Giving up smoking for good

I just decided to quit smoking - Quit smoking timeline

Updated on 11/23/18
15 minute read

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I just decided to quit smoking.

It is the 19th of June, 2018. Around 19:00.

I am a smoker.

I am addicted to nicotine. 

I smoke since I am 15 years old, and no, I started alone, without any "help" from friends or someone pressuring me or offering me a cigarette. I felt like I needed to smoke. I felt I needed it deep inside. I think I was brainwashed. That is how it felt. So I got me some smokes, and since it was a love story up until now.

In this article, I will share my quitting story, as I go, on a timeline of sorts. I will share all the nicotine withdrawal symptoms I experience, all my feelings and thoughts and describe the benefits of quitting smoking hour by hour. I am not using "stop smoking aids" of any kind. I am going cold turkey. You will not find in this article any references to the effectiveness of those nicotine aids and substitutes.

 

Proud smoker

As I write these words, I love smoking. I enjoy it. My addicted brain makes me think that I do. That is the bitter truth about nicotine addiction.

Then I decided to stop. I used to think that I love smoking. It is amazing how I lost that feeling in an instant. 

Proud smokers are addicted to nicotine and to the image of smoking and what it represents. They are fed with thoughts about how the cigarette supports you in a hard time or motivate you in good times. They are addicted to nicotine. They are addicted to an illusion. Both are feeding each other to the inevitable end. 

Proud smokers are just addicts. It is ok, I am not judging, I am an addict myself.

 

Stop smoking

This day, with over 20 years of smoking "experience", I decided to put an end to it. I am going cold turkey.

I smoke around 30-40 hand-rolled cigarettes a day, I try to make them small. Before that, I smoke for 15 years regular cigarettes, around 20 per day. Sometimes more, defiantly not less.

Let’s do something I have never done before (probably I didn't want to hear the numbers):

21 years, that is 365 x 21 = 7665 days.

7665 x 25 cig. Per day = 191,625 cigarettes smoked.

Unbelievable. Never thought it will be that much. I always smoke one cigarette at the time, It never seems like a lot. But a fifth of a million cigarettes? If I didn't quit and kept smoking for the rest of my life, assuming I will not die due to a stroke or heart attack, I would probably smoke HALF A MILLION cigarettes. That is a lot of filth! WOW.

 

So as I said, I am quitting. Now, as I write these words.

After years of telling myself: "next year I will quit", "on my 30th birthday", "when I find a new job, this is too stressful", and so on, the fact is that life is passing by no matter what you sell to yourself. Between excuses, 10-15 years of smoking can go by. It is never "not a good time" to stop. Every time is a PERFECT time to stop smoking.

 

Why am I quitting? I feel like smoking is slowly killing every part of my body. And my mind. And my social life. No matter where I look, smoking is bad for me.

 

Let me explain: I always thought that the cigarette is my friend. It will always be there for me, it is always quick to please me and satisfy me. THAT IS A LIE! The cigarette always made sure that I can’t have too much fun without making sure I am close to a place which I can smoke it.

The cigarette always made sure that when I play sports or just hanging out on the beach, I will feel tired fast so I can rest and smoke one. Which made me even more tired for future reference, so I rest more and when I rest, I smoke.

The cigarette made sure I will feel bummed when I need to go and meet people I know I can’t smoke around or in the area, and so on.

Besides the "Killing me" part, I can keep going forever about the wheezing, coughing, yellow teeth (which I kept under control), and other experiences that damage the quality of life. I also heard from people that smoking may promote gallbladder stones. But I am not a physician so don't take my word for it.

Believe it or not, I still feel like the cigarette is my friend. I am addicted to nicotine. 

In return, the friendship isolates me from people and activities, slowly nibbling on my body and mind. I say no more smoking.

 

Quit smoking by reading a book

A couple of years ago, my younger brother bought me Allen Carr's easy way to stop smoking.

I never wanted to read it. I thought it is a stupid book, even before I read it. That book wanted to take my precious cigarettes away from me. 

It was always there though. I never threw it away or gave it away. Probably it is my subconscious wanted me to stop smoking one of these days.

