Larry Rankin is a former tobacco user who hopes his experience with the drug can help others quit.
Before We Start, A Note about the Varying Nature of Tobacco Addiction:
The struggles one has on an individual basis quitting tobacco varies contingent on a number of factors. The worst cases I’ve encountered are long term (more than 5 years) chewing tobacco addictions. The reason for this is that with smokeless tobacco nicotine is delivered all at once and at levels as many as 12 times in that of cigarettes.
That said, any long term tobacco addiction usually makes for a formidable opponent to do battle with.
I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention that it is likely that a small percentage of people are either resistant to tobacco addiction or don’t have a hard time quitting. With most drugs you usually have a segment of the population that falls into this category; though personally when I have looked further into former addicts claiming to have had an easy time quitting tobacco, for examples having spoken with their spouses, the reality has always been that the former addict just had a bad memory and the actual process of beating the addiction was quite difficult.
I’m closing in on my 19th month completely tobacco free: no patches, no gum, no vapor cigarettes. Just over a year and a half ago I quit dipping cold turkey after almost twenty years of struggling with this addiction. After countless attempts and employing varying strategies, I finally forsook the pernicious habit.
Over the years I’ve experienced almost every horrific consequence of trying to get tobacco out of my life many times over. In addition, life experience has seen me spend time with 100s of people that have struggled to quit some manner of tobacco. As a result, I empathize with my fellow humans doing battle with this drug.
And though in this article I will be coming down very harshly on the medical community that insists on both downplaying the hold of this addiction on the individual and sugarcoating the ease with which one might quit, I want it to be perfectly clear I still support quitting tobacco, regardless of the suffering and side effects such a traumatic undertaking puts on one’s body.
The majority of the information I will be providing in this article will be a combination of qualitative and subjective in nature, not because it is my preference, (If you know anything about me, you know statistics are my preference.) but because the machine that is the delusional anti-tobacco movement has made quality statistical information on the tobacco problem all but inaccessible.
And before you laugh me out of the room, keep in mind that when the tobacco companies controlled the statistics, it was qualitative and subjective information that kept the majority of citizens out of the big tobacco death machine. Though this sort of data can at times be fraught with false equivalencies, more often than not it leads to an accurate assessment.
I will also be using some quantitative information from memory of past articles about tobacco I’ve read before the anti-tobacco monster gobbled them up.
The Biggest Lie of them all: Quitting Tobacco Only Takes 7 Days
Where to even begin in regards to the idiocy of this statement? I guess the first thing I’ll do is enlighten you as to the miniscule bit of truth in this faulty logic. After 7 days without tobacco, there is probably no longer tobacco in your system, though even that isn’t always accurate, the process sometimes taking the better part of a month.
It really isn’t very consequential in the grand scheme of things how long it takes to get the tobacco out of your body, because not having the tobacco doesn’t really do anything but get the ball rolling and cause the long term addict’s brain to start screaming bloody murder for the drug it is accustomed to having. It most certainly doesn’t mark the end of the addiction. Why? If you will suffer through the story of Phineas Gage with me, I think it will become clear.
For those of you that don’t know, Phineas Gage is a person of interest in the medical field because he survived a tamping iron being blown into his jaw and passing all the way out the top of his head in an explosives misfire while working for the railroad.
While many friends and acquaintances describe Gage as a completely different man after the explosion, this isn’t altogether accurate. It is true that for a time Gage seemed to lose most of his impulse control. As a result of the accident, he basically became a vulgar, foul-mouthed man, yet what is often overlooked is that during the course of his 12 remaining years he actually slowly recovered his social graces.
His brain was basically able to rewire itself. A part of his frontal lobe was gone forever, so new paths had to be forged to recover normalcy, and his brain, amazingly enough, was actually able to do this.
A fascinating story, but what the hell does it have to do with beating tobacco dependency? When you become addicted to a drug, your brain chemistry changes. This change doesn’t happen overnight. It doesn’t happen over a year. It takes years. For example, with tobacco, when you first start using, it feels just wonderful. You feel like Superman. You don’t have to sleep. You don’t have to eat. You feel invincible.
Your brain knows this isn’t normal, and unlike you, your brain craves normalcy, so it starts its slow process of trying to get you back to the person you were. Fast forward 5 years or so and tobacco doesn’t make you high at all anymore. In fact, you need it constantly to just function at a level similar to that of before you started using.
Basically over the course of the last 5 years the chemistry of your brain has been altered to function normally in spite of the tobacco. When you choose to quit, all of this has to be undone, which is quite a traumatic process and will probably never be quite complete.
So to say that the seventh day of your sobriety marks the end of your tobacco dependency because there is no longer tobacco in your body is the equivalent of saying that Phineas Gage’s brain trauma was healed the moment his 1¼ inch round 3 foot 7 inch long tamping iron finished passing through his brain. It’s nonsense! The damage is done, and the healing process takes years!!1
So how long does completely recovering from tobacco addiction take? You probably never quite get there, but you can get darn close. For example, the first time I got a dip of tobacco, I was high as a kite, a high that eventually ended with me laying shirt off on my stomach on the back porch and trying not to vomit. No matter how long I stay off tobacco, I will likely never be able to recapture that first high if I use again, which in turn indicates my body chemistry will never return to the pristine state of my seminal tobacco usage.
So how long does effectively “beating” a tobacco addiction take? For this we can look to statistics regarding recidivism, that is if they hadn’t all been replaced with nonsense. Without them I have to go back to the memory of an article I read around a decade ago. It said that percentages for smokers staying off tobacco become favorable when an entire year is completed free of the drug, and success rates become very high when smokers are able to spend 3 whole years without a cigarette.
Again referencing memory, with smokeless tobacco the success rates exceed 50% after about 3 years, but don’t get into the high success rates until a person has been clean in excess of 5 years.
