The urge to do something, anything, rises again. You feel an emptiness form in the pit of your stomach. It grows. Like an infestation filling your body with a craving you wished you’d never discovered.
For a few moments you want to give in. This urge is powerful, so strong that at times your mind enters into a battle of wills. With itself.
On one side is you – clean you – and the freedom you promised yourself. Pacing back and forth in the far corner of the ring is another you – dirty, unclean you – and the past you vowed never to return to. The battle will be tiny, so insignificant that nobody but you will ever know the outcome.
And huge. This campaign of guerrilla warfare is threaded with phycological tricks used as acts of sabotage. If this were a political campaign executed by a savvy politician, you’d applaud the deft skill with which they wield words that influence, and scare, you.
Good you and bad you clash. Mountains of determined thoughts grate against on another, each jarring blow sends one of you staggering back for just a moment. A millisecond later ‘you’ surge forward again and lock horns.
Both of you believe in your causes. You are right, you are wrong. This is the heart of the internal battle being waged in your mind.
Waver and you’ll go back to square one. This is unacceptable to good you. But the enemy on the far side of the ring seems to have the upper hand.
Powerful and muscled through years of hard training, bad you is armoured with an almost impervious shell forged from desperation. You know that’s a tough nut to crack. Some tiny part of you believes this to be an impossible task.
So, the mutterings start.
The pit widens, deepens.
Bad you grows in both size and strength.
Then a phrase springs to mind. You’d almost forgotten to pause, take stock and remind yourself of those simple words the therapist taught you. You recite them in your head, ‘Thank goodness I am free.’
Distraction from a task is bad. But not today. For a brief moment the dark thoughts and craving falter.
Laughter becomes your new weapon of choice. You take aim and launch your chuckle at the tiny crack that has formed in the armoured hulk in front of you. Hope fills the gap and expands.
Shards of darkness break away and fall to the floor. The shell fails.
The grip loosens. Increment, by slow increment, that unpleasant bulk in the pit of your stomach fades. Awareness of your surroundings, the room in which you sit, was forgotten for a time as you focussed on the battle, grows and the voice of craving fades to a distant, failing echo. You smile.
And say again, ‘Thank goodness I am free.’
What is it like to stop smoking?
As described above. But did you ever really think that stopping smoke would be an absolute walk in the park? Really?
Before we go on to explore the ins and outs of smoking cessation, and the method I used, let me say that experiences will vary. From person to person. From day to day.
Some happy, non-smokers will tell you they never had a single pang or desire to smoke once they extinguished their final cigarette. Hmm, I don’t believe them. Kicking any form of drug addiction is hard work.
The Easyway to Stop Smoking. Redux
You’ve probably heard of the Easy way to stop smoking (in the words of Allen Carr, from here in on we’ll call it Easyway). And the question on the tip of your tongue: is it really easy?
Now you’re wondering – why call it the ‘Easyway’ if it’s not? We’ll come back to that later.
As Allen Carr, and all his therapists will tell you, it is ridiculously easy to stop. Follow the book, join a seminar or sign up to watch a pre-recorded session and about 5 hours later you’re cured of the vile smoking habit. Ring the bell, celebrate hard.
Yes, it really is easy. But why? How is Easyway so effective where so many other methods fail?
Good question. Let’s explore the answer.
How Does Easyway Work?
As far as I can tell, the method gets you, the smoker, to rationalise their reasons for puffing on a cancer stick. Over the course of about 5 to 6 hours you learn the ins and outs of not only the smoking trap, but the people who peddle cigarettes.
Before I explain more, I have to add that hearing how the tobacco industry works so hard to hook young people on nicotine horrified me. The stories alone were enough to want to make me quit smoking right there and then.
Sure, I probably knew these dirty facts already, but instead of acknowledging them I buried my head.
There are no scare tactics. When you start your journey to, hopefully, become a non-smoker you’re told that at the end of the training you can, if you want, continue to smoke. But why would you want to? Once the facade of smoking is torn down, only a mug – a fool – would continue to smoke, right?
Well, yes. That’s the whole point.
And this is only one aspect you’re asked to consider. For the duration of the training, you are shown the true horror of smoking – it’s drug addiction. Nothing more and nothing less.
When I first heard this statement, I laughed. A drug addict is a person who can’t live without their fix, a person who will stick needles in their arms to get a high. “No way am I like them”, I said to myself.
But I was.
A Personal Tale of Nicotine Addiction
Picture the scene.
It’s the end of another great night. The party is fading, and the last few people trickling out of the front door. Soon you’re the only person in the room, not surprising as it’s your house.