Anyway. I grabbed it and went for it. 

How it went:

In spite the fact that it is specified in the book that I must continue smoking while reading, I stopped smoking somewhere along the middle of the book. It felt right to stop on that spot for some reason. I didn't feel like smoking anymore at that moment. So I kind of ignored the instructions but it went well for me.

My advice for you - follow the instruction as closely as you can. It is not easy but worth it.

 

11/2018 update: Well, it has been almost 5 months since I stopped smoking. The book really helped. It was easy to stop reading the book. Not sure if this is the easiest way though since that was my first real shot at quitting smoking. It went well for me. I had to go ahead and read some parts again in difficult days. It wasn't all a walk in the park even though it went way less scary than I expected it would go.

I definitely recommend reading the book even if it seems like a longshot or you are skeptical. 

 

smoking withdrawal symptoms

Quitting smoking is scary. The cigarettes and nicotine become such a big part of our life, that quitting feels like a huge sacrifice. IT IS NOT. Smoking is a waste of your time. The benefits of smoking are NONE. You think it helps you, you think it encourages you. It does the opposite. It weakens you, it breaks you mentally, it keeps you needing more. 

I will share all about symptoms of quitting smoking. I am not sure how harsh it may be, or if any symptom will appear whatsoever.

 

Cease smoking. Today. Now. Or for the latest, after you read this article :).

Hopefully, this helps you and others give up smoking, or at least try. Don't be ashamed to ask for support if you quit.

 


 

Quit Smoking Timeline

I write these words in real time. 

I will update every few hours in the beginning, I will try to keep things relevant and informative.

 

5 hours

I am going to sleep soon. I don’t really expect anything new at the moment. I didn’t smoke in the last 5 hours, I can’t say I miss it at the moment.

I am very determined to stop and I know that smoking is mainly LIE, I don't really need it as much as I feel I need it. The addiction assures you and makes you feel or think things that there are not there.

I will explain: When I want to smoke, my mind is craving it and gives me the feeling that it is good for me. That I need it. It builds this image in my mind, an illusion that I need to smoke that cigarette. The is the LIE. I can't stress that enough. Smoking a cigarette never changed anything for the best in my life. It only brought me closer to being sick and socially isolated in the smoking area.

I say NO. I am not going to smoke my "before bed" cigarette I have had for years. I will just go to sleep happy with my decision.

 

To wrap it up, I don't feel anything special. I think it is mostly due to the fact I am happy with my decision so there is no psychological stress yet. I think that most of the symptoms in the first few hours are psychological. 


 

12 hours

I just woke up. This is a crucial time. “How the heck will I have my coffee if I can’t smoke with it?”. That is the first thing that comes to my mind.

I haven’t had my coffee yet. Not sure if I feel like having one. Can it be related? It is possible.

I mean, I am having coffee for the first thing every morning for more than 20 years now. Why don’t I feel like it? Funny, I wonder if I should add caffeine withdrawal to my nicotine withdrawal.

 

My mental feeling

Confused, but still determined and happy. Not sure why I am confused though. Probably because I don't know what to do with myself at the moment. It is quite new to me. I can't remember what I would usually do in the morning as a routine before I started smoking. I was young. I have a routine nowadays, It is bad for me. should I develop a new routine or just go with the flow?

I decide not to deal with that routine and confusion now. It is enough that I am happy with my decision and I am carrying on strong and able.

 

My physical feeling

Well, nothing is changed in particular.

I can’t say I feel any better, but I defiantly do not feel worse. I don’t feel any withdrawal symptoms. I kind of feel like every other morning. My throat feels a little cleaner, but it may be psychosomatic. Not sure if it is there for real or just in my head.

Something about last night. I use to have that occasional Irregular heartbeat before I went to sleep. Had none the other night. I know it doesn't say anything, but I noticed it. 

I feel like drinking tea all the time. Much less enthusiastic about drinking coffee. But it may change soon so not a big deal. 

 

Withdrawal symptoms

None. I am not even sure I should feel any symptom. I don’t think nicotine has such strong withdrawal simpletons, especially not now. Maybe in later days. I will update.


