The good Doctor and I quit smoking this week. Again.
We both used tobacco when we met, but DeeDee decided that her health required we quit in ’03 — just as I was starting library school. It was wonderful timing: add stress, remove crutch, watch hairline recede. But, with the help of ginger Altoids by the case, we both managed to break what was, for me, a better than ten year habit.
I cheated occasionally, especially when traveling, but the craving was gone.
Until DeeDee started pushing to finish the dissertation last year. The stress of a deadline, on such a large and professionally important project, combined with all the changes in medications and providers she was dealing with at the time, drove her back to tobacco. And tasting it on her lips again, I soon followed.
Well, those changes are past. DeeDee has finished the dissertation, transitioned into a new job, and gotten most of the meds stabilized. I can feel the damage smoking does, with less energy and more shortness of breath; I hate the craving that settles into my lower jaw, clinches my fists, and leaves me snapping at people when it’s that time again; I’m sick of wasting money on something I no longer enjoy. I’m not buying any more.
This won’t be fun. Some studies suggest that tobacco is as addictive as heroin (both address dopamine receptors, and it’s a lot easier to get cigarettes), but we’ve done this before. No matter what anyone says, it really is easy to quit: just don’t have another cigarette. The hard part is wanting not to have another more than wanting the withdrawal symptoms to stop. These symptoms are powerful negative reinforcement: the pain stops upon giving in. But the pain also stops when the addiction is broken–and then, it doesn’t come back.
That doesn’t make it any more fun to quit, but this time I know what I’m facing and why. It’s a small price to pay for freedom.