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November 19, 2014

Recommendation: The Easy Way to Stop Smoking

So day 10 or something of the Flu That Won't Leave.

I'm hopeful that tomorrow I'll be mostly recovered. Today I feel like crap, as usual, but the two main symptoms -- a crippling migraine headache (with photophobia) and a hacking cough that goes on for five minutes and makes internal organs ache -- are mostly abated. Now I'm left with headache and coughing, but not so bad they're worth complaining about. Plus general flu symptoms.

I'm really annoyed because I started doing all these healthy things, and stopping doing a bunch of unhealthy ones, and so I was all ready to start Feeling Awesome when I caught this flu.

Speaking of that, I picked up a book a couple of weeks ago called The Easy Way to Stop Smoking, by Alan Carr.

I had quit smoking a while ago, going on to the e-cig, but I remained addicted to nicotine, and in fact could not imagine really ever going off nicotine.

Someone recommended this Easy Way book to me and I read it because I didn't have anything else going on.

It's actually pretty darn good, as this reconsideration of the book acknowledges.

I don't read many -- any -- Self-Help books so maybe this book had a bunch of tricks to play on me for which I had no defenses. Maybe I'm an easy score, given that I'm unfamiliar with self-help books' techniques generally.

And maybe I found it easy to quit smoking this time because I was especially motivated.

Basically I was feeling like crap every single day of my life and decided that I would not go on like that any longer -- it was time for some changes.

But even so, I think the book is pretty good. It's very repetitive, but in that repetition, it drills into you an important message:

You don't need to smoke. You didn't "need" to smoke before you started smoking. And you don't even really like smoking, do you? Think about it: Do you really like feeling hot smoke moving through your sinuses and lungs? Do you really like that feeling nicotine dependency gives you, of constantly being in mild drug withdrawal, with those withdraw symptoms only really absent from your life for the duration of the cigarette you're currently smoking? (The withdrawal symptoms, the craving, begins anew about 10 minutes after you finish your cigarette, and become urgent 45 minutes to an hour afterwards.)

The book addresses the psychological roots of nicotine addiction. The actual biological hook of nicotine addiction isn't really all that powerful, compared to truly addicting drugs like heroin, coke, or alcohol. No, it's really the psychological story that you the addict are telling yourself about the cigarette, and why you need it so much, and why smoking that next cigarette will make you Feel Good and why you Deserve That Cigarette, after all.

Reading the book, I eventually became not just convinced of the need to break the nicotine dependency, but actually enthusiastic about doing so. Just like Carr said I would.

It's now been about a month since I kicked smoking. I did not follow Carr's advice completely -- I didn't go cold turkey as he insists, but instead used the patch, nicorette gum, and an e-cig as nicotine replacement therapy to get me off actual cigarettes.

And I'm still not completely off nicotine, but I'm almost all the way off of it. I'm not on the patch anymore, I don't use the e-cig anymore, and I chew one or two pieces of Step 2 nicorette when I really have the urge per day. (Some days, being sick, I've forgotten to have any nicotine at all.)

But a month on and I'm not smoking and only having one or two mild doses of nicotine per day, if that. So, I'm not quite free of nicotine yet, but I'm not really addicted anymore, either.

I'd really recommend the book. I don't know what it is about it.

I guess that most of what it says is obvious, if you bothered to think about it,, but as an addict, you are deliberately avoiding thinking about the basis of your addiction, so it's helpful to have someone else state the obvious to your face.

The book, by the way, stays away from the scary stuff about smoking, almost entirely. There are no pictures of diseased lungs or gums or that sort of thing. The author's notion is that making someone nervous immediately makes them reach for a cigarette so discussing the dire health effects of smoking is actually counterproductive.

Instead he sticks to a softer approach -- won't you be happier when you don't have to to worry about only having three cigarettes left?

Obvious stuff, but I found it helpful. If you're still smoking, or you know a smoker, I'd spend the $7 to $10 for the book.

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posted by Ace at 05:30 PM

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