Is smoking your best friend?

Posted by DrMendelsohn on 1 September, 2013

Cigarette_character_bad_2.jpgFor many people, quitting smoking feels like letting go of a best friend. This can generate a powerful sense of loss, like the death of a loved one.

Many smokers see their smoking as a friend or companion that is always there when needed. It provides comfort and company and stays loyal to you over many years. It is no wonder that some people go through a grieving process and may get depressed after quitting.

But wait, is this a friend or a parasite? This 'friend' is slowly killing you, stealing your money and telling you what to do all the time. Does this friend really care about you?

What are you really getting from the friendship? The comfort from smoking is a myth. Cigarettes appear to relax you at times, but really they are simply relieving the nicotine withdrawal that they have created. Smokers are more relaxed after they have quit smoking.

Is it time to get a restraining order on this friend before it is too late?

Mourning the loss

When people suffer a personal loss (such as health, job, income or a death) it is normal to experience some of the 5 stages of grief, described by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance.  Letting go of an addiction to other drugs such as heroin or cocaine also commonly triggers the grieving process.

Cigarette_character_bad_1.jpgHow to deal with the loss of smoking

As with any emotional event, it is very important to recognise and accept your feelings. The discomfort is a natural response to giving up an important part of your life and working through the pain is a vital part of the healing process.

Talking to a 'real' friend, family member or counsellor can be very helpful in processing these feelings. 

Another useful strategy is to write a goodbye letter to your 'friend'.  Write about how you met, how long you were friends, what smoking has meant to you, how your bond increased or decreased over time, and finally why your relationship has to end and why you need a divorce.  A goodbye letter can help you let go of your 'friend' and move on to the next stage of your life.

Plan some well earned rewards to brighten you up during the difficult times. Click here for some further ideas (scroll down to Rewards).

Remember, the pain of loss is normal, but it is temporary and it will gradually improve over time.


Goodbye letters from real patients






My cigarette my friend. An entertaining but informative description of a cigarette 'friend'.


What is your experience? Is smoking your friend? Please share your story by posting below. 



Tamerin JS. The psychodynamics of quitting smoking in a group. Am J Psychiatry 1972


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