The night was good and now you need one last nicotine fix before you head off to bed. Patting your pocket, you find the reassuring shape of the cigarette packet. You pull it free and flip open the lid.
The box is empty.
For ten minutes you trawl the house, looking in every place where you might leave a pack of cigs for emergencies like this. There are none. In your stomach the knot tightens.
Your mind races, searching for answers. Driving is out of the question, unless you want to risk being pulled over by the police, breathalysed and losing your license. And all the smokers left early that night, well before the last of the revellers so there’s no chance of bumming a cigarette.
A memory comes to mind – a glimpse of red dots dancing in the night air. You dash into the kitchen, flip on the garden light and step outside. There on the ground are a few cigarette butts and one looks to be only half smoked.
Picking it from the ground, you check the half dogend for damage. It’s intact.
A moment later the tip glows once more as you inhale.
That’s just nasty!
I’ve been there.
And your instincts tell you this is wrong. But your addiction is too powerful. You inhale hard and feel the searing heat on your lips.
This wasn’t my finest moment. Nor yours.
Back to the question of how Easyway works: the simplest explanation is that the method gently unravels the myths of smoking – relaxation, concentration, etc (useful resource here) – and in a matter of hours you are forced to acknowledge that you’ve been conned.
And if there’s one thing we humans hate more than anything else it’s knowing we’ve been hoodwinked by a corporate machine that pedals death and disease. Oh, and makes obscene profits from our misery.
Those last two statements really sting.
For the purpose of clarity, here’s an illustration of the costs of, and profits from, the cigarette production line:
Cost of manufacturing a box of cigarettes: 4 pence (6 cents)
Average cost to you of a box of cigarettes: £6 ($8)
Profit made by leading 6 tobacco companies: £25 ($35) billion
Take a look at that last line: £25 ($35) billion profit. That’s £4000, or $6,000, profit for every death caused by smoking.
The Easyway method to stop smoking works like this:
· The myths of smoking are dispelled over the course of several hours.
· You are brought to a place where you have to acknowledge that tobacco companies are killing you, whilst making a huge profit.
· As at April 2021, a box of cigarettes costs $0.56/£0.32) to manufacture and each one is sold for an average of $7.10/£6.20.
· Big tobacco companies are laughing all of the way to the bank and aren’t going to send their condolences to your family.
· Their huge marketing machines allows them to not have to worry about your death because another addict will be found to replace you.
· Smoking is drug addiction!
Is The Easyway to Stop Smoking Easy? Is Stopping Smoking Easy?
Yes. And no.
Within minutes of starting your journey, you’ll be told that quitting the weed is easy when you use Easyway. No matter which method you use – the book, a seminar or recorded session – one of the first phrases you’ll encounter is this: “It’s ridiculously easy to stop smoking.”
And in some ways, this statement is true.
Every time you stub out a cigarette you stop smoking. Makes sense, right? And also feels a little preachy.
But the fact is that it’s true. For a time. As the nicotine from your last cigarette starts to leave your body, you’re exposed to what is at the heart of your smoking problem – the ‘need’ for a cigarette.
And the ‘need’ is powerful. Really powerful.
If you don’t keep your guard up and your mind in the moment, there is a real risk you’ll be dragged back down into the smoking pit.
Let’s explore how that works.
When you follow the Easyway programme you’ll be told a story of how Allen Carr once had a huge argument with a friend. Allen’s responses were out of character and he believed his addicted mind had engineered the clash as a way of pulling him back to the smoking trap.
And I agree with this theory. I’ve been there.
Some time back I was having a conversation with someone important to me. At the mention of what should have been a simple, observational comment I became very aggressive. Within seconds the situation had deteriorated to the point that we both backed off for a couple of days.
This was a low point. It was also a high point.
Shortly after, I sat and asked myself why my response had been so barbed. It was clear that my body had been craving a cigarette and my devious mind had formed a deliberate and determined plan to create a situation that would drive me back to smoking. After all, when you’re sad, angry, irritated, etc, a cigarette will make you feel so much better, right?
When you do decide to commit and break your addiction to the weed, you’ll need to be aware of moments like the one I’ve just described. And I feel the Easyway training should place more emphasis on this aspect of the quit smoking programme. Sometimes, when you’re fighting your way through a haze of addiction, it’s hard to connect internal cravings with outward actions and reactions.
Having prior knowledge of the possible pitfalls to come would make life so much easier. For example, if you understood the connection between addiction and responses, you’d be better equipped to both notice certain emotions as being driven only by your need for nicotine, and deal with them fast.
