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My latest mission in life has been to quit smoking, which I have tried before and failed quite epically. In fact the last time I tried I ended up curled in a ball on my bed crying my eyes out, which spectacularly worried my boyfriend until I managed to explain that there was nothing wrong, nothing had happened and no, I couldn't explain why I was crying! So I came to the conclusion that if I was going to quit I'd need to do it properly and sensibly and obviously going cold turkey was not sensible for me! So I arranged a trip down the doctors to see what they could offer, as Nicotine Replacement Therapies are mighty expensive if you're buying them from a shop. After all the options were explained I came to conclusion that the best thing for me was probably the lozenges and the nicotine inhalator combined, with the lozenges being the main form of nicotine replacement. But I have to admit I was a little bit wary of the replacement products as I didn't think they'd really work all that well.
My main reason for wanting to quit smoking was by far the damage the smokes were doing to my singing voice, and I was smoking rather heavily. I was on at least 20-30 a day, much closer to the 30 mark if I'd been out to the pub and at £6 a packet of fags this was killing me throat and my pocket! Up until the last six months or so I'd never really noticed any side effects of smoking and I suppose although I knew it was a filthy habit I'd never really had any major incentive to quit. But about six months ago I started getting very heavy coughs that just would not disappear, I'd catch whatever anyone else had but whereas they shifted it in a week I'd still be coughing my lungs out 3 months later. I was repeatedly losing my voice so that I was spending a lot of time miming what I wanted to say which is quite interesting when you're working with customers and in general I was feeling quite cruddy. So, all in all, it was time to quit... The problem is that I quite enjoy smoking, I have right from the very start, unlike most new smokers as a teenager I didn't cough my lungs out on my first fag and it's something that I have actively enjoyed. In addition having tried to quit on several occasions before I knew far too well the strain it takes on you and in a way I kept rationalising myself out of quitting. It was only when I went to sing in church at Christmas and found it near impossible that I made a pact with myself and went to the doctors the first day I could.
I was well aware that quitting smoking came in two parts, the first being the physical addition to nicotine and the second being the psychological addiction to the act of smoking. Quitting either one of those was going to be difficult as I am hopelessly dependant on nicotine and I used smoking as a resource when I'm bored, tired, stressed, unhappy, drinking or even just hungry! But my reasoning was that if I could find a way to get rid of the need for nicotine then surely I had the will power to kick the habit side of the addiction. And in the process I could save my voice, my pocket and my health as well as getting rid of the smell of stale cigarettes forever!
Right, enough time spent on talking about my desire to quit, what about the lozenges. Whether you're buying them yourself from the shop or getting them on an NHS prescription they will look exactly the same. They come neatly packaged in quite a large box which clearly states the product name and the dosage that you are taking (2mg or 4mg) and the flavour is obvious from the picture of the lozenge on the packet as the mint one has little mint leaves surrounding it! Once you open the box you'll find that they look a lot like any other form of medication. In each pack you get 72 losenges, each sealed in foil packaging which again has the product name, dosage and flavour on it and a little piece of paper telling you how to take them and what to watch out for.
The instructions say that you can take a lozenge every hour to a maximum of 15 and when you are first quitting you are recommended to take at least 9 a day. You are meant to put the lozenge in the side of your mouth and move it from side to side occasionally rather than sucking on it, and they state that the lozenge should dissolve within about 20-30 minutes. It is necessary to remember that this is a medication and although you may have been smoking 40 a day you are well advised to stick to the instructions as a nicotine overdose can be very dangerous and even fatal. They are not advised for pregnant women or young children, and you are not to take them if you are allergic to nicotine...which made me smile as at that point why on earth are you smoking!?
As I tend to smoke within 30 minutes of getting out of bed (well, less than 2 minutes if we're honest, which is the amount of time it takes me to grab my coat and get downstairs) I was put on the 4mg lozenges. The 2mg lozenges are more for people who don't smoke so quickly after getting up, and don't smoke as heavily throughout the day. As soon as you put it in your mouth you are enveloped in a cool minty taste which lasts until the lozenge dissolves, and I found that to take between 30 minutes and an hour regardless of what the instructions say! The lozenge does have a bit of a kick to it and particularly before you get used to them there is a very odd burning sensation at the back of your throat when you first use them. I would stress the importance of not sucking on them and just moving them around your mouth as I kind of didn't read the instructions the first time and got some quite unpleasant side effects! The same goes for taking too many of them. I found that the best way for me to do it is to use one whenever I need a fag, rather than every hour as otherwise I side effects get intolerable. It also makes you aware of how long the effects of the lozenge last, as sometimes I can go for hours without needing to touch them.
