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Closet Fascination

A blog about a journey, smoking, not smoking, vaping and everything in between

Month

March 2016

Ten more myths about smoking that will not die

https://theconversation.com/ten-more-myths-about-smoking-that-will-not-die-56419

I could get behind all of these except for one. One of the myths was that “Smoking is pleasurable” and the reasoning that it was a myth is that the pleasure stems from relieving withdrawal. While this is true once you are tolerant to the affect of nicotine, it discounts many other factors that many smokers would tell you they find pleasurable about smoking. Many smokers like the act of smoking itself.

It also seems to ignore the fact that prior to tolerance being developed to nicotine, smoking I would argue is intensely pleasurable. I mean, you’ve just flooded your brain with dopamine, the neurotransmitter of pleasure.

Sure, they’ve backed their mythbusting with research. But I think much of the research cited was very focused on the craving, which is yes, a huge factor but not the only factor that motivates people to smoke.

I don’t smoke anymore and I find cravings from vaping to be much less intense, especially now that I am down to 3 mg juice. If I were just vaping to relieve cravings, I would maybe vape 3 or 4 times a day. There are times when I vape, where I’m not relieving anything and I still find it pleasurable. It is the action that I find pleasant.

Just my anecdotal two cents.

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Canadian Kinks

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We are surprisingly diverse in porn taste here in Canada and I thought it interesting that smoking actually made the list as a most searched in New Brunswick as it usually seems to be a kind of niche thing. I remember when I first told my now husband, I made such a big deal out of the fact that I had a fetish that he guessed almost every other kink and and was relieved that it was smoking. Although I would call it more of kink than a fetish. On par with guys in kilts. But I digress…

“I’m not ready.”

The title of the post are the words that were spoken to me by a student in my class Monday. We were talking about change and readiness to change and I had my students self-assess where they were at regarding change in their lives.

One student stood out because she looked panicked. She just looked at me and said, “I’m not ready. I know I’m going to use again when I get out.” To be honest, while this is harder to hear, I would rather hear this than the B.S. that students often think I want to hear. I’d rather someone have the courage to be real with me because the conversation is more honest and I feel I have more to work with as far as getting them to connect to the side that does want to change. When they lie, I can’t do this. In some ways, pretending one is going to change is a great defense mechanism because then I don’t spend much time with you.

Yesterday, she said I was good at talking her about change. I wasn’t always. It is pretty easy as someone outside the problem to think things like, “Can’t you see how fucked-up your thinking is?” And say things like, “You are just going to end up back in jail!” Sometimes my head screams it. But instead I met her where she was at and I could see despite her lack of readiness to change, she was at least now considering the possibility. That doesn’t mean it is going to happen this time, but instead of having a person that has shut down on me, I had a person that was at least willing to listen.

Helping others think through making changes in their life always gets me reflecting on making changes in my own. Working with people with addictions reminds me of my own. My addiction won’t land me in jail but sometimes I still feel like a bit of a hypocrite for engaging in it. Therein lies my ambivalence regarding quitting nicotine entirely myself. But I think I’m almost there. Almost ready.

Yesterday, I didn’t vape at all during my work day. Mostly because I got busy and ran out of time to step out. It was uncomfortable at first, but I guess I got used to it. It wasn’t unbearable, but at the same time, I know that if I wasn’t actively using the craving would pass and I wouldn’t have to be in uncomfortable physical withdrawal all afternoon because I didn’t use. If I didn’t have the job I do, I likely would vape much more frequently than I do. I know this, because on the weekends I do. Does being I’m withdrawal during the affect my performance at work? Probably, if only slightly. My job requires me to be very present, engaged and is very active. Any concentration issues are counteracted by the energy I obtain from doing my job. Sometimes I notice I’m more irritable and less patient than I otherwise might be. I find all this does is actually make me more assertive to what me needs are as patient me is sometimes too patient. That said, not being in withdrawal during the day is still a significant motivator for me to quit.

