Today is the The American Great Smoke Out. Every third Thursday of November the American Cancer Society hosts the event to help motivate smokers to quit. Smoking is a leading cause of cancer and increases your risk of a multitude of other oral and medical concerns. Atlanta, GA dentist Dr. Brenda Paulen encourages her patients, and Proud Smiles staff, to avoid the use of all tobacco products.
One of our valued employees, Sarah Woods, shares her story of what it took to quit. We hope it can help encourage you to take the same step to improve your oral health.
I started smoking cigarettes when I was 14 years old. I remember stealing my mother’s and grandmother’s cigarettes one at a time and before I knew it, I was a full-blown addict. When I was 19, I remember wanting to quit smoking but instead said to myself, “I’ll definitely quit before I turn 30.” My twenties came and went in a flash and the next thing I knew, I celebrated my thirtieth birthday. That was the beginning of my own personal 100-year war against cigarettes. As Mark Twain once said, “quitting smoking is easy, I’ve done it 100 times.”
Every time I quit smoking, I would last only a couple of days. I usually began my quit in the morning with full intention. By the second or third day, I felt like I was going to come out of my skin. I would spend every minute full of anxiety and the slightest comment from someone would either turn me into a monster or cause me to weep like a baby. I felt that I had no control of myself, so I inevitably drove to the nearest gas station to get my nicotine fix. As soon as the cigarette touched my lips, the self-hatred and disappointment began. This scenario played over and over for 15 years.
Someone told me once that if I really want to quit smoking I must just decide, and once I decide, it’s done. Finally, one day in 2015, I decided! I decided to make December 31, 2015 my last day as a smoker. I prepared by smoking as many cigarettes as I could and stocked my refrigerator with healthy snacks and water. Since coffee and alcohol were both triggers for me, I cut both out for at least the first month (I quit coffee for 4 months). I spent the first week in hell, giving myself a break by resting and taking peaceful hikes on trails near my home. Once the first week was complete without even a puff of a cigarette, I felt empowered and confident that I was done being a smoker.
Almost a year later, I am still a non-smoker! I haven’t had a single puff of a cigarette, or even really craved them. I made a decision to be done, and I am!