But the most important thing about them would have to be whether they actually work or not. There's not much point in them tasting quite nice if they don't do the job which you have them for. The answer is very straight-forward and simple - yes they do. The effect is instantaneous and it doesn't just take the edge of the nicotine cravings, it completely erases it almost immediately. I haven't even been grumpy and irritable which is a big let on that I need to take 5 minutes of fresh air usually - during nChant practices I actually get told to go smoke when I start getting on people's nerves! If I'm in need of a fag you will know about it. They don't get rid of the craving for a cigarette for the simple joy of having a cigarette, but that is far easier to cope with if you don't have massive cravings for nicotine on top of it.
Now, I will admit freely here that I have not been perfect and I have not been completely smoke free for the last 3 weeks, however I do kind of need to stipulate that this is not down to the lozenges in any way, shape or form. This is entirely down to me! I am meant to use the inhalator when down at the pub because if you eat or drink with a lozenge it can effect the amount of nicotine that enters into your system. However I have a vast dislike of the inhalator and only tend to use it as something to chew on, it burns my throat and makes me cough...and then somehow I end up with a fag in one hand and my beer in the other. I would therefore suggest having some other form of Nicotine Replacement Therapy if you do have the intention to go down the pub as it is very, very easy to slip! But as a whole they are amazingly effective.
But now we get to the nasty part of them and that is that no matter how careful you are with how many you take or how slowly you allow them to dissolve, there are always side effects. Different people will have different side effects and I can only comment on the side effects which I have personally experienced. In addition to this you will experience extra side effects if you smoke at the same time - on the occasions where I have smoked there has always been a large gap between my last lozenge and my cigarette so I have never copped those issues.
I've found it rather weird in truth because I've picked up different side effects in different severities at different points of using the lozenge. At the very beginning I found I have a very sore throat and croaky voice due to swallowing the nicotine which is an irritant. But that wasn't the worst of it. The worst by a long way was the effects the lozenges had on my stomach, I felt bloated and weird and I had the most atrocious wind known to mankind. I missed the hiccups and the burping which is something I guess, but oh boy, the smell! At one point at work my colleagues were blaming the research labs below us and were actually afraid that it might be gas...needless to say I was not going to point out that it was actually me. Particularly as I had worked there for less than a week at the time and it wouldn't make the best first impression! Luckily this didn't last for too long and was only spectacularly bad for about a week, but that was quite long enough. I also had a problem with my bowels...which wasn't altogether pleasant and that didn't disappear half as quickly.
The sore throat and the wind did go fairly quickly but as they went other side effects came in to shoulder the burden. At one point I was only using half a lozenge at a time because I just couldn't stand the side effects - in fact I still do that if it gets bad. The bloating has stuck around as have the other stomach problems, although not to the same extend as they were before but dizziness and nausea came to join the party. I know I wasn't overdosing on them as I was being very careful, but I find that suddenly about a quarter to half the way through the lozenge I get hit by a wave of nausea that can last anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour and it will keep coming back even if I've long since discarded the lozenge. The dizziness is the same but not for such long periods which is helpful, and it also tends to rear its head if I stand up too quickly or spend too long staring at a computer.
As an added extra I would advise you not to keep the lozenge stored under your tongue by the saliva glands - trust me, it burns! Far better to have it at the side of your mouth.
So, do the benefits out weigh the problems? I would say yes, although I am going to have a chat with my nurse to see if there's another nicotine replacement product that might have less side effects as particularly the nausea and the dizziness can be very awkward at work. The big thing is that I'm not smoking - most days I have gone without cigarettes at all and even when I have given in it's been at a highly reduced rate. I have also found that I don't enjoy the taste of cigarettes anymore, and on the occasions where I've bought a ten pack I have given a fair percentage away as I suddenly realise I'm not enjoying it and wonder why on earth I'm doing it then!
But the other benefits include the fact that I've stopped coughing - that took all of 3 days without fags to cure! I feel like I can breathe much more easily and I don't wake up so much in the night having to change position so that I can breathe more easily. I have far more confidence around new people knowing that I don't reek of cigarettes and am instead surrounded by a fresh minty scent. My friends have all been very supportive of it, and considering that most of them have been nagging me for years about it they are very relieved.
But the most important thing of all is that I can sing again. Without croaking or cracking on notes that should be well within my range. I think it will take longer for me to regain my full comfortable range, particularly the higher notes but we're getting there. My choir mistress actually gave me a solo again last week as she said there was now far more of a chance that she could rely on my voice. This is a massive benefit that to me on its own outweighs the side effects of the lozenges. My singing is one of those things that has always been important to me, and if anything was the main reason why I quit. About a year ago my vicar's wife told me that at some point I would have to choose between smoking and my voice, and she was right.
