Must We All be “Something-holics”?

Patch The goal all along was to simply get cigarettes out of my life. I'd tried this before. Many times. The last time I tried it was on October 25th, 2009.

A couple things were different this time around. In addition to using the nicotine patch, I was also given an anti depressant that, its creators were pleased to discover, also seemed to help reduce nicotine cravings. The other thing that was different was a decision to use "pride" in my favor.

Upon quitting smoking on October 25, 2009, I announced my assault on irrationality and addiction to the world using this blog. The idea was simply to tell as many people as possible that I was making an effort to overcome this addiction and keep my readers here alerted to my progress as a way of keeping myself honest.

It turns out too that I don't like to fail. When I do, my pride is hurt. And I really hate healing a hurt pride. I figured exposing my efforts publicly would instill in me the fear of having to say I failed and lead to success.

Well, after six months, it turns out my strategy is working. I am still a non-smoker. But that's actually the issue behind this post: "BEING A NON SMOKER".

No matter how long I will have not been smoking, will I still be a "smokaholic"? Even after six months, a year, or five years of not smoking, will I still be addicted to nicotine?

I ask this question because the other day I was told by an ex-smoker, "Congrats! Six months is an accomplishment to be proud of, but remember, you'll always be a smoker and you'll always be addicted to it so you must always fight it."

"Fuck You!!," I thought, as I smiled, nodded my head and went about my business.

I've met folks who have been off booze for 25 years and who call themselves "alcoholics". Call yourself whatever you want. Use the AMA manual to define yourself. Use a 12 step program to understand your nature. I don't care. Just stay well. But for some reason, I didn't like this gal telling me "you'll always be a smoker and you'll always be addicted." I don't feel like being addicted to anything for the rest of my life and I certainly don't like the idea of partially defining myself by an addiction when there are so many other, much more interesting ways to define and understand myself.

I haven't picked up a cigarette in six months and I have no plans to. I've had the occasional cigar, but that hasn't led to cigarettes. Though I'm still tracking my progress on the quitting and still telling you folks about it, I see a time in the not too distant future when this effort will be finished and accomplished. And when that day comes, I will NOT be a smoker nor will I be addicted.

And by the way, bourbon, wine, gin and spirits still all taste better now than they did when I WAS a smoker.


18 Responses

  1. Marcia - May 4, 2010

    Congratulations on being a six-months’ long non-smoker, Tom!
    Your question re: once-a-‘holic, always a-‘holic? is a good one and always best answered ONLY…by you!
    I know several non-drinkers who consider themselves Recovering Alcoholics (12 Steppers) no matter how many years it has been since their last drink. I know of no Recovering Smokers. They are all now non-smokers. I don’t think of them as smokers who just don’t happen to smoke anymore. I don’t particularly think of their smoking pasts at all!
    I’d have the same reaction to a comment like that as you did.
    May you have a long and happy, smoke-free life. And don’t give a second thought (after this blog) to someone else’s judgment on your life.

  2. Russell - May 4, 2010

    Hi Tom- Congratulations on your 6 months. The reality of life as an ex-smoker is that everyone is different. I smoked for 25 years and quit 10 years ago. I don’t care for the smell anymore, but can remember fierce cravings triggered by someone elses smoke for the first few years. Now- once or twice a year I have a craving that passes quickly.
    On the other hand, I work with someone who quit 20 years ago and claims that the first thing he thinks of when he gets up in the morning is a cigarette.
    Hang in there- you’ve accomplished a very difficult feat, one that less than 20% of smokers can do. keep it up

  3. Mark's Best Wine Club - May 4, 2010

    Congrats again Tom. It’s been interesting to follow your progress through quitting, I’m happy there has been plenty of positives in it for you along the way. Having only smoked the occasional cigar myself I probably can’t relate as much as others, but I have seen family members struggle with the addition. I think, at some point it’s incredibly healthy to not think of yourself as addicted any more. Who knows exactly where that point is, but I hope yours is quicker then most!

  4. Wino - May 5, 2010

    Hi Tom
    Congratulations, now you’re an alcoholic!
    That’s Ok though because it is much more fun, maybe more expensive but much more fun.
    Bottoms up…

  5. bb - May 5, 2010

    Congrats on the six months!
    I quit just over five years ago and every once and a while, out of the blue comes the urge to have a cigarette. I don’t think of myself as a smokaholic, but it’s scary how the cravings come back when you least expect them.

  6. johng - May 6, 2010

    Though most of the hard work is behind you, 6 months is still a vulnerable time. There must be stats on the internet somewhere but I would guess that a smoker isn’t relatively safe from starting up again until 2 or 3 years have passed.

  7. peaches and family - May 19, 2010

    Congratulations Thomas!! This is wonderful! I know you can do it, you’ve got it in you.

  8. The Green Nose - May 21, 2010

    Tom, I worked in the Flavor & Fragrance industry and have supplied flavors for cigarettes and cigars. All branded cigarettes are flavored with unique twists. To quit you need to understand three components: 1)how physical addiction to nicotine works, 2) what habits prompt reaching for a butt, 3)smell is hard wired directly to your brain. Remember, whenever you bummed a different brand cigarette, in a split second you knew it wasn’t yours. So my first suggestion to quit is never ever return to the “pleasure” brand.

  9. Steve Harold - June 14, 2010

    In my view it doesn’t help to call yourself a smoker even though you have stopped. In fact I would go further and encourage you to call yourself a non-smoker rather than ex-smoker. Congratulations on your continued success.

  10. Grace Addison - July 14, 2010

    Hey I am with you Tom! I have been smoke-free for 13+ years now and by no stretch of the imagination do i consider myself a smoker anymore. I have been through a couple rough patches during that time and never lit up. So as far as I am concerned….I am no longer a smoker. I do not believe you are anymore either:) Congrats!

  11. StopSmokingHypnosis - September 30, 2010

    A really great story of how you overcome quitting smoking. Have you tried hypnosis? I believe it really helps with the guidance of professional hypnotist. I would love to know your progress.

  12. forced air vaporizer - February 3, 2011

    I really understood what you’re going through. My brother tried to stop smoking, but it seems that it’s getting harder for him every day. He is using vaporizers nowadays, instead of just cigarette smoking.

  13. Shala Ohms - January 10, 2012

    It does sound pretty dreadful, as if the effort and determination you have in being a non-smoker is not enough. The bottom line is that you did an excellent job stopping! It takes a lot of work to end the addiction, but it’s worth it.

  14. Dejar de fumar - May 6, 2012

    Thank you for sharing served me well

  15. E Cig - May 15, 2012

    Congrats on being a non-smoker for 6 months, that is awesome! Your story was great to read, and I hope you motivate other smokers to quit as well.

  16. Scotty Mack - May 16, 2012

    It seems odd to me that an “ex-smoker” would have said that to you. Seems like something a smoker would say – one that had tried to quit and failed on numerous occasions. My gut tells me this person is a closet smoker passing herself off as an ex-smoker.

  17. richard dean - May 25, 2012

    Smoking is a major problem for all people right now. It’s seem, there is no solutions about how to stop smoking. May be Government should do something really big step to prevent people from smoking. Maybe prohibited all people from smoking right away. I wonder how long this situations going. 🙂 . Thanks for your good info.

  18. electronic cigar - August 3, 2012

    thank you for the encouragement! keep the posts coming!

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