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Is smoking more of a relaxant or a stimulant? How does one quit?

 
 
Reply Mon 1 Aug, 2011 01:52 pm
I've never smoked cigarettes because I have asthma. I have, on a few rare occasions, smoked a cigar, but that was not really inhaling. But this isn't about me - it's about my husband.

Everyone knows how bad smoking is for the health and also knows how hard it is (but not impossible) to stop.

My husband smokes. I don't like it, simply because he will most likely die sooner in the end because of it. I love him and would like to keep him around for a long time and not have to nurse him in the final years of his life while he slowly dies of emphysema (although I would willingly do this if it came down to it). He smokes over a pack a day, sometimes closer to 2 packs. I have never told him to stop, because, first of all, I'm not his mother and when we met he smoked and I accepted it as part of who he was. Don't we all have various bad habits? Anyway, now that we have two children, they notice and they don't like it. They really want him to stop. They don't usually ask him outright to stop - because I've told them how hard it is to quit smoking, which I hope will be a huge deterrent to them ever starting the habit.

I get the impression that smoking is very relaxing for him, as he tends to smoke even more when under stress. Smoking seems to have the same effect as alcohol in reducing tension for him. Also, he seems to have the inability to drink without lighting up. I'm a bit confused because I always thought smoking was a stimulant. Maybe it's a stimulant in a positive way that feels great, sort of like cocaine or coffee but to a different effect? And that the smoking, combined with the alcohol is a perfect combination? I don't know. All I know is that he seems the most laid back after he has had a smoke.

I know that he would like to quit because he knows that it is a bad habit, but I think that deep down he really doesn't WANT to quit. Therein lies the problem. I thought he had completely quit last summer - then we both went out to eat with friends and his friend asked me permission to let him come out and have a "quick smoke". I guess it mattered not to him that my husband had spent the last 3 months whittling down his smoking to nothing. What am I supposed to say, "Sure, go ahead, let him smoke!" I thought it was quite selfish of his friend to do that to say the least, and all I did was give him a dirty look. Of course, then, after smoking the one "quick smoke" he began to start smoking more again, and now he is back to somewhere between 1-2 packs a day.

I was wondering what the best substitute could be for smoking - what could give him the same kind of euphoric feeling (or whatever it is, because it definitely makes him happier and not smoking keeps him grouchier). I suspect it's related to seratonin levels? I've already thought about sex being a good replacement for smoking, but that is not an issue - we already have a great sex life (with its peaks and valleys, of course, like anyone in a long-term sexual relationship) and having good sex has not seemed to make an iota of a difference in the volume of his smoking.

I honestly don't know how to make him want to quit. I will never just tell him to quit. I'm not the type to order another adult to stop a vice - if it were my kids it would be completely different - I would have no qualms about telling them that if they want to smoke, it will have to be somewhere else, not in our house. BTW, he is a very polite smoker - he never smokes inside and never has, except when he's in a bar.

The strongest motivation outside of himself deciding he wants to quit is our girls wanting him to quit, which he knows. I guess I'll just leave well enough alone. He really seems to enjoy it and I hate to see something that he seems to enjoy and depend on so much disappear from his life, but it just doesn't set right with me.

He's tried weaning, cold-turkey and a few other quit smoking "contraptions", but he always turns back to it. I wish someone had a success story of a good substitute for the high of smoking. Whenever he temporarily quits the poor man seems absolutely miserable and is so grouchy. Eventually he settles down, but he just doesn't seem to enjoy life as much without the drag. He started smoking when he was about 19-20 and in college, because he was working in a convenience store and was bored. He does seem to enjoy it the most when he's out at a bar. I wish there was some way he could learn to drink without automatically lighting up.

BTW, he actually bikes long-distance sometimes. You would think that the intense exercise would be a deterrent to or substitute for the smoking. He must have lungs of steel in spite of it.
I would love to hear some insight on this. In the meantime, I'm continue letting him smoke in peace.
 
ossobuco
 
  2  
Reply Mon 1 Aug, 2011 02:04 pm
@sharonpustejovsky,
Well, first of all, the person has to want to. There are many ways to quit, and you can check other threads on a2k, about quitting smoking, for a lot of comments about what worked and didn't for different people.

Me, I was a heavy smoker for twenty years, up to three packs a day, though some part of those packs were spent resting burning in ashtrays. I quit twice, cold turkey both times. First time, after some months, I was bored in a conference room (this is back when people could smoke at work in the u.s.) and my boss sitting next to me was smoking my old brand. I asked for one, he gave it to me, and that was it for the next four years or so, I was back to smoking heavily.