This is a product that I would happily recommend as it does exactly what it says on the tin. If you are looking into giving up smoking then these will be of massive value to you. I do have concerns about the side effects as some of them are pretty debilitating, but to me they have been worth it for the benefits. My other big comment would be about the price. None of the Nicotine Replacement Therapies come cheap, and 72 of the 4mg lozenges will cost you £13.95 from Boots at the moment or £15.96 if you buy them online at GSKdirect. I would massively recommend you going to your GP surgery and asking there about them because they will prescribe you them for the prescription charge instead and several of the doctor's surgeries will prescribe you more than one packet of them for that cost. You will also get the support of a nurse and regular check ups to make sure you are doing ok.
So go on, you know you should quit. Whether this is your first time trying or you've tried several times before these are the perfect thing to help you along.
I know that I should give up smoking, I know that there is a large chance I'm going to get cancer, heart disease or some other nasty and die a premature death if I continue. I also know that it is a highly antisocial habit which makes me stink, makes my fingers yellow and that my smoke can make others ill. Trouble is that as well as being well and truly addicted I actually like smoking and the desire to give up is more of an intellectual rather than heart felt one. My friend, A, is more serious about quitting the evil weed than I am and attends an NHS stop smoking clinic. One of the products she was prescribed there was NiQuitin lozenges and as she didn't like them she passed them along to me.
The idea behind these lozenges is that you use them as a nicotine replacement therapy and instead of getting your dose of nicotine from the cigarettes you get them from a lozenge thus reducing your cravings to smoke. There are two components to smoking, the first is the physical addiction and the second the psychological addiction. Using nicotine replacement can help you deal with the physical withdrawals allowing you to tackle the smoking behaviour.
The mini lozenges are around the size of a tic tac and come in handy little packs allowing them to be carried around in your bag. A pack containing 60 lozenges currently costs £13.99 in Boots, just over 2/3 of the price of 60 cigarettes. You can also get them on prescription where it will be free for some people, £3 in Scotland and £7.10 in England which will help with the costs.
The lozenges can be sucked when you feel a craving for a cigarette. The taste is absolutely truly vile, like a souped up extra strong mint mixed with the contents of an old ashtray and formed into a small pill. It says that the lozenges dissolve in around 10 minutes but I would say they last more like 20 minutes and every second that you have one in your mouth is pure torture. I know that I was screwing up my face in disgust while sucking on the lozenge so although I could suck them on a plane or train I would be getting some funny looks.
As if the foul taste was not bad enough I found that I suffered a number of horrible side effects. The first one was that they irritated the inside of my mouth making the skin peel off and taking several days to heal. The second was the burping and nausea, the lozenges are said to help with the food cravings that you have when stopping smoking and I can only conclude it is because you feel so sick that you are unable to eat anything. From the patient information sheet it tells me that more than one and 10 patients will suffer gastrointestinal effects which is a very high proportion of people to suffer in this way.
I didn't even fond the lozenge was particularly effective in reducing my cravings for a cigarette, I could smoke a lozenge and then still want to smoke straight afterwards.
As you can guess I absolutely hate the NiQuitin lozenges, they taste foul, make me ill and didn't even help with the cravings. I'm quitting using NiQuitin and going back to the fags and Nicorette gum.
give up smoking two years ago, but it was not easy, I tried the gum and the nicorette inhaler and I failed with both attempts. I had smoked for 14 years, so I new it was not going to be easy, I smoked 40 - 60 fags a day and I new I couldnt quit with willpower alone.
I went to my GP and he was prescribing medicine, that could make you take fits, so I decided not to bother with this idea, as I would probably be the unlucky one who would take the fits. So I went to my local chemist and they informed me about Niquitin cq lozenges, they cost around £8.00, they advised me these would be good for me as I would have smoked my first fag within 30 mins of waking in the mornings.
So I got them home, read the label and discovered that there were some mild side affects, one of them being hiccups which for the first few days I got the hiccups after taking each lozenge, which was annoying (kids found this hilarious) but they did stop after a few days. another thing that it said on the label was that these lozenges do contain nicotine, but they dont contain tar or any other harmful substance that fags do, so they are not harmful to your health.
I started of on the 4mg and took them for 3 - 4 weeks, they were mint flavour, but there was not much of a mint taste of them, it was a powdery taste when you put them in your mouth, at least for the first few minutes anyway, for the next 3 - 4 weeks I took the 2mg lozenges, and after this I was ready to stop taking them altogether.
That was two years ago now and apart from a few lapses when I was giving up, I have not had a fag since. In my opinion you have to have the will power to quit, with or without quitting aids, if you dont have the willpower there is no point of trying.
