How I Quit Smoking (a Work-in-Progress Story)

After turning to cigarettes to cope with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) and anxiety during high school and college, with nicotine patches as my guide, I am on the path to quitting and improving my grades.
ADHD College Blog | posted by Henry Greene

I wake up in the morning feeling naked, as though I have just been lifted from the grave. Every morning for the past six weeks the blaring alarm clock has woken me up, telling me that it’s 7:30 a.m., and I have felt this way, lifeless. Normally I would wake up, then remember it, that I've given up cigarettes -- the one thing that has kept my brain, fogged by attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) and anxiety, going for the last four years. Then I would stumble around until my hand would find my nightstand's box of treasure, at which point in the routine, I would think to myself, Thirty more minutes before I’m brought to life again.

For the past six weeks, this treasure chest has contained a bounty of silver bullets, my supply of nicotine patches, which I cling to with ritual. I peel off a nicotine patch from the pack, smile at it sentimentally, slam it against my arm as hard as I can, and press my palm back and fourth against it until the patch is inextricably adhered to my skin. And every morning nicotine -- ambrosia that flows sweetly through my veins and brings my body chemistry into an acceptable median -- has resurrected me from the dead.  

But today, I have woken up naked, and I will stay naked because I have quit nicotine for good. This first morning without any jolt, I stare at the empty box of nicotine patches. Then I turn 45 degrees and drag my feet out of my bedroom. I make an extra pot of coffee and dump it generously into an oversized mug. Every time a craving strikes me, I tell myself, I’ll take a nip from this mug.

On my way to class, I sit on the train with my coffee and feel the rhythm of my body being jostled back and fourth. I sip at the mug, but not due to a nicotine craving. I do it absentmindedly. It’s only when I pull into the Temple University station that it occurs to me: I haven’t craved a cigarette once.

At first it makes no sense, but soon I reach a startling realization -- today isn’t the day that I finally quit smoking. I quit smoking six weeks ago, when I stopped puffing on cigarettes. I’ve been weaned off cigarettes for weeks -- that was the real challenge. Without the jolt of thick menthol smoke in my lungs, without the burning of a match and the crackle of a newly lit smoke, the chemical called nicotine means nothing to me. Easing myself off of that chemical was a biological battle fought entirely beneath my conscious awareness.

I smile. Clearheaded and smoke-free, I stroll into class, confident that I’ll never pick up a cigarette again. To think of it -- nothing but clearheaded, productive days! I calculate the amount of work I can get done each day with a renewed mind that remains sharp at all hours. Hours and hours of work, now that I’ve quit smoking, I think to myself.

Copyright © 1998 - 2016 New Hope Media LLC. All rights reserved. Your use of this site is governed by our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.
ADDitude does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The material on this web site is provided for educational purposes only. See additional information.
New Hope Media, 108 West 39th Street, Suite 805, New York, NY 10018