Looking back at the smoking conundrum and quitting, maybe these last two paragraphs are all you need…
Stopping smoking is easy. And hard, when you don’t have the full picture.
This section might seem all doom and gloom. It’s not. You need to prepare for what could a struggle at times.
When these do occur, recognise them for what they are – part of the addiction – then remind yourself why you’ve quit smoking. Smile. Move on.
Some people find it helpful to let friends and family know they’re stopping smoking. If this helps your loved ones understand any outbursts, then I recommend sharing the information.
Stopping smoking is easy. Consider these points:
· You stop smoking every time you put out a cigarette
· The cravings do linger for a while, there is no set timeframe for them to fade
· Your brain will attempt to construct numerous traps that draw you back into smoking
· Having detailed examples of the tricks your mind plays would be hugely beneficial to anyone stopping smoking.
· Smile when you catch one of the attempts to derail your achievement, you’ve just taken another step towards total freedom.
· Be kind to the people you love and let them know you might be a little cranky for a while.
· Any time you feel your addiction cranking up the tension, find a quiet place to reflect and deal with the cravings. Politely withdraw from conversations, if need be.
Other Thoughts on Easyway to Stop Smoking
The previous sections cover off my smoking cessation journey. I hope you find them helpful.
What I’m going to do now is address a number of questions people have asked me.
Does Easyway to stop smoking work?
Yes. When you do decide to finally quit the weed take a some time to think about all the points I’ve detailed above. Prepare for success.
Yeah, that sounded like a huge cliché (and it was). Don’t let that put you off. The key to success is to know your enemy – the nicotine addiction – and the games it will play. It’s essential you prepare for those inevitable times when cravings bite.
I quit smoking. Why do I feel worse?
That’s drug addiction. Nicotine is leaving your body, and for a time, you’ll feel worse than when you smoked. Don’t panic, this is normal.
Easyway will tell you this feeling can linger for a few days. In my experience, two weeks is a more realistic timeframe. And right now, you’re probably groaning at the thought of going through the agony of getting clean.
Even if those pangs and cravings lasted 3 months, would you really want to return to smoking? No! Besides, these moments only last a short period of time and with the right mindset you’ll easily cope with them.
What about weight gain after quitting smoking? Will I swell?
Back when I was a dedicated smoker, I listened to a couple of ex-smokers who had returned to the habit. Their reason coming back to smoking was to help them lose weight. Both said that they experienced huge weight gain after quitting smoking.
I was a keen and very fast runner (I know what you’re thinking: “How could you stay so fit whilst clogging up your lungs with tar?” And to be honest, I can’t give you an answer.) The thought of being overweight and short of breath terrified me. In my mind, being slim and addicted was more desirable than being fat and miserable.
During your journey through Easyway you’ll receive some information about how to prevent weight gain. The thing is, it’s not enough. And I understand why – Easyway also sell a programme aimed at helping people maintain a healthy bodyweight.
Some people do gain weight after they stop smoking, but this isn’t because of myths such as a decrease in metabolism. Instead, it’s simply that they replace smoking breaks with snack breaks. The calories soon add up and they gain weight.
Again, being mindful of my choices has helped me avoid replacing smoking with food.
What are the benefits of not smoking?
I think we can all agree that, amongst the benefits of not smoking, the most significant factor is that you reduce your risk of death. No more tar and toxins going into your lungs. No more cancer scares, coughing violently and gasping as you climb a short flight of stairs.
More life. More happiness. More money.
I can talk for hours about the benefits of not smoking. What’s the point? You’ll only get to know them by committing to becoming a non-smoker.
And the final question…
What are the benefits of smoking?
There are none!
· I found Easyway an effective way to stop smoking
· For a while after your final cigarette you will need to be on your guard as the nicotine addict inside your body will engineer attempts to get you smoking again
· You may find your moods fluctuating for a time. Don’t worry, this is the nicotine monster dying. You’ll soon be free
· You won’t put on weight if you pause and remind yourself that snacking is a substitute for smoking
· There are no benefits to be gained from smoking
Final thoughts on Easyway
I enjoyed going through the process of becoming a non-smoker using Allen Carr’s Easyway. There are some areas which could be clarified, or reinforced, and I hope this post has clarified any gaps in your knowledge.
I tried Easyway three times before finally kicking the weed. If you fail, don’t beat yourself up. Remind yourself that you’re a drug addict, show some self-compassion and then try again.
You may well have tried other methods of quitting smoking and failed. If so, try Easyway. The book is a good start. I didn’t smoke a cigarette for a year after reading the book, it was the seminar that finally helped kick the habit once and for all.