The hardest part of quitting for me was breaking the habits I had got myself into, like having a smoke as soon as I got up in the mornings or three fags with a cup of tea or after something to eat, once I gradually broke these habits it did begin to get a lot easier and I tried to keep myself busy a lot which also helped.
People used to say to me "think off the money you will save". Which to a certain extent is true, but for the first three months I didnt save much as I was forking out for these lozenges, but it was well worth every penny. I still dont see the money saved from quitting as my kids have it well spent. Still worth it though.
thanks for reading
For those that just want to know if they worked
*~* The Short of It by Miss Quick Answers *~*
*~*Do they work?
Yes .If you want them to.
*~*Have I stopped smoking?
YES Sireeee 8th May 2007
*~* Was I a "proper" smoker?
Yes 20-30 a day
*~*Had I smoked for long?
Yes 20 years too long
*~*Are you now a fat crabby bitch from ratdom?
Yes. WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT SH1TFACE?
For those that want the full tale ..
*~* MY SMOKING HISTORY ....BY FAG ASH LIL.....*~*
I started smoking when I was 15 because I thought it was cool...hahahahahaha 'coz coughing is cool right? And coughin' leads to coffin .errrr Dracula is cool isn't he? Anyway it was ok because I didn't smoke JPS ..and EVERYONE knew that they made your throat bleed but black cats were ..Errrr anywaaaay ..
*~* MY ATTEMPTS AT QUITTING..... BY MISS NO WILL POWER *~*
My first attempt at quitting was to switch to menthol then eventually stop .hahahahahahaha right .. so that was how it came to that I smoked menthol fags ..
My second attempt was using a patch ..but hmm shall we say that the less traumatic of my dreams involved a goat .. we don't even want to go to the really bad dreams...suffice to say, the patch was immediately ripped off.
My third attempt was when I was pregnant (bad, bad crap mother) - they don't allow you to use any kind of nicotine replacement when you are pregnant in case it harms the baby errrr like fags don't? So attempt 3 was cold turkey ..I was nearly arrested in Sainsbury's for trying to ram someone into the freezers with my trolley because they were dawdling .. I went outside and had a fag (yes, yes I know- but luckily my babies were huge and very healthy)
Incidentally there is a group on face book called "I Secretly Want To Punch Slow Walking People In The Back Of The Head" hmmm maybe I should have joined ..
Fourth attempt .after seeing the blood pressure monitor go through the roof after a cigarette and being too weak to walk after a blood transfusion .I tried those imitation cigarettes that you puff on ..but they made me choke
Fifth attempt .patches again a different one this time they made me dizzy so I took it off for 10 mins and my lovely (now ex) boyfriend kept lighting cigarettes and leaving them in ashtrays in front of me then walking off ..
My sixth attempt was the best I ever did .I went for hypnotherapy it was ace it was also expensive (about 14 packs of cigarettes) .I lasted 4 weeks and I really, really didn't want one ..until I had a pile of abuse off my ex
Part of it was to replay the tape of the session every night .which my partner used to giggle reciting it all word for word . until she started counting down then boom fast asleep I still play it every now and then when I can't sleep ."Now then Jess just get niiiice and comfy
Attempt number seven After visiting the chemist for something for my leg and her telling me "I wouldn't worry about your leg but I would worry about your chest . you are an asthmatic smoker and you sound as though you have the first stages of Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)" . I shat myself and tried Chewing gum .this was good for reducing cigarettes as they could be replaced with nicotine gum ..but my jaw ached and I was fed up of looking like a chav.
I tried the lozenges (without reading the instructions) and kept going dizzy so I just thought hey I must just have to carry on smoking (amazing what a smoker will tell themselves to justify a cigarette)
TA DA ATTEMPT NUMBER 8 ..My sister came on MSN at work and told me her mate (my age) was in hospital with COPD and an oxygen mask .suddenly I realised that if I don't stop smoking NOW then that would be me.
I put my fag out at 10.35am and put a NiQuitin CQ lozenge in my mouth.
I haven't looked back.
*~* HOW IT WORKED BY MISS THIS IS A DODDLE *~*
I started off on the 4mg lozenges .you shove it in your mouth and suck I have the mint ones as they taste nicer than the normal although I quite like both. And they both give a lovely kick at the back of my throat .a bit like the buzz of a cigarette crossed with a dose of minty pepper.
A lozenge lasts between 30 minutes and an hour and you can rest it between your cheek and gum for a break .I like to put mine under my tongue until it goes all chalky then have a suck fest.
The 4mg ones are for people who have a cigarette within 30 mins of waking or like me 30 seconds after opening my eyes (which works out at about 2 hours Before actually waking I don't do mornings OK?!)
