Medical experts say more than a third of Qatar’s residents are smokers (cigarettes and/or sheesha). Some 200 million cigarettes are smoked here daily, to the tune of $65 million annually, and up to half of all fire outbreaks in Qatar are linked to smoking.
Qatar is keen to help residents kick the expensive, dangerous habit with support services like smoking cessation clinics. But what is it like to quit? And why is it so hard?
Aisha (not her real name), a longtime smoker and British-Qatari resident, aims to answer those questions for herself and will share her journey to a smoke-free life with weekly diary posts, published on Doha News. Here’s her second entry.
Read her previous entries here.
This is hard, really hard. I have been trying to quit since November of last year and only managed between a day and two weeks here and there. My willpower is very weak but I know I have to do this.
Day 1: It passed relatively well. I had the usual craving after work (strange that I work seven hours without thinking about smoking), after dinner etc. but handled them with nicotine gum and distraction.
Then I had a big argument with one of my kids late at night, usually the time I would escape outside, smoke, calm down and come back. Now having to deal with my withdrawal and the actual argument is proving hard. Luckily, it’s midnight and I don’t have any cigarettes at home so I retreat to my room with some nicotine gum. Hope that tomorrow will be a better day.
Day 2: I woke up today feeling so down, not sure if it’s down due to the smoking or the fight. Almost took the day off of work to stay in bed and sulk, but decided I have to face this head on. I’m much more emotional when I try to quit and I second-guess every emotion I have, thinking, “would I feel like this if I was smoking or is it the withdrawal?”
I know smoking doesn’t make me less stressed in itself but not smoking makes me nervous; it is a vicious circle. Allan Carr describes it in his book as “banging your head against a wall to feel good when you stop.” He explains it much better than me but he is right.
Day 3: It was tough because my kids suddenly decided to travel with family for the last few days of their holidays. That is a whole bunch of triggers waiting to set me off.
First, I will miss them so much and hate not having them around. Second, I won’t be as busy, which gives me more time to think about smoking. Third, it highlights some family problems that make it hard for me to go with them, queue stress queue smoking; and fourth, the novelty of being able to sit in front of the TV or lay on my bed and smoke is huge – I normally have to smoke outside.
I have my appointment at the smoking clinic tomorrow so I’m trying to stay strong!
Day 4: It started with my clinic appointment (I do wish they had an evening clinic as it’s hard to keep making excuses at work). My appointment went well and my carbon monoxide test was 3 (compared to a whopping 26 last week), which really made me feel great. Doctor told me to come back in two weeks – I’m not sure if I’m strong enough to go that long without a check in but let’s see what happens.
Day 5: This is usually my fail day because I get to the weekend and just want to relax. Even thought I know smoking doesn’t make me relax it does take the restless feeling (that’s caused by withdrawal of the physical habit) away. But I powered through it.
With kids not around and no work I have too much time to sit around and think about smoking. I know there are two sides to this addiction: physical addiction of the act of smoking and chemical addiction to the nicotine.
Being on the gum takes care of the chemical addiction but the physical addiction is just as strong. I can tell I have started to eat more as a replacement of the smoking. I’m going to have to stock up on healthy food I guess. I wish I had a more positive attitude to this whole thing and feel empowered like other people I read about but I am finding it a real struggle.
Keeping myself busy over the weekend, going out with friends and re-arranging the house help. Maybe once I get a couple of no-smoking weeks behind me, I will feel more positive and at last see myself free of this killer habit.