Comment: I used the patch for a little while

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Michael Nystrom's picture

I used the patch for a little while

I was involved in a free study that Harvard was doing on people who wanted to quit smoking. The big schools around here are always recruiting volunteers for their studies. I was already very motivated, and I had quit successfully once before for five years, so I knew what I was up against. The study was annoying, and I ended up quitting after a few weeks. They wanted me to come in each week and talk about my "feelings." They also kept me on a patch dose that was too high because "they were the experts." I ended up cutting the patches in half, then 1/3, then 1/4.

The patch and the gum are good crutches to help you get over the most intense urges, but they are just crutches. I think the most important thing is to have a real sense of purpose - why you want to quit. I built a whole case up in my mind about how bad they were - not only for my health, but they're expensive, they stink, there's the whole addiction thing, which meant I was not free. At one hypnosis session, the hypnotist had us imagine us standing next to an open grave, with a big cigarette (who smokers think of as their friends) nudging us into the grave! Then getting violent and pushing us in!

The most important thing is to have that long term perspective that you can go back to, because in the moment, you really want to smoke!

The book is excellent because it gives perspective on what you face and why you face it. She also gives a good exercise called "surfing the urge." Most people, when they get the urge when trying to quit, try to deny the urge. That doesn't work.

Instead, she says give yourself permission to experience it. Feel it. But instead of giving into it, examine it. Watch it. Observe the urge. Eventually it subsides on its own. Ultimately, it is using a form of mindfulness and a practice of awareness to combat addictive behavior. So much of addictive behavior is mindless... We eat a whole bag of chips without even knowing where it went, or automatically reach for a cigarette without even being aware of it...

In the end, the only thing you really need is that mindful awareness.

To be mean is never excusable, but there is some merit in knowing that one is; the most irreparable of vices is to do evil out of stupidity. - C.B.