Mindfully Quitting Nicotine

Hey guys! If you guys remember, over a year ago I went from smoking cigarettes to vaping. While yes there is a lot of debate over the health problems caused by both methods, we are talking about quitting today, not which is worse.

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Why did I quit?

You might be thinking, “For your health of course!” and you would be wrong. Not that I don’t care about my health, but it is lower on the priority scale than money. With the pandemic funds have gotten tighter and I can’t justify such an expensive habit anymore. The average cost of me vaping per month was around $200, which isn’t something to sneeze at. Thats more than my phone and internet bill added together.

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Was it hard?

Yes. I don’t think anyone wants to mislead quitters into believing quitting will be a stroll in the park. It sucked really bad for the first four or five days, though the third is just as bad as everyone has told you it is. I wept, I screamed, I apologized, I hid, I sat on the floor and I drank a bottle on wine on the third day. Thankfully my fiancĂ© was very understanding of the chemical insanity that was happening in my brain, which made it a lot easier. There is a headache that seems to be ever present, your limbs feel weird, your heart might even seem different. I found I was sweating like crazy from the increased circulation in my body. I did suffer insomnia during the first 4 days, which did not help my mood.

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Now, a week later, I feel more stable but there is still definitely something left over in my brain that is making me feel a bit off. I am still having some troubles with sleep, but from what I can figure that’s quite normal for nicotine quitters.

How did you quit?

I used our modern way of quitting. I bought a vape and reduced the amount of nicotine from 60mg down to 0 mg over a period time. This means that right now I have my vape with me, but there is no nicotine in it. This has made it easier for me to quit nicotine, as I am only breaking the chemical addiction while leaving the habitual side alone for the moment. This is a slower way to quit, but it’s the only one I’ve managed to make work.

I tried to quit smoking cold turkey and failed many times, then earlier this year I tried to quit vaping overnight and failed once again. For me, this has been the only method where I have made it to day 4 without nicotine. As of right now I am on day 8, so things are going well.

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Why is this called Mindfully Quitting Nicotine?

That is a great question. The answer lies in how I decided to approach quitting this time. I accepted that I was going to be a little unstable and set up my personal life to accommodate that for a little bit. I informed most people of my decision and requested they leave me alone unless there was an emergency so that I wouldn’t snap at them during a bad moment or have them inadvertently stressing me out.

That worked pretty well and I don’t believe anyone took offence to being cutout for a week to help me quit a habit that could very likely cause cancer in my lungs.

At home I decided it was better to have the support of my man on the worst days even though they would be difficult for us as a couple to make it through. This was a good decision as my fiancé had been there when I failed and knew better this time how to console and distract me. He also knew when to walk away and let me stew in anger over how much my head hurt.

Where is the mindful part? I’m getting there!

I decided that after the first 5 days I was going to be stronger than my angry brain. I wasn’t going to let other people or the calls of addiction bring me down. I decided that daily walks, comedy routines and reading would be part of my daily routine in order to help me stay positive and motivated. I also decided to practice more self control over my emotions, which to be very honest with you, is not something I have worked on since I was a teen. That has been difficult, but ultimately it needed to be done whether I quit nicotine or not. Being stale, not improving, not working on bettering myself, it’s just not good for me. Not to mention how annoying it is to be an emotional individual in our current world. I get so rilled up by all that is happening that I can’t focus on issues that are right in-front of me that demand my attention.

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I don’t think this is a great way for everyone to quit, but for me, dog pilling mental health, physical health and addiction all on top of each other to be dealt with simultaneously has been working. I hope I have the strength to maintain it until the month is up and my brain stops acting like a chemically highjacked fool.

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I tried to keep this fairly light hearted, but in all seriousness, quitting any addiction is really hard and if it is something you are suffering though right now, I hope you know how much stronger you are than your addiction. You can do it and I sincerely hope you achieve your quitting goals.

If you want to leave advice or commentary on quitting nicotine in the comments I would be very happy to read them!

Vaping – Is It Better Than Smoking?

Let me start this off saying this is all purely opinion based, please do not take anything as medical advice as I am not a doctor. I do not advocate for tobacco or nicotine consumption, I am simply telling you my personal experience with the two methods of nicotine consumption.

I smoked for just shy of a decade. I smoked a pack a day or more for most of that time and I can tell you that decade has really damaged my body. I had the “smoker cough” for the last couple years of my time with cigarettes, I would sometimes cough up blood and I always had mucus stuck in my throat. All in all, the side effects were incredibly gross.

