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1565702 tn?1295296430

Young Lawyer can't quit

The stress from my job is killing me, but I can't quit smoking no matter how hard I try....  

I've been smoking since I was twelve, smoking regularly throughout high school, smoking even more college and law school; and kept on smoking during my two years working as a law clerk for the county courthouse, almost two packs a day for the past ten years --- and I just dont know how to quit. My new job as a entry level associate has me so stressed out Im smoking more than ever, but its getting me into trouble at work because Im always needing to take smoke breaks at the office, usually two or three in the morning, another for lunch, and at least another two or three more smoke breaks every the afternoon.

My new boss even recently complained that I always smell overpoweringly like stale cigarettes!!  Even though I wear alot of perfume and chew alot of Nicorette Mint gum, its still not enough!  Im afraid Chantix would make my anxiety attacks even worse and terrified of the thought of not being able to smoke again. I know thats just the addiction talking, but I dont know what else to do.
99 Responses
Avatar universal
Well, you can quit.  When you take the mentality of not being able to quit, you are reinforcing in your mind that indeed you cannot quit.  Quitting is a commitment.  It takes planning and preparation, and most importantly.  (If you are going to let a habit ruin your job, I'd suggest some therapy/counseling)

You've got to put your head in the right spot.  You need to start thinking about what smoking is actually doing to your body/health.  I mean, we know there are no benefits to smoking.... so start there!  We do know that there are benefits to quitting. (Having quit myself, I often look at how pitiful people look huddling in small places to sneak a smoke.... just like little crack heads hitting their jones.... pitiful!!!)  I can smell stale cigarette smoke a mile away, and honestly.... it is pretty offensive especially if its covered with perfume.  

So, you've got a good job to consider, (you said you were in trouble with the boss because of the habit) you've got whats left of your health and the ability to improve that.
When you quit, you will not smell offensive. (Stale cigarettes)

Here's the deal, you lack the commitment to quit.  You are holding on to the stress as a reason to keep smoking, and then if you continue to smoke plus are chewing nicorette, you are essentially doubling your nicotene intake making the habit worse.  You need to speak to your health care professional, and the sooner the better.  He/she can give you numerous options as to different meds and quitting strategies.  (For me, I quit cold turkey after using for 30 years.... had enough of the ugly habit, realized what it was doing to my health and appearance, realized it made me stink, realized it hindered some levels of my professional performance...... and I just stopped.)  It can be done.

Use the same commitment you used to get through law school.  No vice you had got you through law school, it was determination.  That is all you need.  Start seeing yourself as a winner.... visualize all of the postiives of quitting.  Realize that there are no negatives to quitting.... give me one negative to quitting????  Cant do it, can ya?
Avatar universal
Please don't take this the wrong way, because this is helpful in you quitting. You are not quitting because you don't want to quit. I know that sounds redundant, but there is truth to it. People do not quit cigarettes because they don't want to........at least bad enough to do it.

I know you didn't come here to have someone tell you what you probably already knew. I said that because you can use it to stop.

That many breaks for smoking IS going to get you in lots of trouble.

What you need to do is try different techniques (but still know that unless you really really want to quit, you won't). Find the one that works the best for you, get to a point of no return and JUMP into quitting.

One thing you can try is tapering down. You can start at your two packs and go down two or three smokes a day. That might not work the best, but it might.

Another thing you can try, and this one could do the trick providing you put all your want to not smoke into it, is only take half of what you smoke every day and just know, if you smoke your smokes to fast, you won't have any. You already feel bad enough smoking, imagine how you would feel if you asked a co-worker to bum a smoke. If you were to get more of a control on your smoking in this way, then you just taper down in that way. Start with taking half of what you take to work, get yourself a fire safe for the rest, take the key, and every time you are at home, look at the key, then look at your work. Think about how devastating it would be if you were to seriously be let go of this promising career all because you wanted the smokes more than you wanted the job. After about a week, take half of that half to work with you. Keep going down as much as you can.

Also, there are lots of supporters here and you can find some to talk to.

This is just my personal advice, please don't take it offensively.
1565702 tn?1295296430

You are probably right that deep down I probably dont really want to quit yet, I just feel pressured like I need to. Im in such a financial mess right now, stressed out from being in the middle of a divorce, stuck with a difficult job that I want to be grateful for, but just dont get paid enough to hardly pay the tidal wave of mounting bills, student loan debts, etc. Its almost like cigarettes are the only family I have left, and the last bit of solace I can find, 3 minutes at a time.

