Nicotine… for any of you who are users Im sure you can relate to the intense love hate relationship I have had with it over the last few years… A relationship that thankfully did not start until my early twenties, but when it finally did conspire it was hot and heavy from the get go!
As a child, I always hated cigarettes. My parents were heavy smokers, and I remember in my really young years having an irrational fear of walking outside one day and finding them dead on the porch because their cigarette killed them right on the spot.
I remember multiple times throughout my childhood hiding my parent’s cigarette butt container, throwing their cigarettes away, breaking them, and dipping them in water… I was so happy the day my parents finally quit smoking!
But for some reason, even with all that hate towards those little cancer sticks, I always had it in my head that it was cool to smoke… I thankfully steered clear of those little bastards longer than most, but the naivety of being a young adult steered me to my first pack of American Spirits.
It started as a social thing for me… It made me feel like I “belonged” to something. My close friends smoked, and a boy I was trying to impress smoked, everyone at the bars smoked… I told myself it would only be a social thing when I was partying, but it did not take long for that occasional puff to turn into a full forced dependency.
I went from smoking at the bars to smoking any chance I had… in my car, on my breaks at work, after I ate a meal, and especially when in social situations that caused me anxiety (which at that point in my life was every social situation).
It only got worse when I started taking ADHD medication and would sit on my back porch with my best friend and chain smoke cigs until the early hours of the morning…
I no longer had any willpower against them and they quickly became my new best friend… or so I thought…
As the smoking continued, my outlook on it all became very unhealthy. I loved smoking so much but I also still hated the bastards so much! Every smoke I had I would beat myself up in my head for smoking it. I caused myself so much guilt for every puff, but still could not stop. There were times I didn’t give a shit because I loved them so much, but then there were times that I would try so hard to quit and when I couldn’t master it, I would fall back in 10 times harder almost smoking to make up for the lost time….
A nicotine rollercoaster…
It was almost as if this battle between my body and mind was taking place… my body would tell me to stop smoking, then I would attempt it and my mind would tell me, “No… you are not strong enough to overcome this, you love nicotine, you need nicotine…”
Any time I would fail I would tell myself I had no will power and that I was weak… making excuse after excuse for myself as to why I couldn’t quit smoking. These excuses justified my addiction in my own head…
Well today marks 5 weeks of me being nicotine free (aside from one spliff smoked about halfway through) which is why I am writing this blog today… to share with you what finally helped me overcome this dependency that for 4 years I told myself I would never beat…
The most important step for me in quitting was self- love:
Over the past year, and especially the last few months I hit an enormous turning point in my healing journey to self-love… I remember sitting down about a week before I officially quit smoking and made a list of the positive and negatives of smoking cigarettes… obviously, my negatives outweighed my positives, but what really helped me in the process was looking at the list of negatives and thinking about causing that sort of harm to someone in my life that I really truly loved… the thought was horrifying. I could never cause such harm to my loved ones so why was I doing it to myself?
It was in that moment that the abundant love that I now have for myself completely took over any want or desire to smoke a cigarette. After this epiphany occurred quitting nicotine almost came naturally…
Along with the power of self-love there were a few other things that really helped me in holistically overcoming my nicotine addiction…
First and foremost was meditation:
I began meditating on the topic… imagining all the horrible toxins that were entering my body every time I puffed on a cigarette… the images that overcame my mind were disgusting… a black thick tar seeping down my throat and into my lungs leaking out and taking over my entire body. I could see all my organs shriveling up through oxygen deprivation as this tar took over… slowly killing me from the inside out…
I would then imagine the strength of my mind reminding me of how good it felt to smoke that cigarette, the act of smoking, the smell and taste of it, the way it felt when the nicotine rushed to my brain… all of it soooo good in my mind and those thoughts so strong, but as I did these imagery meditations the tar that I saw building up inside of me began leaking out of my brain helping me realize that those thoughts were really just the nicotine addiction speaking causing me weakness so it could continue taking over my body.
Through all of this I came to the realization that I needed to cleanse myself of this black tar… not just physically through diet and detoxes but also energetically. If I really wanted to overcome this I needed to strengthen my own will power and balance my chakras.
Alongside some juice cleanses and liver detoxes I began meditating every morning focusing on one chakra at a time. I began my meditation with the image of myself lying on the ground full of this thick sticky black tar that was feeding off my insides… I then began to imagine with each breath I took a powerful white light of energy working its way through each of my chakras breaking up this dark tar and eventually disintegrating it.
I have tried to make it a point to do this meditation once a day for the last 5 weeks. Keeping the image of this black tar fresh on my mind has drastically helped me stay on track.