As for the pain becoming manageable, in my experience, this doesn’t happen until the completion of about 3 months free and clear of the drug.
More Analysis into the Naiveté of a 7 Day Addiction Recovery
Just some food for thought: If it actually only took 7 days to quit using tobacco, why would anybody be addicted to it if they didn’t want to be? Any tobacco addict can make it 7 days. Just take a week off work. Even if you can’t, if feeling good again is only 7 days away, if that is where the prize truly is, it is still easily accomplished.
How weak would you have to be to not be able to make it 7 days without tobacco? The whole concept is ridiculous. As an addict, I made it 7 days without a dip sometimes on accident. In my experience it doesn’t even really start hurting that bad until your 10 days in or so.
I mean, if it were really a 7 day addiction, why not just buy a big bottle of Nyquil and every time you start hurting just take a dose and go to sleep? The 7 days would be over before you knew it.
And if it truly only took 7 days to break the addiction, why would we even avoid tobacco? Why wouldn’t we utilize this wonderful drug every time life got hectic? When things slowed down again, we could just stop for 7 days and be all better again.
I cannot emphasize enough how big these idiots are that try to sale us this nonsense!
Just look at products designed to step us down from tobacco addiction. Nicoderm patches, gum, generic knockoffs, they almost all require at least a 6 month stepping down process. Why on earth would anybody buy these aids if they could just tough it out through 7 days and be clean?
Seriously, how would that even work: spend 6 months tapering down and then you’d just have to spend the same 7 days getting it out of your system at the end.
I know I’m belaboring the point, but I just want you folks to understand how ridiculous this idea is. You’re being lied to, and for no good result, either. I mean, how would you feel if you bought into this 7 day system only to find out that after the 7th day you have another 1,000 plus days to be tacked onto it. It’s crippling!
Is it not better to know the truth going in?
You’ll Only Gain 5-10 Pounds, and You’ll Lose it as soon as You’re Better
I’ve never known a single human being to gain fewer than 20 pounds if they made an honest effort at quitting tobacco, much less if they actually succeed. Even people that are genetically predisposed to be skinny gain more than 20 pounds. For those of us that are predisposed to be fat and started using tobacco to lose weight in the first place, forget about it.
In my experience, at some point you do lose a bit of weight in the recovery process, but the only people that I’ve seen return to near their previous weight are the ones that never were fat in the first place. For example, I gained 80 pounds as a result of quitting dipping. Eventually I lost 30 pounds and things have settled down. Right now my weight hovers at around 300 pounds versus the 250 pounds I weighed when I dipped.
And the weight gain isn’t always a result of overeating. In the beginning of the quitting process it usually is, but there is evidence that the trauma of quitting tobacco actually can bring on problems like low testosterone. I know a number of people who coincidentally were diagnosed with low-T when they quit tobacco. I am in the process of finding out, but I believe that is what has happened to me.
How can the anti-tobacco cult arrive at the 5-10 pound lie? I think it has to do with the 7 day addiction breaking process lie. You can’t physically gain more than 10 pounds in 7 days, and therefore, (according to their logic) if a tobacco addiction can’t take more than 7 days to break, the resulting weight gain is extremely limited.
The truth is that if I’m going to remain in the 300 pound range as a result of quitting dipping, I’m in great peril from the fallout. Thinks like joint degeneration, cholesterol, high blood pressure, and heart disease are deadly.
Former tobacco users often get on anti-depressants. Severe depression often lasts for months when one tries to break this dependency, and it doesn’t necessarily go away, but it does usually dull over time.
As a result, people who stop using tobacco are far more likely to hurt themselves or others. In the doldrums of my breaking this addiction, I had thoughts so dark I will not repeat them here. I will only say I’m glad I don’t have such severe feelings of hopelessness now and pray I never do again.
You will have digestive problems of some kind as a result of quitting tobacco. Pretty much all stimulants mess with your bowels. When you remove the stimulant of tobacco there are long-lasting repercussions. I had never had any major digestive problems in my life. A little over a year after I quit dipping, I wound up in urgent care with a severe impaction.
I got off easy. Many people who stop using tobacco develop ulcers as a result of the stress on their stomachs.
If You Used for more than a few Years, There is still a Good Chance It will Kill You
Of all the information I’ve given here, this is the only bit of information I might see some merit in keeping from people because you can’t do much about it. For example, if you dip 10 years and quit, and get throat cancer 10 years after that, the cancer was still probably brought on by your dipping, and you better believe the anti-tobacco fanatics will say it was brought on by the tobacco use even if it’s skin cancer.
If you were a long term smoker, diseases like emphysema and COPD might also show up years after you quit.
But let’s not take this information out of context. If you quit using tobacco, it is highly unlikely you haven’t extended your life, and even with all the possible side effects, quitting is still your most promising option for a more pleasant life while you’re here.
Why do They Lie to Us?
This to me is the million dollar question. After decades of dealing with lies from the tobacco companies, why are the anti-tobacco groups, who are supposed to be the good guys in all of this, doing the same thing? And it’s obvious they are lying. Just open your eyes. And if they’re willing to lie about this, than why should we believe any new information that comes to light?
I think it all started as do-gooded-ness gone crazy. The whole thing reminds me of those old exercise tapes where they tell you, “Just one more,” over and over again. I hated those tapes. They really think it’s advisable to lie to people to get them started on the road to recovery. Personally, if I had ever put any stock into what they say, I never would have been able to quit.
The result of all this anti-tobacco bullsh**, sadly, is the vilification of addicts. The insanity of companies trying to force people to quit, which never works with addiction. The hypocrisy of 15 hospital workers standing outside smoking illegally on campus.
The idiocy of people needing help to quit having to deal with the arrogance of doctors that have never had an addiction in their life glaring at them, thinking to themselves, This lazy bastard can’t even go 7 days without tobacco, when the reality is any tobacco addict can go 7 days without tobacco.
