Kicking the habit: First week of quitting from a personal perspective

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kristopher Levasseur
  • 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Editor's note: This is the second part of a three part series documenting a smoker's attempt to quit. The Great American Smokeout is Nov. 15.

While I was in the smoker's cessation class, I was told the first seven days of quitting smoking are always the most difficult. This is the time the majority of quitters relapse. If the smoker can push past this first week, then they can quit. If they can't make it, it could be weeks, months or even years before they attempt it again.

Day 1 - I am already stressed out and it has only been 20 minutes since I quit. Just the thought of never having a cigarette again scares me. I am panicked to the point where it is noticeable to the people around me. In the smoker's cessation class, I learned cigarettes are more addictive than heroine; now I see it's true. I never really noticed how addicted I was until I quit.

Day 2 - I'm so tired. I couldn't sleep last night. According to, a possible side effect of quitting smoking is sleep disturbances, including having trouble falling asleep and staying asleep, and having bad dreams or even nightmares. These side effects are increased by the nicotine patch. Although few people have sleep disturbances, I was tossing and turning all night.

I have been chewing on toothpicks, but I don't think I can keep doing it because it's starting to hurt my teeth. I snapped at my wife and son last night because I was stressed about quitting. The smallest things are setting me off lately. Before I quit smoking, I had a long discussion with my son about what I was doing, and how it would affect me. I made a point of telling him that I might get angry, but that I still loved him and didn't mean to be mad. That night, I didn't mean to get mad and I think they understood what happened.

Day 3 - I still haven't been able to sleep. I think this time around, quitting is much more difficult. I cheated this morning and had a cigarette before I put the patch on. I haven't told anyone I cheated, but I still am really ashamed. I couldn't finish the cigarette because all I could think about was my son and daughter. I have to keep my promise to my son and I never want my daughter to see me smoke.

The worst thing happened to me after I got to work today; I put the patch on before physical training. One of the side effects listed on the patch prescription is nausea. I didn't really experience that side effect until I started running. I'm not sure if it was the patch that made me feel that way, but it was too much and I felt really sick. I will not make that mistake again.

Day 4 - I am still very stressed out, but today has been a little easier because I am at home and away from stressful situations. The cravings are still hitting me pretty hard though and I still cannot sleep. My biggest enemy right now is my triggers. I have many triggers such as smoking after I eat or while I drive. I have serious doubts as to if I can actually quit this time. I would give just about anything to have a cigarette right now.

Day 5 - Things are going fairly smooth at this point. I finally got a little sleep. I think the weekends will be my savior for quitting. Even when I smoked, I barely smoked on the weekends. I did have one fairly large craving today though. I was watching a movie and the main character was a chain smoker. It was easy enough to fight through because I was hanging out with my baby daughter. What kind of father would I be if I skipped out on our time together to go have a cigarette?

Day 6 - I cheated again today. I am having a harder time just giving up my morning cigarette on my drive in to work. It is the first day back to work and I am really stressed out. I usually don't let things get to me this bad, but I forgot my patch today so I am going cold turkey. I broke down and almost gave up quitting. I was almost in tears. If it wasn't for my NCO helping me through it, I would have given up. She wouldn't let me quit though. I told her I was ready to give up and she dragged me out of the shop and took me for a drive until the craving passed.

Day 7 - It is the seventh day and I have made it over the hump! I have stopped taking the patch all together. It was causing me too much trouble with PT and sleeping. Besides, I heard in the smoker's cessation class that quitters who go cold turkey are more likely to actually quit. I feel that unless I have the will power to do it myself, I probably won't keep it up. My next hurdle will be making it the full 30 days.

So far, I haven't noticed any benefits from quitting. It hasn't improved my PT and I still cough a lot in the morning, but I didn't quit for health reasons. I quit for my family and they are supporting me.

This week has not been easy on me. It was almost like a rollercoaster ride. There were times I felt good and knew I could do it, and there were times when I just about gave up. I know that without the support of my friends, family and co-workers, I would be smoking right now. I know I am not out of the woods yet, but at least I can see the light through the trees.