Doing away with the perceived glamour factor attached to smoking is very important, believes Amit G. After being a heavy smoker for 15 years, Amit gave up the habit in 2008. "I used to think the whole world smokes and that there's a certain status symbol attached to it. This naivet? led me to helpless, compulsive, obsessive smoking. I even suffered from frequent bouts of throat infection," says the marketing professional.
The maxim one day at a time' helped him take fledgling steps towards quitting. "I used to smoke two packets a day. Then I began reducing the number of the cigarettes each day. Having discontinued the habit, I now feel disturbed at the mere sight of people smoking," he states.
Amit's friend, who overcame a 15-year-old smoking habit around a decade back, says all it takes is self-control and a tough mind. "Once I decided to quit, I didn't look back. It's not easy, but one has to do it to get out of the rut. Now I enjoy better sleep, a good appetite and a healthier family life," he says, on the condition of anonymity.
Recognising one's addiction is the crucial first step, says Anil P, who gave up smoking ten years ago. A member of Nicotine Anonymous (which is part of Alcoholics Anonymous in Pune), he underwent therapy and counselling to give up his 20-year-old practise of smoking and chewing tobacco. "I always knew the ill-effects of tobacco and smoking, but the ego came in between. It didn't allow me to acknowledge that I was suffering from this addiction. I suffered from fibroids in the mouth and was hospitalised for lack of oxygen due to lung infection. That prompted me to seek help; and once I began my therapy at Nicotine Anonymous, I chose not to look back," he says.
Members of Nicotine Anonymous meet every Saturday at Father Barco Hall, next to St Vincent's School, Pune Camp, between 7 pm and 8 pm.
Constant communication with peers, sharing one's experiences without guilt, accepting other addicts and firm faith helped Anil. "Faith plays a huge role in one's recovery. It's the power of the Almighty that has been protected me from the addiction."
His friend, Padmakar (name changed), helped two of his friends rid themselves of the habit. "I smoked for 20 years and then gave up the nicotine stick eight years ago. What helped me was the belief: I don't know what will happen tomorrow, but today I won't smoke. Now, I often ask smokers to call me up before lighting up. I empathise with people who are tempted to smoke. I ask them to have orange juice or water, which are effective antidotes. Just chatting with smokers at crucial moments also makes all the difference," he stresses.