I started on about 12-15 a day (15 being the absolute max per day) for about 3 weeks then I reduced them slowly over 3 weeks to 8-10 per day.
After another week (7 in total) I reduced the lozenges to the 2mg ones and carried on taking the same amount.
After 12 weeks you should be able to stop taking them ..except nearly 20 weeks on I haven't quite managed to wean myself off them.
*~* MY SIDE EFFECTS.... BY MISS RATTY SPOTTY HOBGOB THE GLITMORPH *~*
A week into no smoking I cried at the sight that met me in the mirror I was 13 again I was spotty and I mean SPOTTY. This lasted for about 6 weeks.
After 2 weeks along with the spots I suddenly kept getting mouth ulcers.
I went to the chemist the lovely lady said that my body was having a major detox which kind of shows just how much crap smoking puts into your body and how long it takes to clear it away.
The dizziness I had encountered on a previous quitting attempt was simply because I had smoked as well which you cannot do while using lozenges - I have had no dizziness while using lozenges and not smoking.
I found that from about the 2nd week my throat kept going phlegmy and while I was mid sentence by voice would just stop (Hallelujah shouted my other half and half the people I know).
This lasted for a good 6-8 weeks and was intermittent.
I asked the chemist (while buying more lozenges my voice stopped after "can I have") and she explained that because smoking burns away all the hairs in your windpipes when you stop they are growing back and everything gets trapped on them. As my body was producing copious amount of phlegm this was what was sticking to them.
This stage had its plus sides .sometimes I sounded really husky and I could sing along to Bonnie Tyler and Dolly Parton (Yikes did I just admit that?)
When I reduced them down to 2mg I felt as though I had really bad PMT for a couple of days but everyone was really sweet (to my face) and put up with my crabbiness (then bitched about me as soon as I left the room. I know this - I recorded them )
At first I was really pleased - I regained my lovely bust and pert butt although I was soon to realise that they came as part of a set which also included tummy and thighs in 4 ½ months I have put on 1 ½ stone .but you know what? I can lose it I can dance it away .I can and I will .I have been jogging on the spot while doing my ironing (who cares if everyone's clothes look crumpled and I ironed my tummy well actually I do, but that's besides the point) whereas I cannot get back the years I have reduced my life by through smoking.
I think that smoking speeds up your metabolism (so you live faster and die quicker) and that it just takes a while to stabilize it again as I know I haven't replaced cigarettes with food (much).
*~* THEY WORKED FOR ME - WILL THEY WORK FOR YOU BY.... SHE'S A WINNER *~*
I think they worked for me because I truly wanted to stop smoking which is the key to quitting.
They were my favourite lozenge out of all the brands as the texture is kind of chalky whereas all the other feel like you a sucking a slimy slug ..
You should really consult your doctor before using any kind of medication and chances are if you attend a couple of counselling sessions you will be able to get these lozenges on prescription.
I am not going to tell you what the box says as if you want to quit you will go and stand in the shop and read it yourself.
I am not going to tell you what is on the information leaflet inside either .mainly because I am too scared to read it ( I am one of these people who are totally crap at taking any kind of medication because I am scared of the side effects - so I decided not to read them then I cant suffer them).
I am also not a chemist so don't understand the ingredients and am certainly not qualified to recommend you take them or talk about the possible side effects that an individual person may or may not have .myself I was irresponsible and I used my usual policy of suck it and see.
It does tell you somewhere on the pack that you shouldnt eat or drink while taking...but this is as it reduces the efectiveness...so i continued to swig my gold blend whilst sucking away.
There is a card in each box with a phone number and email address for Click2Quit where you can get help to quit smoking. They will apparently give you a free individually tailored stop smoking plan.
(Again I didn't use as I didn't want to hear it I did it on my own - but this will help some people immensely)
The hardest thing for me was breaking the habit of doing something ie smoking.
There were certain times (like after a meal) or certain places (my car) when I always had a cigarette and suddenly I had to find something else to do .
I chose picking my nose - well I already bite my nails and my new car has tinted windows.
Oh and cleaning I am a regular scrubber now and seem to spend half my life cleaning, for e.g. Instead of sitting down with a brew and a fag after tea I wash up straight away then sit down with a brew and an ice-cream . Hmmm what did I say about replacing with food?
I sometimes thought of a fag as a mate as you turn to them when you are stressed and times are bad....but with friends like this who needs enemies. That said you do still go through a kind of mourning process for the loss of something that has been a regular part of your life for so long.
My only gripe is that there is no 1mg lozenge so from 2 mg you then have to make the step of NO nicotine which my temper is struggling with.
