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Throughout my teenage years, I could not wait to turn 18.
As soon as I turned 18; this meant that I was now officially an adult (At least by the legal standards back in the late 1990s). As soon I obtained a legal identification card, I went to the nearest convenient store and bought my first pack of cigarettes.
I felt that I knew everything there was to know about the world; so when family members and even strangers would scold me for smoking, I just ignored them all and paid no attention.
I started smoking only two cigarettes a day. By time I turned 21,
I was now smoking two packages of cigarettes a DAY. When I woke up in the morning, the first thing I would do is have a cup of strong coffee and a cigarette. This became the highlight of my day. As soon as I had my fix I would get ready for work. By the time I was standing at the bus stop, I was almost through the entire package. I remember standing in sometimes 30 below zero weather shaking in the bitter cold to light up another. By the time I arrived at work, I would have one or two just before my shift started. On my break, I would have another. It didn't matter if temperatures during the winter months dipped below -30. I had to have a least one cigarette or I could barely function. I also enjoyed smoking because it was a social thing. When one of my co-workers went out for a cigarette, I would go just to be a part of the crowd. By the 2005, my addiction finally caught up with me. I developed bronchitis, among other serious health conditions. When I was admitted to the hospital, the doctor told me that if I did not quit smoking soon, I would inevitably die. The first week in the hospital was one of the worst of my life.
I was on the patch and Nicorette chewing gum to ward off the intense physical and psychological cravings.
I literally just about punched a hole in the wall. After a few days, the intense coughing subsided, but all I could think about was how badly I just wanted ONE drag. It was the only thing on my mind.
I could barely sleep or eat, even though food tasted so much better. Two weeks later I went home. Still using the patch and Nicorette chewing gum, I still craved for a cigarette. If I was traveling in a car with family or friends and one of them lit up; I literally had to count to ten and practice deep breathing so I would not flip out. Eating peanut M&M's and brushing my teeth five times a day and support of friends and family became my saving grace. I would go to work feeling alienated because I knew I could not join them to go outside for a cigarette. Through counseling and a lot of willpower I remain smoke-free to this day. Whenever I smell cigarette smoke on someone I heave in disgust at the smell and wonder how I went around smelling this way for five years. I even managed to save enough money to fulfill my lifelong dream of going on a two-week vacation to Maui Hawaii (Would love to visit again soon). I hope that by reading my story, it will prevent others from lighting up and encourage others to quit smoking.