Here is a link to a small overview of the 7 chakras and their correlation to addiction that I found interesting and beneficial in my healing process!
The next thing that really helped the process was herbs or plant medicine:
The power of plant medicine ceases to amaze me every time I learn more and am able to apply my new knowledge to my life… a couple years back my naturopath gave me a tincture that contains Oat straw, Skullcap, Licorice root, Lobelia, and St. john’s wort to help me quit smoking. I never really used it until this attempt to quit and it truly was a game changer… The key ingredient in this tincture was the Lobelia or “Indian Tobacco”, which is an herb that acts in the same way as nicotine as far as how it triggers our neurotransmitters and dopamine levels in the nervous system, but does not have the negative side effects of nicotine nor is it addictive.
The healing properties of these herbs as defined in my “Prescriptions for Natural Healing Encyclopedia” are as follows (you may also click here for more online information on the specific uses/ benefits when used to stop nicotine addiction):
- Oat straw: Has antidepressant properties, acts as a restorative nerve tonic, and promotes sweating. Good for depression and insomnia
- Skullcap: Aids sleep, improves circulation, and strengthens the heart muscle. Good for anxiety, fatigue, cardiovascular disease, headache, hyperactivity, nervous disorders, and rheumatism. Relieves muscle cramps, pain spasms, and stress. Useful in treating barbiturate addiction and drug withdrawal
- Licorice Root: Cleanses the colon, decreases muscular spasms, increases fluidity of mucus in the lungs and bronchial tubes, and promotes adrenal gland function.
- Lobelia: A cough suppressant and relaxant that aids in hormone production and reduces cold symptoms and fever. Beneficial in the treatment of asthma, bronchitis, colds and flu, and cardiovascular disease. Has nicotine like effects on the body.
- John’s Wort: Good for depression and anxiety. Lung, bronchial tract and blood detoxifier.
Another way in which I used herbs to heal was by smoking a joint that contained marijuana mixed with an herbal blend to aid in lung detoxification. The full ingredient list of the herbal blend I used is unknown as it was a homemade mix given to me by a friend but I know the main ingredient was Mullen. There are many recipes and premade blends online including how to make you’re your own blends found here.
For me not only was the herbal blend medicinally beneficial but I feel that it aided in helping me stop the actual physical habit of smoking. The act of smoking is the habit side of it, whereas the chemical reaction of the nicotine and its affects in the body is the addiction side of it. When I was able to smoke a joint during a craving and have the physical act of smoking no longer correlate with nicotine, it allowed my neurotransmitters to reprogram themselves. In about two weeks I noticed the lack of satisfaction I was receiving from the physical act of smoking something and now do not need the herbal blend.
(Always remember when using holistic healing approaches and plant medicine, just because it is a “natural alternative” does not mean it does not have negative side effects… everyone’s bodies and health status is different… please consult professionals or find other adequate ways to educate yourself on herbal remedies and plant medicine!)
Another very beneficial part in stopping my habit was changing my diet and eating patterns:
For me I found that eating smaller, more easily digestible meals made it easier to quit… I have a pretty bad digestive system and nicotine acts as a digestive aid, so adjusting my meal sizes and steering clear of dairy products and heavy meals helped me curve my need to smoke after a meal. I also drastically reduced my caffeine intake replacing it with dandelion tea which is a liver and blood detoxifier… the less nicotine in my system the less cravings. I also have been very conscious of the amount of water I have been drinking as that is key in detoxing your body!
And last but certainly not least, a huge part of my success in all this was daily affirmations and positive self-talk:
No long defining myself as a smoker drastically helped my mindset and my willpower in all of this. In previous attempts to quick smoking I viewed myself as a smoker who is trying to quit but this time around, the day I quit smoking was the day I was no longer a smoker…
Every morning before I leave my house I look in the mirror and I tell myself, “You are not a smoker… your love for yourself is unmeasurably stronger than any want or desire to poison your body with nicotine, and no matter what you are feeling inside you do not NEED nicotine you WANT it, and just because you want something does not mean you can have it… In life, you can’t always get what you want, but you always have what you need… what you have today is the NEED to heal your body and start treating it as the temple to your soul.”
Now, when I am in social situations where smoking is taking place I try not to tell people, “I recently quit smoking” or “I am trying to quit smoking”, I now tell them, “I AM NOT A SMOKER”.
I am also constantly reminding myself of my inner strength and will power, because in my opinion when you are aware of and honor that internal power you become unstoppable!
I also want to add that this did not happen over night, nor was it easy… a lot of failed attempts (or speed bumps as I like to call them) had to take place to finally reach where I am at.