How can I give up smoking without an e-cig?

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To vape or not to smoke, that is the question:

As the heading says, it can be done and in my opinion, vaping has become a substitute for cigarettes, not a nicotine replacement cessation aid. If you want to know my why’s & how’s, read on…..

I believe, every smokers’ greatest desire is to stop!!!

I know I did and after 25 years of smoking, I stopped and have stayed stopped now for over 9 years.

I started smoking at the age of 14 and by the time I was 19, I was already thinking about stopping and had made my first failed attempt to do so. So…

What went wrong?

Attempt 1

I got the Nicorette TM nicotine gum through my doctor (GP), which was only relatively new on the market then, and thought, great, these will do the trick. 

It went well enough for the first few days, but I could not take the taste anymore, they really were disgusting, even writing this brings back the taste in my mouth after 30 years.

That didn’t last too long, I resumed my smoking habit, but kept the gum, as I thought it would be handy to have especially when at work, or when I was unable to have a smoke.

Attempt 2

My next attempt was about 5 years later and I got the patches. My brother-in-law, a reformed smoker, brought them for me and told me if I managed to quit he would foot the bill, but if I relapsed, I’d have to pay him.

The problem with those is that my skin took an allergic reaction to them and they never stuck on me that well either. (I know excuses, excuses)

My thigh seemed to be the only place that they would not cause irritation, but if I sweated, the patch would slide down my leg. Embarrassing, especially when I was wearing shorts.

I never got past the first stage of those and resumed my old habit again. And I had to pay back my brother-in-law…

Attempt 3

I tried again about 3 years later, a hypnotist was in town, so we managed to contact him, my sister & I invited him over and we both lit up a few hours after he left…

Attempt 4

10 years had passed since my last attempt and I had started a course in addiction counselling, ironic I know. The main requirement to attend the course was to be totally chemical free, that included nicotine.

I got the patches again, psyched myself up, as there was more of a sense of urgency here and I did manage to stop for 2 months, completing my course of patches.

The only downside was that I put on over a stone in weight, so when I did relapse and start smoking again, (on holiday) I not only was a smoker again but was now a fatter smoker. My self-esteem took a nose dive. My smoking was greatly reduced though, as this time around I wasn’t meant to be smoking whilst doing the course.(Incentive)

I discovered by default that I didn’t actually need as much nicotine in my system. My smoking habit did change, form a 20+ a day smoker to about a 5 – 10 a day smoker.

It got me thinking, my biggest fear of stopping smoking was nicotine withdrawal, so if done right and by reduction, also by cutting down on the strength of cigarettes, from strong to ultimate lights, you know the ones with the holes in them, I could and was weaning myself off nicotine.

So looking back, it might not have been perfect, but at least I was making progress. The actual habit of smoking was the real problem now.

My smoking never really increased again and I did stay on no more than 5-10 ultimate light cigarettes a day for the next 2 years until I eventually stopped.

Cigarettes are harmful to your health, as the warning signs say, and that is dead right and my smoking was beginning to really take its toll physically as I was going from one throat infection to the next and eventually it became uncomfortable to smoke.

For every cigarette, I had to suck a lozenge afterward just to soothe my throat.

My fiance also was a nonsmoker and wanted me to stop, both my sisters had stopped smoking, so it was time.

Attempt 5

Hypnotherapy again, could this be it? No, I was smoking again the following day, at least I learned that I can’t be hypnotized. The funny thing was that I was doing a course in NLP at the time, which is about the power of suggestion and associative conditioning. Maybe that is why it didn’t work.

My Final Attempt

This time I had a plan & goal, which worked and I will list:

  1. Genuinely wanted to stop now – In the past, I had to stop and cut down due to outside influences, but this time, I feel I had enough. I was now motivated.
  2. Stopped smoking in the house – I would only smoke outside and as it was winter, being outside wasn’t a nice experience.
  3. Stopped smoking in the car – This was hard and it took time to undo this ingrained habit, but I would chew gum instead. After a few weeks, unless I was on a long journey, it became easier.
  4. Limited my options – By having cut out smoking in the car and in the house. I found I was smoking 4 to 5 cigarettes a day, and I was cutting down all the time. Some days I even found myself only smoking 2 cigarettes. I was gradually breaking the habit of smoking.
  5. I got the patches again and started doing the reducing course properly this time – by the time I finished the course my desire to smoke had gone, I’d kicked the habit.
  6. I have not lifted a cigarette since and have never had the urge to smoke either.
  7. In all, the process took a few months, but every previous attempt had been a knee-jerk reaction, not really planned or thought through. I did though learn something new about myself, from each attempt, which I feel did help me to stop eventually.