Next time, cold turkey again. I did have, dangerously as previously observed, a few more cigarettes on a visit to my husband's favorite teacher and my subsequent good friend, an older woman who was a smokes fiend. Yes, she died of lung cancer sometime later. Anyway, in those sets of hours we visited, I would have one or two of hers. But by that time, they really put me off and I didn't run out and buy a pack. Haven't smoked since, and that was 1982.

That's just one person's story.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 1 Aug, 2011 02:06 pm
@ossobuco,
Here's a list of a2k threads that involve the word 'smoking' -

http://able2know.org/search/?cx=partner-pub-3092869023721312%3Adw2qoa-tocz&cof=FORID%3A10&ie=UTF-8&q=smoking&sa=Search+ยป&siteurl=able2know.org%252Fsearch%252F
Questioner
 
  2  
Reply Mon 1 Aug, 2011 02:10 pm
@sharonpustejovsky,
Speaking from my own experience with quitting smoking, there's a few things that have to happen for your husband to successfully kick the habit.

1) He has to truly want to quit.
This is integral. If he's only doing it because he feels you want him to, it likely won't work. That's not to say it couldn't, but it's very, very, very hard to kick the habit unless the drive starts with the smoker.
2) He's going to need to find something else to do instead of smoking. Smoking is an action-addiction as much as it is a chemical one. Yes, it relieves stress. This is not only because of whatever chemical stimulation nicotine provides, but also just from the event of removing one's self from the stressful situation and taking 5 minutes. A good substitute for this (for me) was phone solitaire and/or going for a quick walk.
3)It also means putting the foot down on hanging out with the friends that smoke. This was the hardest part for me. I had to limit access to some of my best friends because they all smoked heavily. It wasn't my place (or yours or your husband's) to expect them to change their habits. So removing myself from the 'action-addiction' of hanging out with them as I always had, and smoking with them as I always had, was key to me removing myself from stimuli that made it harder for me to want to quit.

As for the lungs and the bike riding. . . it'll catch up to him soon enough. Hopefully he'll feel it as he gradually loses his ability to bike as far or as vigorously as he once could before. I played baseball through high school and was in several leagues afterward. I quickly noticed that I wasn't able to run as fast, and that my recovery time REALLY suffered. Next time he rides up to the garage or whatever and he's out of breath you might casually inquire how long his recovery is taking. That might help him take note.




sharonpustejovsky
 
  1  
Reply Mon 1 Aug, 2011 02:29 pm
@ossobuco,
Thanks for the threads!
0 Replies
 
sharonpustejovsky
 
  1  
Reply Mon 1 Aug, 2011 02:31 pm
@Questioner,
Yes! I'm in complete agreement about not hanging with the friends who smoke. One of the issues is that his best friend, who smokes, is also his business partner. That means they're together a lot.

Maybe one day something will happen to make him really want to quit.
ossobuco
 
  2  
Reply Mon 1 Aug, 2011 04:52 pm
@sharonpustejovsky,
I'll disagree, re my own experience. One has to be able to be around people who do smoke, if they are in your life in any meaningful way. Let me say I figure that there are less now for people quitting than there were back in the seventies, but people's surrounding cultures differ.

For me, I dissociated, as in, they do that, not me. Thus I could stand at checkout counters with a wall of cig packages - as there used to be - and not even consider buying a pack. I think it was similar for my pals who completely gave up alcohol. They, for the most part, don't mind if you have a drink in front of them.

My difficulty was not that, but my own habits of smoking while on the phone, smoking while painting or drawing, smoking while having coffee, after a meal, smoking after a task was done, and so on. I had to change my small patterns for a few weeks/a while. You have to want to.
ossobuco
 
  2  
Reply Mon 1 Aug, 2011 05:15 pm
@ossobuco,
On your original question, I used to think smoking relaxed me. But, after I quit, I was much calmer.
Dave World
 
  3  
Reply Mon 1 Aug, 2011 05:26 pm
@sharonpustejovsky,
The drug nicotine is classified as a stimulus blocker. It is neither a downer nor an upper. That does not go to the heart of your question, though. You ask about smoking, not nicotine. Smoking is a habit. Almost any habit can be relaxing due to association with an unstressed feeling. Then too, not smoking CAN be stressful due to withdrawal symptoms. From personal experience, I can recommend the following strategies.

