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GUS (Gave Up Smoking) is a community support diary for Kossacks in the midst of quitting smoking. Any supportive comments, suggestions or positive distractions are appreciated. We avoid discussion of political issues. If you are quitting or even thinking about quitting, please -- join us! GUS Library at dKosopedia is organically evolving, and stocked with free-range information: quit-smoking links, helpful GUS diary writing tips, and the GUS buddy list.
I hadn't intended to write what is shaping up to be my own GUS trilogy of terror. My first and second diaries, written under fire while engaged in a painting project from hell at my eastern coastal parent's abode... well, they have a lot of cussin'n. Check them out, if you feel that your (my) first half-pot of coffee hasn't quite yet filled you with enough piss 'n vinegar to start off your Monday with a "howdy-do, neighbor!" If this is your ill-willed intent for the day, then believe me, I got your back on that one.

Now, in writing this third entry, also done in the span of a half-hour or so, I am on the last major day of the project, using tomorrow to do a walk-around, fill paint in touch-up areas, and recommend further needed fixes to my folks. There won't be too much cussin' in this one. Nope, nothing but an odd concept that I'd like to present.

This concept is based in harm reduction, and what is known as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It has worked for me in tackling a life-long problem with alcohol abuse, and I am now offering to you a micro-model of how I am applying it to nicotine... to cigarettes... the butts... the smog.

Before going below the fold, please note that my model will contain very specific descriptions of feelings of mine that revolve around the mental and emotional side of the physically addictive qualities of good ol' tar and nicotine... fucking death sticks (oops). So I would like to warn you that such descriptions may be triggersome to those of you brave quitters who have also dealt with an addiction to cigarettes. And theres a reason for my acute detail, though I won't preface it here.

Read on, if you dare, and I think you may get where I'm coming from. Or at least have a laugh. Or at the very least, receive a take-away from this and the previous two diaries: beware of conducting business with family (bless their hearts), and always use a respirator, when removing crappy-assed popcorn ceiling finish from your abode. Better yet, call a contractor when in doubt. Enough about that for now.

This piece is centered around reasons I love cigarettes.

Determining and listing the cost side of a CBA (cost-benefit analysis) ledger is pretty easy, for me, and for any of us who have tried to quit this shit. Here's my own example:

COST of my smoking:

* $10/pack
* labored breathing
* ashy, tobacco-strewn mess
* heightened risk of heart attack, emphysema, and cancer

Pretty basic. A list of no-brainers, if you will. Unless you are extremely out-of-touch with your own addiction to nicotine, you have always realized these basic harms with which you put yourself at risk, by smoking.

The second part of a CBA is the benefit. Historically, smoking cessation programs go no further than the cost side of the ledger, moving from listing the negatives, to either a list of positives that can be had by quitting this deadly habit immediately. Or the prospective quitter moves from listing their own bad feelings about  smoking, then gives in to the external, and sometimes internal, basic directive of "Just quit!"

Being a proponent of what is known in harm reduction circles as horizonal recovery (many paths, one goal), I recognize that there is a place for such urgency to quit smoking. It could be an issue stemming from a doctor's warning, or the death of a loved one who was a smoker, or one's own failing physical health.

This is one path, and in the spirit of horizonal recovery, I believe that there are many, of which a hard-line approach of immediate abstinence has a place in the spectrum of quitting. I have been vocal in my advocacy of harm reduction, and also recognize more fully nowadays that this is nothing but another path. To each his own, doing what works best for this person in a particular situation, is a mindset I fully believe has worked for my alcoholic drinking.

Below is the heart of the reason why, and that is my own list of benefits that I derive from smoking:

BENEFITS of my smoking:

* Gives me a 5-10 minute shield against my problems as they exist in that moment
* Gives me an excuse to take a break from work, or a social situation
* I like the effect of inhaling smoke into my lungs, then blowing it out
* Holding and smoking a cigarette distinguishes me as a contrarian person, as a rebel
* Helps me to buffer extreme feelings of anger
* Gives me control in the art of conversation, allowing me a reason to both initiate a conversation, and to end a conversation.

I'm nearing my own self-imposed diary-writing deadline, a mode of writing I stumbled across while dusting off popcorn ceiling finish, while carefully shielding my parent's family room laptop in the process. This has been a unique opportunity for me, so let me wrap up this micro/meta analysis with a few thoughts.

It is easy for any of us to try and view the positive. It is much more difficult to look at the negative, to turn that rock on the ground over and view the damp wormy slime underneath it. This is the image I propose, for anyone who thinks that a CBA might help kick this smoking thing, an addiction from which the upside of quitting is easily recognized, yet the personal reasons that one hangs onto this life-threatening queen AlienTM of a habit is often ignored. By looking at my own ugliness around smoking in above-described fine and honest detail, it becomes easier for me to see the inherent silliness and laughability of what I listed as so-called "benefits." This multi-tentacled monster of an addiction loses much of its strength, even as I note that my own quit date is still a couple of months down the road.

In repeating the spirit of this diary, it's all about horizonal recovery. You don't have to go down this road of self-examination to quit smoking. You can spontaneously remiss, you can find help from a support group, hypnosis, acupuncture, an exercise regimen,... hshit... you can do a combination of all, some, or a few of the above. Or you can say "fuck it, I've used up all my smoking tickets," and just put 'em down, and move on.

It really is about what works best for you. This is one method I have used on another problem. As for smoking, I hope to do anything I can over these next two months to make it easier on myself, when that quit date of June 15th arrives at my door; no longer a fierce threatening monster, but a weakened, laughable, and barely-alive specter which, to an extent, is as powerful as I decide to make it.

Don't get me wrong. I may still use the few remaining pieces of NicoretteTM that are stashed away in my medicine cabinet, as a precaution, when my quit date rolls around. There is a physical side that must be dealt with. But it's the emotional entanglements to smoking which have thwarted me. This is the point of my CBA strategy.

*

Incidentally, June 15 happens to be the third-year anniversary of our GUS group. I and others are planning to quit that day as a group. Below, in blockquote form, you will notice a list of our brave and merry members, citizens of the GUS community. If you are currently smoking, and have had enough of this bullshit, please consider joining us, and perhaps setting that same date to initiate your own quit.

Or, you can quit earlier! Or, just check out our diary series and see what moves you. From one contrarian to another...

*

Update @ 10:55 AM EST: Back from an initial round of prep work, to make the round of main comment tips, and further thread tips/replies as I have time to do so. Thanks again to Abra Crabcakeya and others for holding the fort, while I whirl about the place with integrated speed, contemplation, and eye for detail.

*

Update @ 1:08 PM EST: Mmmm... lunchtime. My only update is that because of long dry-times associated with today's humidity, plus a lot of square feet of wall space left to cover, I'll only be available to check in for brief business updates until later this evening. Normally, our Monday PM regular diarist Vacationland takes over the GUS night shift, but my understanding is that tonight, business needs to be her primary focus.

Pending a volunteer diary for tonight's scheduled PM spot, I'll be around later this evening, to engage in any remaining discussion (finally!). Thanks again (and again) to all community regulars for keeping this and all GUS diary comments sections open for business!

*

Update @ Tuesday 04.24.12, 8:52 AM EST: Regarding the comments thread I was in last night with Eddie C, I want to completely own my over-reaction to a comment he made, one that was addressed with better balance by other GUS members. I am truly sorry for the way I responded to Eddie C, and wish I had written anything except for what was posted.

Best to you in your current struggles, Eddie. Please know that I was a bonehead, and that you are very welcome at GUS.

*

Pssst... hey, buddy! Get on the Buddy List, buddy.

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