It’s all so f***ing delusional. It’s all so toxic. This isn’t how we put a stop to addiction.
I know some of you guys probably think I’m crazy. Please, trust me here. I understand addiction. I know firsthand how addiction is beaten. What they’re doing, it’s wrong!
I’ll end with this. Addictions are usually started with lies, but you sure as sh** can’t beat one with them!
1. Phineas Gage Biography on Wikipedia
2. Missinformation regarding the ease of quitting tobacco is so persistent and offensive in nature, I don't even see the point of dignifying it with a source.
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This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
Questions & Answers
Question: I quit tobacco two years ago, but some of the side effects of quitting persist. Do you know how long it takes to get over them? I recently started experiencing digestive problems, and it's been happening for months. I also suffered from anxiety panic attacks.
Answer: If the side effects persist, you need to see a doctor.
The problem with quitting tobacco is that sometimes you do it to deal with anxiety, so in essence, it can be your anxiety "medicine."
If that's the case, then you'll probably just have anxiety until you develop methods to deal with it.
There are plenty of anti-anxiety medicines out there that aren't linked to cancer. Maybe you should look into those?
Question: I have been having digestive problems since l stopped smoking five months ago. Does it resolve itself through time?
Answer: Most often, but not always does it resolve itself. Sometimes, it results in a more severe problem, like an ulcer, and requires medication.
You may want to consult a doctor. Sometimes anti-anxiety meds can hedge against such problems.
Phil on January 16, 2019:
I quit snuff two weeks ago. Its not been easy but I know I'm in for the long haul. I here a lot of the smokers saying they suffer from a lot of health issues after quitting. Could it be they would have suffered these issues regardless of smoking or they just caught up because to them because of smoking.
Robert Sacchi on September 09, 2018:
A frank article about tobacco addiction and beating it. It seems there are many "experts" who have the "ends justify the means" mentality. I wonder if anyone has done a study on how it works in the long run?
John Kunkle on July 15, 2018:
I am a recovered alcoholic and an ex smoker of the two pack a day variety. I drank and smoked for about 15 years: age 18 to 33. I quit smoking about 6 weeks after I quit drinking. That was over 31 years ago. I didn't see the bugs on the walls and the other visions of withdrawals but I have an unusual withdrawal symptom story I will tell you if we correspond later. I have always struggled with weight issues. I weighed about 220 lbs when I quit both. Over 30 years later, I am 80 pounds heavier. I have high blood pressure, high triglycerides, and high cholesterol for which I successfully take medication. I do not overeat, binge eat, and eat one main meal and one lighter meal each day. My wife is a good cook and I rarely each out. I do drink a couple of cups of coffee with cream each day. I discovered that I had low testosterone about 5 years ago. I take testosterone cream every day to boost my testosterone and I take a pill that keeps my body from converting the testosterone to estrogen, which it will without taking the conversion medication. I lead a very serene, piece of mind existence, which may be due to my active involvement in AA, and because I'm getting older. I do try to exercise by walking my dogs every day, but my knees are pretty creaky and I'm probably destined for knee replacements over the next 5 years. I have back problems that are from a variety of reasons but I get chiropractic and physical therapy for it. My right hip is arthritic. There is no doubt that losing weight would help, but I've turned down stomach bypass surgery twice. Also I have never seen a successful back operation so I'm not getting one of those unless I am in excruciating pain. I did have melanoma twice -- once in 1998 and once in 2011 -- luckily caught before it metastasized. So the ultimate question is this? Should I have avoided drinking and smoking in the first place? Sure, but I did the next best thing which was to quit fairly early in the game before I needed a liver transplant. Did the smoking possibly affect my low testosterone? Possibly but it happens to every man who gets older. Should I lose weight? Of course, but I'm not sure that stomach bypasses don't lead to more problems than they solve. I will not get a knee replacement until I absolutely cannot walk on that limb for less than a mile. I use a BRECS machine of ice water to negate the pain and swelling in my knees and lower back. Also, I know I have to keep moving as I've watched my 92 year old mother deteriorate due to lack of exercise. Let's face it. None of us are getting out of here alive. I am not trying to rationalize my behavior but I am trying to do the best I can to mitigate the effects of 1) the effects of my smoking and drinking and 2) the effects of me getting older. I seem to live a fairly happy and serene life. I know I am slowing down as I get older. I don't have as much energy. But so what. If I kept on the path of drinking and smoking I was on, I would have been dead nearly 30 years ago. Based on my observations in AA, there aren't that many of us that make it into 30 or 40 years of sobriety, so I'm grateful for every day I have. Will I try to do something to improve my health every day? Sure. But peace of mind is something that no amount of money can buy.
Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on July 14, 2018:
Finn: thanks for dropping by. I'm always glad to hear others thoughts.
Good luck on your battles.
Fin from Barstow on July 09, 2018:
Well Larry, I think I see your point. As someone who has actually gone three- maybe five days (I think) without a cigarette and counting...it is hard. I get the cravings...
but keep in mind that there are chemicals in the substance that keep you craving...and my craves aren't that bad this time...not yet. I had serious withdrawls the last time I went without a cigarette for a couple of days. Nightmares and near hallucinations.
You are correct in that your brain can fix itself. You mind always makes you right is what one of my previous teachers used to say.
vernvern on April 29, 2018:
There is a aloe vera juice sold at a major big box store by the gallon for around 7$ "Fruit of the Earth" brand. When I drank a cup of such twice a day, I lost my craving for snuff. It was irritating because I did not want to quit at the time, but I have since quit, using the aloe and have been off snuff for 4 months.
Alo vera affects other addictions the same way, it might be the d-mannose sugars which are glyco nutrients. D-mannose as a supplement may work the same, I'm not sure.
