DEAR ABBY: I need some advice about quitting smoking. I am the father of an only child and husband to a wonderful wife. But for some reason, I have not been able to find the motivation to quit. I know smoking is bad for my health, and I don't want to endanger my child's health any longer.
I have tried the gum, the patch and even prescription meds. My willpower just isn't strong and I can't quit, no matter what I try. I need the right inspiration. Can you help me stop this nasty habit? -- SICK OF IT IN MISSOURI
DEAR SICK OF IT: I'll try. As a former smoker, I'll share what worked for me. Cold turkey. First, clean house. Get rid of all the cigarettes you have stashed at home, in your car and at your workplace. Yes, even the pack you "forgot" in your jacket pocket.
Realize that your body is saturated with nicotine and it must be flushed out. Drinking LOTS of water for the first month will help you accomplish that.
Then, choose one day when you will go entirely smoke-free. Understand going in that you will crave your "fix." When that craving hits, if you must put something in your mouth, chew (non-nicotine) gum, go brush your teeth or eat a crunchy vegetable (carrot sticks, celery). If you can manage to do this for just one day, you can do it for another one. And then another, etc.
Accept that you are an addict and that your "sobriety" is something you will have to cling to with determination. Eventually the impulse to grab a cigarette will fade, but every now and then you may have an urge to smoke that comes out of left field. When that happens, get up and walk out of the room. By the time you return, the urge will have subsided. Mine did.
And one more thing -- if you fall off the wagon (and you may), think about watching your child graduate from high school or college, getting married and playing with your grandchildren. Your chances of doing those things will be better if you're not a smoker. Then get back on that wagon and start over again.
That's how I quit, and the third time I did it, it worked. (Clearly, I do not have willpower of cast iron.) If I can do it, believe me, so can you. Please write again in six months and let me know you're tobacco-free, too. I'm rooting for you.