Tuesday, December 21, 2010

What Kind of Smoker Are You?

Smoke free in 30 days.  This is a new book by Daniel F. Seidman.  DOCTOR Daniel F. Seidman, thank you very much.  Doctor Dan (if I may be so bold) is the director of smoking cessation services at Columbia University Medical Center.  He's been in the business of helping folks kick the habit for over 20 years.  He's got a pretty cool motto:  "Nothing feels better than accomplishing something you didn't know you could do."  And speaking of cool, he is, in addition to being a psycho therapist, a jazz musician who credits the skill and art of improvisation as a useful tool for helping others. Dr. Dan's latest book is called Smoke Free in 30 Days:  The Pain Free, Permanent Way to Quit.  The Forward is written by Dr. Mamet Oz.  Dr. Oz is also one cool cat.

I was brought to this book by an article in Yahoo that was emailed to me by my wife.  In the article from Yahoo Shine, the publishers along with Dr. Dan, ask the question, "What kind of smoker are you?"  They then go on to identify the 6 major types of smokers.  I'll list them for you now:

  • Recreational or Social Smoker.
  • Scared-to-Quit Smoker.
  • Emotion-Triggered Smoker.
  • Worried-About-Weight Smoker.
  • The Alcoholic Smoker.
  • The Situational Smoker.
Ironically, in my book How to Stop Smoking Without Killing Anyone, I  touch on a lot of these points.  Not having read Dr. Dan's book yet, I'm not comfortable voicing a complete opinion of the merit of the book, but from here and so far, all I can say is if Dr. Oz is down with it, so am I.  I figure, take all the help you can get. 

Not every voice is going to be music to year ears.  If my book doesn't get the job done, try this one.  Try everything until you find the thing that works for you.  Perhaps you don't want to get lectured to?  Perhaps you need to get it from a more conversational stand point.  From someone who's actually been there.  Now, 20 plus years of working with people addicted to nicotine and hearing all the reasons one starts smoking is a wealth of knowledge that any person in their right mind who's trying to quit will want to tap into...

And there in lies the rub.  Your brain has been chemically altered and you are now physically addicted to nicotine.  Clearly, you are not in your right mind!  You, like me, are off in some 1940's mentality where opera singers sing the praises of Camel and medical doctors recommend Lucky Strikes.  What?  Well if you're still smoking at this point then you've somehow managed to convince yourself that either 60 years of evidence, research and DEATH doesn't necessarily apply to you or your self esteem is so low that the evidence, research and DEATH doesn't really matter.

Pow!  Right between the eyes.  See I'm not going to pull any punches here.  And since I'm still a smoker (who doesn't smoke) and still in my 1940's mentality (I'm listening to Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters while I write this) I'm gonna give it to you straight, see?

Regardless of your emotional level or paradigm, it's time to kick the habit.

For the Recreational-Social Smoker, you will have the easiest time with this because you're not fully dialed into it yet.  YET, being the key word.  Sooner or later if you don't pass up on the smokey treats you will find yourself passing on other things like; breathing with ease, running, and away.  Get it?  Passing...  away?

The Scared-to-Quit Smoker is actually a big part of my book.  Not that I meant to.  But reading about this type of smoker actually added a little validity to my own efforts.  I fluttered about the title for a long time.  I knew I wanted it to be a little amusing but by chapter 1, you'll see why it's called How to Stop Smoking Without Killing Anyone and not How to Quit Smoking Without Killing Anyone.  You'll also find out why I believe it's impossible to quit so don't even bother.  You can however STOP.  There's a huge difference and that difference can make or break your efforts to drop the smoking habit once and for all.

For The Emotion-Triggered Smoker,  I noticed a piece of the emotion puzzle was missing.  Granted, I haven't read the book, so again, it may be in there.  Currently, I'm commenting on the article and not the book.  So what was missing from the Emotion-Triggered Smoker paragraph?  This paragraph talks about the smoker who reaches for a cigarette when he/she encounters a problem.  Negative emotions are only one side of the Camel-Cash.  What about the positive emotions?  After a great meal?  After great sex?  Actually, even the worst sex I've ever had was still pretty great so...  where was I?  Oh yes, the after sex cigarette!  The good music on the radio while on a road trip cigarette?  Cigarettes are there for you in good times and in bad times and negative emotions are only one trigger.  The happy times can cause just as much of a powerful craving as anything negative. 