*~* HOW MUCH ARE THEY AND WHERE CAN I GET THEM FROM BY ....MISS I SHOULD BE LOADED BUT I AM NOT...wonder if its anything to do with the 20 new pairs of shoes... *~*
They are available on the shelf and over the counter in Boots and most chemists and supermarkets. (Except strangely not Somerfield which I found out after driving 20 miles round looking for a shop that sells them while away for the weekend)
The price varies from shop to shop but you are looking at about £12 for a box of 72 and £7.30 for a box of 36.
In context I was using a box of 72 about every 4-5 days in the first few weeks so less than £15 per week in comparison to over £35 in cigarettes and in the latter weeks a box of 36 is lasting a week.
Boots regularly have offers on and they can also be bought with Boots points.
They are made by GlaxoSmithkline
*~* MY LIFE AS A NON SMOKER... BY MISS HEY LOVE YOU SMELL GORGEOUS *~*
Straight away I noticed that I could smell and taste things better and I could smell cigarettes on people that I just passed in the street and it stinks like a filthy ashtray (ewww was that me?)
I feel somewhat fitter but I did a lot of damage its going to take a long time to repair.
I don't want a cigarette at all and other people smoking doesn't bother me in the slightest (thank gawd I haven't turned into one of those awful antismoking nags you know ex smokers are the worst)
One of the best things though was the other day a bloke said to me, right out of the blue ."you smell gorgeous love" he went on with his business but I was pleased as punch ..well Black Cashmere is hard to find..and is wasted covered in L'au d'fagtray.
*~**~**~*My best advice for quitting smoking is "DON'T START!"
One more thing to say ........I did it I did it nr nr nr :-P
© Pink-Ice Queen ex smoker
~ ~ I almost feel like Im tempting fate putting fingers to keyboard to write this review.
Let me explain. After 43 years smoking I am now on my 13th day without a cigarette.
Tempting fate? Well, the thought in the back of my mind is; Is it too soon to be writing this review? Should I perhaps not a wait a while longer to make sure that the cure is permanent and that Im not going to relapse back into my old ways?
I believe that would be the case if I were writing simply to praise my own outstanding willpower, and to tell you all how wonderful I am for being able to quit. The truth however is that when it comes to cigarettes and smoking I HAVE no willpower, and believe me, there is NOTHING particularly wonderful about quitting smoking, a habit that I have thoroughly enjoyed for most of the 43 years I have practiced it.
The truth is that without the product I am going to write about here, NiQuitin QC Lozenges, I honestly dont think I would have been able to get through the first hour without a smoke, never mind nearly a fortnight!
~ ~ Let me give you a wee bit of background. I began to smoke as a teenager (13-years-old) back in the early 1960s when EVERYONE smoked. It was a rarity in those days to come across anyone who didnt, and the information relating to tobacco and its bad effects on your health and links to all sorts of cancer wasnt as well publicised as it is today.
I loved smoking, and took to it immediately, very quickly developing a 40 to 60 cigarettes a day habit. As my addiction progressed I went from smoking tipped cigarettes to plain (Capstan Full Strength Navy Cut) in order to fuel my nicotine craving more quickly. Eventually, for economic reasons more than anything (40 to 60 fags a day was an expensive habit for a teenager, even back in the 1960s) I switched to smoking hand rolling tobacco, (Golden Virginia) as this was every bit as strong as plain cigarettes but a fraction of the cost. From that day to up to a fortnight ago I practiced my habit enthusiastically and with relish. I did somewhat reluctantly attempt to quit back in early 1988 when my late father was first diagnosed with lung cancer. (I held out for less than two days!)
I might add that there is a long history of cancer in my family. I lost both my beloved mother and father to lung cancer while still were both only in their 60s. They were heavy smokers all their lives. But even this heredity propensity to early cancer wasnt enough to give me the resolve to kick the weed! (Cos itll never happen to you, now will it?!)
I made another more serious attempt at quitting back in 2001, at which time I tried various of the different aids to stopping, including nicotine flavoured gum, nicotine patches, Alan Carrs famous book, and up to and including Zyban, the anti-depressant drug that has supposedly had good results. None were successful, and I continually relapsed, eventually giving up the attempt altogether.
~ ~ Anyways, lets get back to the present.
For about the last 7 or 8 years I have been suffering increasing ill effects as a direct result of my smoking. If truth be known, Ive obviously been affecting my health for far longer than this, but its only in the last 3 or 4 years that the effects became patently obvious. The main symptoms were continuous and bad congestion in my chest. This manifested itself most in the early mornings and late evening. I would quite literally cough up my lungs and guts when I first got out of bed in the mornings (at the same time as smoking my first few cigarettes!) and the same process would be repeated late at night. Often I would have difficulty getting off to sleep because of the continuous coughing. Anytime I got a cold or flu I ended up with a serious chest infection (the last time only last month) and would end up being out of work for three or four weeks and swallowing various antibiotics like smarties to try to shift it.