Paul on April 18, 2018:
I really found your article helpful. Thank you. I quit 9 months ago having smoked for nearly 40 years. The cravings are all but gone and although I have good and bad days it’s not the cravings that bother me, I can cope with them. Since a month after quitting I have been in really poor health. I went into hospital with pancreatic problems 3 months after stopping and have had gastric and intestinal problems throughout. I have also put on 9 kilos. The worst thing though is definitely the depression which prior to this I have never sufffered in my life. I feel that things might be improving but it’s really hard and one wonders whether picking the smokes back up might be a a better option than this!
Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on March 12, 2018:
Alex: I'm right, though.
You're atypical. Bully for you. Takes years for the normal person to become themself again.
Let's look at it this way. Let's say it takes the average longterm user a month of cessation to be 75% back to pre-addiction.
At 75%, you can cope and succeed. It's hard, but you have a chance.
Let's say after a year you're 90% back. You rarely have strong cravings, but there's always a chance to slip up. You have a good shot.
Let's say 3 years in you're 95%.
Like with any addiction, due to the change of brain chemistry you may never quite get to 100%, but you can live a happy life.
I'm glad you had an easy time of it quitting, but it just isn't reality for most of us.
It's not effective inspiration to tell somebody they'll have an easy time of it because you did, and then they don't.
Alex on March 09, 2018:
Larry, I believe your heart is in the right place with the articles and am sorry to hear that you've had an extremely tough quit in conjunction with health issues after quitting (extreme weight gain/possibly low hormone levels).
I think your results are very atypical. I've quit chewing (the 1st time after a can/day for 12 years) and had results more similar to what experts predict. While I think everyone knows that all withdrawal symptoms don't vanish after a week, it is generally accepted that physical cravings decrease after all nicotine has left the body. I've started and stopped a few times and can confirm this. Psychological cravings obviously take longer, but for me this period was about a month. With weight gain, I put on about 10 lbs over the first month and lost it over the next two months. Again, I was never out of shape and have always watched my diet. Depression, yeah, it will probably occur as your brain sorts out it's chemicals. The analogy to Phineas Gage's situation is nonsensical, of course your brain isn't healed magically as the nicotine is gone from your system. However, it is not going to begin re-routing connections until the nicotine is gone. Who knows exactly how long this takes, for you it seems to have taken quite awhile, for me, a couple of months.
There is definitely some misinformation out there with respect to quitting tobacco, the greatest in my opinion being the methods recommended for tapering off and replacing nicotine. In my opinion, this piece performs a similar disservice for anyone looking to begin the process of quitting. It cultivates fear and creates expectations of extreme hardship to quit. I was afraid the first time I quit, and to be honest, although it sucked, I was amazed at how easy it was. I wish I would have not let fear paralyze me for years before finally going through with it. Those were wasted years, everyone should just try to quit, it doesn't matter how easy or hard it is, it will get better over time, whether that is two weeks or two years.
Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on March 05, 2018:
JL: thanks for sharing. Sadly with smoking emphysema and COPD can progress, even when you quit smoking. Doesn't seem fair, but having quit should at least slow its progression a bit.
As for the ulcer and digestive problems, they never mention it in the quitting literature, but it happens all the time.
Stay strong my friend.
JL Boss on February 26, 2018:
I smoked for 35 years and was smoking 5 packs a day for about 2 years before I quit. I quit January 14, 2005. I never had any breathing or digestive problems during the time I smoked. Now I have ulcers, COPD, athsma, bronchitis and emphysema. I also have a serious sinus infection that I can't do anything about because anesthesia will kill me. It took me about 2 months with the help of patches to quit.
Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on February 23, 2018:
George: thanks for the kids bad words.
George Hreno on February 17, 2018:
Great tobacco article
Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on February 12, 2018:
Erdemyaman: I wish I knew the answer.
You've put in this much time, though. Might as well see it through.
I really feel for you.
erdemyaman on February 04, 2018:
I was 46 years old. I had 40 cigarettes a day for 30 years. I quit smoking 1.5 years ago. But I have very bad days. I have heavy anxiety and depression.
I used Lexapro for 6 months and it stopped working. After 3 months I used cymbalta, it made me worse. I have been using zoloft for the last 3 months and it has no effect. I am still fighting with anxiety and depression. Sometimes I want to start cigarette smoking again.
When will this persecution finish
Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on January 27, 2018:
Jane: this divide and conquer bs, it's not effective. It never has been.
Why are we so scared to educate in order to reform rather than scare, agitate, and terrorize.
It might take longer to educate, but if people with free will make the decision to stop or better yet, never start, that is actually reform.
What's being done, it's nonsense.
Jane on January 23, 2018:
It is good to come across your article. I have been smoking for 40 years.
For decades, I have been raging against the medical community for not educating the general public about ALL the effects of tobacco. They talk about heart. They talk about lungs. Every now and then oral cancers. But they don't talk about, for example, negative effects on muscle. How many sturdy younger people who smoke, and who love being able to use their bodies, might be convinced to quit if they knew how much smoking effects muscles?
I detest the, now deceased), woman from Florida who brought about the criminalization of smokers via the landmark lawsuit - she didn't know smoking was bad for her, a fact established in the earliest writings - give to me a break. Multi-millions of dollars are given to the States as a result of the Tobacco Settlement. And, to what use are these funds applied. Usually, very clean, very white, very pure women who work for healthy partnerships, and the like. Antiseptic reform is not an attraction to someone wishing to quit. Too, these multi-millions are not utilized to increase science and applied science in public schools, from elementary school on, so that students would know exactly how their bodies work, (quick- point to the location of your liver), and I'd bet that if they did, to the level of hemoglobin, almost all would never start smoking. But no. That's not how money is used.