 

24 hours

Well, I had my launch a few hours ago. It went surprisingly well. I didn't feel any uncontrollable need to smoke. 

I used to smoke after every meal I had. Today I did not run outside to smoke after the food. This is refreshing. I can actually sit down and relax for a couple of minutes.

I started wondering: "when I will be out of the woods"? maybe it is too soon to think about that. Or maybe it is irrelevant though because if I am happy with my situation, there are no woods.

 

My mental feeling

I feel proud of myself. I feel like I am free of the tobacco bonds. Who cares it has been just 24 hours. I am savoring the moment.

24 hours without smoking? that's a personal record for sure.

I feel like I am not giving up to my nicotine addiction.

I feel the need for nicotine though. I am surprised at how weak it is though. I figured that after 24 hours of not smoking at all, my body will scream for that fix of tobacco.

2-3 hours ago, I really started to convince myself why I can smoke only one cigarette and it is nothing. Just to make the craving go away and I can keep quitting smoking. Do you realize how ridiculous that is? I just need a small fix so I can keep on quitting and never smoke again? Yeah… What can you do? I am addicted to nicotine and I don’t have it right now. So I am a little stupid.

But I kept moving on with the day. I remind myself that nothing good will come out if it.

 

My physical feeling

I feel something bothering my airways in my throat. I can't tell if I feel it is healing or it feels like I need a smoke. It is like a faint itch. I will enjoy the benefits of not smoking and will go with the healing throat theory.

Plus I am starting to smell things that are not there. I am absolutely serious.

I am not sure if it is my imagination but I smell a little smoke. Maybe I miss it so much my mind is making it up? Maybe I do smell some smoke? I can't see any source to that smoke. Man, I don't know. 

Maybe it is my nose sensory nerves getting better so they send fake signals to the brain? I'd like to know if this is the case.

The smell is there though. It feels a little like before you get the flu or cold. The weird feeling in the nose and that fake smell. 

I drink a lot of tea. I don't know why.

 

Withdrawal symptoms

Not sure if the smell qualifies as a symptom.

I am not feeling a deep urge to smoke, though it is there. Lurking. I know cause I expect it to be there. The proud tyrant won't go quietly. 

I have to say that I feel little problems with my digestive system. Everything is slower and irregular as it used to be up until a couple of days ago. I am not sure though, it may be a coincidence. I will keep updating on that. 

Luckily, I am in a better way now and I feel happy for myself. In my honest opinion, that alone reduces the symptoms by at least 70%.


 

36 hours

It is morning again.

I have to admit it is not that hard as I was expecting it to be. The first cigarette of the morning was one I was really "enjoying". Not smoking it is not so bad when you truly feel you do a good thing for yourself.

I drank my coffee. It tastes stronger. Not necessarily better, I just can taste it "more", sort of speak.

 

Yesterday night I had a short-term chest pain. Probably from the withdrawal. Nothing I have never experienced before. I always thought it has to do with smoking. I am sure I will learn in the next couple of months if it is smoking-related by feeling fewer occurrences of this pain.

I also had some cough with a little phlegm. I feel like it was quite OK though. Maybe it is my throat cleaning all the smoking damages. I have to say that it was an ordinary cough in any way. I am not worried about that. I was expecting to cough way more than that. In the meanwhile, I do not cough a lot at all. 

More about yesterday, I feel way more hungry than I used to. Not sure if it has anything to do with the lack of nicotine in my blood. According to Wikipedia, one can experience hunger when going through nicotine withdrawal. Anyway, I am not going to eat any differently because of that.

 

Back in the morning. 

I feel a little restless. I walked around the house for 2-4 minutes without any good reason. I think that I didn't know what to do with myself. I used to have a morning routine. Now I don't have one. It causes me to become restless. The feeling didn't stick around for long. Once I started my day, the restlessness went away.

I just threw my tobacco into the garbage. That was not easy. I didn't do it yesterday. Not sure why. Maybe it is just my habit to make sure I always have some stock left or I just wanted to give the tobacco "proper burial". Anyway, I am out of tobacco for the first time in 21 years! This feels so liberating!