Ive also been a serious golfer all of my life. I used to think nothing of playing a couple of rounds a day, but have only achieved this feat once in the last 3 or 4 years. (It nearly killed me, and I took about a week to recover!)
Of course, not being a stupid fella (at least, I dont think so) I suppose I realised in my heart of hearts that it was my smoking that was causing this deterioration in my general health and well being. But, of course, being a serious and dedicated smoker, I rationalised and denied this to all and sundry, including my family, friends, family doctor, and anyone else who tried to talk to me about it. And Id tried quitting before and found it impossible, so why put myself through all that agony when I already KNEW I was bound to fail!
But all the time the realisation was slowly dawning on me that smoking was really something I was going to HAVE to attempt to quit, otherwise I was going to put myself into an early grave like my late parents.
~ ~ Late last year (November 2006) I decided to do something about a large lump on the right hand side of my neck, which had been diagnosed years earlier as a blocked saliva gland. The specialist did various tests, and told me it was a benign tumour at the back of the gland that was causing the problem, and that while it was benign it would be better to have it surgically removed. I immediately came to the decision that the time I would have to spend in hospital recuperating from this operation would probably be the best chance I would ever get to kick the dreaded weed! I said as much to my wife and teenage daughter, both of who have been nagging at me for years to quit. So the die was cast and there was no backing out! What was different this time around was that I had (finally) realised that I DID actually want to quit, so I approached my impending hospitalisation with a firm resolve to quit smoking, something I now realise had been lacking in my previous attempts.
~ ~ I had the operation on the morning of Wednesday 14th March. By that evening, despite my firm resolve to quit and despite being in much pain, dosed to the eyeballs with morphine, a drain hanging out of my neck, and feeling like death warmed up, I was down in the smokers shed at the front entrance to the hospital puffing merrily away! This is a measure of the physical and mental throttle hold that nicotine has on its victims! This continued until lunch time the following day. Then my wife telephoned me while I was out having a smoke. I was honest with her and told her I was still smoking. The disappointment and despair in her voice literally cut me to the very core, and was sorer than any scalpel the surgeon had wielded the previous day! I promised her (and myself) there and then that come hell or high water I was finished with the fags.
When she came to the hospital to visit me that evening I was suffering badly, not just from the pain of the operation (although that WAS pretty severe) but from acute and serious symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. I hadnt had a cigarette all day, but was literally hanging onto the edge of the cliff by my fingertips.
She went into her bag and came out with this box of lozenges called NiQuitin QC. Seemingly she had explained my predicament to our local pharmacist (who she knows very well) and he had suggested them as an aid to quitting hed heard very good reports about. To be honest, I was sceptical, as I had in the past tried just about every patented cure known to man without any success. But what the hell, I thought, nothing ventured, nothing gained. So I decided to give them a go.
~ ~ Right from the off I realised that these mint lozenges were different to anything Id tried before.
One of the hardest things for any heavy smoker when they are attempting to quit is the nicotine withdrawal symptoms. Nicotine both calms you down and gives you a buzz at the same time, and when you drag on a cigarette the nicotine literally goes straight to your brain, imparting a feeling of relief and well being. Once you quit taking nicotine you experience acute physical withdrawal symptoms. You sweat, get increasingly anxious and irritable, and have difficulty concentrating on anything for any length of time. It is this, plus the mentally ingrained habit of smoking, which leads to you quite literally craving a cigarette, and its this craving that leads to you smoking again, despite any resolve or willpower you might think you might have. Of course, once you give in to the craving then your self-esteem takes a bashing, and its all the harder to stop again. I simply CANT do it is most peoples reaction, and they then give up giving up.
~ ~ What NiQuitn CQ does is to give you your required dose of nicotine, but in the form of a pleasant mint flavoured lozenge. Nicotine taken in this form is a relatively harmless drug in terms of your health, although obviously still HIGHLY addictive. The lozenges come in either 4mg or 2mg tablets. The 4mg (strongest) lozenges are recommended for smokers like myself, who have their first cigarette within the first half hour of waking, and who are heavy smokers. The 2mg tablets are for smokers who generally DONT smoke first thing in the morning, and have a lighter and less well established smoking habit/addiction.
