Help me stop smoking!
or, kicking the nicotine habit
or, stop smoking now

If you choose Path 1, you're going to have to face a very difficult challenge. It will be the most difficult challenge you have ever faced in your entire life. Most who try quitting cold turkey do not succeed on the first attempt because they are unable to get past the point in time at which their brain begins its natural re-balancing of neurotransmitters. But the good news is, if you do ultimately succeed, you are much less likely to relapse because the sheer torture you've endured while quitting earns you a certain self-respect you won't easily throw away.

If you choose Path 2 it's going to be a little easier, at least physically, but there are still challenges to overcome. There are many products on the market to help ease withdrawal symptoms and/or to provide nicotine during your transition. It might be best to consult with your doctor to determine a plan for you. I won't cover this path here, mostly because I never tried it for 2 reasons:

  1. Nicotine replacement products didn't come in a high enough dosage to satisfy my cravings

  2. I had friends who were able to decrease usage but never completely kick the addiction

But I will talk about how I finally did quit nicotine forever: cold-turkey. Quitting cold-turkey is difficult for 2 major reasons involving timing. The first has to do with nicotine's short half-life and second has do with with the brains relatively long neurotransmitter adjustment cycle.

Nicotine has a short half-life in the body, about 60 minutes. That means one hour after a cigarette, half the nicotine you got from it has been broken down by your liver or filtered by your kidneys. In another hour only half of that half remains, and so on. In as little as two hours you will start to feel the effects of not having enough nicotine.

Contrast nicotine's short half-life with how slow your brain responds to changes and you begin to see the dilemma you're facing. The brain's mechanism of regulating neurotransmitters takes a long time to effect change, several weeks at least. This has to do with a lot of complex chemistry, but is easily seen clinically with anti-depressants which require several weeks of administration before they produce a therapeutic effect. It is believed that it is not the immediate effects on neurotransmitters that is producing the anti-depressive effect, but the long-term effects on modification of neurotransmitter receptors.

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