Fight the oral fixation aspect with hard candy, chewing gum, special meals, et cetera. Drink lots of green tea, an antioxidant. For relaxation, try valerian or kava kava herbs. Similarly, try St. John's Wort herb for depression. All of these herbs can be purchased at big-box stores in the vitamin section if you're into saving money. Higher quality products can be had in specialty stores. You might want to invest in learning Transcendental Meditation if you can find a teacher. I spent money on it 35 years ago, and it pays dividends to this day. Increase exercise levels. Use a nicotine replacement like Nicoret gum, which is especially effective because it addresses both the oral fixation aspect and the withdrawal part. The trick is to gradually reduce the Nicoret level over time. Do NOT use Chantix. It makes people crazy . . . violent and depressive in some extreme cases . . . or just plain old cranky in almost all other users. Give the smoker lots of extra love and coddling while the process drags on. It will be hard on you too, so pamper yourself while you're at it. Finally, enlist the kids to participate in the process. Ask them to be supportive and as well-behaved as possible. There you go. Don't give up. It's worth the short term hassle for the sake of the long term happiness.



Questioner
 
  2  
Reply Mon 1 Aug, 2011 05:33 pm
@ossobuco,
Not really in disagreement, just that there are different stimuli that effect people. In my case, smoking around my friends was a part of my habit. Seeing my friends light up was my cue to do the same, and always had been. Thus my suggestion about removing that kind of stimuli from your life.

Fortunately, after I was able to develop new and healthier habits, and get back to hanging with my friends without the desire returning.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 1 Aug, 2011 05:39 pm
@Questioner,
I can see that. Obviously, I say to myself, it was a problem for me that time I was bored and started up again with my boss' cig package right next to me.
0 Replies
 
Pemerson
 
  1  
Reply Mon 1 Aug, 2011 05:58 pm
@sharonpustejovsky,
I quit sometime in the 80s when a bleeding dueodenal ulcer sent me to the hospital for 3 days. Revolting experience. I figured I'd gone 3 days without those things (only smoked a pack a day) that I would never smoke again. In short, I was ready. You have to be ready and only the smoker knows when he/she is ready.

Then, I went home and completely changed my diet, eating very heaaaalthy. I marveled at myself for months, thinking most days "Just think, I no longer smoke." It helps too to take a trip somewhere, do something different, keep busy.

Picked up another habit of eating sweets. Oh, joy, that is still tough. Put on weight but decided I'd rather fight the weight than smoke again. That was pretty damn hard, giving up smoking.

I don't think a few smokes a day is harmful. But, who can smoke just once?
DhirajSaini
 
  0  
Reply Tue 2 Aug, 2011 05:33 am
@sharonpustejovsky,
so bad
0 Replies
 
sharonpustejovsky
 
  1  
Reply Tue 2 Aug, 2011 05:55 am
@ossobuco,
It would be impossible for my husband to never be around smokers. In the line of work he does they are more prevalent anyway. When and if he does quit he will have to learn to turn a blind eye to it but remain their non-smoking friend. Time will tell.
0 Replies
 
sharonpustejovsky
 
  1  
Reply Tue 2 Aug, 2011 05:56 am
@ossobuco,
How long did it take to get calmer?

Congrats on quitting, by the way.
sharonpustejovsky
 
  1  
Reply Tue 2 Aug, 2011 05:57 am
@Dave World,
Thanks for the info, Dave. When he is actively trying to quit he does chew a lot of gum and stay active. I think that helps. It's the winding down time that gets difficult, especially when that winding down time includes a drink.

Thanks, also, for reminding me to relax and pamper myself a bit during this grouchy process. And congrats on overcoming the habit!
0 Replies
 
sharonpustejovsky
 
  1  
Reply Tue 2 Aug, 2011 05:59 am
@Pemerson,
It might end up taking something drastic for him to quit. I hope not! I'm glad that you ended up getting something positive out of a negative, though. Congrats on quitting!
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 2 Aug, 2011 11:01 pm
@sharonpustejovsky,
Not long. Of course I didn't time it. My sense is that I was calmer after a couple of weeks but it probably started earlier. I had a strange crutch, in that I copied a friend who had quit at work - she kept a supply of toothpicks at hand to hold in her teeth when she quit. I tried it and it helped the first few days but it shortly became too damned silly. Better to use them for olives or canapes.

Mm, no congrats to me, that was thirty years ago, and in retrospect, not that damned hard relative to other life stuff.

0 Replies
 
KellyLewis
 
  0  
Reply Wed 17 Sep, 2014 02:53 am
@sharonpustejovsky,
There is no doubt that smoking provide relaxation to mind and body, but its effects are catastrophic. It causes various type of cancers. There is no part of our body that is not affected by smoking.
One can try e cigarettes or herbal incense to quite this bad habit. These are very helpful in quitting smoking .
Lordyaswas
 
  1  
Reply Wed 17 Sep, 2014 03:23 am
@KellyLewis,
This question was posted and answered over 3 years ago. She has either nagged him to death by now regarding his persitent habit, or he has packed it in and they are now holidaying in the Bahamas on the money saved.
 

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