Kicking the habit

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Leah Ferrante
  • 49th Wing Public Affairs
I hear the alarm go off, and it's time to get ready for work. My hair needs to be done, and I have to step into the uniform and prepare breakfast, everything I should be worried about first thing in the morning. However, instead I have a nagging burden. A Craving. A Need. And before starting my morning routine I have to, no..., need to indulge in my biggest downfall. I need my morning cigarette.

How did I fall victim to such a disgusting habit? Why does it own my life? More importantly, how do I stop?

Smoking was never a part of my upbringing. No one in my immediate family or friends smoke; it was never pressured on me. In my 21 years of life, I've never had a reason to even consider it. So I left for basic, graduated, headed to my technical school then off to Holloman to start my life. It was my first time away from mommy and daddy, away from restrictions, away from rules, and I was ready to be an adult. Even then I was doing OK. Yes, I had friends that smoked. I participated in Hookah every once and awhile, and I even started becoming what they call a "social smoker," only smoking if I was out and about with friends who smoked.

So it began. One cigarette at a party graduated into me buying packs for parties. Then it was a pack at home for those weekend mornings or a pack at work for the stressful days. It was one cigarette, then two, three, and four. It kept adding up. Even then I wouldn't admit I was a smoker. I swore that if I wanted to quit, I could.
I always questioned, "How do people fall victim to an addiction?" I believed it's all in their heads. When I want to be done I'll be done. But I was wrong. I was already addicted; I had to have my cigarettes throughout the day. I had even subconsciously developed routines; waking up in the morning, smoking after big meals, and when I got home from work. The cigarettes were little reminders that the smallest thing is controlling my everyday life, and I don't want to change it.

I would get so tired of people pushing me to quit, or harassing me every time I'd go outside for a smoke. I knew there was a free class on base. I knew they provide tools for quitting. But, I was content. I enjoyed smoking. It was satisfying to me. I felt fulfillment every time I'd light one up, and I would get angry or annoyed with anyone that told me otherwise. "It's my life," I thought. I'll do what I please.

Everything was all fun and games until reality hit me.  All the negatives, the reasons I should have never started in the first place. They all started to surface. The worst was going home and sneaking around my house only to get caught by my mother. She looked at me and said the four words you never want to hear, "I'm disappointed in you." That stung a little bit, but I still continued my filthy habit. Months went on, and I started realizing other negatives. My breathing was starting to become difficult when working out, but again, something I shrugged off. The worst was when people started commenting on my smell. I'm a female. I shouldn't smell bad? My nails shouldn't be yellow? Alright, I've had enough. This isn't "fun" anymore.

After saying, " Yes I'm going to quit after this pack," ten times, I finally hit my breaking point. I was tired of being controlled, being teased and yelled at by family. I knew it was time, and I didn't want to do it any longer. But how do I stop? How do I fight it?

I thought well maybe if I scare myself, I'll be able to quit cold turkey. I looked up statistics and different cancers and illnesses. I read stories and looked through photos, although disturbing I was still smoking. I was told about the Smoking Cessation class offered by Health Promotion at the fitness center, but I thought I was above all that. I mean I had only been smoking a little over a year. So I drove to Wal-Mart and bought a pack of nicotine patches. I got home, applied the patch and said enough is enough. I eventually took the class offered at Health Promotion. Surprisingly, they had a lot of helpful tools and information to help you take the next step to quitting.

I'm currently on day 16 of not smoking. Some days are harder than others. I still get that craving and need. But I also can tell the positive affects quitting has had on my life. I don't smell. It is easier to breathe, and I'm saving a ton of money. Some people recommend vapors or e-cigarettes, but I'm trying to stay smoke-free all together.

Do I feel like I will fall off the wagon? Yes. However, I'm confident that I will brush myself off and get back on track. I would never push quitting on other smokers because personally I believe when you're ready, you'll know. Just be mindful of the options available to you. Quitting smoking is probably the best decision I ever made, and now, I will never let myself be controlled by something so small and harmful again.