How I Conquered Smoking (Tips I Used To Break The Habit)

Great America Smokeout, a day where Americans who smoke are encouraged to live a smoke-free life. The event has been running for over 40 years and is sponsored by the America Cancer Society (ACS) The event takes place annually on the third Thursday of November. To mark the day we are sharing Chris’s journey to quit smoking cigarettes and sharing some of the tips he found helpful.

It’s Hard But Worth It

​Quitting smoking is hard, about as hard as quitting heroin (or so they say). And having the experience of quitting heroin and then smoking, I can say that this saying is pretty accurate! I was a little over 2 years clean and sober from drugs and alcohol when I decided to quit smoking cigarettes. I didn’t quit cold turkey, I used my vape to get myself away from actual cigarettes. This was NOT easy, the vape is very different from cigarettes. But with hard work, talking to someone when I wanted to smoke, and eating carrots like they were cigarettes I was able to get off the cigarettes.

Quitting smoking is hard, about as hard as quitting heroin (or so they say). And having the experience of quitting heroin and then smoking, I can say that this saying is pretty accurate!

About six months later I decided that I wanted to get off the nicotine that was in my vape juice, I gradually decreased the amount of nicotine until I was down to zero. Now I still vape, but without nicotine and not nearly as much. I know that it really is possible to quit cigarettes, no matter how hard it is, with hard work, a lot of willpower, and the support of people around you.

Ways To Quit Smoking

​The American Cancer Society (ACS) has a site with a lot of resources on how to quit. There are multiple other methods that can be used to quit smoking, including electronic cigarettes, nicotine replacement therapy, and prescription drugs.

The first step is to decide what method you want to use, the one you think will work best for you and that you will be able to stick to. The other most important step to beginning to quit is to gather support, whether that is family, friends, stop-smoking programs, telephone helplines, or counselors. Once you’ve chosen your method, gathered your support network, you need to pick a quit day. Mark it in your calendar, and share that day with your friends and family so they can hold you accountable.

The first step is to decide what method you want to use, the one you think will work best for you and that you will be able to stick to

Another helpful thing is to remove all your ashtrays and cigarettes in your possession in your home, car, and work. The last thing to do before your quit date is to pick which method of quitting you wish to use and to get everything prepared for you to use it on your quit date.

​The most important thing to do when you reach your quit date is not to give in to temptation, no matter what. This is hard, and you need to keep yourself busy so you can get through the rough days ahead. Whether you do that by exercise, a hobby, or anything else to distract yourself. Another thing that is helpful is to avoid situations where the urge to smoke is strong and to avoid people who are smoking. This doesn’t mean that you stop being friends with people who are smokers, just don’t be around them while they are smoking. The last suggestion is to change your routine. This is because smoking will still be a part of your daily routine, and the goal is to change those habits so smoking isn’t a part of it. These changes can be as simple as drinking tea instead of coffee or eat breakfast in the kitchen instead of the living room.

The 4 D’s

You also must be prepared to have cravings. These are just part of quitting.

The ACS recommends using the 4 D’s:

  • Delay– just pause and wait 10 minutes, and repeat the 10 minutes if you need to.
  • Deep breathe– slowly breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, and then if you need to ground yourself by finding 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can feel, and 2 things you can taste.
  • Drink water– this will help flush your system of the nicotine as well as keeping you hydrated.
  • Do something else– get up and move or do something you enjoy when you feel that urge to smoke. Some activities will trigger the urge to smoke, be prepared for that.

The Withdrawal Symptoms Will Pass

Remember that nicotine is a drug, and it will have both physical and mental withdrawal just like any other drug. These physical withdrawal symptoms include intense cravings, sweating, nausea, headaches, coughing, sore throat, insomnia, and weight gain. These symptoms typically peak around two and three days after quitting. But if you ignore them, they will eventually go away. The symptoms will most likely go way in two to four weeks, but some people still experience them for several months, however not as bad as in the beginning.

The mental withdrawals include depression, grief, a sense of loss, frustration, impatience, anger, anxiety, irritability, trouble concentrating, and restlessness or boredom. The hardest part for most people who go through nicotine withdrawals are the emotional effects, rather than the physical ones. 

