I always enjoy a good triumph-over-addiction story, so I was compelled to read Brian Koerber’s piece on Mashable about how he quit smoking using an app. I myself ended a 22-year love affair with cigarettes just one year, one month and 0 days ago, but who’s counting? My Quitter app is! Like Koerber, I used an app on my iPhone to track my progress and calculate the amount of money I saved not smoking and it was instrumental in my cessation process. But just like anything, it only works if you work it.
The Cyber Patch
When Koerber finally decided he wanted to quit, he researched some of the popular methods of quitting smoking: the patch, the gum, medication, self-help books, e-cigarettes—all of which he decided wouldn’t work or didn’t appeal to him. Luckily, Koerber found an online support group he clicked with and, along with an app called QuitIt, found his winning combination. But what if those methods hadn’t worked for him?
Although it’s ideal to find a method of quitting that feels comfortable and attainable like Koerber did, we don’t always have that luxury. In fact, I wouldn’t count on it. Combating a powerful emotional and physical addiction, one that has very few immediate consequences (like nicotine), is a total bitch (hence all the damn quitting aids on the market). It’s not that I don’t believe people know what’s best for them, it’s just that when it comes to addiction, we can’t always afford to indulge in excuses like “The patch seemed too weird” or “Reading a self-help book just made me feel like a drug addict.” If we try a method and it doesn’t work, we can’t just wash our hands of the process because certain techniques don’t sound fun. If one doesn’t work, we have to try another one, even if it seems “weird.”
I think it’s also important to point out that Koerber’s method worked because he did his part and stuck to it. He worked it. It wasn’t some magical app that reached out and grabbed his hand every time he reached for a cigarette; Koerber made the decision to look at the app for inspiration every time his friends went out for a smoke. He chose the path of logging in to an online support group when he had a craving instead of saying “Fuck it” and lighting up.
Always a Struggle?
I have to say, though, I was a little taken aback when Koerber concluded his piece by talking about his daily struggle of not smoking, going as far as to say that it will probably be something he deals with the rest of his life. At the risk of sounding like a dick, I find it strange that someone who quit smoking over a year ago at the ripe age of 24 still struggles daily with wanting to smoke. I’m not saying I don’t understand missing smoking sometimes or occasionally searching for a pack in the car because you forgot you quit, but a daily struggle? I smoked for 22 years and can’t remember the last time having a cigarette even occurred to me. Apps are great but maybe that’s evidence that combining app use with spiritual solutions gives you something that technology can’t.
At least not yet.