Day Twenty Seven

Days Without a Cigarette: 26.62986111
Days Without Nicotine: 0
Dollars Saved: $43.56 (bought another box of patches)
Time Saved: 37 hours, 43 minutes

The cravings are getting worse.

I noticed that a few days ago, and it seemed to defy logic. A cursory examination of the logic suggested that the further away I got from the last cigarette, the less intense the cravings would be. So I kept expecting them to soften up, and they kept doing the opposite.

But upon reflection, this kind of makes sense. This is, after all, a purely psychological addiction I’m dealing with. I haven’t even started tackling the physical addiction yet. And after nearly four weeks of this shit, I’m just sick of quitting. I’m sick of thinking “I’ll just go out and smoke a… wait… no…” I’m sick of that despondent feeling. I’m sick of sitting alone in a room and arguing with myself. It’s not that the weight is getting heavier, it’s that my arms are getting tired.

What’s more is that the cravings leveled out about a week ago. Up until then, I could offset that fatigue with the fact that is was happening with ever decreasing frequency. Sure, my misery may have ticked up a little bit in those moments, but those moments came less often and thus the overall misery was in remission. But that’s not happening anymore. I’ve gotten to the point that I have about the same number of cravings at about the same times each day. And each time I reach into that same bucket of inspiration to get through it. It makes sense that the bucket would start getting low.

A lot of people told me going in that the first few days were the hardest, or that the first week was the hardest. In a sense, I think they’re right. It would have been a lot easier to fall off the wagon three weeks ago than it would be today. But in a sense they’re wrong. Or, at least, their experience doesn’t match my own. It’s much easier to take it one day at a time when you don’t have twenty-six days of accumulated frustration behind you. When you tell your brain “we just have to make it through this one day” twenty seven times in a row, it starts to realize you’re lying.

Published by Noah Lugeons

Noah Lugeons co-hosts a bunch of podcasts: The Scathing Atheist, God Awful Movies, The Skepticrat, and Citation Needed

13 thoughts on “Day Twenty Seven

  1. I’ve been exactly where you are. I wish I could say it gets easy soon, but honestly, one day you’ll be going about your business and suddenly realise that it’s days, or weeks even, since you last thought about smoking and now when you think about it you have the memory of a craving, but the craving itself has gone. Without meaning to sound patronising, you’re doing amazingly well, and doing it all in public too. I promise you, it will get easier one day! x

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  2. You are a huge inspiration!!! When I quit, I found 30 min of challenging cardio helped a ton with the cravings. Anecdotal, I know but it helped a ton. Thanks for sharing your struggle

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  3. I don’t know how the patch is supposed to work, but maybe it’s not working the same way for you as it does for other people. You just bought new patches — could the ones you have be at a lower strength than you need right now? Maybe check with your doctor? I know that I kept having cravings for a long, long, long time and that’s why I used the gum. With that, it didn’t matter how many times a day I needed to chew the damned gum, if I felt like a cigarette I just chewed the damned gum. I do remember that I was chewing more than other people said I should have to, but when I asked my doctor, she said (in far kinder and gentler language), “Fuck other people — this is you. You do what you have to do.” So I stopped feeling guilty about having to chew 15 pieces a day and for having to chew it far longer than the average person. I think they claimed the average person would quit after 6 weeks of the gum and I chewed that shit for 2 years! Just a thought.

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  4. Sounds like you’ve reached a water level in this game. It’s frustrating. It’s aggravating. But it does pass.

    And remember–you always have the phone-a-friend option. ♥️☎️

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  5. I’ve never quit smoking, but in working through other hard psychological stuff, I read something that described the process as more of a spiral than a straight line, and I found that to be much more helpful and relevant to my own experience. I’d hit a rough patch, work through it, and go “OK, well that sucked, but at least I’m done with that”, only to have the same stuff come up again in a month or two or three. So I’d deal again, and then say “surely I’m through the worst now”, but then no, the anxiety or craving or grief or whatever it is rears its ugly head again at the most unexpected and unwelcome times. It’s fucking exhausting, frankly. But at another level, of course it is. You’re rewiring your brain and building new tools to deal with the stressors of life. You’re integrating a seismic shift in your identity. That’s exhausting.
    You’re doing a great job. We’re all rooting for both of you. Sorry today sucked.

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  6. Let me paraphrase one Noah Lugeons from a few days ago: this eventually gets easier or nobody would ever quit smoking.

    Wise words, worth remembering on tough days like today.

    Hang in there, mate.

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  7. I think those of us that told you the first few days are the hardest assumed you were quitting cold turkey. That’s the way I have done it, and the 100 hours are so are the hardest. Statistics about success aside, I suspect the reason you are going through ebbs and flows in cravings is that your body/brain is still addicted to nicotine. Once you are 4-7 days without nicotine, I think you will find the cravings will get easier.

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  8. Hang in there, eventually the habit of not smoking will be far more automatic than the habit of smoking was for you. Could you ask a doctor about reducing the doses at the correct rate? You might need a bit longer when the doses start to reduce. I’m not sure how this works when someone has been smoking as long as you have, I only had to kick the habit of about 6 years. You are probably right, and it’s just the psychological middle period where the “excitement” of starting is over but the habits haven’t changed much yet. But I can’t help but think you could use at least a brief advisement from a medical doctor or psychologist who specializes in quitting smoking. They’d know more about what works and what doesn’t.

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  9. I have been hesitating to say anything because I remember when I quit it was an endless sea of “try hypnotism” or “laser therapy worked for me” and then a whole slew of people saying “just breathe through the craving” as if I had a choice of not breathing, and as if breathing itself would feel the same as having a smoke.

    The method that worked for me was also the patch, so hang in there. I did find a study done a while ago that is what I referred to where you continue to smoke for 2-4 weeks while using the first stage patch. It tricks the brain into not getting the dopamine hit from the smoke because you are slowly getting used to getting it trans-dermal via the skin. There’s a link here, but please don’t hit me or yell at me, and also I am not a doctor! https://www.phc.ox.ac.uk/research/research-themes/health-behaviours-theme/research/preloading-wearing-a-nicotine-patch-for-four-weeks-before-quitting

    Again, I know how hard it is. I quit twice and didn’t smoke for nearly as long as some other people I know. You are constantly bombarded with the thoughts of “it’s ok I can just make it until (x)” but (x) isn’t coming. Eventually that won’t even matter and you’ll forget like so many others have noted here!

    Keep doing all the amazing stuff you do!

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  10. I have been hesitating to say anything because I remember when I quit it was an endless sea of “try hypnotism” or “laser therapy worked for me” and then a whole slew of people saying “just breathe through the craving” as if I had a choice of not breathing, and as if breathing itself would feel the same as having a smoke.

    The method that worked for me was also the patch, so hang in there. I did find a study done a while ago that is what I referred to where you continue to smoke for 2-4 weeks while using the first stage patch. It tricks the brain into not getting the dopamine hit from the smoke because you are slowly getting used to getting it trans-dermal via the skin. There’s a link here, but please don’t hit me or yell at me, and also I am not a doctor! https://www.phc.ox.ac.uk/research/research-themes/health-behaviours-theme/research/preloading-wearing-a-nicotine-patch-for-four-weeks-before-quitting

    Again, I know how hard it is. I quit twice and didn’t smoke for nearly as long as some other people I know. You are constantly bombarded with the thoughts of “it’s ok I can just make it until (x)” but (x) isn’t coming. Eventually that won’t even matter and you’ll forget like so many others have noted here!

    Keep doing all the amazing stuff you do!

    Like

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