I Gave Up Smoking and Drinking, and Here’s How It Changed My Life

My name is Irina, I’m 37 years old, and I had been smoking for 20 years. My lungs were far from okay, my skin was pale, and I had other health issues. So 6 months ago, I decided to give up smoking once and for all and stop drinking too.

Why I decided to give up smoking

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I smoked my first cigarette at the age of 17, so today I can call myself smoker with 20 years of experience. I barely remember any single day I spent without a cigarette. I really loved smoking, I was convinced that I was never going to give it up, and I had never even tried to. The only time when I didn’t smoke was when I had a cold.

I had heard many stories about people who just decided to give up this bad habit and did! I thought that the stories were not true because I truly believed that the habit was stronger and too hard to shake.

In order to get in shape, I bought a gym membership and realized after the first time there that I couldn’t breathe. I had a personal trainer which made me feel even more awkward since I couldn’t breathe after 2 minutes on a treadmill.

So when I left the gym, I took the new pack of cigarettes out of my pocket and threw it away. This was how my nicotine-free path started.

The first challenge

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The first evening without cigarettes wasn’t hard: the gym took so much of the energy that I just fell on the couch and fell asleep as soon as I got home.

It was my first Friday without nicotine in 20 years. I had a lot of work during the day, so I didn’t think about smoking a lot. But this was just the beginning.

I was used to drinking several cans of beer on Friday evenings while watching movies. But in order not to make the nicotine craving more severe, I decided to give up drinking, too. I bought a bottle of Coca-Cola (equal to the amount of beer I drank) and turned on my favorite TV series. Before, I used to take breaks every 30 minutes to go out and smoke, and now I was going to the kitchen to eat something healthy. But this substitution didn’t help: an hour later, I wanted to smoke so badly that I had to go to sleep.

On Sunday, I didn’t want to smoke, I woke up with a very bad cold, so bad I couldn’t even think about food, let alone cigarettes.

My first real week without nicotine

On Monday, I felt better, but the addiction kept reminding me about my craving. Because it became too hard to fight it, I decided to buy an e-cigarette.

By the end of Tuesday, the e-cigarette was over. The effect was almost zero and I still wanted to smoke.

To motivate myself, I made a pros and cons list.

Soon, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I snapped on my friend and my cat, and I apologized to both of them later. By the end on Thursday, I was ignoring my friends’ messages. I went to bed at 10 pm even though I was usually cooking dinner at this time. I dreamed of smoking.

Despite the fact that I was having a really hard time by the end of the week, I didn’t go out, and I didn’t communicate with anybody, I considered the first cigarette-free week can to be a success.

The first month

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The second week started with me smelling cigarette smoke from my neighbors. Before I quit, I had never noticed it, but now this smell made me want to throw up.

The fourth week was a holiday week and I was going through the hardest challenge — I had company over — 4 people who wanted to smoke every 5 minutes. I wanted to smoke with them every time but the only thing that stopped me — were the results I had already achieved. But the best thing was how I felt in the morning — I was the only person who didn’t cough and didn’t have a hangover.

The New Year’s resolution: I made a list of things I wanted to do during the holidays. It was the first time in 15 years that I went ice skating and skiing. My lungs were functioning very well. I could breathe easily.

6 months later

The bicycle I bought with the money I saved.

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It has been 6 months. I rarely want to smoke, I’ve had beer only 2 times in these 6 months, and only one glass each time. And spending time with my friends has become a rare occasion — now I prefer doing something active, and I started studying Spanish again.

What has changed about my life? Nothing in general. Just several things.


I started communicating with some people less frequently. As it turns out, going to bars together was the only thing we could do.

It has become harder to relieve stress. Many people recommend physical exercise, but it doesn’t work for me now.

I have become more irritable. Maybe it will go away with time, but for now, it is what it is.

I started eating sunflower seeds which have had a bad effect on my teeth. But I’m going to lose this habit soon.

I drink diet coke instead of beer. I drink it once a week, on Fridays while watching TV. But I’m going to replace it with tea (I’ve already bought a big cup).


I don’t have the cough that I had had for 10 years. My lungs are as clean as they can possibly be after 20 years of smoking and I’m very grateful to my body which I had been poisoning for many years.

My memory has improved. It’s probably because I stopped drinking. A friend I haven’t seen for 1.5 years told me that the color of my face has become better and that I had fewer wrinkles.

I spend less money and I used the money I saved to buy a bicycle: I used to spend about $100/month on cigarettes and alcohol.

Now, I can easily climb 9 floors without getting out of breath. Maybe, it’s not only because I stopped smoking but also because I do more physical activity.

Of course, giving up smoking and drinking won’t solve all of your life’s problems. But it will definitely make you more healthy, and help you live longer. So join me!