Not Much of a Smoker

Not Much of a Smoker

kattatonic1 gold4
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

29 Feb 2004, 10:49 #1

Not Much of a Smoker
The fog lifts as the day breaks here in Quitsville. I see some things clearly for the first time. Worse than the Holier Than Thou Ex-Smoker, for years I was "Not Much of a Smoker". Please forgive me and my big, fat ego.

I smoked a lot in the late 70s and 80s. Around 1988 they implemented laws against smoking in the workplace here. That cut into my smoking time somewhat.

In 1988 I also took a Behaviour Modification psychology course. I did my personal term project on 'Nicotine Fading'. The professor advised me against quitting as a project because he wanted me to study something that had a "better chance of success". I spent four months systematically alternating between my brand of cigarettes and brands with less nicotine and tar until I was down to the Canadian brand with the least of both. I also 'faded' down from about a pack a day to about 10. I documented it beautifully, wrote a tremendous paper and got an A.

Afterward whenever I wanted to quit, I would marvel to my doctor, "How can it be so hard for me to quit? I barely smoke compared to most people I know!" She would say, "Someone who uses 5mg of heroine a day is just as much an addict as someone who uses 200mg a day."

I enjoyed every cigarette all these years, or so I thought. I didn't understand the chain smoker except for the nights I played cards and smoked like crazy. Then I would wake with such a headache the next day, and I thought I understood them less. Those heavy smokers never seemed to enjoy their cigarettes like I did; they lit one after another unconsciously. Almost all of mine were an event. I did not know that I was psychologically reinforcing smoking behaviour with every single 'event' as well as maintaining the physical addiction.

Since I waited between each smoke, I was allowing my craving for the physical fix to build up and build up. The enjoyment I thought I felt was relief to the torture I was putting myself through, being in almost constant withdrawal. I was in fact reinforcing the addiction by making each cigarette special. For the addict, it is as fabulous a relief to smoke after waiting a few hours, as it is to finally stop after you have been banging your head against a brick wall for a while.

I am embarrassed to confess but I will. I really enjoyed my unspoken status amongst smokers as the one who was Not Much of a Smoker. My smoking friends knew I could hang on longer than they could. I think some secretly had contempt for me and my high horse, suspecting (rightfully) that I had a little contempt for their hard core addictions.

Funny things happened. One - the last few years I have increasingly become a binge smoker. Although maintaining my regular pattern most days, I started smoking more and more in the evenings. I've suffered great insomnia from time to time with longer bouts the last few years. I would smoke and smoke in the night. I wasn't enjoying them all so much any more. I have had cyclic energy problems for some time and when my energy was low, I would smoke and smoke. What was causing what here?

Secondly - it seems that all around me most of the hard core smokers I knew have managed to quit the last few years with me having at least as hard a time, if not harder. You would have thought that I, here on my high horse, would have had it easy, would have been one of the first to quit. I am one of or the last to quit in each of my social circles.

And lastly - I have not escaped the physical deterioriation being Not Much of a Smoker. I have weakened my lungs and reduced their capacity by smoking. I have coughed and hacked every day for years like a sick person. I should be in top form at just 41, not wheezing up a single flight of stairs, not wondering if I have developed Bronchitis each winter. I am fatter than I should be because as my lungs have gotten weaker, I have walked less and done less other exercise because it is so uncomfortable.

Yes, the fog is lifting as the day breaks here in Quitsville. I've retired my high horse to pasture. I am humbled and grateful to finally understand what has happened and what I have been doing to myself all these years. And once again I ask of myself, forgive me and my big, fat ego. I am an addict. I am in recovery. And now I understand.

Thank you Freedom for giving me a place to work it out.

~ Kay ~
Celebrating 2 Months, 6 Days, 16 Hours and 12 Minutes of Freedom.
Forsaking 1354 doses of poison has liberated $434.33 and 4 Days and 16 Hours of my life.


Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:58

29 Feb 2004, 14:29 #2

Beautiful post, Kay! I'm glad you've found a place to "work it all out". Aren't these moments of clarity just the best??!! To see who we really were is a little scary at times, but we are now in recovery and doing something about it.

I'm so proud to be on this journey with you ~ hope you'll be one of those oldbies who hangs around quite a bit as I intend to hang around, too!!

