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Teach someone what it’s really like to be a smoker…

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Being a recovering alcoholic, I would rate quitting smoking just as hard, or harder, to quit. I had surgery for throat cancer and that didn’t get me to stop. My wife would have a fit if she knew how much money I spent on cigarettes. Socially, it seems like I’m the only one who leaves a restaurant or people’s houses to go outside and have a smoke. It’s hard to realize how much smoking has always been a part of my life. I would walk a mile, even more, for a Camel. I’ve smoked 2 packs of Camels a day for over 50 years. Quitting smoking is very scary. What am I going to do without my “friend”? But I feel guilty every time I buy a pack. I know I won’t live forever, but quitting smoking may be a start. By the way, I just noticed a small burn hole in my new recliner. Damn it!! I quit for 58 days and relapsed. When you called for follow-up I was going to lie and say I was still quit. But that would be lying to myself. So, I have set July 4 as my new quit date, my freedom from cigarettes. I’ve survived Vietnam, addiction and 2 forms of cancer. I don’t want those damn cigarettes to take me.

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Looking back on this year, I wanted to share some things. I really want to acknowledge the enormous support given by you and my family. Maybe it will be useful when you deal with other people. The most important bit was meeting you. For the first time in my life, I felt that I and my world of a smoker had been completely gotten. That was amazing in itself. I kept telling my family that I wonder if he ever smoked himself-just gets it so totally. You were completely nonjudgmental. There was always an experience of ‘It is OK the way you are and the way things are”. I never felt that you had an agenda for me. Whichever space I was in , you acknowledged it and then gave me some info to put it in perspective and not give up. I understand what a big deal this is as one of my close friends has married a smoker who also abuses alcohol. I start off with good intentions every time I speak to him but in short order I find myself lighting into him and laying things on him. As expected, I have made no difference there.

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I am so thankful that in the past 117 days I have not smoked, after being a smoker for smoking for 33 years and have tried to quit more times that I can count. It was only from the help of a smoking cessation at my local Hospital and then the support of Nicotine Anonymous that I have been able to quit and remain smoke free. I am so grateful that the hospital had this program, I continue to make meetings and go the after care programs that the hospital offers. I feel like a new person, I can breathe easier and I smell so much better. I know that I am adding to my life. My grandkids are so happy. I am happy too. I hope that these programs will continue to be funding as it saved my life.

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I started college 6 months ago and have been very busy but I still need to quit smoking. I would like to want to but I do not. So what is smoking like for me at this point? I am obsessed with the thoughts of quitting but am afraid of facing what it is going to be like without smoking. I did a lot of research on it. One of the research studies said that it releases dopamine and also can affect memory and concentration. How can I quit in the middle of a semester making life harder than it already can be? I think smoking helps me write better papers somehow and intellectually that sounds so stupid when I say it. I have been visualizing myself as a non-smoker and I like that but still I keep smoking. I started smoking when I was 9 and it became a daily habit around 12. I smoke a pack or a pack and a half. I have been recovered (alcoholic/addict) for over six years now and I really do not like feeling controlled by these cigarettes. I am at a stalemate with myself at this point. So there’s my story, a bit disjointed for a lot of reasons. Thanks again

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Here’s my story! I wanted to quit because of cost, smell, ugliness of having a smoke dangling from the mouth and it’s almost socially unacceptable! Being a smoker almost has a stigma to it, as alcoholism does. I did relapse for about 3 weeks, but am trying to always remember how I had to force myself to take the first “drag”- how it hurt, smelled and made me dizzy. But my lungs craved the nicotine, so I persevered, thus smoking for those 3 weeks.

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I am trying to exercise on a regular basis and I love not being on a leash with smoking. After my wife had our first child, finding the chance to smoke was a constant goal. I would wait for the moment my daughter fell asleep for a nap so I could step outside and smoke. I would wait for the moment my wife took my daughter to the bathroom to change her to smoke. I still had the routine of smoking, but at that time I was searching and waiting for the chances to smoke. In some circles, I tried hard to mask the fact that I smoked. But no matter who I was around, in the end I was a smoker and it was nothing I was proud about. How would I have a cup of coffee without a cigarette? How would I have a beer without a cigarette? How would I golf without a cigarette? Reasons like those are what I told myself when I did not want to quit.

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I’ve tried to quit smoking three times. I stopped for short periods of time but kept picking up that ONE cigarette, which led to the next, then another until now I am at the point where I’m smoking as much as I was before my first attempt. I’ve been to three smoking cessation programs, used nicotine replacement and had much support and can say it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever attempted.

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Cigarettes and I became symbiotic. They were my friend and comfort and saw me though my life’s tragic events. They pumped me up with energy when I needed it. My thoughts would come quicker, my nerves would calm, depression would lift, all with a cigarette. I truly miss them.

Last year, I became certain that I had lung cancer. After all, I had smoked most of my life. I swore I would never smoke another cigarette… Truthfully, I miss cigarettes and if I had not had a taste of the devastation they can produce, I would still be smoking.

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Tell us your story. Email us at pennstop@gmail.com.

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