I didn't start smoking until I was in my mid-20s. I have never enjoyed smoking. I don't have cravings, yet am a heavy smoker, for reasons I won't bother to name, but it wasn't due to advertisements, peer pressure, etc. From a genetics standpoint, some humans are born with more nicotine receptors than others. (All humans have them). As much of a science idiot as I am, it's reasonable to hypothesize that people who try cigarettes, and other tobacco, may have receptors that respond in a different manner than those who try tobacco and can't stand the stuff.
There is not a part of my body that is unaffected from 40 years of smoking, and it's all coming down hard and fast now. And, psychologically, there is no aspect of society, now true globally, that pretty much doesn't count me as a criminal on the level of an ax-murderer because I smoke.
While this should not be interpreted as yet another excuse to smoke, why don't the purists at least acknowledge that most of the great accomplishments of human endeavor were accomplished by people who smoked? I still attribute the rise of meanness, and lowering standards of public education in the U.S.A., to the day that teachers could no longer smoke. But why be a dead rebel with, or without a cause, over a plant.
Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on January 08, 2018:
Em: I'm glad I've been able to stay off tobacco for over 3 years now. I just wish the entities pushing quitting weren't so clueless and/or delusional, and actually provided helpful information.
Thanks for stopping by, and the only person that will ever determine if you truly quit or not is you.
Em on January 04, 2018:
So true., the medical professionals Fail to tell you your body physically hurts when quitting.
Miraculously I had severe chest pain giving up., weird digestive problems, heart burn, insomnia, everything.
All in the name to not smell
When you give up the world still stinks more clearer.
Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on November 24, 2017:
Adam: I'm about to celebrate my 3rd year tobacco free. If I'm understanding your description correctly, you've hit it on the head. I'll go sometimes months without a strong craving at this point in my cessation. Than I'll see a familiar sight I associate with tobacco or have a dream about it or some other trigger, and it will cause a month of cravings.
I don't see the benefit of playing down the difficulty of quitting either. I like to know what I'm up against.
I realize there are exceptions. I really think some people don't have as much of a problem quitting. And if you're a short term user, it's easier to quit for most, but these are the exceptions, not the rule.
Thanks for dropping by.
Adam on November 20, 2017:
Thanks for this article. I smoked for between 4.5 and 5 years and gave up 12 years and 4 months ago. I have to agree with everything said here. Giving up is far more difficult than most publications and organisations allege and I'm of the opinion that it should be made clearer to people just how addictive and permanent it is. Allen Carr, in particular, seems to make light of the difficulty. Despite the fact that I quit over 12 years ago, I'm currently experiencing constant cravings of moderate strength that have now persisted for over a month. This is the third time it's happened. It's making me thoroughly miserable, but I refuse to surrender. Thanks again for the article.
Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on November 17, 2017:
Mark: Twain actually had a lot to say of tobacco, which he termed, "a pernicious habbit."
It took me at least 20 good tries over almost 20 years before I was finally able to quit. And that's not counting the 100+ other times I tried to quit but gave up quickly.
Gordon Dalrymple on November 16, 2017:
Mark Twain, aka Samuel Clemens, once famously said, “Quitting tobacco is easy. I’ve done it a thousand times.” Original anti tobacco lie.
Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on November 16, 2017:
Amy: I'm glad the article was pertinent to you.
Not saying if it's right or wrong, but after trying a lot of things, I wasn't successful quitting until I did it cold turkey.
Cold turkey is extremely traumatic on the body for long term addicts like I was. The advantage is that you're not trading one addiction for another and every day clean you are completely clean.
On the other hand, cessation products are usually less detrimental to the body than tobacco and eases the process somewhat. But it also kind of strings along the addiction longer.
Cold turkey was what worked for me. As an individual, there is only one way to figure out what works best for you. Trial and error.
So glad you stopped by and congratulations on what you've been able to accomplish. Keep at it.
Amy on November 14, 2017:
Larry, this is a great post thank you for sharing. I quit smoking a year ago and the side effects have not stopped. I quit using champix so I don’t know if that also had a part to play
Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on November 14, 2017:
Marmalade: good luck to you friend. Keep fighting and don't let any of the b.s. Bother you.
I'm on the verge of 3 years tobacco free. The cravings still haven't left entirely, but it's soooo much easier now!
marmalademaze on November 12, 2017:
I just quit smoking maybe three days ago, lol. I found this article entertaining, which was nice because I’ve been in a gloomy mood (as you might assume after quitting). Anyway mostly tired of the shit with smoking. I live in Michigan so it’s cold more than half the year and I hate going outside to smoke.
Anyway thank you for the heads up! Really made sense.
Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on September 28, 2017:
Nintendo: I can't attest to or disclaim these methods. Most people take on some fixation to replace there cravings.
I've heard of ice chips, rubber bands on wrists to flick at every craving, hypnosis, or even sunflower seeds. I say if it's safe and helps, then do it.
I don't think it's as simple as a catch all answer. Me, I chew on my t-shirts:-)
Thanks for offering some advice.
nintendo1889 on September 24, 2017:
I'm a self taught herbalist. I've learned that smokers can use or smoke mullein. Also something called the adrenal creamsicle can help too. It's orange juice, Sally, and cream of tartar. And there's also ear stapling, which is acupressure.
Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on September 06, 2017:
Josh: as to low T, some folks laugh me out the room when I suggest it. I really think there's a correlation. I've seen it happen too much.
I'm almost 3 years in. I'm doing well. I'm definitely still getting better. I'm starting to get a hold on my weight. Energy continues to improve. It's just a long suffering process, at least for me.
Congrats on making it 5 years and thanks so much for stopping by.
Josh on September 05, 2017:
Spot on! I quit 5 years ago and still am struggling with low T and digestive probs and food allergies
Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on July 25, 2017:
Samantha: congratulations on your resolve to quit. I'm closing in on 3 years tobacco free myself:-)
Of all the problems I encountered quitting tobacco, for me weight gain has been the most aggravating, but I also have tendency to obesity and am a comfort eater.
