Stop Smoking the Easy Way with Allen Carr

Guest writer:  Mari C
This testimonial for Allen Carr’s  The Easy Way To Stop Smoking is something I have wanted to do for many years, but have never really been able to get round to it. One benefit of having to wait so long to add my 2 cents’ worth to the millions of other success stories already available on the Internet is that I can now happily report that I haven’t had a cigarette for just over three years!  And I am now a non-smoker – not an ex-smoker that keeps on craving cigarettes. I can sit next to someone else who is smoking and it does not bother me in the least.

How do I know that I will probably never smoke again? About 6 months after I stopped smoking my 11 year old son was diagnosed with a very rare and life threatening bone marrow failure disease. On my way home from the hospital very late that night, I did stop at a garage for a packet of cigarettes, convinced that I will not make it through the night without the familiar comfort offered by a cigarette. As soon as I got home, I went out onto the patio and was about to light a cigarette when I realized that my mindset actually had changed forever. I really did not need or want that cigarette after all! Today, my son is in recovery and doing just great. When I finally managed to stop I always wondered if I would be strong enough when faced with a real crisis. Now I know.

Some background then. I was always the person voted most likely never to stop smoking. My colleagues and friends were convinced there is nothing under the sun that can help me stop. I was a total chain smoker before legislation was introduced to ban smoking in the workplace. I would light up a new cigarette even though I already had one burning in the ashtray, so automatic did this habit become. When smoking at my desk was no longer an option, I could very often be found outside (normally with loads of printouts as not to impact on the deadlines too much) for a smoke at least once every hour, and would organize meetings in the smoking area whenever I could. Even with the restricted smoking time, I still managed a respectable 40 a day! I can go on and on about my behavior as a smoker, but I think you get the picture by now.

I tried Smokenders, Zyban, nicotine patches and sprays, going cold turkey, and whatever other stop-smoking strategy else you can think of too many times to count – and always with a very predictable outcome. Most of the time I was lucky if my latest and greatest attempt to stop smoking lasted through to noon on the first day. It goes without saying that I was never shy to announce to the world that “This time I am stopping for good” just to have a good giggle next time I see my ever patient cheering squad, smoke in hand. Gradually reducing the number of cigarettes I smoke daily is another stop-smoking strategy that I have tried and this was probably, for me at least, the least successful of all. By slowly limiting the number of cigarettes per day, I found that it actually made me more reliant on the few I allowed myself to have.  My eyes would burn from the strain of trying to concentrate on my work while my brain kept on calculating the time left until the next fix.

Finally, as more and more public spaces were declared smoke free, I became increasingly resentful of the limitations smoking imposed on my lifestyle. Also, we were about to emigrate from South Africa to Australia, and I promised my husband I’d stop before we left. It was during this time that a family member told me about Allen Carr’s book The Easy Way To Stop Smoking. What I loved most about the book, of course, is that it encouraged me to smoke while I read! It made the whole process so much less threatening. The book is an easy read and I finished it over two days one weekend. I was absolutely amazed at the outcome.

I must admit that I remained unconvinced and skeptical that this little book with all its talk about big and little monsters can actually help for most of the time I spend reading the book. Of course I did recognize myself and all my conflicting beliefs about smoking, but I couldn’t really see how all of this “common sense” is going to help me stop. Probably hardly surprising with my track record. I dreaded the end of the book when I would have to put out my last cigarette. Yet when it finally came, I knew that something changed for me.  I stopped easily (and I mean easily) for about a month until the stress of the migration process got to me. We moved to Australia and I re-read the book three months after we landed in Sydney. This time, I stopped for good, even though we were still facing a number of challenges in settling into our new country.

This program works because it brings about a mindset change. It helps recognize your “best friend and crutch” for what it is and helps you realize that a life without cigarettes is not so scary after all. Because it doesn’t depend on substitutes there is no long and drawn out process’ leaving you with an immediate sense of achievement. When I stopped smoking using Allen Carr’s method, I felt surprisingly little cravings, both times. Maybe I felt a slight nudge somewhere in the back of my mind every now and then, but with it an immediate recognition that it is really not what I want anymore. Also, since Allen Carr’s method don’t encourage you to substitute anything else for the cigarettes, you are also less likely to gain weight.  To be honest, I did gain a little weight (about 10 pounds), but not immediately after I stopped. It was a gradual process over the three years, and it has more to do with bad eating habits than my new smoke free existence.

My husband stopped smoking two years before I did, using Zyban. Obviously I tried to stop at the same time, but without success. To this day though, I believe my first few months as a non-smoker have been a lot easier than my husband’s and that I suffered fewer cravings as result of the approach used by Allen Carr in his book The Easy Way To Stop Smoking. Your inability to stop smoking has nothing to do with willpower, and everything to do with the right mindset. Whether this process will work for everyone is an open question. People respond in very different ways to the different strategies available to help them overcome their smoking habits. But, if Allen Carr’s Easyway could work for me, it can most definitely work for you or that family member you care so much about!

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