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I wasn’t exactly mentally ready yet to be able to stop; my mindset was not fully prepared to face the physiological and emotional steps of becoming a non-smoker. Becoming a non-smoker is a dramatic lifestyle change.
So I asked other people who had successfully stopped smoking, and one of them suggested I try the nicotine replacement patch, which provides a source of nicotine that reduces the withdrawal symptoms in someone who stops smoking.
I went to the pharmacy where a friend of mine worked and asked him for nicotine patches. He was a bit surprised for two reasons: first, the only time he would see me there was when I was buying condoms, and secondly, he couldn’t believe that I will really stop smoking. We started talking, and he asked me how many cigarettes I smoked a day, which brand I smoked, and how many milligrams of nicotine the cigarettes contained.
I asked him why all the questions, and he said my answers were crucial to determine the strength of the patch and the length of time to be used.
He told me to apply the patch to a clean, hairless, dry area on my upper arm, I should only use one every 24 hours unless I wanted to overdose and leave this planet. Despite nicotine’s high toxicity, a person cannot overdose on nicotine just by smoking. Overdose, however, can happen if a person uses too many nicotine patches or chews too much nicotine gum or chewing gum. He also told me to replace the patch at a specific time and that I could wear it even during taking a shower, which I thought was cool because I could still get my fix while water was dropping on me: something I couldn’t do while smoking a cigarette.
Finally, he showed me how to apply the patch. He mentioned that in two weeks I should come back to get a patch with a smaller dose, gradually decreasing the dose with ultimate, goal to completely remove it from my system.
So I went home and put the nicotine patches packet on my handmade coffee table, which was basically a stack of books that I read and a piece of wood on top. I sat on the bed and stared at the pharmacy bag, wondering whether I was ready and whether I was strong enough to be victorious.
It was around 6 p.m. when I applied my first patch. I had to remember to change the old with the new same time every day so I wouldn’t get any withdrawal symptoms. The first two days were ok. It seemed that I didn’t have the urge to smoke, maybe because I stayed home and did household chores, read a book, and had pretty good control over my actions.
The third day, I had to go out for a coffee, and that’s when it really hit me. I wanted to smoke so badly. I always smoked while having my coffee, plus all my friends were smoking. Seeing all the automatic mouth and hand gestures shouted at me to pick up a cigarette and light it, put it in my mouth and inhale a long-lasting puff and then hold it for a few seconds in my lungs before exhaling the dark smoke of sin into the air.
But I managed to withstand the urge, even after all the teasing from my friends, who didn’t want me to stop smoking. (If you want to stop smoking, you need to stop hanging around people that smoke, especially in the first two months).
The fourth day was doomsday. I broke down when I and “the gang” went out to a club with loud music, dancing, and drinking. I had never been a heavy alcohol drinker, but I would always smoke while having a beer or my very rare whiskey, and that’s when I gave in. I lit a cigarette, and as you smokers know, it only needs to be one to become a smoker, so my first try at stopping was a failure; the nicotine patch didn’t work for me. But just because the patch didn’t work for me doesn’t mean it will not work for others.
Apply the patch in different spots and not on top of the previously used space. I only used the patch for four days, but it gave me a rush because I didn’t use another spot. (I was too lazy to shave the hair on my arm to make space for other patches; what can I say? I like my hair.)
I didn’t experience any of the common side effects, maybe because I used it for only four days.
I guessed when he didn’t see me after two weeks; the pharmacy guy would assume he was right about me. Of course, he saw me again, as I had to buy condoms anyway.
This is an excerpt from my first book Thirsty for Health.
Have a nice day.