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My life has gotten a little more grown up lately... New forever love of my life, new house, new job and officially a honeymooner Mrs.! Everything is a shiny adventure and untrodden territory. Follow along as I navigate the world of being a grown up!


Side Effects vs. Willpower: The Quit Smoking Conundrum

For those of you who do not know that I was a smoker, I am happy to report that as of today I have quit for the third time in 15 months, this time for 50 days! Each time, I used Chantix the wonder-drug.

I have strategically never blogged about smoking in the past, but with recent the recent FDA regulation of tobacco, I thought maybe I would share my story.

I began smoking at 19. My boyfriend at the time was a smoker-trying-to-quit. As "punishment" for every cigarette he smoked, I threateningly smoked one along with him. "I'll show him." Hah! Hardly. Almost 7 years later, I am still battling that childish decision and as far as I know, he really did quit.

Fast forward to present day. I have read virtually everything you can Google about quitting smoking. I tried the patch and cold turkey to no avail and have successfully quit three times with Chantix. Quit laughing. I know, I know - how could you have successfully quit three times? Wouldn't you only succesfully quit once?

And the correct answer is no. Each time I have fallen off the wagon, the most important step has been to get back on. And each time I have re-quit, it has been easier. I have become a master at telling my story to current smokers who understand how hard it is to quit.

Chantix truly is a wonder drug, but not without its own side affects. It works in the following way. Nicotine normally attaches itself to neurons in your brain. This attachment causes the release of dopamine which in turn makes us feel good. Chantix attaches itself to the neurons where nicotine would normally attach.

As recommended, you continue to smoke during the first week(s) of taking Chantix. As you continue to smoke, the Chantix blocks the Nicotine. Your body has the dopamine release it already needs and believe it or not cigarettes begin to taste awful. They taste like the first terrible cigarette you ever smoked.

Because nicotine addiction is not just physical, but habitual as well, I continued to smoke these nasty-tasting sticks until finally I would just hold one with despair. I would stare at the the thing longinly because I knew if I lit and smoked it, I would not feel better and my mouth would taste like I licked a cotton bale. Soon, I found that holding a cigarette just seemed silly and I had finally broken the habit.

My favorite side effect were the crazy dreams! Some dreams were frightening, but others were just plain weird and I remembered most of them. I also knew I was dreaming - it was amazing.

The other lovely side effect of Chantix is nausea. It is recommended to take it with a meal. I tried everything: with a meal, 15 minutes after a meal, 30 minutes after a meal, but no matter what I did, I still felt terribly ill and and tired after taking the pill. Who on earth would put up with this crap? Right? Wrong.

I would take deep breaths, distract myself. Most of the time I was at work. And this last time around quitting, I realized that ginger ale settled my stomach in a snap (thanks Melissa!) and quickly threw a ginger ale on ice with a straw into my Chantix routine. I rarely felt sick taking it right before bed.

There's also the "numbing" effect of Chantix which is a bit unsettling. Because Chantix mimick's Nicotine by attaching itself to dopamine-producing receptors, your body becomes used to a lower, but constant flow of dopamine. I found that I was generally happy, but this last stint of Chantix I felt the numbness. Because your body has a constant level of dopamine, it's hard for it to increase and thus make you excited about something. At the same time, it doesn't decrease and you don't really feel the sadness either. You become numb.

Now as I've put many sentences between you and my point, you might be asking yourself, "Well, Tory, why on earth would I use Chantix to quit? You make it sound so horrible!" Here is your answer:

You need to quit. You know you do. Everyone has a list of reasons why they want to quit, written or not. If you have tried other methods and found it difficult to battle the willpower, make an educated decision and give Chantix a try. It was easier for me to battle the side effects that it was for me to battle my own will power.

Jay Thornton has some great blog posts about his experiences with Chantix as well, so check them out as well!

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