It Can Be Done

Overall, quitting smoking is difficult but it is possible. What I needed more than anything was to truly want to quit smoking. I could say that I had or needed to quit all the time, but I had to be truly ready to quit. I had to want it. And once I wanted it, I had to be prepared for the withdrawals, both physical and mental. I personally had to replace the habit with something else, I chose to vape to replace smoking, some might choose to eat a certain type of food to get over the habit so it’s all dependent on what works for you! You will need something to get through the cravings because they can hard to get through. One thing I learned when I got clean and sober was to set a timer, and that worked for quitting smoking as well. For example, if I had a strong craving, I didn’t think I could get through the craving, but I could get through 5 minutes. So I set a timer for 5 minutes and could get through those minutes, and then I reset the timer to go again. And eventually the craving will pass and you’ll be okay. That’s just my experience, and everyone has their own tricks on how to quit, take what works for you and leave the rest. But one more time- it is possible to quit smoking.

About The Author

Chris is a 23 years old college student, living with several chronic illnesses. He loves meeting and talking to new people, especially those who struggle with similar illnesses to his.

My Medication Nightmare: What Should You do if You Run out of Your Medication

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We’ve all been there. Something goes wrong somewhere and it delays us being able to get the medicines we’ve come to rely on to make it through each day. Maybe it’s a problem with a doctor writing a prescription in time before you run out. Maybe you have the physical prescription, but the pharmacy it out of the medication and needs to order it. Maybe funds are tight, like they are for many of us, and you just can’t afford the medication. It could really be any reason, but most of us have had times when this has been an issue. So now what?

My medication nightmare began over a month ago. I live in the Canary Islands, near Spain, but I order the thyroid supplement I take for my Hashimoto’s through a company in the United States. Since it’s being shipped internationally and has to go through customs, I am always sure to allow plenty of extra time. I’ve never had a problem, until now that is. It’s been over a month and I still have not been able to receive my medication. No matter what I do, I seem to hit another roadblock. At this point, I’ve actually cancelled the order and attempted to reorder in hopes I won’t have the same issues, as I’ve never encountered this problem before, but only time will tell.

So what can you do if you run out of a medication? Hopefully, you’ll never be in this predicament, but if you are, here are some things to try.

First, try to avoid the problem. It happens. Many of us take multiple medications throughout the day. It’s easy to lose track of how many pills you need to make it through the week. You look at the bottle and think you’ll be okay, until, before you know it, you’re down to your last pills. If you can, try to order the medication before you’ll actually be out of it. This will also allow time for the pharmacy to order it if necessary. Some pharmacies have automatic refills to help with this, but a good way to ensure you won’t run out is to make a habit of reordering the prescription a week before the date it was last filled. For example, if you last filled your prescription on the 20th of the month, reorder it on the 13th of the next month. Set a reminder if you need to.

Second, pay attention to how many refills you have left. Often with chronic illnesses, you may take a specific medication for months or years on end. With the exception of pain medications, doctors will often allow multiple refills on a single prescription. Try to pay attention to this so you’re not trying to refill a prescription when no refills are available. Even when you or your pharmacist notices a new prescription is needed, the doctor’s office may not be able to fulfill the request immediately for any number of reasons. Therefore, it’s important to allow time for this. The one week rule from the previous paragraph works well here too. Ideally, you may have realized the need at your last appointment and requested the prescription then, but allowing the week buffer leaves enough time for your pharmacist to contact the doctor and the doctor to respond.

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But what if you miscalculate or are even away from home and run out of your medication? Or maybe it’s a weekend and your doctor’s office it closed? There are a few things you can do. If you’re using your home pharmacy and have a history of taking a particular medication, your pharmacist may be able to give you an emergency supply of the medication, or just enough to make it through a couple of days until a prescription can be attained. You can also take the original bottle from the prescription into another pharmacy and, providing you have refills, the can fill the prescription or contact the prescribing doctor or even an on-call doctor when necessary. In a pinch, you may also be able to find a walk-in clinic and have the doctor there address your prescription needs.

Even with all of this in mind, sometimes life happens and you’re stuck without your meds. As a chronic illness sufferer, I know that with some of my medications, even just missing a single dose can make a huge difference. Then, of course, dealing with the resulting flare can be horrific and impact every aspect of life, from sleep habits, to brain fog, to eating, and participating in daily activities. This is the position I currently find myself in.

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As I said earlier, I’ve been waiting for my thyroid supplement for over a month, but it’s caught up in customs. Initially, I tried rationing my medication to try to make it last longer in hopes that my order would arrive from the US. I would either take less doses each day or take smaller doses to stretch out what I had left. I figured something was better than nothing and really expected this to be a temporary situation. My body can definitely tell the difference. Even with the smaller doses, I was much more tired than usual, experienced more migraines, and just generally had more pain.

Now I’ve been without my medication for a while, and my body is not happy. I’ve become virtually dysfunctional. My fatigue is unending and the pain is unbearable. It’s hard for me to complete work, do household tasks, and even spend time with my daughter. All I want to do is stay in bed all day.

