Did that headline catch your attention? It certainly caught hold of me when I said it out loud!
The truth is, I was an addict and for the best part of 21 years, I didn’t even realise it!
Roughly 21 years ago I was playing football to a fairly high standard and was quite active in terms of regular exercise, sport and activities. I think looking back, you would probably say that I was more sporty than academic and I enjoyed taking part in most things active.
it all started to change when I was in the last few weeks of high school and had started to experiment with going out to the local pubs and clubs in the town where grew up. I generally at this time looked older than I was and never had much of an issue getting in to these establishments or even getting served. A few of my friends at the time had also gotten into the realms of drinking and coming with me. It was new, exciting and we felt like grown ups! I was 16 and loving life and in the main felt like a real adult!
In the mid 1990’s things were different. It doesn’t seem that long ago to me but when I am now surrounded by those born after I left school, I start to realise how far back it actually was! The 90’s were a good time to grow up I think. We certainly didn’t have the issues or worries we have now neither did we have the technology and the access to information as easily as people do now. We actually had to go out and make the most of the day rather than sitting in, texting, FB’ing and Instagraming through life and conversation. We used to go out for hours on end without any worries, no fears and no real concerns. Its true that my mum didn’t see me through the summer months, i would go out in the morning and not be back until dark. We didn’t have mobiles so if i wanted to call her, I used a pay phone or i would call from a friends landline. Life was good, life felt somewhat easier than it is now, and in a strange way, less complicated.
Anyway, as I continued on my journey of discovery, something else got introduced to me. It wasn’t new so to speak, I was surrounded by it everyday but never really took any notice of it. In truth, it was everywhere – people did it on bus’s, at home, in shops, shopping centres, cinemas – literally everywhere. My parents did it and had done since i could remember, I believe my mum might have even done it when she was pregnant. You guessed it, I am talking about Smoking.
I remember the first time I smoked – it was near the school that i attended. A few of the people i would hang out with a lunch times went to a near by park and would chat and just chill before the second half of the day. It was here that i was offered a chance to try it. As i said, my parents smoked the whole time growing up and it kind of felt like a normal thing to do. You were supposed to be 16 to do it and i was. I think this might have been why i thought, sure why not, lets give it a try! The experience to start with certainly wasn’t pleasurable. I remember coughing up after taking my first drag and inhaling the smoke. This of course got easier and with it became a more frequent habit. At first i didn’t let my mother know i dabbled in smoking, for some reason i was still embarrassed by it and as though i would let her down by showing myself as a smoker. For the time being, i kept it to myself and enjoyed smoking whilst i went out with friends or out drinking etc.
That was the start of my addiction!
It was as easy and uncomplicated as that. For the next 20 years i would continue to smoke and the amount i smoked each day steadily increased. Some days i would smoke 15-20 but on a night out i would be easily touching the 40 mark. There is definitely something about smoking when drinking which makes me smoke like a Chiminea at a summer BBQ. I know i am not alone on this and it affects the majority of smokers and equally non or ex smokers who seem to only need to smoke when they drink?! This is something i was always envious of.
Over the years, i have tried countless times to kick the habit of smoking and on occasion i have managed to do anywhere between 2 weeks to 8 months. Why did i start again? I could probably write a book of excuses if i am honest but the truth is, i wanted too! There were certainly times i felt like i was missing out on something by not smoking. I also found my life became a little bit anti social too as the majority of people around me smoked. People at work, my mates, all smoked and i missed it when giving up. The Portuguese football team was even to blame on one occasion! Thats another story all together.
You may have read my previous posts about the charity boxing matches i have done in the past. During the training for the first one, i still smoked until the bout only reducing the amount i smoked a couple of weeks before. Is it any wonder i found it hard work? No of course not! The 2nd event i took part in was a little different. I did manage to give up for a good 8 weeks before hand however, I rewarded myself after the fight by having a cigarette – how stupid is that! I mean, 8 weeks of not smoking and all i could think about was, smoking after the event as a kind of reward.
A REWARD FOR NOT SMOKING BY SMOKING!
Anyway, this time feels different, why? because I am now 30 days into not smoking and i have managed to do it without any nicotine replacement therapy. How? Well, for the first time i tried something new. Something i had heard about but never thought would work for me. I read the Allen Carr book called, “How to give up smoking easily” I dont know why i picked this book up that day but something about it caught my eye and although i had heard about this system, i never actually considered it. I mean, why would i of? I have never managed to give up for any length of time before now with nicotine replacement, why would i give up without it!
I read the book over time and during which the book actually encourages you to continue smoking. Its not until the end of the book where it asks you to have your last cigarette. By this point, i had kind of made my mind up and was actually looking forward to smoking my last one. That was the last time i did it. 7th January 2017 at 10pm. The date will stick with me forever now and i do feel a lot better for not smoking. I wont say its been easy because it certainly hasn’t and i want to continue to share my experiences of giving up with you. Its not the physical signs that i have struggled with, its more the mental changes i have experienced. 20 years of smoking clearly does a lot to a brain and as a result, i believe there has been some chemical imbalances which has meant i have struggled at times. I have not faltered though and will continue to become free from this addiction. After all, Nicotine is an addictive product and should be treated as such.
Lastly before i sign off from this post, i would like to say a special thank you to my partner Hellie. She has put up with me over the past few weeks and i don’t know what i would have done without her. Thanks babe x
Anyone else out there trying to give up? If so, i would love to hear from you.