PERSONAL STORY: My war against smoking addiction

by Steve P Michaelson

I am a fit guy, and always been active. Mostly you will see me jumping around with loads of energy, but of course sooner or later you will see a little nicotine (or cancer) stick in between my fingers. Being concerned about my health,  and having studied a BSc, I am perfectly aware of how bad smoking is for those around me, and myself.

I have tried and managed to quit this disgusting habit many times, with having stopped twice for 6 month periods. I have gone cold turkey (one of the best and most affordable way to give up a bad habit) and I have tried Buprorion, also known as Zyban in South Africa and as Wellbutrin , Voxra, Budeprion, or Aplenzi elsewhere.

Your doctor should write you a script and the two months supply plus doctors visit will set you back by about R600- worth about a month’€™s worth of ciggies. Basically, you pop the first pill and then you have two weeks to quit smoking. The medication was originally developed as an anti-depressant for American soldiers fighting in the Vietnam war. A side-effect of the drug noted by researchers was that a good side-effect was that smokers quitted smoking whilst on the meds. A bit more research (lowering of the antidepressant constituency and upping the anti-smoking constituency) resulted in the development of a great smoking cessation drug that helped me quit four years ago.

Like with any medication, there are side effects. I experienced disturbance in my sleeping patterns.  I can only speak for myself but I have seen other people become very calm and others who become aggressive- I guess at the end of the day it just takes telling a friend to keep an eye on you.

But what struck me about Zyban in comparison to my experience of quitting cold turkey, is that the essential ingredient is YOU. You have to make the mental commitment to quit. You have to realise that smoking is a disgusting, expensive and unjustifiable habit. Continuously remind yourself that the satisfaction that you are going to receive from laying your head on that pillow when you go to bed that night knowing that you have not had a cigarette that day, is just so much greater than having that disgusting 5 minute useless fix.

Lifestyle changes are essential when trying to quit. You have to avoid places where people smoke a lot and similarly, avoid the places where you associate yourself smoking until you are strong enough go back those places. You have to exercise more and be okay with putting on a little bit of weight. You have to suck on lollipops, wash the dishes,  chew gum and do a 30 day yoga challenge, write a blog on how you are feeling. You have to lock yourself in your room and watch an entire season of a series. The bottom line is that you have to change! Change your daily routine which used to be conducive to you lighting up every now and then, to a routine which does not allow it.

Mostly, you have to remember why you are doing this? Why would anyone put a product that kills half its consumers into their mouth? Why would you spend your hard earned money on a deadly habit that brings you nothing in life? Why would you support a tobacco industry that knows that it is killing you? Why would you support the murder of the 60 000 people who are non-smokers but are exposed to cigarettes and consequently die?

Essentially, smoking is a disgusting choice which adds nothing to ones life. You have the power to change your mind, and just  remember, after the first week of having kicked the habit  the withdrawals become progressively less intense and  fewer, day after day.

Last year I stopped smoking for 4 months. I started again because I was on December break and I associate smoking with having a good time. I am reminding myself that smoking is gross and going to gym and yoga. I hope that I will be able to write again in 3 months and say that a ciggie hasn’€™t passed my lips for 2 months. The fight against addiction is on!


Other ex-smokers stories:

How to quit:

Call the Quit Line: 011-720 31 45

Your personal guide to quit smoking:

National Council Against Smoking quitting resources:

How smoking affects you and those around you:

Your body:

2nd-hand smoking:

TB and smoking:

HIV and smoking:


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