I may try the tapering down thing you mentioned, the two to three packs a day Ive been smoking lately has really been out of control and its no wonder my Boss told me I smell like an ashtray. But its not like I dont know other lawyers who smoke, lots of them do, it helps deal with the stress, I just dont want to get fussed at for it. I hoping that if I can slowly taper down, one cigarette less each week, until Im down to only one pack a day; then maybe I can manage that. I'll probably still have to keep chewing the Nicorette gum all the time like I do now, maybe more so, but I dont know what else to try.

Id thought about trying those nicotine patches too, along with the nicorette and slowly tapering down how much I smoke; but Im afraid the patches will give me bad rashes. I had previously tried those birth control patches and they always caused my skin to break out, so Ive been reluctant to go back down that road.
Avatar universal
Don't get me wrong, I smoke and right now I am on a taper down system with another person on this site. I quit smoking for one month short of three years. Because of idiocy I started back up. I am not claiming to have it down while telling you anything, I am just trying to help.

You can do it.
Avatar universal
Anxiety is a real issue for many people who try to get off cigarettes. Not everyone but some really have problems with it. I might suggest visiting your family doctor for something for the anxiety and then make a plan and go cold turkey. Utilize the anti anxiety meds to help you do it. Dont wait until the choice to quit becomes to either quit smoking or to quit breathing. Or both. It is very very hard to get the mindset, but it is all about the mindset that will get you thru, not alternative therepies or tapering or anything else. Just lay em down and keep going and dont look back.
948349 tn?1294383837
Hey my personal suggestion to you is to take a week off from work and just dedicate it to quitting!  You won't have to deal with any stress... and you can lay in bed all day while drinking water and fruit juice!  I find it easier to quit if you aren't out and about doing the things you do during the day because that causes so much stress...

The first 3 days are the worst based on what I experienced through quitting and from what I have heard from other people.  It takes 72 hours to completely eliminate all nicotine from the body... and acidic drinks help and may actually speed up that elimination...  Which maybe part of the reason why coffee, and alcoholic drinks cause such strong cravings.  But don't use those 2 kinds of drinks at all while you are quitting because they can trigger a strong steady craving.  Instead drink orange juice and water.

Also one thing you have to consider when you are quitting smoking... I will say don't give up quitting if you do give into a craving, however when you do give into a craving it reinforces the cravings you will get.  Both in frequency and intensity.  For that week you quit... don't give into a craving, it just reinforces the addiction.  You have to go cold turkey when quitting and that includes all nicotine products such as nicorette.  It's tough at first but that's why not having to do anything really helps in quitting.  

Best not to have caffeine or alcohol for a month or so after quitting... I have always found that when I was quitting they induced strong cravings that sometimes I would give into.  

I just wanted to say anxiety was a huge issue for me... Especially anxiety induced from stressful situations have always been a trigger for me.  In fact the last 2 times I started smoking again in the past 3 years have been from heavy stress inducing so much anxiety that I felt I really needed a crutch.  

What I'm trying to learn how to do is deal with anxiety like this without the use of a cigarette... I have been pretty good so far, I'm 2 weeks from my last cigarette and no anxiety.  I think the anxiety is relieved so much from the nicotine but at the same time when the nicotine wears off the anxiety actually might get worse?

Another thing I might suggest is electronic cigarettes which vaporize the nicotine and so you don't inhale all the bi-products of tobacco combustion.  I shouldn't be suggesting that as the only way to resolve a nicotine addiction is not giving into a craving and giving your body time to readjust to no nicotine.  But still it's not nearly as bad on your overall health is as smoking a cigarette.  Maybe try doing that instead until you are officially ready to take time off work and quit smoking?
Avatar universal
I am here to tell you that many, many people have stressful situations and they don't smoke.  Using the stress level is a crutch and you're justifying your usage, and that's ok if you aren't going to quit.  The fact is, the decision to smoke is yours.... you can choose to smoke or choose to not smoke.  Help is available, but you have to want to quit, and you have to want help....

Stressful job, bills piling up, student loans, debts.... yup, stressful for sure, but welcome to real life!  If you quit smoking 2-3 packs a day you'd be saving $10-$15 per day.  Now I'm no genius but saving $15 per day equates to about $450 a month..... couldn't you apply that to the bills?  I'm no economist either, but that seems like a great way to knock some of the bills down.  Taking care of some of those bills would drop the stress level, and that too would be beneficial to your health.

