happier, healthier, more driven and self aware then I ever have been. Over time my depression and anxiety cycles have decreased in frequency and in intensity and I think quitting smoking was the first step on that path. Today I want to share a few helpful concepts that empowered me to finally stop hurting myself and break my addiction to smoking as well as some reflections on what smoking actually is.

Firstly, there is a big difference between cigarette smoking and nicotine addiction.

While the two go hand in hand they are two very separate expressions of the same thing; One being a physical and chemical dependency, and the other being a habitual and cathartic ritual activity. Which brings up another important delineation, addiction is an illness. It is an illness that you can never fully separate yourself from. It is multifaceted, if given the time it will integrate itself into areas of your life you may not even realize; physical and mental health, finances, emotional coping mechanisms, obsession, and even suicidal or self destructive tendencies. It is both a mental and physical illness.

If you are a smoker, you are an addict

and your addiction is destroying parts of your life you cant even recognize and it is robbing you of fully enjoying your experience as a human being! If quitting is important to you then it will be important to make that distinction as well. Just as important as it is to any other kind of addict to acknowledge their problem and admit their powerlessness to resolve it.

Smoking cigarettes is not enjoyable

Think of any smoker you know in your life who’s been smoking for years… every one of those people do NOT enjoy smoking cigarettes.

Picture that same person lighting up a cigarette and taking the first drag. That moment where the release is triggered and the cigarette is lit is the peak of the nicotine experience. Its all downhill after that until the next “first drag”. Cigarette smoking is unlike drug or alcohol addiction in that it doesn’t incorporate any considerable sense of euphoria. Its not the activity itself that brings forth the satisfaction, in fact the activity is hardly enjoyable. The satisfaction is drawn from the tension in anticipation building over time followed by the catharsis of the release. Only the release really isn’t all that great, in fact sometimes it makes things worse. Which is kind of like being addicted to masturbation, without ever actually having any sex. When people start out smoking cigarettes there is a long period of time where you’re smoking but are not addicted. Which means it actually takes a lot of time, money, and effort pursuing something that is only marginally enjoyable BEFORE you become addicted to the activity that you still don’t enjoy!

I always pictured my urge to smoke as a spiked ball resting in my chest, pressing against the back of my teeth. After an hour or so the spikes get sharper and longer and the urge becomes distracting, and then it becomes overwhelming, and then the catharsis of finally getting to smoke takes the edge off the spikes but doesn’t actually remove the uncomfortable sensation altogether, it just kind of rounds it off to a blunt nub instead. Which eventually only makes for a very tense individual walking around in a constant state of low level buzzing anxiety. And just like other forms of addiction you eventually need more and more to sate the desire. Which only compounds upon the tension that it barely releases, bigger and bigger as the years roll on. Nicotine only sates the urges that it created in the first place. Thankfully, the chemical dependency or physical portion of the addiction works itself out of your system in a week or two. Those first weeks can be difficult, especially when you’ve got a life to live and maintain whilst grinding away at your spiking urges. But what I liken it to is like being quite ill for a time. being sick makes regular life difficult, but it passes. Besides, logically speaking who wouldn’t trade one week of feeling like shit for a lifetime of freedom?

The addiction to the catharsis of the experience on the other hand, can last a lifetime and spread to many other areas of your life and may even have been developed long before the smoking started.

Quitting cigarettes as an act of self love

Quitting cigarettes is some simple ass bullshit. Its really not that complicated, its not easy but it doesn’t have to be very difficult either as long as you understand what it is that your dealing with. You have to accept that your an addict for life. Other people can smoke casually, you cannot. You don’t smoke cigarettes anymore, not even one, not even a single drag, not even vape. Because one inevitably leads to two which leads to “Only while I’m at work” or “Only while I’m drinking”… and then the addiction eventually takes over and your back to scrounging for change with a tension headache smelling and feeling like shit while you’re rushing out the door calculating the time it’ll take you to stop by the corner store to pick up a pack without being late to work.

Have you ever heard anybody excuse and justify their addiction to caffeine the way a smoker does with their addiction to cigarettes?

How many people do you know who use stimulants, addictive substances, and deadly toxins to treat their otherwise typical day-to-day stresses and anxieties? How many people can you think of who use the same substances to “treat” their otherwise legitimate and often debilitating mental illnesses? If I were talking about anything other than cigarettes you’d notice how destructive and obviously counter productive this method would be.

The act of addictive thinking trains you to seek satisfaction outside yourself. It grooms you to believe that you are not enough, that you cannot manage your life without materialistic devices. Which is interesting because smoking is often associated with “Coolness” or with being an artist, or a rebel. When in reality, smokers are the ultimate consumers. They don’t purchase cigarettes, they purchase happiness. They don’t seek to be absolved, they seek to escape. In fact in today’s world they’re also fully aware that the item they’re consuming is literally killing them but that still doesn’t matter as much as pleasing themselves. So why would someone go out of their way to hurt themselves?

I know for me it was because I didn’t think I deserved any better and because I wanted to feel like I was in control. I felt powerless and unknown in a world I didn’t identify with and smoking was a tiny little protest to the elements of life that I felt had betrayed me. Every cigarette a tiny little “fuck you” to the world. And in time I became attached, not only to my safe little catharsis breaks sprinkled throughout the day but also to the notions buried beneath them. I had accepted and limited my own ability and value as an individual. No one was doing it to me, I was doing it to myself. And even all the while I was telling myself “I cant quit.” What I was really saying was “I don’t deserve to be happy”. This was a common theme in my life, an ongoing narrative buried in my code that I still have to keep in check from time to time. Of course, what I eventually decided and saw first hand is that we have go out and get what we want, we decide what we deserve. We have to consciously cherish what we have, and surrender to the things outside our control. Only then do we truly have a say in anything at all.

No half measures.

No excuses.

Much love!

–  Suffer and rage with dignity and grace! –

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