Nov. 15 marks this year's Great American Smokeout, when organizations across the country encourage smokers to quit the habit. Yahoo asked former smokers to offer to advice to those trying to stop smoking.
FIRST PERSON | Like many girls growing up in the 1970s, I started smoking in my young teens. Both of my parents smoked, which certainly may have influenced my choices, but it seems almost everyone's parents smoked back then.
America was a tobacco-smoking culture. I remember the flack that occurred in the early '70s when cigarette companies were forced to change the wording on warning labels to say smoking wasn't just maybe bad, but was harmful to your health.
What, cigarettes are really bad for us?
Fast forward to 2002: I was 42 years old and trying to quit smoking for what felt like the 100th time. I had quit for weeks, months, once even for more than a year, but each time I started again. Usually the start was slow, just one or two cigarettes a month, a week, a day until I was back to my pack-a-day (or more) habit.
I tried all the tricks and tips offered by the American Cancer Society and encourage all smokers to use the information found there. The discussion about not justifying the desire to smoke helped me understand that most smokers went through the same process. Cigarette addiction is sneaky!
The two things that helped me most were meditation and herbal supplements.
I knew I had to find a long-term method for dealing with the lingering urge to smoke. Distraction methods weren't particularly helpful for me, so instead of chomping on carrot sticks or taking up knitting, I began to meditate. When the desire to smoke hit I would take a few deep breaths, try to relax and let myself experience the discomfort of wanting a cigarette. Knowing it would pass in a few minutes. I learned to simply ride it out.
It sounds silly to non-smokers, but discovering I could survive the next 10 minutes of my life without a cigarette was a major accomplishment! As I practiced this method the desire to smoke became easier and easier to overcome.
Two herbal remedies were particularly helpful for me as I quit smoking. In the first few days of quitting, I drank oat straw tea to help eliminate cravings and ease the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. I also found that using the mood-enhancing herb St. John's Wort for the first several months helped to prevent the "sad crankies" and kept my attitude positive as I said goodbye to my former best friend.
Never give up! Life without cigarettes really is better. I've been completely smoke-free for 10 years now and I love the freedom I gained from breaking my tobacco addiction. You will too.
- Addiction & Substance Abuse