So you quit smoking and your physical health improves, the money your saving by not smoking goes to bills and that lowers the stress level and stabilizes your mental health.... hmmm, sorry but I am not finding one good reason for you to keep smoking but do keep finding numerous good reasons for you too quit..... I guess its up to you in the end.  Cancer.... imagine the bills that rack up while fighting cancer.... oral cancer, esophogeal cancer, stomach cancer, lung cancer..... none of them are painless either.  In fact, I have seen a few people die of cancer and not one of them enjoyed the slow agonizing death.  I wish they were here to tell you that, but they're dead.....

Quit using stress as a reason to smoke and use stress as a reason to quit.  Stress is far worse if you make yourself ill and have to deal with it.  Smoking has never been linked to health benefits.... quit!  No excuses!
948349 tn?1294383837
Keep in mind 30% of all cancers world wide are tobacco related...

But what about just being able to breath fresh air... what a gift!!!  It feels so good to be able to breath... and that can be used to help with stress too... just taking fresh breaths.

Don't forget about pre mature wrinkling... nicotine constricts and ages all the capillaries in your body... it makes people look a bit pale too because of carbon dioxide from the cigarettes displaces the oxygen in your hemoglobin.  So your bloods oxygen capacity to carry blood is reduced... and if you keep smoking your lung capacity will also be reduced as well.

your skin will look more youthful... and you will stay younger longer if you quit!  Keep that in mind.

check out this site:


I read all the stuff on that website because I was just about ready to quit and I kept pushing my habit longer than I wanted to use it as a crutch.  I almost quit on the spot after reading through that website.  Really I read that, had 1 more cigarette and quit... I broke all the rest of my cigarettes and flushed them all down the toilet.  

In the end cigarettes really are an all or none addiction.  You choose to smoke or you don't.  If you choose to smoke you might as well smoke until you die, but if you choose to quit you will be so glad you did going on forward in the future.
1565702 tn?1295296430
I know that I "need" to quit, and I know the damage I'm doing to my lungs and my purse, its just so hard to get motivated. Actually, the expense of keeping up a 3 pack a day habbit was getting so high a couple of years ago that I had to start ordering my cigarettes online, because I could get much better discounts ordering at least 10 cartons at a time, and that would usually last me a month or so. I feel bad because I just got another delivery yesterday with another ten cartons of Marlboros that were supposed to last me into February. On the website I order from it usually runs around $220 plus shipping, so its still a big expense, but it saves me alot of money.

Funny thing is I felt brilliant when I first thought of ordering my cigarettes in bulk, because it saved me so much cash - now I kind of feel ridiculous about it. Yesterday in the elevator leaving work I accidentally dropped my purse and about five packs of cigarettes fell out onto the floor, along with some of my other stuff - and the gentleman who helped me pick them up commented that I must be some kind of serious chain smoker because he'd never seen such a pretty young lady carrying around so many cigarettes. I told him I was trying to quit and he just chuckled. I was so embarrassed.

But its not like I'm oblivious to what it does to me. My ex-husband used to comment about the way it was causing me to have premature wrinkles, aging my skin, leaving yellowish nicotine stains on my teeth and giving me constant smokers breath. He was a former smoker himself who had quit and he regularly complained about my excessive smoking, whether in the car, or at home watching tv, or in the bed, or even in the bathroom, which I have to admit is a guilty pleasure of mine to smoke while taking a long bath; it was the source of alot of fights - but the more he complained about it, the more it determined it made me not to give in and quit for him.

The problem is I know I have to quit eventually, and I know its taking a toll on my body. Just this morning I was feeling short of breath again, like I often do, and I wasnt doing anything really strenous, just getting dressed for work. It scared me a little, because I remember my Aunt who was also a heavy smoker being the same way when I was growing up and she was in her forties, and she passed away from lung cancer several years ago just before I graduated college. But as awful as that was, it still didnt stop both of her daughters from becoming smokers, and it didnt stop me either.

I wish I could take off a week from work to try to quit, or even a month, but I cant. Even if I had the vacation time to take I couldnt afford to miss the pay. The stress from my job is still driving me crazy, and Im probably going to have to make an appointment with a therapist to see about getting on different anti-anxiety medication and maybe get some treatment for depression as well.

I read somewhere on here that Wellbutrin can be used to help some people quit smoking, and maybe it could help me too. I bought another box of the Mint Nicorette gum yesterday and Im chewing some right now, even though I need a cigarette really bad right now. My short term goal for the next few months is to try and take fewer cigarette breaks while at work, and to start smoking one cigarette less per week until Im only smoking maybe 30 cigarettes a day. If I can learn to control myself and my addiction and maintain that level for a while, then I can look at trying to cut down to only a pack a day, and go from there.

