My Public Failure to Quit Smoking

Blogging about my attempts to quit smoking left me feeling exposed.

Photo by Jonathan Kemper on Unsplash

I started blogging about my struggles with addiction about two years ago. I had been sober for nearly two years at the time, and wanted to share what I had learned along the way. Shortly afterward, I began to also write about my ongoing attempts to quit smoking.

One of the problems with writing about addiction is that you set yourself up for very public failures. Each time that I wrote a blog post about quitting smoking, I had myself convinced that I had finally quit for good. Over and over, that proved not to be the case.

A Monument to My Addiction

Over the course of 2019, I declared myself done with cigarettes nearly every month. Despite my seemingly unflagging optimism, I kept going back to them. My old blog posts about quitting have become a kind of monument to the struggle.

The oldest post I can find is from February, 2019:

I had just hit eight days without a cigarette, and did a write-up of the symptoms that I had experienced. I had already failed to quit smoking many times before, but I ended the post by saying that “I’m optimistic about staying quit. I feel like I’m through the worst of it.” It turned out that I wasn’t.

After that quit date, I kept trying to stay off cigarettes, but would end up smoking with my friends all the time. I’d often even buy packs, smoke a few, then throw the rest away.

Eventually I started using nicotine patches, but then I got hooked on them instead:

After writing up a post about my struggle to get off the patch, I ended up doing the worst possible thing and going back to smoking.

My most recent cigarette was in September, 2019. It’s now been over a year since I had any nicotine, and once again I’m feeling optimistic. The cravings have mostly disappeared, my mood has returned to normal, and I feel like I’m through the worst of it. Of course, I can’t help but remember that I’ve said that before.

Why I Kept Writing

Each time that I went back to smoking, I felt embarrassed by my previous overly-optimistic blog posts. Some of the posts had gained thousands of readers, and I was ashamed to be failing so publicly.

Despite these feelings, I resolved to leave up my old posts and continue writing about my attempts. Why? Because overcoming an addiction is incredibly hard, and I believe that it’s important to share the full story.

I hate writers who make it out as if quitting a pack-a-day smoking habit is as easy as pie. Although there might be a few people in the world who really did have an easy time with it, I think most of the people who make this claim are just lying. They downplay the difficulties of breaking an addiction because they want to sell more books or courses.

The truth is that quitting cigarettes has been insanely hard, and it required attempt after attempt. To get to the point that I’ve reached now — over a year without nicotine — required constantly getting back up after seemingly endless failures.

I hope that when you see my trail of failed attempts to quit, you aren’t discouraged. For me, it merely provides even more motivation to never go back to cigarettes again.

I’m a lawyer and teacher from North Carolina. I write about sobriety, mental health, running, and more. Buy me a “coffee” at ko-fi.com/benyaclark.

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