Friday, November 28, 2008

Letting Go of the Smokes.. A tale of One Hero and Two Drugs

Probably one of my biggest Let Go’s of the year was quitting smoking. For those of you who don’t know it, I quit January 1st of this year, at approximately 10:00 am. You have probably heard all kinds of stories about how hard it is to quit smoking, and this should be no surprise. Some experts believe that nicotine is more addictive than powdered cocaine. Two things helped me quit smoking – Allen Carr’s book “Quit Smoking the Easy Way” and Chantix. I will describe the benefits / and drawbacks of both.

Allen Carr smoked 5 packs of cigarettes a day for over 30 years. After many failures at trying to quit smoking, Carr quit smoking in 1983 after developing a unique outlook on tobacco, nicotine, and the whole cigarette habit in general. Many celebrities have used Carr’s techniques to quit smoking including, Sir Richard Branson, Ellen Degeneres, and Sir Anthony Hopkins. That's Allen's picture above on the right. Unfortunately, Allen Carr, died a few years back at the age of 73. Guess what got him? Yep, Lung Cancer. But not before he had helped millions people quit smoking. And for his efforts, I'd say that Carr is certainly a man to be admired.

Carr begins by asking a simple question, “When did you decide to become a smoker?”. Not when did you smoke your first cigarette, but when did you decide to become a nicotine addict?

You see, nobody ever decides to become a nicotine addict. What happens with cigarettes and other dangerous drugs is that a person decides to try the drug; then finds themselves trapped with the physical and mental need for the drug. Carr starts from this point, and then continues to kick the crutches out from under the cigarette smoking habit. He pretty much finishes the job by causing you to understand that by quitting cigarettes, you are really not giving up anything – instead you are gaining in the health, wealth, and well-being departments. Instead of believing that you are “giving up” cigarettes; its look’s look at what I am getting rid of, a filthy, expensive, and unhealthy habit. You can read more about Allen Carr and his program here.

Now Chantix is a whole nother thing. Chantix is a drug manufactured by Pfizer. It has a very high success rate compared to other treatments for nicotine addiction. Chantix works by altering the neural receptors in your brain that respond to nicotine. It also has some extremely interesting side effects. Chantix can cause people to have really vivid and really weird dreams.

I know at least a half dozen people who tried Chantix and their dreams were so scary they had to quit. However, I did not suffer this problem. Instead, I had very vivid great dreams! One night I went out on the town, with Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones, I was on the bus with Willie Nelson, and these are just a few of the celebrities who I hung out with every night on Chantix. And the dreams are extremely vivid, like High Definition 1080 P with Dolby Surround Sound on steroids. Every night, I was almost in a hurry to go to bed to find out what my next adventure would be. This went on for about 6 months, it was a good time. However, as Willie Nelson once said, “be careful what you’re dreaming, or soon your dreams will be dreaming you”.

I quit Chantix about 4 months or so after I quit smoking. At first, I didn’t notice anything. Then I started to get really depressed, and I mean really Mariana’s Trench Deep Black Hole depressed. Finally, it got so bad one day at work, I closed the door and called the “Employee Help Line”. I normally don’t believe in Employee Help Lines, but that is how bad I was feeling.

The lady on the help line tried to be helpful. She asked me "have you have you had thoughts of suicide, killing yourself or anyone else?"

Me "No."

Her: "Have you been taking drugs?

Me: "No, I don’t do drugs."

Her: "Do you drink?

Me: "Yes."

She: How much?

Me "Like a fish."

She: "Have you been drinking more than usual?"

Me: "No, I always drink like a fish."

She: "How long have you been drinking like a fish?"

Me: "For the last 20 years at least."

She: "And you haven’t been taking any drugs?"

Me: "Nope, none."

Well by now you may have figured it out, but I had just quit taking a drug – Chantix, and was going through a “withdrawal side effect”. You see I don’t consider the drugs that the Dr. gives you as “taking drugs or using drugs”. Damn. I don’t know if any of you have had “head problems” or not but I can tell you this. When you have a “head problem” they are very difficult to diagnose from inside your own head. Once I realized what had caused the problem, I began to feel better almost immediately.

So let’s see what have we learned here……

  1. Don’t Smoke – that way you won’t have to quit.
  2. Allen Carr – has a great approach for quitting smoking
  3. Not all drugs are illegal (Nicotine, Beer, Vodka, and Chantix are all legal)
  4. Do not play around with the Neural Receptors in Your Brain
  5. Head problems can be hard to fix.

All the best....


1 comment:

  1. BIG MIKE. After reading, and rereading your latest blog I would like to say that I'm not sure you overcome a HEAD PROBLEM. I think it is more like a recovering alcoholic. You are a recovering head problem person. In other words, you are still a nut, it's just that you know your a nut! Also, my life has been great, and more exciting sober than it ever was looking through the bottom of a Makers Mark bottle (I couldn't see through a Coors Lite 24oz.can no matter how often I tried). However my dreams have been rather dull. I think it's time to go to the Dr. and get some nondrugs. So by your definition Xanax is not a drug, RIGHT? I would quit smoking but the coughing seems to be the best exercise I've found for my abdominal muscles. Love ya, PURA VIDA, BIG IKE.