The idea is that you let the lozenge slowly dissolve in your mouth, moving it often from one side to the other, and thus the absorbed nicotine enters your system and reduces/removes the almost unbearable urge to have a cigarette. The manufacturers, GlaxoSmithKline, provide you with a comprehensive information leaflet with the product that tells you all the dos and donts, who the product is suitable for and who it isnt, and any unpleasant side effects to look out for. Theres also a planned dosage recommended that is designed to gradually wean you off nicotine entirely after a 12 week treatment period. For the first six weeks it recommends you take a lozenge every one to two hours; then for the next three weeks one every 2 to 4 hours, and for the last three weeks one every 4 to 8 hours. The maximum dosage is fifteen tablets in a day.
~ ~ Dont ask me why Im finding this particular form of medication efficacious after failing so dismally in the past with other similar nicotine replacement products like patches and gum. Perhaps its the physical act of actually placing the tablet in my mouth and sucking. (Thus replacing the desire to suck on a fag!) Im fairly certain though that its the actual flavour of the lozenge, which is a mixture of mint flavour and nicotine that is assuaging my desire to actually smoke. Plus, of course, Im still getting the nicotine hit that my mind and body craves, but WITHOUT the potentially lethal consequences of smoking a cigarette.
I havent actually stuck rigidly to the suggested dosage. Instead I simply take a lozenge when the desire to smoke hits me strongly. This might mean I sometimes take a couple in an hour. On the other hand, Ive managed to go up to six hours without a lozenge. What I DO know is that immediately upon taking the lozenge the craving for a cigarette leaves me, and I am able to control the compulsion to smoke. So far (fingers crossed) this has worked well for me, and as the days pass the desire to smoke is getting less and less, and the compulsions to light up less severe. I am now able to function without constantly thinking about cigarettes, as was the case in the first two or three days. The longer I am away from my last smoke, the easier it is becoming to persevere, and the stronger my resolve to quit for good becomes.
Im not going to go into great detail about all the information provided on the leaflet as the manufacturers also have an excellent and very comprehensive website called Click2Quit (http://www.click2quit.co.uk/c2q_package/CQP02Aii.asp) that will give any prospective user all the information they would ever need or require to decide whether or not the lozenges are suitable for them. They also have a forum there which you can join if you feel the need for further assistance from fellow sufferers, or any further advice.
~ ~ Some of the side effects are worth a mention. For the first 3 to 4 days after I started using the lozenges I experienced a severe dose of the hiccups as I reached the end of each mint. This wind also manifested itself in other directions, if you get my drift. (Phew! What a pong!)
This has now subsided, much to the relief not only of myself but of the rest of my family. (Heh, heh)
Despite the manufacturers claim that the lozenges also help to suppress your appetite and thus help you not to gain any weight when you quit smoking (a common side effect of giving up the weed) I actually gained half a stone in the first week. This was probably caused by my drinking even MORE gallons of coffee than normal, and constantly snacking on choccy biccys while I did so. I also developed an uncontrollable urge for Walkers Ready Salted crisps, and for the first week was getting through about a dozen packets a day! This now seems to be gradually righting itself, and my weight is now only 5 pounds above my normal 12st 10lbs.
I have also been experiencing a wee bit of difficulty in sleeping, which again is listed as a common side effect of nicotine withdrawal. At this point in time that is still on-going, but as I generally make do with very little sleep in any case this isnt a major drawback in my case.
~ ~ But these small side effects are as nothing in comparison to the health benefits I have experienced after only a couple of weeks free from cigarettes! For the first time in decades I am breathing freely and easily. My morning and evening coughing bouts have disappeared entirely, and I am virtually catarrh free. My sense of smell and taste has returned in spades. I was always a good eater and enjoy my food. Now my enjoyment has increased ten-fold. I had grilled salmon for dinner yesterday evening, and it was one of the best meals Ive tasted in years!
I have far more energy than in the past, and am eagerly anticipating returning to the golf course after I fully recover from the operation on my neck, which is still healing. I get the feeling that two rounds of golf in a day arent going to be any problem to me in the future.
And, most importantly, my own self-esteem has had an ENORMOUS boost, and I feel really good about quitting.
~ ~ What will these lozenges cost you?
They come in packs of 36 or 72. The 36 tablet pack costs around 14 here in Ireland. The 72 tablet pack is the better buy at around 25, but if youre going to try them then obviously try the smaller pack first to see whether or not they are going to work for you. They are an over the counter medication, so you dont need a doctors prescription to obtain them, although I believe they would be available on prescription if cost were a factor to you and youre doctor was agreeable to prescribing them.
Theyre also freely available on the Web, and are even listed for sale on eBay! So shop around for the best price.
© KenJ March 2007
UPDATE: 3rd April. Now 19 days without a fag! (And counting)
UPDATE: 10th April. Now nearly a month!!!
2 mg / 4 mg. NiQuitin CQ Lozenges can help you control your cravings and your weight whilst quitting. This is because they help to curb your increased appetite during a quit attempt and so help keep the weight off.