Love me, I quit smoking three months ago…

Common adverse effects of tobacco smoking (See...

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Full disclosure: it will be three months by next week, which means next week I will have hit that 12 week mark where I should be more comfortable with my new lifestyle.

Just this evening, I was jogging home from my local CAPS meeting and I surprised myself. I was able to run 4 blocks to my house and not be out of breath. I didn’t feel tired, or as if I was going to pass out, and I couldn’t hear my heart pounding loudly in my ears.  My mini-run put me in such a good mood that I couldn’t stop smiling for at least an hour.  My smoking cessation hasn’t been all peachy, however. I will admit, I’ve had a couple of incidents.

The first incident:

I don’t know if you can call this a relapse, but a couple weeks ago I was eating lunch with a friend, and I had a drag of her cigarette. I asked for a drag because I wanted to see what it would taste like. I was feeling pretty confident in my abilities; I hadn’t had a craving in a couple of weeks, and I just wanted to try it. Maybe it wasn’t a good idea, maybe I was testing myself, but either way, I hated the drag I had. I actually coughed. I was disgusted. And then I felt proud of myself, for feeling that way. I felt proud of my body for reacting so negatively to the cigarette smoke.

The second incident:

This incident is actually an ongoing process. Lately in my dreams, I am smoking a cigarette. It is not every night that I am smoking a cig, but I would say it has happened at least 5 times in the past 2 weeks. At first the dreams worried me, because I thought I would start smoking again because it was “on my mind”… but now I wonder if it is a warning to myself, and a reminder that I am trying to change, and be a new person, and I can’t relapse now.  It is common knowledge that our brains don’t stop developing until we are 25, so if I spent the last 6 years of my adult life addicted to nicotine, my brain chemistry would have developed with a place for nicotine.  Now that I no longer feed my brain nicotine, is there a chemical hole in my brain? Has my addiction harmed my brain chemistry?

“Brain skills come online with the onset in adolescence,” Caldwell said. “It’s a work in progress. It’s learning every single day.”

As teens learn to bridle their emotions with reasoning skills, Caldwell said, alcohol and drug use can be counterproductive.

“Addiction is related to experiences of learning, memory, reward and the motivation to go back to the substance, despite consequences,” he said.

via GazetteXtra.com “Alcohol, drugs slow teen development

And while I know the article quoted above is about drugs and alcohol in teens, couldn’t it also apply to nicotine?  Could this explain why I am still so ruled by my emotions? If I had never started smoking, would I have a different personality? Scary thoughts…

You can read about my first 6 days here, and my status update after a month here


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