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Avatar universal

Quitting Smoking Has Me Going Crazy.

I am 23 and have been smoking for just over 10 years now. I always told myself I would quit before I turned 24 and that date is near. For the last few weeks I have been cutting down heavily. I have been at less than 1 or 2 a day for the last 4-5 days. There were two days that I did not have any and on day three I was just terrible to everyone. I do not know if I have any mental illness or not, but ever since I have been cutting down I get awful panic attacks that feel crippling almost. It does not happen every day but on day three of trying to quit I had several in addition to lashing out and being unreasonable.

I really want to quit smoking. Not smoking for those couple of days really felt wonderful and picking up a cigarette after not smoking for so long felt so wrong but so right. Other than the typical eating carrots, chewing gum, and keeping myself busy.... Does anyone have any advice for me on how to not feel so insane?

Also, does the urge to smoke really last forever?
3 Responses
Avatar universal
Hi there. Congratulations on your decision to quit smoking. I'm 43, smoked a pack a day (or more) for over 23 years, and quit on January 3, 2014.

I'm not clear how it works, but I believe nicotine affects the serotonin in your brain, so when you quit or smoke less your serotonin level decreases. This can cause anger, anxiety, etc.

Further, anti-depressants are called selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs). SSRIs are also used to treat anxiety. Perhaps decreasing your serotonin by smoking less caused your anxiety to increase, resulting in panic attacks. I used the patch to quit and both the box and booklet warned me to tell my doctor if I was quitting smoking while taking anti-depressants, as the level of medication might need to be adjusted. You might need to talk to your doctor.

How I quit:

1) I used the patch. It took the edge off.
2) Try to figure out what your triggers for smoking are. Mine are stress and being at the computer (computer mouse in right hand, cigarette in left hand). The only place I smoked at home was at my computer. I had to almost completely avoid my computer for the first month or so. It sucked. If you can, try to avoid the things that make you want to smoke (favourite smoking chair, etc.).
3) Get rid of everything -- ashtrays, cigarettes, everything.
4) Have something for your fingers to play with. (I used raw green beans as they are the approximate size of cigarettes.)
5) Have a plan for when a craving hits. A walk, a deep breath.
6) I found a quit smoking tracking site. It tracked how long I've quit for, the number of cigarettes I've avoided (4,873 so far), and how much money I've saved ($2,046.84 so far). Seeing the money savings alone was really motivating (and shocking).

Perhaps try to notice the physical and emotional benefits. I quit cold turkey (smoked the last cigarette in the pack, slapped on a nicotine patch, and that was it). My lungs hurt for about six weeks, like they were on fire. But then one day that stopped and I noticed my lungs felt twice their size. I could breathe deeper. Yesterday I noticed while walking that my trachea and lungs weren't hurting and I wasn't short of breath. (It was a hot and humid day and my lungs always used to hurt on humid days, even if I wasn't smoking).

Does the urge to smoke really last forever? Do you mean a craving? For me, cravings lasted only a few minutes. Do you mean do the cravings ever stop? Well, for me, one of the first things I noticed after I quit was that my sense of smell improved. Now, when I smell cigarette smoke, 98% of the time I find it disgusting. However, that 2% . . . well, let's just say I would  for just *one* puff of a cigarette. Patches and lozenges and such are great, but nothing can replicate that light-headed, head rush feeling of inhaling nicotine. I do still miss that sometimes. But then it passes.

Good luck!
Avatar universal
I wrote in the last paragraph:

"However, that 2% . . . well, let's just say I would for just *one* puff of a cigarette."

I had placed some text in angle brackets, but what was in the angle brackets didn't appear. The above sentence was supposed to read:

"However, that 2% . . . well, let's just say I would (insert rude joke here) for just *one* puff of a cigarette."
Avatar universal
You will an extreme physical adjust when you quit smoking, which is a part of nicotine withdrawal symptoms. Even if how hard you try, there will always be days that you feel the urge to pick up again another cigarette. There are certain treatments to reduce your desire for smoking. One way is through laser acupuncture that guarantee a 60 minute procedure.
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