Exercise is a very important tool for combating depression and quitting, but the catch 22 is that it's so hard to get motivated due to reduced energy levels and withdrawals.
As for your 3rd attempt at quitting, I lost count of how many times I tried and failed. You just got to keep at it. You will eventually get it right.
Nicotine patches can help, but for me they just seem to prolong the cessation process. Nicotine of itself is bad for the heart and though it hasn't been directly linked to cancer, it hasn't been entirely ruled out either. That said, there is merit in the idea that straight nicotine addiction is less dangerous than tobacco addiction.
Thanks for the thoughtful comments and keep up the good fight. Things will get better, if not as quickly as they try to tell you.
Samantha on July 25, 2017:
This is a Great article - Blunt as F*k - and that's what smokers trying to quit need. I'm on my 3rd attempt and doing well this time - but 2 weeks in I am feeling like sh*t, coming down with a cold and sh*tting myself that I will put on weight (which I will not, I know for a fact that smoking cessation causes more than a few kilos in weight gain - thankfully I cycled 40k's average a day whilst smoking so the exercise routine will be pushed up a notch, or two). I know it's vain , albeit, healthy to worry about weight, it IS possible to remain slim, if not slimmer than you were as a smoker. Mindset is key (hate that phrase, sounds so wanky, but true) Before you quit, know that it's going to be more than 7 days and develop a strategy to cope, be prepared for ALL the possible side effects, don't just half arsed 'cut down gradually' and DON'T USE PATCHES, they are faaaarkin useless and a money making ploy by the pharmaceutical co's that are in bed with the tobacco giants. It's a long haul Really Great Article. Thank You
Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on July 05, 2017:
Datapanic: I'm closing in on 3 years tobacco free. This article isn't about that. It's being critical of the lies the anti-tobacco community tells in the hopes of "tricking" people into quitting, which I feel is entirely ineffective.
I prefer an honest, levelheaded approach at quitting tobacco. Tobacco is a killer. Of this, there is no doubt, but especially in their understanding of how addiction works, those that are supposed to be helping addicts quit are actually just making it much harder.
Thanks for the thoughtful comments.
Datapanic on June 27, 2017:
Old Post, but I quit cold turkey after 43 years of smoking every day and just have to say that when you really want to quit, just quit. You'll be better for it and no long-winded article like this will justify NOT quitting the more. When you quit, getting a little fat is far much better than coughing up blood and lung cancer. When you quit, breathing a little easier is far better than wheezing and gacking up lung butter. Just quit!
Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on March 07, 2017:
Quitter of Chew: one day and a time and before you know it years will have passed.
Congratulations on your resolve.
Quitter of Chew on March 01, 2017:
Thank you for this. I totally agree. Even after 30+ days of quit I still feel the craves/withdrawals. Every week that passes by makes it a little easier. I'm looking forward to making it to the 3rd month.
Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on February 16, 2017:
Maa: my wife has told me on multiple occasions that if I ever start dipping again, I'm never allowed to stop again, lol.
Stopping tobacco doesn't just cause the quitter to suffer but his or her family.
The first tip, your husband needs to understand that just because he feels like hell doesn't give him the right to make others feel the same way. He needs to make a genuine effort to at least keep his mood swings in check.
The foggieness and dullness of mind will run its course over time, but I found word games and puzzles to help. Maybe you guys could even do them together.
It is important you be understanding, but don't forget that doesn't mean he has the right to bully you. But if there is something you can say to let him know you care and you're proud of him on occasion, that's great.
The main thing, though, is time. Just get as much time between him and his last cigarette as possible. He should be close to having a lot of the fog lift. Just keep at it.
email@example.com on February 15, 2017:
After 52 yrs of smoking my husband stopped. A terrible cough stopped him.
It is now 18 weeks. He has become the nastiest , sharp tongued person. The nervous jumping has stopped. But change in personality is not pleasant. Forgetfulness foggy conversation is now happening. I almost feel.He is becoming demented. I'm tempted to buy him cigarettes. He was very fortunate to have his FIRST chest xray and it was clear xray.
Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on January 13, 2017:
GALoren: I don't know why, but smokers don't even think of it as litering. Is it trash? Yes. So it has a negative impact on the environment. The bigger hazard, though, are fires.
GALoren on January 11, 2017:
Smoking has done so much damage to the health of our nation. But does anyone realize how many cigarette filters that are thrown in the street, wash into a stream, heads into a river, reaches an ocean and winds up in a fish or mammal? Enjoy your seafood
Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on October 25, 2016:
Thomas: I don't know. One of the big reasons I wrote this essay was to establish that while quitting tobacco is a positive thing, it isn't all easy street after you've quit for a week like they try to say. There are all manner of long lasting consequences to kicking the habit.
It could be that you've always had an underlying anxiety problem and you were self-medicating to cope with it?
Thanks so much for dropping by, and I hope you find relief. Congratulations on quitting your addictions.
Thomas on October 24, 2016:
I quit cold turkey after 20 years of smoking. I exercise almost everyday. I'M 42 years old. I not only quit smokjng, but drinking alcohol and caffeine all in one. I've lost 18 lbs and I'm a chef, it's just all about changing your habits. I will say that I found this article because I can't sleep at night and constantly feel like my heart is pounding out of control. I feel nervous, anxious and jittery on a daily basis. When will this end??
Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on September 13, 2016:
Thanks so much for the feedback. I'm glad my Phineas Gage analogy was of interest.
Cynthia Calhoun from Western NC on September 12, 2016:
Another interesting read and I like the Phineas Gage story tied in. I haven't ever smoked, but I had an uncle who did and my parents made us watch his lung surgery. I was 13 at the time and vowed to never smoke.