 

My mental feeling

Still feeling good and happy about my choice. I have no doubts that I am on the right track. Even though I have to keep reminding myself why I am doing this (I am addicted, my brain constantly trying to trick me to believe smoking is actually good for me), I keep away from smoking, successfully, and with no special effort.

Besides, I am a little restless. Still feel in my head that something is missing. Happy with that, but still feel it. 

 

My physical feeling

Feeling kind of hungry. A lot more than the usual.

I read in Wikipedia that a potential nicotine withdrawal symptom is hunger. This is probably it.

Besides, I am feeling better. I almost feel no heartbeats in weird places in the body like I used to. For example, my palms. Probably my blood pressure is regulated and it is in the best values possible for me. This feels great. 

I drink a lot of tea. It numbs that never-ending feeling of hunger. I am not falling for that. Overeating is not coping with the withdrawal. 

 


48 hours

It has been 2 days now. Full 48 hours in the road to completely quit smoking. 

Few things I have noticed:

  • My clothes do not have that "smoker stench". I am used to my clothes smell this way.
  • I still feel like I am smelling stuff that is not there. I hope all those years of smoking didn't cause permanent damage to my sense of smell. 
  • I have a lot of time on my hands. I used to spend around 2-3 hours everyday smoking. Really. 5 minutes per cigarette, multiply by 30 cigarettes.  You do the math. 
    Now I see that I can do more every day. Achieve more, reach more goals, even the mundane. I earned a few more hours every week to do work or stuff I like. 

The best things I have noticed today is that I can do something I couldn't do before without feeling like my head is going to explode. I can breathe deep and hold the air for more than 3 seconds. 

It used to be an impossible task for me. I would also get dizzy doing that, besides the exploding head thing. This is great, that is a great indication that my body is getting better fast. 

Once you quit smoking, you can see results really fast. This is very encouraging. 

 

My mental feeling

Pretty good. The urge to roll a cigarette is slowly disappearing to the point of becoming a background noise in my head and not in front of my thoughts.

Still, 21 years, daily smoking, many times a day. Something is missing and my mind knows it. Memories flash, memories of me smoking. It feels so far and yet I smoked my last cigarette a little more than 2 days ago. This is probably the result of the cold turkey way I took. My mind got a sort of "reset" or "boot" when it comes to smoking cigarettes.

 

My physical feeling

Feeling better. I am not there yet. I am expecting a new physical crave for nicotine tomorrow morning. It seems to me that this is peak time for my nicotine need. 

Breathing is noticeably smoother. I still have that weird feeling in my nose. I am sure it has to do with the healing of my smelling sense.

I am really getting used to not smoking after I eat. In the last 2 days, I was restless. Now, I remain seated after food, relaxing instead of running out to get my precious smoke in my lungs and nose. 

 

That is the 2 days update of me quitting smoking for good. 


72 hours

It has been 3 solid days since I stopped smoking. 

Generally, I feel better with each moment passing.

Nonetheless, I had moments in which I was a little moody. I am not sure I am going to give withdrawal credit for that. Life is dynamic, I may feel moody sometimes in the future and I felt so even before I started smoking. SO, moody I was. Not sure it has anything to do with my addiction to nicotine. 

Besides, even if it was. That is great. It means the poison is leaving my body. It means that my brain is feeling the process of cleaning and getting rid of the filth. 

We are on the weekend. It used to be a prime real estate of the week when it came to smoking cigarettes for me. This was the time that I used to smoke myself to the point cigarettes made me feel bad. I used to smoke way more than the usual amount, usually mixed with more food, alcoholic drinks, and social gatherings. 

I still had all the above. Minus the cigarettes and nicotine. It went by great. You can live without the filthy cigarette. Maybe that was the reason for my moodiness. 

On the coffee and tea front - I feel like drinking less coffee and more tea. I still like coffee but it is less appealing now. I feel I can settle for less during the day. For some reason, I favor tea now. I can drink double the amount I used to. Usually mint tea. I like it more nowadays. 

 

Muscle memory

once every few hours I repeat some movement I used to make in order to make sure I have enough tobacco. Like I am making sure it is there. 