I really admire everyone who is able to quit cold turkey, but I just dont see myself being able to do that and Im just too scared to try that right now - but I still appreciate everyones comments and suggestions.
Avatar universal
I am familiar with the fear of which you speak, and the habit and the constant thinking about either smoking or how to quit smoking, the worrying about my health and the seemingly lack of power to do anything other than worry. Most if not all smokers have been where you are and know first hand that of which u speak. I am familiar with the embarrassment, the guilt, the whole nine yards. I am familiar with the heavy tightness in the chest that serves as a reminder of just how out of control life is for the one living it. For each of us comes a day of reckoning. That is if we are lucky. When I realized that I do not have to have an active infection in my lungs in order for them to simply stop working did it for me. When I woke from my sleep and could not get a breath, my lungs simply ceased to accept air. That did it for me. That particular fear of dying right on the spot and the realization that I would die and would die sooner with a smoke in my mouth than without it. Yep that did it for me. When I realized that just being around the smoke from someone else smoking is enuff to irritate my bronchials and cause them to swell and close, just that fast and cost me my life, yep that did it for me. That fear outweighed the fear of not having a smoke to get me thru the day or the week. We all walk a journey of our own and no one can walk it for us. Just like death, it is we that make the journey ahead and alone, no one is going to do it with us, yep it is that fear that outweighed the fear of running out of smokes that did it for me. Today it is 19 days, crave free, without a second glance back. No craves, no temptation, no desire to smoke anymore, but a deep deep desire to feel that wind on my cheek and appreciate a deep deep breath of fresh air. Yep, that one instant when that breath was not there to take when I expected it to be and took it for granted, made me realize that I wanted to breathe much much more than I wanted a cigarette. That is my journey, and as I said we all walk it alone ourselves, but what I can do is share my story and offer the support to someone who is where I was and pray that you, like me, gets that day of reckoning in time to change your future. Hugs
Avatar universal
When I was 22 I went with my dad to a casino. It was the first time I would be able to drink, smoke, and gamble. I had the mudslides coming, I had a couple packs of smokes, and I had a decent amount of money to have fun with. I was on my fifth mudslide so of course I was smoking more than usual. I was having fun, the ashtray filling up. I looked around me, saw a huge cloud of smoke hanging over my head in the top of the casino. I looked over to the other side of the casino isle and saw an old man. I noticed that he was playing, smoking, and I noticed that he had an oxygen mask. I noticed he would take a hit of the cigarette and then a breath off his oxygen mask. What I noticed though, while keeping an eye on him, (and what scared me beyond belief) is that he was smoking twice what I was smoking. I mean common, I am 22, no oxygen mask, and this poor old man is so much of a slave to smoking that even after needing an oxygen mask, he is smoking more than me.

Two months after, I stopped cold turkey, it went good until I started having panic attacks and was not able to enjoy coffee, chocolate, basically anything with caffeine. I made a stupid choice, and now I am stuck again on the smoking, but I am planning on quitting again, I like everyone else have to really want to quit in order to quit.
1565702 tn?1295296430

I appreciate everyone's stories, and they do help me get a reference on it. But today was a really long, stressful day at work, and I was so stressed out I didnt even realize I had actually finished three packs of cigarettes until an hour ago. I promised myself I wouldnt stoop so low as to open a FOURTH PACK OF CIGARETTES TODAY, so Ive been trying so hard the past hour to hold off until at least a minute after midnight, so that I wouldnt be "smoking 4 packs a day"...

Its just that my cigarette cravings are so bad, I can't hardly stand it, even though I know I only have 15 minutes to go. Whats worse is that my chest has felt really tight tonight, and I felt short of breath just walking to my apartment from the parking lot, although Im sure it didnt help I had a cigarette clinched in my mouth and was carrying large case files and trying to walk up a flight of stairs in new high heels that arent broken in and gave me awful blisters today, but it was still scary to find myself literally gasping for breath again. Im fairly slender and although I dont workout, I dont consider myself to be in terrible shape, but these breathing problems have me paranoid with the thought of being strapped to an oxygen tank and dying in my late forties or early fifties.

Its just that sometimes I feel so overwhelmed by everything, both at work and in my two failed marriages, that I just dont think I can muster the will to go cold turkey yet. Sometimes I overthink it and I feel that I just need my cigarettes too much to let go. But for today and the few minutes that remain, I'll consider it an accomplishment if I can just keep myself from opening that 4th pack of cigarettes today... maybe tomorrow I can try it again, with one cigarette less... but for now Im counting on small victories one cigarette at a time.
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