That said, I didn't know you actually got a buzz from tobacco, either. And, I admit, never thought about the changes in brain chemistry. But it makes sense. For anything to become a habit (or not), repetition of a years-long practice - for just about any habit! - can't be ceased in 7 days. Very interesting writeup!
Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on August 09, 2016:
Paula: thanks so much for the beautiful and kind write up:-)
Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on August 09, 2016:
Boomer: thanks so much for stopping by. To me we have two groups of influence: the tobacco companies that want to get you hooked, and the health insurance/ medical folks that want to get you addiction free.
They both lie, and somewhere in between is the truth.
Thanks so much for stopping by and congrats on being tobacco free.
paula on August 08, 2016:
Larry...The very best article on smoking, addiction, tobacco & cessation I have ever read! Because you laid out the fact in clear concise language, told the truth and simply left the rest to your readers. This is amazing! Thank you for sharing your knowledge and your experience with honesty included! Congratulations and best of luck going forward. Wish you health & happiness.
Boomer Music Man on July 26, 2016:
When i got out of cigarette smoking 30 years ago, it was not easy. I went through pain. It was really bad, but i never gave up on the desire to quit smoking. Tobacco companies will never tell us the truth, because it brings in the big bucks for them. You'll never get a straight up answer from medical experts. Thanks you for the information. Superbly writte.
Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on July 22, 2016:
Moonlake: thanks so much for sharing, and thank you for the kind words.
Congratulations on your resolve to quit and I am sad to hear that tobacco took someone you loved.
moonlake from America on July 21, 2016:
My husband tried to quit. He never could he got lung cancer it went to his brain. It was a terrible death and so sad to see a big strong man completely helpless.
I quit in 1983 and can tell you I could light up now the addiction never goes away. I've been through many hardships since I quit and have never lite up again. I also quit cold turkey.
So glad you have quit I wish you good luck with it.
Lawrence Hebb on July 19, 2016:
I'm one of the fortunate ones that were 'uncool' growing up and never really started.
Having said that I've had lots of mates who did start and have struggled with breaking the habit.
Larry I applaud you for making the break and wanting to make the change despite the long hard road that it is.
Keep it up bro.
Gcrhoads64 on July 17, 2016:
I admire the fact that you quit smoking cold turkey. I, too, am a smoker and I know the struggle as I have quit many times before, only to delude myself into thinking I could have just one more.
Remember to take it one day at a time.
Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on July 13, 2016:
Deb: thanks for dropping by. I always appreciate your comments.
Glad to hear you quit this awful habit.
The one thing about smoking, probably the reason I dipped instead of smoking, is just the way cigarettes take your lungs away.
Deb Hirt on July 10, 2016:
I smoked for 19 1/2 years, then went to Phoenix. What got me was seeing five people hauling around an oxygen tank at ONLY the Phoenix Zoo. I decided then that I was going to finish my carton, return home, then get on the Nicoderm patch. I was working a high stress job with the police department, yet I was done with the tobacco and the patch after eleven days. I threw away the tape and the printed material after I read the first paragraph in the Nicoderm box that said to allow myself a set period of time to quit, i.e., six months.
My mother smoked and she was killing herself with it.
Also, tobacco companies add their own crap to the tobacco to make you crave it. Tobacco in its pure form is nothing like what is in cigarettes. Formaldehyde is added to the processed tobacco.
Anyway, we both broke an addiction. If you have not discovered it already, cigarettes and processed tobacco rob your teeth of vitamin C. I am going through a great deal of dental work, but I am much healthier for having quit. Yes, I gained some weight, but I lost it. Probiotic yogurt will regulate your gut bacteria and stop you from craving sweets and fried foods and the other bad things in the grocery store put in front of us. I am the thinnest that I have ever been now as nearly a vegetarian. I cheat and eat a little meat upon occasion. But I DO have a good appetite. Great article!
Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on July 08, 2016:
Teaches: thanks for the thoughtful comments.
Sweets are a valid comparison. Soda is especially bad. It can certainly kill you, and from a numbers stand point, I'm sure it leads to the death of more people than tobacco. That said, I think the biggest difference between hard drugs like tobacco and cocaine and stuff like that compared to things like sugar and caffeine is that history shows us that the majority of people can regulate their consumption of the latter and that the latter not only is ok in moderation, but actually can be benificial.
Dianna Mendez on July 08, 2016:
I would be hard pressed to give up chocolate and that's as close as I get to an addiction. Only those who have been through withdrawal can help us understand the effects. Thanks for sharing a different point of view for thought.
Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on July 03, 2016:
Bill: I don't know how you feel about it, but to me the last thing you need to do to an addict that has decided to quit is lie to them about what is in store for them.
I'm the sort of person likes to run through worst case scenarios, though.
Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on July 03, 2016:
Alicia: thanks so much for the well wishes:-)
Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on July 03, 2016:
Paul: thanks so much for sharing.
Yeah, the saddest truth of all with tobacco is that if you quit it doesn't necessarily mean you won't still develop cancer or emphysema or something else as a result on down the road.
Not to say that you haven't still done yourself a great service by quitting, just that the threat has only been lessened, not negated.
I envy your ability to not gain weight. My weight issues are my biggest concern right now.
I often still dream that I have a dip of tobacco and wake up terrified that I have to start the whole addiction breaking process over again.
Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on July 03, 2016:
Mel: yeah, it's these agendas that just drive me crazy!
It's my agenda for people to have a realistic understanding of the drug and realistic expectations of how quitting will effect them.
It's my agenda that people come to quitting as they can and not be bullied into it, which never works.
I didn't broach the insurance side of things here, but the conspiracy side of me almost thinks it is them wanting to vilify and marginalize all addicts so they don't have to provide coverage.
Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on July 03, 2016:
FlourishAnyway: thanks for the support. I am glad to continue my path tobacco free. I'm looking forward to getting 2 years behind me.
My wife makes me a chip every time I finish a year. Just a little disk of plastic she decorates, but I'm so looking forward to my new chip:-)
Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on July 03, 2016:
Say Yes to Life: more proof that digestive problems are quite common with people that quit tobacco.
The time necessary for a person to become an addict varies with the individual. Most people will develop some level of tobacco dependency within only a few days of continuous use.
A short term addiction is easier to break than a long term one because it is only during long term addiction that the drug is able to really rewire our biological systems.
Thanks so much for dropping by.
Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on July 03, 2016:
Au fait: I could never stand smoking either. I always had an aversion to the smoke, which some folks enjoy. That's why I went with chewing tobacco, because I did enjoy the effects of nicotine.
Yes, you're best just to never get caught up in tobacco at all, but for me, a realistic look at quitting is far superior to a delusional one.
So glad to hear from you and thanks for the thoughtful comments.
Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on July 03, 2016:
Lollyj lm: that's all I'm trying to do here: impart reality. I get furious with people who don't have a clue about addiction oversimplifying the withdrawal process and talking like they know what they're saying,
It isn't that non-addicts can't help. They certainly can, but if you want to help, please think about what you're saying.
Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on July 03, 2016:
DreamerMeg: with something like long term addiction it isn't as easy as just quitting. Yes, that is almost always the best answer, but there are repercussions to taking away the drug. It isn't all sunshine and lemon drops.
In your husband's case we have a real delicate balance with the stomach issues. Perhaps a way of getting nicotine that isn't cigarettes would be helpful: vaping or patches?
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on July 03, 2016:
Great article with an interesting angle we rarely hear about....very good read, Larry!
Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on July 02, 2016:
This is a great article that is also very interesting, Larry. You've shared some very important information about quitting the use of tobacco. Good luck with your future health.
Paul Richard Kuehn from Udorn City, Thailand on July 02, 2016:
I quit smoking 21 years ago after having been a moderate to heavy smoker for 28 years. It wasn't hard for me to quit because I convinced myself I would get lung cancer if I ever lit up again. I was able to quit because people close to me did not smoke and I avoided places where people smoked. I did not gain any weight after I quit smoking. In March of 2015, a cancerous tumor was found on my left kidney. I had it immediately removed (the kidney) and am getting screenings now every six months. I wouldn't be surprised that my years of smoking was a big factor in causing my kidney cancer. Being hooked on cigarettes is just like being an alcoholic. I wish there were support groups like AA for ex-smokers. Even though I have been smoke free for 21 years, an occasional thought of smoking does pass through me if I don't watch myself. Thanks for sharing a great hub which I am sharing with my HP followers.
Mel Carriere from San Diego California on July 02, 2016:
I was never deep enough into tobacco to get addicted to it, thank goodness. I tried it in high school for a few weeks, but I never got the "high" you speak of. Maybe if I had, I would have continued.
The tobacco industry has an agenda, the anti-tobacco industry has an agenda. Most of all, the insurance companies with the really bottomless pockets of cash have an agenda to get everyone to stop, and so of course they're not going to tell you how difficult it really is.
Good luck with your ongoing struggle to beat this beast. Great article.
FlourishAnyway from USA on July 02, 2016:
I used to work for the biggest tobacco company in the world and was an avid non-smoker myself but learned a lot abou addiction, the financial side and marketing. Good for you that you have kicked the habit and held strong no matter what. For me, the addiction was soda which I gave up on 9/11 of last year. I know I'm an all or nothing person and cannot afford to have even one Dr. Pepper, even though I'd give anything for one still. Stay strong.
Yoleen Lucas from Big Island of Hawaii on July 02, 2016:
I've known numerous people who went through nicotine withdrawals. I had no idea it was painful.
My ex developed a hole in his colon when he quit smoking. He nearly got blood poisoning, and had to have that part of his colon surgically removed.
I'm wondering; how long does it take for continuous use of tobacco for the person to become addicted? With meth, one can get hooked the first time. With cocaine and heroin, it can take about 2 weeks. How long for tobacco?
C E Clark from North Texas on July 02, 2016:
This article caught my eye from the feed this morning and just wanted to let you know I read it. I think you've done a great job and I especially appreciate that you said even genetically thin people not predisposed to be overweight do in fact gain after they quit tobacco. I appreciate that because very few people truly believe that excess weight is a product of genetics and that it can be so, so hard to fight genetics. Most people lose against genetics whether they ever smoked or not.
I have never smoked outside of trying it 2-3 times as a young teen, and I'm glad I never kept trying, and never succeeded in liking it, or becoming addicted. I hated it and still wonder why anyone would want to do it. Just the same, I have known many smokers, and some of them quit. Of those who quit, I know it was probably the hardest thing they ever did, and that it was a daily battle for the rest of their lives.
I agree that people should be told the truth. While it might cause some people to give up trying to quit smoking even before they do actually try, I think knowing what you're up against can give most people more determination to try harder, and they will need that determination many times. I think the truth might scare some people into not ever trying in the first place, but I think those people who do try, thinking it's going to be a breeze, are more likely to give up when the going gets tough just because they were misled into thinking it would be easy.
Very informative article, and I think it will be helpful to those people who want to quit.
Laurel Johnson from Washington KS on July 02, 2016:
It's always easy for non-addicts to make quitting anything seem simple. It's also easy to sit back and judge people with addictions if the judgers have not walked in those shoes. You did a great job of presenting the reality of quitting.
DreamerMeg from Northern Ireland on July 02, 2016:
You are so right. My husband has been a smoker for over 60 years and would love to stop but it's the only thing that keeps his ulcerative colitis at bay. I have seen his struggles and KNOW just how hard he has tried.