By Hassan Baker
It’s worth noting that this article is written more so to document the struggle one encounters when attempting to quit smoking, rather than as a confessional essay or a success story, as it by no means is one.
I started a very different article a few weeks back. One that pinpointed the pros and cons of smoking, and highlighted why I wished to stop smoking. On reading this, one can assume why I quit that narrative. It’s because I failed. I don’t feel so bad about failure however; as a part of me never really wanted to fully quit smoking. The cynic in me would argue that it’s no fun to be a smoker if you don’t try to quit every now and then. The truth is, even with the failure, I have gained certain benefits from the trial — but even more so, I’ve gained an insight into the addiction itself.
My strategy was to switch to a vape at 12mg for a week, then reduce to 8mg the following week, and continue to cut down progressively the week after until I reach 0mg. Then I would break the habit of vaping 0mg in the last week. In a way, I still think that would work if I had done it an appropriate time. I reached an oscillation period of about 2mg to 6mg a day, when I stopped registering the effects of nicotine and got bored of the vape so stopped using it altogether. After two days of being off nicotine I found myself in the office at 11 PM physically shaking and feeling overly dizzy. The coffee added to the nausea. I rushed out to the nearest store and bought a box of cigarettes. The relief was more so like someone upped the oxygen amount in air, almost like the relief of an inhaler during an asthma attack. It wasn’t a sudden nicotine rush, and there was no spinners encountered, more so a gradual incline back to normality. This was, admittedly, anticlimactic, which is not only fitting for the scenario, but in some way poetic.
From the attempt, I can now pretty much go the entire day by having only one smoke, that one smoke being the one I’m used to having first thing in the morning. Not having it leaves me groggy for most of the day. But once I have that morning smoke, I can cut out the habit of smoking by keeping busy and distracted throughout the day, or in a good few cases, by sleeping throughout the entire day. This ritual of smoking first thing in the morning had been useful in the past at waking me up, as I am by no means a morning person, but has reduced in effect as my tolerance has grown. Although I can go on with one smoke, I have quit quitting for now, and do not stick to a one smoke limit as it is too exhausting to keep track of these things now that college is starting.
What I found quite peculiar was how the addiction itself is split into chemical need and habit. There are moments, like the extreme case mentioned above where the chemical addiction gives way to some withdrawal symptoms. However, for the most part the hardest bit to shake of was the habit of making a rollie and smoking it. It served as a good break in between study, or lectures, or doing nothing. It also served as a good follow up to many things, a heavy meal for instance. But it was when I shook the habit off that the chemical need really started to kick in. This was something I was not expecting, but is definitely a good thing to know, as it means that I will be better prepared on my next attempt. With the cycle that everyone knows, there will be a next attempt.
Not all is lost however, I have greatly cut down the amount that I smoke now. I smoke about three to four rollies a day now. Though this will most likely increase in the next few weeks, what with final year looming.