I am not doing it consciously. It is like a muscle memory. 

It doesn't bother me, it is normal. I believe that in a few days, this movement will be no more.

 

Hunger as a withdrawal symptom

I am a little hungry, more than the usual. I say that my appetite is healthy again and not suppressed by poison and addiction. It is there, it bothers a little. Does it mean that I eat more? no. But for others, if you feel like you need to eat more, eat. Your appetite will balance back with time. You will feel better once you are clean of nicotine and you have your daily routine back. 

It is important not to develop a different reliance on food. Keep it in check but don't stress out because you think you will gain a lot of weight. 

One last thing, I don't sleep at 100% quality. I "suffer" from a little wakefulness. I feel like I am tired, and then it is completely gone. Not a big deal, I used to have nights like this before. If it persists, I will update and try to connect or disconnect it from quitting smoking.

All is well, mentally and physically. All the above is second to the excitement I feel, opening a new chapter in my life. Cleaner chapter. 

 

One week

It has been 7 days since I quit smoking cold turkey. 

That is a lot of time without a smoke. I am really proud of myself. 

What I found helpful during this week is sharing and supporting other at this stop smoking subreddit. It is helpful to share and also see other people stories and progress. It puts things in proportion. 

 

I feel better physically. I lost all sense of unexplained hunger. I stopped smelling things that aren't there. I sleep well, I can breathe normally, I have no coughs or sour throat. 

It is amazing how fast the "normal" feeling of your body restores itself.

 

Hanging out with smokers

Well, some people around me still smoke. 

This week I had to be around smoking people. Since I am happily not smoking, I didn't think it will be much of a challenge. I was right. 

It wasn't so difficult to hang out with smokers, and also after you don't smoke for one week and you smell that filthy smoke, you really can tell how much disgusting it is. 

When your mind is in the right place, you are barely attracted by the sight of other people smoking. 

 

A small gotcha to remember

I believe in my ability to stop smoking whenever I want.

This is a false notion since smoking is an addiction. You never know what you can until you stop smoking.

One issue I still need to fight is the urge to smoke when I work on autopilot. For some reason, even though I am happy and sure of my decision, I am starting to "forget" why I quit smoking. I read somewhere that this is common and that is a reason for a lot of quitters to go back smoking. On the day to day life, I don't always think of the fact I quit smoking. When my brain is working on autopilot, I find sometimes that I conditionally looking for a cigarette. Happened to me yesterday when I came back from grocery shopping.

I always used to have a cold drink and a cigarette after these kinds of chores. It hit me in my face and really fast. Suddenly I felt I need to smoke and was depressed for a minute or two that I can't or won't. Good thing it disappeared as fast as it came. I continued my day after that feeling great. 

It may happen again. The addiction is not going to give in without a fight. 

I keep reminding myself of why I quit. I am not arrogant at all. I am aware of the danger ahead of me. I truly believe that this feeling will gradually disappear in time. This is a crucial time for me. 

 

To conclude one week after quitting smoking

I feel great. I need to remind myself once or twice a day why I quit smoking. 

I gain confidence as a nonsmoker. 

 

Two weeks

I can feel no particular change with my body. 

My back hurts. does it have to do with quitting smoking? I don't really think so. Possible, but really not related in my opinion.

I do have craves for a smoke. Not for the nicotine, but for that break I used to have during the day when I was smoking. Really when I think about that, I used to smoke every 30 minutes or so. A lot of breaks during the day in retrospect. 

I am eating more than I used to. No doubt. I don't feel like I gained weight though. The feeling of hunger is the strongest I have ever had. Not saying it is necessarily strong but relatively for me, it is stronger.

One issue that is still bothering me is that irregular stomach activity and feeling bloated. I decided to write a separate paragraph about digestive problems after quitting smoking since it seems to be an issue for me. 

 

Getting used to living without the tobacco around me

This is surprisingly easy. That is the biggest fear before quitting. The result is actually great. I am not concerned with my tobacco inventory all the time, not way less concerned about my health and the damage I inflict to my body, and I swear, I still have money in my wallet. My tobacco expenditure is 0 now, so after 14 days, the amount of money saved is substantial. 