The Worried-About-Weight Smoker.  Conveniently, How To Stop Smoking Without Killing Anyone has The Stop Smoking Diet!  "But wait a second," you say, "I'm trying to quit smoking here!  Now I gotta watch what I eat too?"  Well you're the one who brought up weight gain, not me!  Look, Dr. Dan's right on the money here.  Let's prioritize things a bit.  Yes, putting on a few pounds might suck in the beginning (pun intended).  Fortunately, if you keep smoking, there's a very powerful weight loss combination called Cancer and Chemotherapy that will virtually guarantee you shed those unwanted pounds...

The Alcoholic-Smoker.  This is my favorite one!  If you're getting off the sauce, still on the sauce, or have been off the sauce for a while but are struggling with knocking off the smoking part take a look at the bigger picture here.  In the article this paragraph slips into a little psychobabble about shame and guilt.  I had to go back and read this paragraph a few times.  Let me translate.  Give yourself the permission you need to love yourself just enough to take your life back.  A craving is just that, a craving.  Nobody says you have to act on it.  But your craving is more like a compulsion.  A compulsion is just a really strong craving.  Look, I've struggled with addiction a good majority of my life and have managed to find a way to come out of the fog.  How?  I decided to.  That's how.  And yes it is that simple.  Please let's not confuse simple with easy.  Addiction is the symptom.  What is the cause?  Have you been self medicating?  I know I was.  I own that now.  I own my addiction too.  That is why I refereed to myself as a smoker who doesn't smoke.  I am also a friend of Bill.  Are you?  12 Steps later and you're still self medicating with nicotine.  Better than drinking yourself into the grave I suppose but once you get a handle on the wagon rains it may very well just be the beginning.  That's one battle.  The war is addiction.

The Situational Smoker!
If you're a Situational Smoker then you're the guy or gal who says things like "I can quit anytime I want!"  And very often you do.  You'll smoke for like a month or three years and then just stop for a couple years or weeks until the mood strikes you and then you light up again and that cycle will last for some other variation of time.  More often than not the breaks you take from smoking are just long enough to convince yourself that you actually are in control of your addiction.  FYI, being in control of your addiction means you don't do it anymore.  Just ask an of the friends of Bill's mentioned earlier.  Frankly that question might get you laughed at in that circle.  They'll laugh at you then embrace you as one of their own because we've all denied it and claimed to be in control when we really were not.  Again, I know I have and I am willing to own that too.  Are you?

So have you figured out which one you are?  If if you don't smoke anymore, where did you fall in this line up?  I don't know about you but when I look closely at my career as a smoke I think at one point I covered everyone of these types.  I started out as a Recreational like most of us and had a very brief stint as a Situational Smoker.   The rest of my career as a smoker was a fine weaving of Emotional Smoker mixed with the Scared to Quit Smoker with a side of Worried About Weight Smoker.  And the whole whack was washed down with a tall glass of Bourbon.

And now here we are 2010.  8+ years sans Camel.  4+ years sans Bourbon.  Today I did Swings with an 88 pound Kettlebell for 10 minutes.  I did 120 repetitions.  That's 10560 pounds lifted in ten minutes.  My lung feels great!  Thank you Dice Clay for that timely gag.

How about you?  Are you ready to kick the habit?  Have you been ready for a while?  Do you know someone that needs to?  This blog is first and foremost a conversation.  Yes I am shamelessly here to plug my book, but the mission of this book and this blog is to empower you the addict (smoker) to have the courage, confidence and sheer f-in' will to just STOP.  If this book, blog or Dr. Dan's book is what it takes, then more power to you!

That's about it for now, leave a comment here and join in the conversation!  Oh, one more thing, if you'd like the first chapter of my book for free, visit www.stopdontquit.com