My other big one is sleep quality. I find that my nicotine use affects the amount of deep sleep that I get. This makes sense, it is a simulant. Paradoxical affects aside, if I awake during the night, I’ll sometimes find it hard to go back to sleep. I think this is because I wake up, notice¬† in withdrawal and feel that ‘uncomfortable’¬† feeling and because I’m not comfortable I don’t fall back to sleep easily. That said, since reducing from 6 mg juice to 3 mg juice I have say, my sleep has improved to pre-use levels. I’ve got the sleep graphs to prove it.

In fact, today I noticed how much less bothersome my withdrawal symptoms are compared to when I smoked actual cigarettes and also when I was vaping 6 mg and 12 mg juice. And therein lies my ambivalence. Today, I was I was feeling no desire to quit. Which to me means I’m not ready. Maybe almost ready and. I’m OK with that.

Why Start?

Many of you might be asking why I started if I’m considering quitting. Why take the plunge at all?

If you’ve followed this for awhile, you know that I have a history of being drawn to smoking. So much so that I end up obsessively thinking about giving in and subsequently loathing myself for giving in. And the cycle repeats…

I couldn’t give in entirely to smoking for many reasons so vaping seemed like a good way of giving in, having the experience of being a “smoker” that I so desired, without the emotional baggage I had linked with smoking. And it worked. I’ve had the experience of being very physically dependant on nicotine. I got to vape at a frequency that I never would have allowed myself to smoke at even if I had given in because I would constantly been counting and regulating my consumption.

I’ll be honest, at the height of my physical dependence, I was a little worried about the rabbit hole I had dived head first into. I was waking up in the middle of the night in withdrawal (although I wouldn’t let myself give in) and I wasn’t sleeping well. Slowly, my body told me that it wasn’t sustainable and I weaned myself down from 6 mg to 3 mg. My cravings lessened in intensity and frequency and I felt better at a lower consumption level overall. I am sleeping through the night now and don’t need to vape upon waking.

But the best side effect of this trip down the rabbit hole is that I feel free of cigarettes. Vaping is now what is coupled with pleasure in my mind and while it is still up in the air whether I quit or not, I’ll be happy either way.

Learning From Relapse

So I went 5 days without nicotine. I had cravings but they were totally manageable. Towards day 5 it was about one longish craving a day. Longish as in it would take 30 to 45 minutes to pass which feels like forever when you are craving.

If I had wanted to stay clean, I would have. But I made a conscious, somewhat impulsive decision to use. We were visiting my cousin. He smokes when he is stressed and had a pack of Captain Black’s. He offered me one and I smoked it. I noticed a few things during this experience that make this relapse totally worth it. First, I don’t like cigars. Or at least not those ones. I enjoyed the affect mostly, although I became relaxed almost to the point of sleepiness. Second, smoking shitty tobacco for the sake of smoking is NOT worth it. Third, I think this experience might make it easier to say no to these sort of temptations in the future.

I didn’t vape much all weekend, maybe once or twice a day to deal with the odd craving. I was doing fine and decided to leave my vaporizer at home. Bad idea. We were meeting up with our colleagues from another location and my friend that smokes was there. Since I typically vape at lunch, I started to crave around lunch hour. If I had been alone, everything would have been OK, but after we were done eating she offered me a cigarette and I said yes almost instantly. I enjoyed it mainly because it eliminated my craving, but again I didn’t love it.

The next day, I brought my vaporizer and didn’t smoke. We then travelled to a conference together and I vaped and she smoked. I took a couple of drags the first day but decided I really didn’t like it. Weird but true. Over the next few days, I pretty much stuck to vaping.

What I’ve noticed is, I’m vaping way less. At one point, I was going through a full tank (5 ml) of 6 mg juice a day. I’m probably averaging about 2 ml a day of 3 mg juice now. My cravings are very mild at this level, even when I need to go long periods without.

Vaping is now going to be my go to when I want nicotine. I want to go down to 0 mg eventually but for now I’m OK with my level of use and proud of myself for reducing. I’ve learned that until I’ve been off nicotine for awhile, I need to have my vaporizer with me or I will smoke. And not enjoy it. And kick myself for not having it. Anyhow, that is all for now.

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