Welcome to the this week's installment of QMember Stories, which features Kallikak - who celebrates a nearly 7-year quit!
"I smoked 35 years total, interrupted by several earlier quits. I’m not sure that any of us keep track of the number of attempts, once it gets beyond “several”.
"The worst thing about my smoking was that I had no control over my addiction, and that I knew it was killing me. No one in my family, or my extended family, smokes. I was the only addict. They were very tactful about it, but it was clear that they all wanted me to quit. The final straw was an angina attack in July 2006. I instantly became a quitter at that moment.
"I'd first found QuitNet the year before, in January of 2005, after an off-hand remark from someone (probably one of those relatives above) that there probably would be resources online to help with quitting. I did a Google search, and the rest is history.
"I quit on January 1st of that year, and the Q became my lifeline, a lifesaver. A couple dozen of us formed a club in January 2005, and we called it something really clever, like 'Jan2005 Quitters'. We shared a monumental goal, and we all started at the same time. I’ve never seen support like that, but I’m guessing that many clubs here have that magic about them. I’ll never forget the first time a new quitter responded to one of my posts that I had been an inspiration. Whoa, talk about a rush!
"I had 10 months on my quitmeter when I was laid off from a long-time job. That triggered my addiction. I began smoking again, and didn’t stop until the angina attack in July 2006. I've been smoke-free since then.
"In my 2005 semi-final quit, I used the patches, and they worked very well. This final time, I quit cold turkey when I had the angina attack. That served as a clue that I am mortal; that I will not escape the consequences of smoking if I don’t quit. In the early days, my inspiration came most strongly from the Q; it was like being in an intensive care unit.
"I have two outstanding suggestions for anyone thinking about quitting smoking: First, make a list of what smoking was doing to your life, and the reasons you quit; and second, take your quit 'one crave at a time'. Just take care of the next one, and don’t worry about the one after that.
"If you come on to the Q, you can call me Bill. My username is Kallikak - a tribute to a family that was the subject of a study by H.H. Goddard, an early 20th century psychologist who thought he could tell if you were feeble minded just by looking at you; he also gave us the word `moron`!"
Keep coming back, and KTQ,
You had a good quit going, then you smoked one. Now what?
A slip is a red arrow pointing to a personal trigger challenge. A relapse is a red arrow pointing to a large space in your quit plan.
What to do next?
STOP. Go back to the very beginning. Every single quit - be it an hour, a day or a year - has within it all the tools you need to ensure your next quit is your best (and last) quit ever!
If you have quit for half a day, that means you have quit successfully before! It also means you know how to quit, how to get through an urge, what works good for you and what does not, when your hardest trigger times are and what has led to a slip or relapse in the past.
Move forward today by writing down a successful quit plan, one that is custom tailored just for you via your previous quit(s):
What are your 3 biggest smoking triggers?
How do you plan to get beyond them?
What worked before? What else are you willing to try? Write it down.
What are your 3 biggest motivators for being a nonsmoker?
What are 3 great benefits you noticed last time when you Quit?
Write it down!
Think of 3 more motivators or benefits and add them to your list.
Post your motivators on your refrigerator, bathroom mirror, car visor, desk and so forth. Be sure to Celebrate your Quit! Acknowledge how great you're doing to inspire more great days.
What are your personal emotional triggers?
How did you cope with stress, boredom, frustration and anger last time?
What else can you try this time?
Write it all down. Do it again + add some new options!
How did you reward, relax, comfort, enjoy, fill your time & socialize as a nonsmoker during your last quits? What else can you try? It is important your emotional needs are met, not ignored! If you reward, relax, comfort, enjoy and stay busy, then you will not be bored or stressed or feel like you are 'missing out' as a nonsmoker, so really think it thorugh and write it down.
Why did you slip or relapse this time? Why did you slip or relapse last time?
Using your answers from the above questions, what are 5 things you will commit doing this time instead of smoke when faced with each one of your relapse triggers?
What are 3 more things you are willing to try?
Plan ahead and write it down.
Now you have an outline of your quit personal 'get back on track' action plan.
Remember, NRT/Chantix/Zyban only work to the degree that the quitter works their quit process. Support products are very helpful and they 'take the edge off' as the quitter moves forward. Ultimately, it is the 'quitter moves forward' part that results in a successful quit.
Commit to get back on track with your quit. You can do this - you already have!
Good luck and keep going!
Master Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist
You don't have to quit alone:
Quitting smoking is quite an accomplishment! You have braved your way through doubt, cravings, stress, triggers and other smokers, yet remained true to your Quit. Congratulations! You may find that your self confidence has increased since you quit smoking, and that confidence has spilled over to other parts of your life. If you think it hasn't, perhaps you need to step back and really take a look at the new you!
You have become an even better smoke-free version of You! Keeping your quit takes commitment, resolve, problem solving, delayed gratification, a willingness to change, let go and give up your well worn path for the unknown adventure ahead.