What the hell has this got to do with e-cigarettes?

Thought you’d never ask…

Dissociation

I feel I was very lucky that e-cigarettes or vaping weren’t around when I stopped smoking, why?

As the subheading says, in my opinion, what was created as a nicotine replacement therapy aid or cessation tool, is now a substitute for cigarettes. 

People have swopped only and are NOT quitting, in fact, it is becoming “trendy” to vape and some young people who have never smoked cigarettes are vaping.

When you think about it you are still smoking, as the nicotine is still there, the behaviors are still there and so is the attitude. It kind of defeats the object doesn’t it?

The argument for e-cigarettes is that they get people off the more harmful tobacco products, and yes they have a point, but just how safe are e-cigarettes?

Only a couple of generations ago, smoking cigarettes were considered “cool”, the US Army even supplied them to their troops. Not a word about danger or health hazards then.

Who Knows what will transpire in the future?, the only issue is that if you truly desire to stop smoking, then do make a plan and goal and if you have to vape, do as I did with the cigarettes and cut back gradually until you stop.

I swear by the patches for nicotine replacement and also good old willpower, and oh yes chewing gum.

Like any addiction, stopping smoking is hard and was never meant to be easy as the harder it is the more you will come to appreciate just how great it is to be an ex-smoker, I know I do.

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To Sum Up
 

Recovery is about growth and everyone does grow at a different pace. My advice to anyone in early recovery is to wait at least 2 years before making any major life-changing decisions that might have emotional ramifications. An example: get a mortgage, get married, change career, emigrate. In light of this everyone has dreams and we all do want to better our lives in one way or another, so it is important in early recovery to start to put those dreams into reality by creating achievable goals which can be reached in time. I found in my early recovery, although I had dreams, I wasn’t aware of creating goals and my life unfolded by default. It turned out well for me but had I had clear goals, I do feel that it would have been even better.

I do try to learn from my mistakes, and that is why they are little miracles in themselves that happen for a reason. I am a growth-seeking being I will continue to seek change in myself. What motivates me is the Pain – Pleasure, which moves me away from my pain points (a lack of finances, time & peace of mind) to my pleasure points (freedom of finances, time & peace of mind).

The way I have found to achieve this freedom and to move away from the “Groundhog Day” of life is through online marketing. I have taken this step into the abyss, I’m not tech savvy at all, and with the support of Six Figure Mentors-SFM, I am working my way through it. The internet is here to stay and is the future for all of us, so don’t get left behind because it is gaining momentum.

Now Affiliate Marketing might not be for everyone, but my suggestion to you is to just watch the 7-day video series by the co-founders, Stuart & Jay, and decide from there. The video series is free, very interesting and will show you, at least, just what opportunities are available online. I’ll leave you to decide.

I wish you a happy day, Take Care.

Harm Reduction or Abstinence, Who is to say?

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I recently was involved in a mini-debate about harm reduction and abstinence, and both sides had their pros & cons, but from who’s perspective.

Where I am coming from:

I am an alcoholic in recovery for over 15 years and an addiction counselor for 12. Now I have worked for the past 12 Years in a 12 Step Treatment Centre, and being in recovery myself, I would lean towards the abstinence model.

I am open minded though and through my own experience have seen that the clear pathway for people to get help has not been that direct. Let me explain:

At one time I would have been an orthodox abstainer or an all or nothing person, and that is what applied for me. I came to a stage where I didn’t want to drink anymore, but could not stop drinking, you could call this my rock bottom. When I eventually got sober, (My Bio), I was ready to stop as I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. It was totally liberating for me to be a sober alcoholic.

There are many out there just like me, just so grateful to not be imprisoned by a chemically warped mind anymore, who embrace the 12 Step and other abstinence-based models and are very happy and content with life.

Most of us hit our own rock bottom, at whatever level, and had a bad enough experience or experiences that created the internal shift necessary to change. Some went into rehab, some directly through AA or NA, some even on their own.

The problem I see

Now in my line of work, we get a majority of our referrals into treatment from the Health Service, which is a statutory body. Many of these people are “Crisis Motivated”, either a situation has occurred that has involved the law, employment, family intervention, or child services.

