Through Mulish Determination and a Little Help From My Friends
The American Lung Association is sharing inspiring stories from individuals who have been able to end their addiction to tobacco and stop smoking through #TheDayIQuit blog series. Quitting smoking isn't easy, but it is possible—and we firmly believe that anyone can quit with the right support. If you, or someone you know, would like to quit smoking, share with them the new, interactive Freedom From Smoking® Plus.
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When I was growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, smoking cigarettes was an everyday, integral part of many people's lives, including my mother's life. It was an acceptable thing to do. I started smoking in my senior year of high school and continued to smoke for the next 45 years. I tried to quit with hypnosis about 30 years ago and didn't last more than about a month or two without smoking. More recently, I tried electronic cigarettes and a vaping pipe in an effort to quit smoking to no avail. I cut down the number of cigarettes I smoked, but not to a significant degree. I finally came to the conclusion that I couldn't quit smoking on my own. I researched available programs and decided that I would be more likely to attend a quit smoking group that was at a convenient time and location.
In July 2015, I decided to enroll in the American Lung Association's Freedom From Smoking® program, then at the Lahey Clinic in Burlington, MA. The next available program began in September 2015 and I got ready to start my quit. My smoker's cough was getting worse and I was tired of being a pariah to the world and a slave to cigarettes. I smoked the same brand of cigarettes for the entire time that I smoked and it was costing $12 per pack. By the time I quit smoking, I was smoking about 15 cigarettes a day.
The woman who ran the Freedom From Smoking program was an absolute joy. Keeping track of my smoking habits and how I was feeling was enlightening and helped me stay smokefree during those tough urges right after I quit. It was also helpful to have my quit day (October 6, 2015) set by someone else. Throwing away my cigarettes, lighters and ashtrays, and writing a goodbye letter to cigarettes wasn't something I had thought about before and was good. Having the level of carbon monoxide in my system tested was a rude awakening. And being able to talk about my experiences as a smoker and quitting in an in-person group setting encouraged me not to smoke. I used nicotine patches for a little over three months and sucked sugar-free lollipops during that entire time.
I know that I will never smoke again, but I also know that I will continue to miss smoking at times. Those feelings will and do pass, and I smile to myself when that happens. I sometimes have trouble believing that I actually no longer smoke. I also no longer cough, smell of cigarettes and feel compelled to light up when I am stressed. The stress of life is still there but the cigarettes never actually helped ease that stress.
In addition to attributing my ability to quit smoking to the Freedom From Smoking program and in particular to Peggy Russo, who ran the program, I also attribute my ability to quit to my friends and colleagues who were always supportive and last, but not least, my own mulishness to accomplish what I thought was impossible. If I could quit, then with a little help with a program, a patch and mulish determination, then anyone and everyone can quit as well.
All of my best for everyone's endeavors on your journey to quit smoking.