Beware of that Nicotine Demon


On February 24, 2009, I quit smoking and stuck to it. I peed on a stick and it revealed that I was pregnant. I have struggled for years to quit that nasty habit. I had good reasons to finally put that habit to rest. One reason I quit was that I didn’t want to be that woman that stands outside her office building with a swollen belly and a cigarette sticking out of her mouth. I am not judging anyone who remains a smoker during pregnancy. It’s a choice. For me, I made the choice not to. The most important reason was that little being growing inside me. I was no longer responsible for just me. I had a little creature inside me growing a tiny set of lungs, a tiny set of kidneys, etc.

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I had tried to quit in the past. Many, many times in the past. I think the longest I had quit was for three years in my early twenties. Stupidity got me smoking again. Stupidity got me every time.

Here’s the thing…

There is a little creature that sits on your shoulder that whispers reasons why you should quit, and there is another, very strong, very compelling creature that sits on your other should that is whispering all the wonderful reasons why you should smoke. The trick is to outsmart the one that is compelling you to remain a smoker. The most frequent way that little demon got me to pick up a cigarette again was by telling me that one drag on that cigarette won’t do me any harm. It told me that I could be a casual smoker. I was safe from picking up the habit again. Once I had that one drag, it said to me – “See, you can have a drag and not be addicted.” I believed it. I thought I became impervious to the habit. The next time I had the urge to have a drag off a cigarette, that demon whispered in my ear again. “Go ahead. Just one drag won’t hurt.” Eventually, that one drag became one cigarette. A night out. A few drinks. Good judgment diminishes and that demon strikes. There is no harm in getting just that one package of cigarettes. Those packs turn into a daily occurrence and bam, you’re smoking again.

The good little voice nags you at the back of your mind. It’s unhealthy. Don’t go back to it. Resist the urge. The demon speaks louder. You will gain a ton of weight!

So… the habit-battle rages on.

The battle between the good little voice telling you to quit, and the voice whispering sweet reasons why you should continue, rages on.

Maybe another time, that good voice wins a battle. That voice convinces you to quit. You even come up with a good strategy to beat it. For me, I walked back and forth to work each day. At a certain point during that walk, and always at the same set of lights, I would light up a smoke. I had various points during my walks where I would light up that smoke. This time, I would take different routes, avoiding my light up spots. That worked out well.

Eventually, that little demon starts to whisper in your ear again. Eventually, that little demon gets you to try one, then another and so on. Next thing you know, you’re addicted again.

I’ve tried different methods. One time I quit, I decided that I would smoke cigars instead. Cigars aren’t cigarettes. There are no dangers of picking up the cigarette habit again if I stick to cigars. Okay. That was a really dumb surrender. Those cigars turned into cigarettes. Back to the guilt. Back to trying to compel that good little voice into speaking louder and more convincingly.

Start. Stop again.

This time the voice says to me it’s okay to smoke if I am out partying. I was more of a weekend warrior. I went out with friends to the local pub on a Thursday and maybe a Friday night. I kept my Saturdays and Sundays as sacred me-time. During the week, I wanted to be fresh for work so I kept to my home. Got to bed early. Got out of bed early and to work early. That little demon convinced me to smoke only when I went out and drank. I told everyone I only smoke when I drink. What did I do? I went out drinking more. I went out, uncharacteristically, during the weeks and during my sacred Saturdays and Sundays, and I drank some beer and smoked some cigarettes. I liked getting my ample sleep time during the week and I liked getting up early in the morning and starting my day before most other people. I felt like I sort of had the city to myself. Going out every night was expensive and it made mornings more difficult. Something had to give. I caved into the cravings and again I was a smoker again.

The Challenge of remaining a non-smoker

This time I wanted the quitting to stick. I wanted to never smoke again. It was time for me to examine what it was that got me hooked every time. This time I had the added motivation of being a mother. I felt that if I were to become a smoker again and my child became a smoker, I would automatically lose the argument of “Well you smoke, why can’t I.” I feel it would be an argument I would surely lose. I felt the trick in never having a child that smokes, is to not be one myself.

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So what is it that got me smoking again? Those very reasons mentioned above. Telling myself that I can have just one. I can’t have just one. I can never, ever have any. Telling myself that I can smoke if I am drinking. Nope. Telling myself that only gets me to drink more. I don’t want to stave off that demon, too. Telling myself that smoking cigars are okay and a safe way to keep away from cigarettes is a big lie, also. Cigars are tobacco. Tobacco is in cigarettes. Both are addictive.

Now that I know this, I can recognize that those sweet nothings that demon whispers into my ears are nothing compelling, but merely B.S. Bye bye demon! You’re gone for good.