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As much as I’d love to build a blanket fort and not come out until this nightmare is over, life must go on. For me right now, that means trying to organize my house and make it more livable as I’ve recently moved. I don’t feel well. Like I said, I’m exhausted, weak, and in pain, which is making it difficult to focus on even basic tasks. In the life of a Chargie, these factors can lead to disaster.

Not being able to take my medications has effected me in ways I would have never imagined. Recently, I was trying to make my house a little less chaotic and more settled after my move. I decided I would at least try to get rid of some of the empty boxes scattered throughout my house, as I thought this task required very little energy or concentration. Well, Things didn’t quite go as I had planned.

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I was attempting to fold a larger box to get it out of the way. Like I said, I’ve been feeling weak and my dexterity is waning from being off of my meds for so long, so the box slipped out of my hands. I bent down to try to catch it, when SMACK!!! I hit my head on the corner of a cabinet. OUCH!!! As if I didn’t already have enough problems, I managed to give myself a concussion. Even the most menial tasks can require Herculean effort on a bad day. For more on this story, check out my YouTube video above.

Through all this pain and aggravation, I did learn a few things. First, plan ahead. Normally, I do this, but this time it wasn’t enough as my meds are still being held hostage. Maybe now I know that what I thought was more than sufficient time may not be. Second, have a Plan B. In my case, there’s really not much more I could have done for this particular medicine, but it’s good to know alternatives if you do find yourself out of a medication. Panic and stress will only make everything worse. Most importantly, if you do find yourself in this situation, be gentle with yourself. If you are already in a vulnerable and weakened position from being without your meds, pushing yourself will generally make you feel worse. While yes, life has to go on to some extent, pick and choose your battles so you don’t make your flare worse than it needs to be. Everything else will still be there when you’re feeling better.

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Make Money from Home With a Disability

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When you’re living with chronic illnesses, some days you’ll find that it’s just too difficult to get up and go to what most people would consider a traditional job. Recently, I had a very trying flare. I would be up until 3 AM and then somehow need to be able to function at 6:30 to get my daughter ready for school. It was all just too stressful and too much for my body and mind to handle. This would happen too often, and unfortunately, my employers would not understand what living with chronic illness is like. Time after time, this pattern would cause me to lose my job.

That’s why about seven years ago I started marketing online. I did different things. I did affiliate marketing, where you will promote someone else’s product for a commission. I did advertising and had an advertising company where I helped small businesses advertise online. About 4 years ago is when I started with the Unchargeables community and began making the T-shirts and other products. I really LOVE this work, but unfortunately, it doesn’t pay my bills completely, so I’ve had to come up with other sources of income.

Survival Mode

Chronic illness has a way of turning your entire world upside down. It can often render people unable to do things they once were and force us to make very difficult choices. For many of us, it becomes impossible to continue to hold a full-time job, if we are able to work at all. This can greatly add to the day to day stress we feel in the overall struggle to survive. For many of us, not working at all is simply not an option, particularly as we endure the long and painstaking process of applying for disability benefits, which can often lead to rejection and reapplying. The process can take years. So what can someone with chronic illnesses do in the meantime to survive?

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Time for a New Plan

Working from home is optimal for people with chronic illnesses who still need to work as it often can provide for a flexible schedule and work environment and eliminates an often long and stressful commute. As the founder of the Unchargeables, my main source of income come from the associated shop. Obviously, this is not an option for most people, but you can take the concept and apply it to your own skills. If you’re crafty, you can create a product or craft and open up your own shop on venues like Etsy or Amazon. A big help for me in my business is Clickfunnel, a software which helps structure and manage online businesses. This would allow you to use your skills at your own pace and bring in some income.

Harness Your Skills

alternative jobs

Another source of income that I’ve come to rely on is that I’m a freelance translator. I have started doing this in the past year to help supplement my income. It allows me to work from home and at my own pace. I have also taken consultation jobs using this skill. Whether it’s translation or something else, find a skill you possess and offer you services as a consultant. Perhaps you had to leave a full-time job due to your illness. Find a way to harness the skills you used and offer them for consultation. For example, if you were a teacher, tutor or write lesson plans. If you worked with computers, offer technical support. Almost any career has a skill that you can offer to provide consultation for if you break it down into its elements.

Sell Yourself!

When you’re chronically ill, you’ll find much of your life is spent in survival mode. It becomes so important to minimize physical, mental, and emotional stress, which are inherent with many traditional jobs. Just as you devise creative strategies for things like self-care and completing daily tasks, it becomes necessary to be creative to earn an income. Sell yourself! You are a valuable commodity with a lot to offer, even if it’s not how you originally planned.

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