Take your last drag, How to quit smoking

This article was sent in by one of our guest authors Jason Viena 31 days after he had his last puff. Congratulations Jason!

Quitting smoking blows — but it’s worth it
Quit SmokingWhen I weighed 300 pounds as a college freshman, there weren’t many excesses I didn’t enjoy. I drank. I made good use of the all-you-can-eat dining facilities. I snacked zealously after late night pizza runs — which was the only running I did. As the year trickled down, I finally realized I needed to lose weight. To make a long story short, I started eating right and I exercised, and I dropped half my weight in a little over a year.

To make the short story more detailed, I couldn’t have done it without Salem Ultra Lights.

I believe that people start smoking for one of three reasons (there are more, I know, but this is my theory. Hang with me.)

#1 : The principal reason is to look cool.

#2: The second is because tobacco companies employ the greatest marketing minds in America, and cigarette ads are very effective.

#3: The third reason people start smoking? Some people can’t help themselves. They’re born to become addicts.

I have one of those addictive personalities, and I went from being a food fiend to a nicotine junkie. I got hooked.

But today, nine years after my first puff, a bad respiratory infection finally convinced me to quit. That was about a month ago. If you think it’s hard for someone to lose half his body mass, try making him kick a decade-old addiction. For me, cigarettes were more many times more powerful than a bag of chips or trip to McDonald’s.

So kicking the habit has been no day in the park. As I write this, it’s been 31 days since I enjoyed a cool, refreshing menthol. I won’t lie: I miss it. I miss it bad. I miss the taste. I miss flicking my Bic and smelling that quick shot of sulfur before the smoke billows out. But — and this isn’t bullshit — I feel a million times better.

Through personal research, talks with doctors and previous attempts at quitting, I’ve got some advice for the aspiring ex-smoker: Quit for you. Don’t quit because the cutie in your psychology class detests smokers, because your mom doesn’t approve, or because your significant other wants you to quit. Find a reason that makes you want to do it for yourself.

Quit smoking nowOnce you’ve decided to quit, you need to realize and admit you’re an addict. Nicotine is a drug. I know alcoholics who aren’t as dedicated to drinking as I was to lighting up. I know pot enthusiasts who can go weeks without a toke. I couldn’t go an hour without lighting up.

Quitting means you’ll be faced with withdrawal. You’ll be irritable. You will miss your old habit, and you’ll feel like you’ve lost something special. In reality, you don’t lose a damn thing when you kick cigarettes — except maybe that nasty smoky smell or some burn marks on your car upholstery.

Luckily, aspiring quitters have medical treatments to help them through withdrawal. There’s the nicotine patch, nicotine gum, even a nicotine inhaler. I tried all of these things, but not of them seemed to take the edge off my cravings. Finally, my doctor prescribed Zyban.

Zyban contains bupropion hydrochloride, an active ingredient in the anti-depressant Wellbutrin. In addition to assisting the suicidal and terminally sad, it turns out that bupropion hydrochloride also aids in smoking cessation. Three weeks’ worth of the drug — about 40 pills total — appears to have ended my addiction. (Note: Effectiveness varies for different users. Zyban’s manufacturer recommends a 7-to-12 week program.)

Zyban isn’t for everyone, and nicotine replacements make some people sick. Each quitter is unique, and everyone needs to find their own method. But there is a common goal for aspiring ex-smokers: Re-gaining health. According to the American Lung Association, recovery begins 20 minutes after your final puff. At that time, your blood pressure begins to drop and your pulse starts to stabilize. Within 24 hours, the risk of suffering a heart attack decreases. Within a year of your last smoke, your risk of coronary heart disease is decreased to half that of a smoker. Within 15 years, the body recovers to the point where your risk of death from smoking-related illnesses is the same as someone who has never touched a cigarette. Think about it.

Quitting has been tough, but it’s been well worth it. That nasty smoke smell in my apartment? It’s almost gone. My own sense of smell? It’s coming back, even though I never realized I’d lost it. Food tastes better. I’m more alert. There aren’t ashes everywhere. But best of all, I’m breathing. Though I’m waking up every morning with mouthfuls of tobacco-tinged snot, this is my lungs regenerating and pushing poison out of my body. And if that image of what’s in your lungs isn’t enough to convince you to kick the habit, I don’t know what is.

Jason Viena hasn’t lit up once since he quit — or gone on any late-night pizza runs.

Image courtesy: wyu.edu