I started smoking when I was sixteen. Not really sure why I did as I was kind of health conscious (or at least I thought I was) and I was on the swim team. So smoking was never really something I saw myself doing. And I hated the smell of tobacco too. Despite these facts, however, somehow I did end up smoking for 24 years.
And then fifty-nine months ago I had my last cigarette. And when I did, I did not honestly think it would be my last. In fact I was certain of it. I had tried to quit numerous times before only to fail miserably. I tried Wellbutrin, the patch, nicotine gum, and cold turkey, but nothing seemed to stick. Oh, I would do fine for a couple of weeks, maybe even a month or two. Bet inevitably I would smoke again. It was almost a running gag in my office that every week I would try to quit.
So when Chantix came out I was hesitant to try it. More than that, I was ready to quit trying to quit. I was addicted and always would be addicted. My wife was tired of the mood swings and crabbiness associated with me trying to quit. I was tired of wasting the money on products to help me quit smoking. I had resigned myself to the fact that I would never be able to quit smoking.
So perhaps it was out of that desperate place that I decided to give Chantix a shot. I started taking it on a Monday. For those not familiar, Chantix is taken for a full week before the actual quit date to allow the chemical to build up in the body. During that week the smoker continues to smoke.
The following Monday came…my quit day! The only problem was I didn’t quit. There was no way I could as this stupid Chantix wasn’t doing anything. I had the same desire to smoke as I always did. I ended up smoking like I did on any other day. I was ready to chuck the rest of the medicine and forget about it.
I woke up the next morning and decided I would give it one more chance. “Let’s see if I can make it to work before having a smoke,” I remember thinking as I got out of bed. I took my shower, got dressed, went downstairs and had breakfast and drove to work. Then when I got there, my boss was waiting for me with an issue on the mail server. So I started looking into that. I got that issue resolved and there was another problem that one of the users off-site was having getting connected remotely. So I worked on that for a while.
Before I knew it, it was time for lunch. And I hadn’t had a cigarette yet.
But this time something was different. This time I didn’t want one.
I was thunderstruck. I had gone almost six hours not only not craving a cigarette the whole time, I hadn’t really even though about it.
In that instant I knew that if I gave it half a chance the Chantix would work and I would be able to quit smoking.
So here I am fifty-nine months later and I still haven’t had a cigarette. I can only remember one time during the quit process that I was even close to smoking. I went in to the convenience store, bought a pack of cigarettes and a lighter, walked outside, opened the pack, looked at them, and threw the cigarettes and the lighter away. I hopped back in my car and swore all the way home.
But Chantix wasn’t without its issues. Personally I experienced very, shall we say, vivid dreams, some pretty scary dreams, lightheadedness, and a little paranoia. Knowing these were common side-effects helped greatly in dealing with them.
The worst for me came when it was time to quit taking the Chantix, however. Those scary nightmares I had while taking the Chantix became some pretty scary thoughts during my waking hours when I stopped taking it. I read up on it (on the internet) and some people recommended stepping down the dosage over a week or two. I consulted with my doctor and he concurred. Stepping down the dosage helped significantly.
I’m still not certain if it was the desperation of a perceived last chance to quit or the effectiveness of the Chantix medication or a combination of both, but I am pleased to say that today I have been smoke free for 1796 days and look to continue that trend. Chantix may not be for everyone, and I have heard a lot of complains about it, but the outcome for me was a positive experience.