While going through the quit process, you also learned a lot about yourself! You learned how to control your response to emotions such as anger, sadness, loneliness, frustration, boredom, craving and irritation. You’ve sat with these emotions and come to accept that they are normal and will pass. You now understand your emotions instead of avoiding them, and have new coping tools so your needs are met. As a result, your emotions do not affect you – or those around you – adversely. By doing this, you've improved your overall well being!
Improved well being, self efficacy and healthy self esteem are the cornerstones of a happy life. They reduce stress, give you a sense of control over your choices, increase your ability to handle day to day life situations and help you work through challenging times successfully.
As a successful quitter, you continue to make ongoing, daily choices that enhance your life. That means you have discipline, courage and tenacity. Along the way, you've learned some new things about yourself, set new goals and acquired effective tools to make your goals a reality. Quitting smoking has an unexpected side effect - it opens the door to a healthier lifestyle on multiple levels.
The truth is, You are amazing! What will you do next with your newly discovered confidence, competence and success? Keep going, keep up the good work and KTQ:)
Master Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist
No One Has To Quit Alone:
As we get further along in our quits, staying
quit can become progressively easier, especially if we've developed a support network that we actually use. But what happens when we get outside our normal support routine, or when we're in unfamiliar settings and/or surrounded by smokers? Family events, drinking parties, long road trips, and vacations are some the most common relapse venues. How can we strengthen our quits during those times?
Preparation can keep us from succumbing to the lie of 'just one.' If you've been invited to a big party or family event full of smokers, or are about to embark on your first vacation since you're quit, you don't have to be afraid of relapse; in fact, you can welcome the chance to perfect your self-support tools. Below are some pointers to help you do that.'Bookend' the Event
Bookending means beginning and ending each risky situation, or each hour/day/etc of a risky situation, with connection to support. Call, post online, or text a quit-buddy (preferably another ex-smoker) with a commitment to not smoke during the long drive/party/vacation, and to reconnect at the end of the drive/party/vacation to report your success.
Commit out loud or in writing your intention to STAY QUIT, NO MATTER WHAT
. Commit that you'll reach out again before
, not after, any chance that you'll slip -- no matter where you are or what time it is. Promise to reconnect after the trip, event, or situation, is over. Don't underestimate the power of simple commitments to others that you're going to follow a certain plan, and that you'll follow through with a report afterwards.
Some Q members use the Qmunity
for bookending. Post a note in the QuitStop forum, or Qmail your quit-buddies, saying something like, "I'm going into a tough situation and am worried I might slip." You'll get responses and support from others. Commit in the forum that you won't smoke, that you'll contact someone before
you do, that you'll log in after the event and let everyone know how you did. You can print out other Q members' responses to you, and carry them you.Always Be Prepared
The key to quit-success in tough situations is preparation. You don't want to have to figure out what to do in the midst of a craving or doubt, when denial clouds your thinking.
Program quit-buddy phone numbers into your cellphone for quick access, and be ready to use them at a moment's notice. Think about how you'll respond if someone offers you a smoke. Practice saying things out loud like, "No, thanks, I don't smoke". Think of your Three Best Reasons for Quitting, and keep them in your pocket, wallet, or phone. Read them whenever you feel doubtful. If you use prayer or positive affirmations for support, bring them with you. Ask for extra strength or perseverance, or repeat mantras like, "Smoking Is Not An Option" or "I Don't Smoke, No Matter What, No Matter What, I Don't Smoke." Be ready to use the FIVE D's: DELAY; DISTRACT; DRINK WATER (cold); DEEP BREATHE; DISCUSS.
When attending family or other obligatory parties in which you know there'll be multiple stressors or smoking triggers, always have an exit plan. Parties and events come and go, but this may be the last chance you ever get to be smokefree; don't blow it by prioritizing social conventions over your quit. While you're there, enlist the aid of anyone who will support you. Don't be shy about revealing that you just quit smoking, and are working hard to stay quit. You'll find other ex-smokers, and help will come from the most unexpected quarters. If you think staying might trigger a relapse, have an excuse ready that allows you to leave with grace and dignity, and then leave. Remember: while you may have had to go there, you don't have to stay there (especially if you're being abused or disrespected about not smoking). Keeping your quit your #1 priority gives you the best chances of staying quit for good.
During road trips, create a NO-SMOKING ZONE sign for your car, to visually reinforce your quit. Listen to quit-smoking audio books, or call your quit-buddies hands-free. Think of different trip or vacation milestone rewards. Every day while on vacation, for example, or every X-hundred miles, use the $$ you would have smoked up to reward yourself with something nice. Planning the rewards ahead of time will reinforce their effectiveness. And bookend, bookend, bookend...
The day will certainly come when you can take any trip you want, and drive any distance you need to, without even thinking about smoking- because you'll have a non-smoking self-image. Remaining quit in tough circumstances can really strengthen that self-image, too. In fact, you can start picturing yourself that way right now: imagine turning down smoking offers, or driving with the windows down and not smoking, or coming home from that family reunion still smokefree. If you can imagine it, you can do it, and all the help in the world is available to assist you.
Happy smokefree trails, and KTQ,
Alan Peters, CTTS-M