I have found that people who are “Crisis Motivated” had little to no intention of stopping their drinking or using. Their motivation is to literally get the “monkey off their backs”. Once the crisis situation is over, then a vast majority relapse and return to their old ways. Their motivation to stop permanently was never there, and deep down they knew and in most cases could not wait to resume their old habit.

How dare you!!, I hear many AA’s saying, it is not a habit, it is a disease. I agree, chemical dependency is a disease, as the whole body, cells and all become addicted. The habitual part of addictions are the behaviors, and especially the routine or rituals that occur even before and after drink or drugs are taken are dysfunctional.

What Next

When someone is detoxed and is physically sober, the old behaviors do tend to continue, why? Habit or Habit Dysfunction. Why does this happen? Well, my belief and experience in working in this field for 12 Years, is motivation, or lack of it.

If someone doesn’t want to change and is temporarily only being obliging, then they are not going to change. Why should they?

If someone doesn’t want to change then no one can make them. You can work with them and work through ambivalence, in collaboration.

If they are not willing, should they just be dropped and left to get on with it? That would be irresponsible to leave someone who is in a distressed situation, depressed or even suicidal. Interventions are necessary, but what kind of intervention is needed?

People who have dual disorders or co-morbid, and are high risk do get admitted into Psychiatric Units, again a crisis intervention.

People are referred to the statutory health services when alcohol & drug abuse is flagged up.

Harm reduction leading to abstinence makes sense

So to get back to my introduction, harm reduction should be the first intervention. Telling someone who is in a crisis, is chaotic, an emotional wreck full of anxiety that they can’t drink or drug again will not work.

It will only cause more stress and anxiety & unless they are highly motivated will not return for another appointment. People want the crisis & chaos to go away, with as little stress or change as possible.

Everyone, especially the young, should be given the opportunity to initially try to control their alcohol and drug consumption, and if they can manage that, then the problem behavior could be down to something else-college stress, right of passage.

Not everyone who abuses alcohol & drugs is an alcoholic or drug addict and not every alcoholic or drug addict abuses alcohol or drugs.

The Health Service here has a 4 Tier system of intervention for alcohol & drug interventions.

Tier 1 is normally an intervention from a family member or significant other, maybe creating awareness that there is a problem and it has been noticed and needs to be addressed.

Tier 2 is an intervention from a Doctor or health care worker.

Tier 3 a specialized substance misuse worker/counselor/treatment. Approaches like CRA (Community Reinforcement Approach) & SMART ( Self-Management and Recovery Training) Recovery, with are both harm reduction approaches can be applied here.

Tier 4 is usually an abstinent based residential treatment programme.

Backward not forward

It sounds great, but unfortunately, it is not followed and the clear-pathway has many forks and people are still being referred from Tier 1 straight to Tier 4, bypassing tiers 2 & 3. They land in a 30-day intensive treatment programme and don’t even know why they are there.

The other situation is that they go from a Tier 4 treatment programme, have embraced abstinence and then are referred to a Tier 3 “Harm Reduction” programme.

This causes a lot of confusion with the person in recovery. People who are only getting used to the necessary changes they need to make now and in the future to have a good recovery.

At the end of the day the whole revolving door of addiction and recovery, relapse continues and is facilitated by a system that is supposed to help. Politics and ticking a box has a lot to do with this dysfunctional system, but at the end of the day, it is the person with the addiction and their families who continue to suffer.

It has to be up to the individual

Addiction is very complicated and as complicated as each individual who suffers from it, whether the harm reduction or abstinence models are adopted, the underlying issues will remain the same and have to be worked through. Each individual does deserve the right to do that for themselves without being dictated to by statutory bodies, who want bums on seats or them away from the view of society.

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Many companies are offering on line marketing training but the company I chose was SFM, as they offer state of the art training with amazing on-line mentorship & peer support and you can earn as you learn as an affiliate. It is a great platform to start off on your internet journey/ career.
I have taken this step into the internet abyss, I’m not tech savvy at all, and with the support of SFM, I am working my way through it. The internet is here to stay and is the future for all of us, so don’t get left behind because it is gaining momentum. If you want to learn what I am learning and are in a point in your life where you want change, then I offer you, through my mentors, Stuart & Jay, a no obligation FREE 7 day video series to watch.

Thanks for reading, and hope to see you on the other side.