I can have dinners without looking outside, planning my next smoking party when I finish eating that food. Now I eat slower. Nothing to rush about. 

 

One month

It has been one month. It is by far the longest time I have ever had without having a smoke.

I feel great. I am still determined to not smoke again in my life. 

They say that 2-3 weeks are needed to really get rid of the habit and the need to smoke. I can verify that. Even though I still have some muscle memory and on some occasions, during the week I still remember I used to smoke, during most of the day and the majority of the time, I don't even think about cigarettes. YES, it is possible. I never believed that can be true, but it is.

I am still bothered by my stomach. There is still a feeling that everything is going to slow there and irregular schedule. This is manageable, not a big deal but sometimes can be too noticeable. I added more information in this section about the digestive system withdrawal symptoms.

Physically, I don't feel any change, besides what is already mentioned above. I am not sure I will. I think that in time my body will be better but I m not sure I will feel the difference so easily. 

I will keep updating every few weeks.

 

Many days

Or something like two plus months :)

One thing I can say for sure, and it goes without saying, time helps a lot. 

As long as time passes, all symptoms are reduced to zero and what is left is the mental addiction to the habit. 

I do still occasionally believe the lie that I need a cigarette to pass the time or to go through a boring part of the day. 

This is after years of environmental and self-education that cigarettes or tobacco products for that matter, help in certain situations. 

 

Every now and then I think to myself: "Man, A cigarette would be great now". Those are leftovers thoughts from the time I used to smoke. Classical conditioning.

I never broke. That is the point. In time, those occurrences decrease in numbers and I can go through days, even weeks without thinking about "how great it would be to smoke a cigarette right now".

One physical change I can definitely put my finger on is those irregular heartbeats. I used to fell them at night. Now, I rarely get those. I am sure they might be normal or not necessarily related to smoking but the numbers have decreased. I personally think it is related to smoking but I am not a doctor. 

For sure, I can say, that it is always a fight. But that is a fight you will always end up winning if you don't smoke at the end of the day. 

 

3 months

I am dreaming a lot lately about smoking. Not daydreaming, really full-length night dreams. 

The only explanation I have for this is old memories of smoking.

It is like dreaming out of the blue, of someone you haven't seen for a long time. You get this weird feeling. 

 

In the physical side of things, I can say that my appetite is the same, I didn't gain any "quitting smoking" weight, I do not cough or suffer from any difficulty to breathe. 

Besides, I have no physical craves for nicotine what so ever. I can't say I need to smoke in order to finish a task or something like I used to.

Everything is normal.

 

If you get these dreams, hang in there. It passes as fast as it came to begin with.  

 

Benefits of quitting smoking so far

I saved a ton of money. Not bad.

I breath easier and tend to get less tired when I climb up a flight of stairs or similar. 

I smell better, I got back to much smell capability to my taste :).

I snore less if any at all! This is really exciting. Wasn't sure it is a thing. I accepted snoring as a normal thing I do, but never connected it to smoking. 

Sure there are more things I can't put my finger on at the moment. Maybe inner body stuff I will never see but actually healing. 

 

Digestive problems after quitting smoking

Before we continue, remember I am not a professional of any sort and everything I share here is from personal experience and research. 

Quitting smoking can cause a number of symptoms in the digestive system including constipation, gasses, and bloat. The reason is the major effect nicotine has on our digestive system, or better put, that lack of nicotine, once you stop smoking.

Symptoms appear with many who quit smoking. Good thing that this is temporary and can be treated with fairly easy steps. 

Why is that happening?

Nicotine, besides its many effects on our body, also increases the metabolic rate. As a result, our digestive system works faster, and that is why some smokers stay thinner than non-smokers.

When we stop smoking, the system reduces its speed and metabolic rate, causing bloating feeling, slower digestion, gasses and irregular bathroom schedule. 

What can we do?

First, If you suffer too much and the condition affects your quality of life, go visit a doctor.

Other than that, try eating more fibers, in smaller portions. Give your digestive system a chance to develop a new, more natural rate.