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

The most important part of my personal strategy was just the knowledge of how the nicotine addiction was controlling me. It's something that many people don't realize. I became determined not to let a simple chemical control my entire life. The knowledge of how this addiction works was the key to having the strength to get through the withdrawal because I knew if I could hang on for 2 to 4 weeks it would get a lot easier and at 6 weeks I'd be on easy street.

The second most important part of my personal strategy was planning to be practically incapacitated for those first 2 weeks and to remove myself from my normal environment. Normal day-to-day stresses are amplified a thousand-fold by someone in nicotine withdrawal and they become triggers for relapse. So you have to remove yourself from the stress equation altogether. Isn't the rest of your life worth dedicating 2 weeks of vacation to? Your friends and family will understand and support you.

The Ibuprofen was just to numb any physical discomfort. I'd had massive headaches on earlier cessation attempts. And of course, I knew how irritable I would be from those attempts as well, hence the warning to friends and family.

Disassociating myself from nicotine using friends was perhaps the hardest, but turned out to be a smart decision for me. Too many times in the past when I had tried to quit, I'd be in the middle of a craving and see a friend light up and the temptation overtook me. The thing about nicotine users is that they don't like to do it alone. It makes them feel more normal to be using with friends and others. Just visit a smoking area outside any public building that prohibits smoking or go to a bar. You can literally watch the chain reaction: one smoker pulls out a cigarette and it triggers several others to do the same. They don't even realize what they're doing. I had to completely avoid these situations.

You should come up with a strategy that works for you. And if you fail, adjust your strategy and try again. It's not easy. But you can do it and you have to stop making excuses. You have to stop rationalizing your addiction.

So what can you expect when you quit cold-turkey? When I quit, the first three days were utter hell for me. I locked myself in a room and forced myself to stay. And there in that room, I personally explored the edge of personal psychosis. I felt like Jack Nicholson from “The Shining”. My emotions just went awry: I was angry one moment, sad the next. I cried and talked to myself. I kept rationalizing nicotine use, telling myself this wasn't going to work and I was stupid for trying and that dying from cancer wouldn't be as bad as this. It was insane!

Then I would try to sleep. While sleeping I would have nightmares and awake sweating and feeling nauseous. My head was pounding and I felt like crap. My joints ached, my jaw felt tight, and I was afraid to leave the room. I didn't eat much and when I did eat I felt sick. And the whole time I was thinking about tobacco. It was the most difficult and bizarre three days I have ever experienced.

I was also very mean to people. I remember having to drive somewhere to run an errand. I was in light traffic for about 10 minutes. I had zero patience for other drivers, I was irate. I almost ran another car off the road. Looking back, I realize now that I should not have driven. My mind was that incapacitated.

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