I have smoked since I was about 17 or 18 and stopped smoking several times, even once for 3 years but I’m ashamed to admit that I have always relapsed.
Three weeks ago I embarked on what I fully intend to be the final and complete escape from my addiction to nicotine, for ultimately that is what it is, no more, no less.
I’ve never been a heavy smoker, at most 10 a day but usually about 5-6, so my dependency was not considered to be all that high, but dependent I was.
The decision to quit was not something I made over night, I didn’t wake up one day and decide “that’s it never again.” I have been thinking about this for sometime now, driven not for health or financial concerns (both of which are perfectly valid and shouldn’t be understated) but my motivation was my young son who will turn three years old in a few months from now. I know the health risks, and frankly can not bear the thought that he might try to emulate me and expose himself to the risks that I had stupidly taken as a young man.
Its a decision that I have had to come to myself, but having reached that point I’m completely comfortable with it and have every intention of making this one the last attempt that I ever need to make.
I have done a little research on the various ways and methods of giving up but the one thing I knew I didn’t want to do was to use any form of nicotine patch or gum because after all its the addiction to nicotine that has to go.
I had tried what some call the willpower method before so felt that this time I would look into other options for a more permanent solution.
I have a few friends who have successfully quit using Champix. However, after a quick internet search many of the known side effects did give me pause for thought: suicidal thoughts, psychological problems etc, but ultimately I was reassured by my friends experiences, the worst of which was nausea, and was “pretty” confident that I was mentally stable, so I felt it was as an option.
I booked an appointment at Bumrungrad Hospital and sat down with the doctor and told him that I wanted to quit smoking. We talked about my habit and I completed a series of questions that were designed to measure the degree of my dependency.
The long shot is I was told what I already knew and that whilst addicted I was not highly dependent and that giving up should be easy, and especially so if were to use Champix.
It was described to me by the doctor that its the best treatment currently available, as it works by blocking nicotine receptors in your brain, thus removing all satisfaction from a smoke and the cravings. To their credit and without any prompting, the hospital was also very forthcoming about the negative aspects of the drugs, stating that only 30% of those who try it manage to stay off for a year, however a great deal more return to the smokes after just a few months.
I was also told that 30+% of those who take the drug get nauseous and worryingly high numbers experienced other side effects including psychological problems, and that if I had any history of depression or any other similar problems that I should not take these drugs. A ‘nurse’ was also assigned to call me up after a few days to see how I was going and whether there were any side effects.
So I went ahead, and after parting with 5000 Baht (1500 on consultation) I picked up a starter pack, a one month’s supply, of what I am told is usually a three month course. The first thing you are supposed to do is pick a day on the following week to stop smoking. For the first few days you take one pill each morning, which is then increased to two per day which you continue until the end of the first week throughout which you smoke as normal.
During this first week the only side effects I had was extremely vivid, lucid, wild dreams which I could remember in detail when I woke up. Although rested I also experienced the strange sensation of knowing I had been asleep but also having been awake / lucid throughout the night. Its difficult to describe, a strange sensation but not unpleasant.
More surprisingly was the very real affect it had on my smoking. Literally by the end of day three I just didn’t want to smoke, I quit there and then, I mean why wait for next week when I was getting nothing from the cigarettes today, so I threw my pack of cigarettes in the bin, and said goodbye to the smokes for good, albeit a few days early.
The following week the prescribed dosage increased by 50% to what is described as the full dose. During the first day on the full dose I was at work when in the afternoon I had the extremely unsettling experience of blurred vision across half of my field of view. It was so bad that I could not read my computer screen and I seriously feared driving home at night.
I stopped taking the pills that night, and the problem went away the very next day. Two weeks on, I’m still not taking Champix, and I have not smoked, despite deliberately not making any special attempt to distance myself from my smoking friends when they head outside for a puff, quite the opposite I join them just as I always have done, but just dont smoke.
I credit much of my (admittedly still very brief) success to Allen Carr’s book which you can get in the link below:
I started reading the book and to be frank I was cynical, I mean how can anyone be expected to quit smoking because of a book? Surely there’s no way that he could address the reasons why I smoked? In short I expected it to be the usual tripe found in self help books. I was expecting it to be patronising.
It was neither, but it was not without its problems. After I got past the forward (where he spends too long on the subject of how great his method is) I found that what he was doing was to rationally address the arguments that I have built up for myself which defended or even excused the ‘special’ reasons why I smoked.
It’s really helped me by looking at things from a slightly different perspective, and whilst it is still early days I feel confident that I will not relapse.
As the title suggests whilst this is a bit of a long post its not meant to be a sermon. Rather if I had the chance to speak with the me of three weeks ago I would have advised myself not to try Champix, and I would urge the me of then to get started on that book sooner.