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The social side of smoking was often really fun though, I met a lot of people and had a lot of great conversations in smoke pits. The downside of smoking became more apparent as I hung out with non-smokers. I realized how much of an inconvenience my habit could be, especially when going on dates with Ryan when we started dating. We would be driving in my car and he couldn’t put his drink into the holder because my drink and ash tray took the two cup holders. When we were walking downtown I would want a cigarette and I would often not be done my cigarette as we were coming up to our destination, so he would wait in the Alberta cold winter for me to finish my smoke. I smoked in my home and more than once I burned holes into my pants. As we had more people in my home, I realized how much all of our non-smoker friends disliked the smell, but being in my home, they couldn’t really say anything about it. I started smoking on my balcony when people were over to make them more comfortable, which isolated me from my guests.

Now I realize I just threw a lot of negative points about cigarette smoking, and that’s because there isn’t a lot of benefits to it, and that’s coming from a smoker. Aside from the social aspect to smoking, there isn’t much good about it.

Onto vaping. When I switched to vaping, I started with Salt Nic, which I used with very low voltage and didn’t have the big cloud of vapour. I moved from 60ml to 3ml in a couple months and within a month or so my smoker cough and blood coughing stopped. I stopped having to make Ryan wait for me to go anywhere, I stopped burning holes in my pants but new issues came up. I have to wash my windows in my office at least once a week because the residue from the vapour is sticky and clouds up my windows quickly. From my smoking lungs to my vaping lungs, I get winded more quickly now and my lungs burn faster when I’m doing stairs or working out. It certainly isn’t a “cheaper” option. Replacing modules, batteries, coils and broken glass costs a fair amount. The cloud of vapour that comes from my mouth certainly fills a room quickly and if I’m absentmindedly using it, I’ll look up and realize I can’t clearly see the door across the room. The residue sticks to everything in my home, no surface is safe and my curtains feel disgusting within a couple weeks. Health-wise I haven’t felt a lot of side effects aside from a shortness of breath, but I have only been vaping for about a year and half. I originally thought I would be able to ween myself off of nicotine using a vape, but I have failed every time I have tried. I don’t personally believe vaping is a method of quitting smoking, I believe its a way of not taking smoke into your lungs to get nicotine.

I should say I used chewing tobacco for many years and chewed nicotine gum this summer, so I am pretty well versed in the immediate side effects of nicotine intake methods. Chewing tobacco obviously meant spitting often, which as you can imagine is not a socially acceptable thing to do. The gum hurt my teeth like you wouldn’t believe and gave me terrible heartburn.

So is vaping better than smoking? In my opinion, yes. I don’t smell like cigarettes, I don’t make Ryan wait for me, my car smells nice again. I don’t burn holes into my pants and I don’t wake up coughing to the point I throw up. Vaping has health risks, so I won’t ever say it’s a “safe way to smoke”, but in my experience, it has been an improvement in my quality of life.

How I Successfully Quit Smoking

From the age of 13 to 22 I smoked daily, and at times I was smoking over a pack a day. I would sometimes try to quit and make it maybe two days without nicotine before I gave up.

Like many young people, I wanted to fit in with the friend group I had. They were a misfit group and they all smoked and swore and I was excited to be part of their group. Over time I started smoking to fit in with them, and I kept that habit for nine years. From the age of 13 to 22 I smoked daily, and at times I was smoking over a pack a day. I would sometimes try to quit and make it maybe two days without nicotine before I gave up.

At the age of 19 I was introduced to chewing tobacco. I actively chewed for three years along with my smoking. With constant nicotine in my blood stream it was obvious quitting cold turkey was not going to work for me. I was breaking two physical habits along with the actual addiction.

A few of the men I worked with were using vapes, and I started asking them questions about how it made them feel, if it quenched their cravings and they all said it did. Now I realized the vape would not allow me to break the physical habit, but it would allow me to ween myself off the nicotine. My lungs had becomes constantly tight, I had an awful cough every morning and phlegm constantly coated my throat. I knew my health was suffering due to my choice to continue smoking and something had to be done about it.

My Vape

I decided to quit in circumstances where I would be less tempted to break. I waited a few weeks until I returned to school, where we had limited smoke breaks and it was very inconvenient to go out for them. There was also only a few smokers there, most people were also vaping. This really did help limit my exposure to temptation.

The hardest part for me was while I was driving in the morning. I have had the unfortunate habit of chain smoking while driving, and the vape really helped me with that. Every couple minutes I can pull a drag of the vape instead of constantly inhaling smoke.

Now over time I have brought down my nicotine content in my juice. I started with 30mg, and am now down to 3mg. I rely less and less on the vape now, and can comfortably go more than half a day without any nicotine. I plan to continue weening myself off the nicotine.

This whole journey of quitting has taken 2 months to date, and has been the most successful method for me.