God Bless,


Joined: 19 Dec 2008, 00:33

29 Feb 2004, 23:27 #3

what a post kay,
i think we've all been like that at some stage, you think your so cool ,you think your in controll
but eventually we are all lead to the same path of distruction , trying to say we see sence and comfort in killing ourselves slowly.
i thank god that we've all had this lightbulb moment to change our lives for the better and realise how strong we all are against this addiction.
your doing great

John (Gold)
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

29 Feb 2004, 23:46 #4

Thanks Kay for the insightful post! Such an honest glance into a junkie mind with varImageying nicotine use patterns and different dependency perceptions, wowsers Kay!

Not only does tolerance vary greatly from addict to addict but so too does the manner of replenishment. The average cigarette is loaded with roughly 9 to 10 mg. of nicotine but the average smoker only receives about 1 mg. unless of course their level of tolerance demands more and then they have the option of sucking deeper or sucking longer or sucking harder or sucking more often or holding the smoke for a longer period of time or all of the above.

But even more interesting than the details of replenishment are the denial rationalizations, minimizations and blame transference employed by each of us to try and explain our own senseless self-destruction and our bond to a molecule that for some strange reasons seems to have become more important than life itself. To pretend control in order to elevate the perception of peer status, amazing. It's almost like who can hold their breath longer. In the end we all must breathe. Thanks again Kay.

Breathe deep, hug hard, live long! John
Last edited by John (Gold) on 09 Jul 2009, 03:28, edited 2 times in total.

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:59

01 Mar 2004, 00:13 #5

Hi kay
What an excellent pot,i was that not much of a smoker in the eyes of other addicts because after all i only smoked on social occassions or so they thought,little did they know about all of my closet smoking sessions and my several quits only to raid the trash for a butt.
Rickdabler 11 months 3 weeks 12 hrs happily nicotine free

Toast (GOLD )
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

01 Mar 2004, 00:50 #6

Hiya Kay,
What a great post! Isn't it wonderful to get down into ourselves and see some things clearly, sometimes for the first time?!! Your post reminded me, indirectly, of a couple of tangential threads I thought would go nicely here:
Was I addicted?
Walking Among the Addicted
Cheers to you and your quit!
Image Melissa
33 months
Last edited by Toast (GOLD ) on 12 Sep 2009, 11:56, edited 1 time in total.

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:59

01 Mar 2004, 00:50 #7

Hello Kay,

This is a fantastic post. You have described me to a point it is frightening. I could never have written it out as well. I only smoked a "few" a day too but was so baffled by why it was so hard for me to quit. So were others around me when I told them I was struggling to quit smoking because no one even knew I smoked or very few did..

I too am so grateful to the folks at Freedom for being here. The support and knowledge I needed to keep my quit is here and all I had to do is apply it to me.

Kay you are off to a great start. Soon you will be feeling the comfort I feel after 3+ years being smoke free. I still love Freedom and hope it never goes off line. It is posts like yours that keep me coming back. There is always something to learn. Thank you!! Chris

GrumpyOMrsS (Gold)
Joined: 19 Dec 2008, 00:00

01 Mar 2004, 01:19 #8

Afterward whenever I wanted to quit, I would marvel to my doctor, "How can it be so hard for me to quit? I barely smoke compared to most people I know!" She would say, "Someone who uses 5mg of heroine a day is just as much an addict as someone who uses 200mg a day."

Hi Kay,

You are very fortunate to have a doctor who truly understands addiction.

I loved your post, your insight, and your style of writing. Keep up the great job and like all of us golden oldies have come to realize, you will find that your life without nicotine will become so much more "uncomplicated" and you will feel a lot better about yourself.
4 years free

Joined: 19 Dec 2008, 00:03

01 Mar 2004, 06:02 #9

Beautiful post, Kay -- and absolutely dead-on. You totally understand the "myth" of smoking and there is no question that you are now and forever free.

What a great inspiration for all of us.

Ten months, three weeks, one day, 19 hours, 4 minutes and 44 seconds. 6575 cigarettes not smoked, saving $1,232.98. Life saved: 3 weeks, 1 day, 19 hours, 55 minutes.

kattatonic1 gold4
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

01 Mar 2004, 11:36 #10

Thanks folks. I started writing about that psychology assignment last night and that post is what came out. I think to move on, it is best to look at all the ugly mind games, even if it feels bad. I was thinking this morning, I guess I always had to think of myself that way (as not much of a smoker) to make myself feel better about the senseless self-destructiveness of smoking at all, all these years. I am so glad to be Free. Thanks again for all the support!

~ Kay ~
Celebrating 2 Months, 7 Days, 17 Hours and 5 Minutes of Freedom.
Forsaking 1374 doses of poison has liberated $441.00 and 4 Days and 18 Hours of my life.