Ten Keys to Smoking Yourself to Death
1. Deny Dependency - Keep pretending that because your nicotine induced dopamine high is alert instead of drunk (alcohol), numb (heroin), euphoric (cocaine) or fast (meth) that you are not a real drug addict but instead simply suffer from a "nasty little habit." Continue to deny that your #1 priority in life - above eating, friendship, family, work, romance, health and life itself - is that next mandatory nicotine feeding.
Keep telling yourself that you like smoking when it's more a matter of not liking what happens when you don't smoke, the onset of a rising tide of withdrawal anxieties. Plug your ears when scientists discuss tolerance and how nicotine has rewired and de-sensitized your brain by causing it to grow millions of extra nicotinic receptors in at least eleven different regions. Don't see yourself as a true drug addict in every sense.
2. Ignore Bodily Warnings - Ignore all signals that your body is sending, such as the inability to engage in prolonged vigorous physical activity, deadened senses of smell and taste, gum disease, that root canal, high blood pressure, diminished lung function, those wrinkles and premature skin aging, the wheezing sounds, a cough, infertility or miscarriage, chronic bronchitis, pneumonia, high cholesterol, hypertension, diminished hearing or vision, brain gray matter destruction with memory loss, or other warning signs of circulatory or cardiovascular conditions.
3. Ignore Doctor Warnings - Do not listen to your doctor when he or she tells you that your smoking has likely either caused or significantly contributed to your shortness of breath, tooth loss, COPD, emphysema, type II diabetes, ADHD, degenerative disc disease, back pain, chronic depression, osteoporosis, PTSD, fetal harm, declining memory, kidney disease, post-op or healing complications, thyroid disease, extremely slow fracture healing, nearly all cancers, chest pain, heart disease, erectile dysfunction, Buerger's disease, stroke, lupus, blindness or early dementia. Consider finding a doctor who won't repeatedly remind you that you should quit smoking.
4. Rationalize Harms - Once the harms become impossible to ignore, work on convincing yourself that breathing was really overrated, that you had to die of something, that trading one chemical (nicotine) for a 50% chance of losing thirteen years of life seems sensible and fair. Keep recalling that rare smoker whose genetics and manner of smoking allowed them to live to ripe old age, without pondering the question of how long they would have lived, and what quality of breathing, circulation and life they would have enjoyed had they not smoked. With each new smoking related symptom or disease you notice, blame it on any factor other than your chemical addiction to smoking.
5. Rationalize Safety - If you smoke far fewer cigarettes than the average smoker, continue pretending that smoking won't kill you too. Keep using brands that suggest that they are somehow safer or less addictive. Turn to "light" or "mild" brands which claim to have less tar as measured by lipless machines that cannot possibly cover filter vent holes, thus allowing smokers to suck greater quantities of toxic smoke into crying lungs. Go after brands with reduced nicotine levels, brands that may have you actually smoking harder, deeper or more cigarettes in order to obtain the quantity of nicotine your addicted brain commands. Smoke brands that claim to be "natural" because they did not add a couple of extra flavor additives to the more than 4,000 chemicals present in every burning cigarette, brands that tend to have the highest free-base nicotine concentrations of all.
6. Repeat Past Failures - Keep trying the same tactics and methods to quit that have worked so well for you in the past. If you manage to quit smoking for the up to three days needed to completely purge your mind and body of all nicotine (the point where you'll notice withdrawal peak in intensity and begin easing off), reward yourself by smoking nicotine again, thus either destroying your quit attempt or requiring another three days of detox before again sensing the anxieties starting to ease off. Do not put your greatest weapon of all to work, your vastly superior intelligence.
Continue to ignore potentially critical recovery lessons such as nicotine's relationship to hunger, to blood sugar levels, and to alcohol and caffeine. Do not develop an understanding of how quitting smoking relates to crave episodes, bargaining, blame transference, anger, depression, sleep disruption, time distortion, and possible medication adjustments. Do not master the "Law of Addiction" or adopt a realistic and entirely manageable recovery philosophy that totally abandons thoughts of quitting forever (the biggest psychological bite imaginable), in favor of measuring success and victory just one hour, challenge and day at a time.
7. Holdout for a Cure - Continue waiting on a quick and painless magic cure to be invented. Until then, keep running from new product to new product. Do not let yourself know that Pfizer, the maker of Chantix, issued a press release advising smokers that 4 out of 5 Chantix clinical trial users relapsed to smoking within a year. Plug your ears when studies proclaim that 93% of over-the-counter patch and gum users relapse to smoking within 6 months, or that nearly 100% of second-time nicotine patch users relapse. Ignore the U.S. government's assertion that up to 90% of all long-term ex-smokers quit smoking entirely on their own, without resort to any quitting product.
8. Rationalize Captivity - Keep pretending that chemical slavery is better than freedom, that slavery isn't hard work, or that navigating the temporary period of readjustment called "quitting" and going days, weeks or even months without once craving nicotine is unacceptable. Instead, convince yourself that smoking nicotine defines who you are, gives you your edge, or that life without it just won't be as good.
Continue to live the fiction that smoking the alkaloid nicotine relieves stress and anxiety (acid producing events), when what it does is relieve its own absence. Pretend that you smoke because you like the taste when you know there are zero taste buds inside your lungs. Continue living the honest reality that nearly all memory of a once calm and quiet mind was long ago buried by the most salient "pay attention" memories your mind is capable of producing, those associated with brain dopamine pathway priorities training.
9. Postpone Recovery - Keep telling yourself that there's always tomorrow. Ignore the fact that half of adult smokers already know the cause of death that will be printed on their death certificate. Ignore that smoking is scheduled to contribute to the demise of nearly one-quarter of adult smokers during middle-age, each an average of 22.5 years early. Pretend that smoking only harms old smokers, that there's still plenty of time left, that you'll quit on your next birthday, the Great American Smokeout, World No Tobacco Day, New Years, or when life turns stressless. Convince yourself that each and every puff isn't destroying a bit more of your body's ability to receive and transport life-giving oxygen.
10. Prepare for Relapse - If you do manage to quit, be sure to falsely suggest that upon encountering an extremely stressful situation or during a very special celebration that it is really okay to smoke nicotine just once. Lie to yourself by asserting that you've been quit so long that your mind is no longer wired for nicotine, that you actually killed your dependency instead of just arresting it. Pretend that the "Law of Addiction" does not apply to you.
But if tired of living lies, if you truly desire to stay free and on this side of the bars, simply make and stick to a personal commitment to, just one day at a time, not use nicotine in any form again, to Never Take Another Puff!
About the Authors: John R. Polito, is a former 30-year three pack-a-day smoker, editor of WhyQuit.com, the Internet's oldest forum devoted exclusively to teaching the art, science and psychology of abrupt nicotine cessation, and author of "Freedom from Nicotine - The Journey Home." The site is staffed entirely by volunteer counselors, is totally free and declines all offers of donations. Joel Spitzer has taught smoking cessation full-time for more than thirty years, is WhyQuit's education director, and is author of "Never Take Another Puff," a free PDF quit smoking PDF book. Joel's most recent project was the recording of more than 64 free video quitting lessons.
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- WhyQuit.com - WhyQuit is the Internet's oldest forum devoted to the art, science and psychology of cold turkey quitting, the stop smoking method used by the vast majority of all successful long-term ex-smokers.
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