Choosing to reduce nicotine dependency or flat-out completely eliminate the drug is a very tough commitment for even the most hardened individuals. The wide access to cigarettes, cultural ties, and (false) comfort it provides for stress means it’s very easy to fall back on.
Nicotine withdrawal causes a number of physical and mental symptoms:
· Cognitive deficits
· Sleep disturbances
These aren’t nearly as severe, in most cases, as being diagnosed with these issues as chronic illnesses but for your average individual it can seem like pure hell. The 3-day cold turkey run will often have you at your wit’s end and getting short with even your most beloved friends and family. It’s the nature of the beast.
To go from a pack-a-day (or more) to just a few may still be harmful to your health but it’s significantly better than before. Plus, as you reduce your nicotine cravings and dependency, the harshness of outright quitting becomes less sufferable.
We aren’t gluttons for punishment so we decide to take it one step at a time:
· Reduction through rationing
· Switching to lower nicotine e-cigs
· Using a patch/gum/pharmaceutical
As someone who’s done all three, I’d like to chime in on how each worked:
It sounds odd but rationing had worked for me (and others) because there really wasn’t a true reason why you would need to finish an entire cigarette.
Think about it: you probably only finish an entire cigarette because it has been lit.
Rationing out smokes delays the inevitable but when you go from a pack-a-day to perhaps 3-5 it’s a giant leap in self-control. What had worked for me was to actually place little marks on the cigarettes and when I reached those points I’d take a pair of scissors and snip off the cherry.
The rise of electronic cigarettes (e-cigs) was tremendous for me, cutting out a lot of my smoking because I was able to decide the nicotine levels of the e-juice. Yes, you’re still absorbing nicotine but you can have e-juice which has a fraction of what you’d take in from a normal smoke.
A proper setup (high-quality batter, tank, and liquid) is where you’ll want to invest versus the disposables you’d find at drug stores. You could go as far as creating e-juice on your own but I wouldn’t recommend it because you’re still playing around with chemicals (direct contact with the concentrated nicotine can be very hazardous). For this reason, I’d say the best tobacco e-liquid would be the natural flavors you can find for better prices online.
By dropping to a mixture of 0mg and 3-6mg of nicotine in my e-juices I felt a world of difference in how heavy my chest felt and how strong the addiction hung around throughout the day.
The gums and patches were great for those long flights, road trips, or events where I didn’t want to smell like a smoky-old rag.
I know others that went with the injections which helped them kick the addiction; it’s not for everyone but it’s still a viable option compared to inhaling all those toxins.
Aides are definitely worth the investment as a backup plan for many. They can help with a step-by-step plan for those that are truly ready to make the commitment (and have the support).
In the end what had worked for me was the slow reduction of nicotine. I made it a point that when I felt a craving I would wait 20-30 minutes longer before caving in. Over time I swapped my normal cigarettes for an e-cig, with nicotine levels around 3mg-6mg, while keeping it out of reach. Plus, the usage of gum for big trips (long car rides, flights, etc).
I was amazed as to how well it worked versus a previous attempt when I had been smoking well over a pack-a-day.
Hopefully, this will get you inspired to finally give it up. Even if you greatly reduce your amount – everyone will still be proud of you. When the time is right you will know. But at least start soon because the clock is ticking – remember what you’ll be missing with those years shaved off because of cigs.