“I Tried Everything To Give Up Smoking — This Is The Only Thing That Worked”

It was actually something I'd tried before.


Susan Barrett |

Want to know how to give up smoking – but kinda suspect that it’s actually impossible? Trust me, I hear you. But I did eventually find “my” way through vaping – and it could work for you too.

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But first, what didn’t work. And why…

Cold turkey

Hahahahahahahahahaha. Oh sorry, did I laugh out loud? How impolite. But seriously, this was always going to be a bad idea – because the combo of physical and psychological agony could only lead to one thing: no friends. Or worse, an indefinite-length stay at a “clinic”.

READ MORE: This Is The Number Of Cigarettes Per Day That Raises Your Risk Of Heart Disease

Bravo to those of you who can quit with a bit of jaw-clenching and some mild nausea. My vibe is way more dramatic. [I did lose my shit a bit. My long-suffering bf has confirmed this – though he refuses to revisit “That Day” so I’m foggy on the details.]

Support groups

I’m agonisingly shy. I think twice about answering the phone even when it’s my mom, or my oldest friend (who I still go into the pub cubicle to pee with)… so, no.

Tapping

A colleague introduced me to this. Like acupuncture and acupressure, the ancient art of “tapping” is a set of techniques that use the body’s energy meridian points. You stimulate these points by tapping on them with your fingertips – literally tapping into your body’s own energy and healing power.

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Said colleague tapped her collarbone to a certain beat to ease anxiety, and so, I figured, I’d give it a shot to get through cravings. This one actually did get me through some hairy moments. I used it in the car (driving is one of my triggers). But it was a help rather than The Answer – and it didn’t really fly in meetings.

NRT (gum, patch, spray, lozenges)

Yeah, because that gum tastes so lekker hey. They put a man on the moon – you’d think they could make drug-laced chewing gum more palatable. But listen: high five to nicotine replacement therapy – my bestie on long-haul flights.

READ MORE: “I Used To Smoke – Did I Screw Up My Fertility?”

Try as I might (not that hard, tbh), I couldn’t locate a patch, spray or lozenge, so the gum really was my only NRT point of reference. I fantasised about the patch and the spray, and I’m a little bleak I never got to give them a whirl. They might’ve been game-changers.

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Medication

Meds make me nervous. I’m an extreme case (a single Nurofen tab puts me to sleep for seven days and seven nights – okay, around seven hours), but I also am susceptible to breakdowns of the legit-crazy kind, having a family made up of two schizophrenics, a manic depressant and an undiagnosed panic disorder of the most epic proportions.

READ MORE: Is Vaping Really That Bad For You?

This was actually confirmed to me – along with my dependency tendencies (nicotine, alcohol, codeine… uh-oh) – through a DNAlysis head reading that came back with mega genetic markers for bipolar disorder and, yup, stress-induced psychosis. Obviously I wasn’t taking any chances with, say, Zyban, being a bit of a skittish cat already.

PS: I recommend sending off a swab if you’re struggling with mental health issues. The DNAlysis DNA Mind test analyses 30 genes associated with everything from addictions to binge eating and anxiety and is a great tool in overcoming whatever addiction or problem it is you may be struggling with.

Hypnosis

I sidestepped hypnosis for the same reason. My brain. I simply don’t trust my own brain to remain cool in the face of either drugs or subliminal persuasion by a stranger. The truth was that I was so desperate at the end I did sign up for hypnosis with Life Retreat Wellness Centre, which offers a great-looking programme in suitably idyllic surrounds. I never went, so I’ll never know if it would’ve worked or not. Worth a shot if you’re comfortable with someone poking around in your head though…

Alan Carr

Alan was actually much more useful than I had expected, mainly because he explains exactly how nicotine holds you hostage: rather than lighting a cigarette relieving stress, it’s perpetuating the stress cycle. Because every time you smoke another cigarette you are just momentarily alleviating (and reinforcing) the craving, which starts building again immediately after you’ve stomped it out.

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He prepared me for quitting by making me question my relationship with cigarettes. I’d always thought of them as precious friends. Now I was beginning to wonder if there was a bit of “falling for your captor” going down… I didn’t finish the book because I knew that if I was going to do it, I needed to coincide my last cigarette with the last page… and I just wasn’t ready. Yet.

Vaping

I’d tried this before… and while I had failed miserably (but with some flair, I thought: read about it here) I always knew I would eventually come back to it.

And I did. I smoked my last cigarette and then vaped myself stukkend for three months. And then, after a failed New Year’s attempt, I took my last billowing vapy drag four days later. Ironically, it was the “ludicrous” route – cold turkey – that finally got me to today. But I wouldn’t have been able to do it without an in-betweener, a rebound fling, something that helped me to get over my beloved cigarettes. That was vaping.

Alan got me doubting the smokes, but vaping got me over them.

A very important note: I’m making no judgement on whether vaping is better or worse for you than regular cigarettes. (Yes, there is a storm raging over this.) It worked for me as a smoking cessation tool, a way to outwit my own addiction and eventually wean myself off what I regard to be a serious threat to my health. It might not be good for you, but if you’ve literally tried everything and you’re desperate, it might work for you too.

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READ MORE ON: Health Health Advice Smoking