Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Oh, the glorious weed

I've spent the better part of the last year in an on-again / off-again struggle to quit smoking. It's not fun. I kind of wish I'd never started in the first place, but I do recall a lot of years spent enjoying the process of smoking, so I guess as long as I can dump the habit before lung cancer sets in, I'll be happy.

It's been eight days now without a cigarette -- without even a puff -- and I think I'm doing okay.

I'm on the patch, and that helps. I know it's worked for some people, and not been so successful for others, but it seems to be working for me. It sure helped last year, when I managed to dump the habit for three months before starting up again.

The thing with starting again is that, it's never a matter of suddenly finding yourself smoking a pack a day again. It's slow. Insidious. You cheat here and there, stealing a drag off someone, or having a whole cigarette to yourself one afternoon. You've quit for so long, you think you can get away with it. One quick smoke isn't going to send you back into the land of addiction again.

And it doesn't. But it weakens you. And you start to think, "Well, if I can handle just one, I'm sure I can handle two." So the next day you have two, and the day after that you have three. And after a few weeks of that sort of thing, you discover that you're smoking a pack a day again.

It sneaks up on you.

The patch is good for the cravings. At least the physical ones. The psychological ones are a different matter altogether. I don't miss the smoking -- and when I do feel a faint craving, I think about the taste or the way my throat would feel some mornings or how I realized after quitting just how badly smokers stink. And that'll usually take care of it.

What I do still miss -- and what I can't figure out how to get rid of yet -- is the craving for the crutch.

When things get bad or stressful or I find myself feeling a bit lower in mood than usual, that's when I really want a cigarette. Not because I have a physical craving, but because...that's just what you do when things get bad or stressful or you find yourself feeling a bit lower in mood than usual. And I haven't yet found a crutch that works as well as the smoking.

Still, eight days...that's not bad. It's a good start. And I feel better about it this time around, because I don't want to taste that again, I don't want my throat to feel that way anymore, and I definitely don't want to be carrying the reek around with me everywhere I go.

But the crutch...the crutch...

That's what's going to kill me.

At least it won't be lung cancer.

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