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A Word from the Quitters

Offers comments from the 'Psychology Today' ad hoc faculty on how they were able to give up drinking or smoking. Departure from a stressful college schedule and living with 12 other girls took away the need to smoke; Success through Alcoholics Anonymous; Asking herself why she was a paying a cigarette company to kill her; Others.

Q. HAVE YOU EVER GIVEN UP DRINKING OR SMOKING? IF SO, HOW DID YOU DO IT?WHAT TECHNIQUES DID YOU FIND THE MOST HELPFUL?

I quit smoking onely after leaving the stress of my senior year in college, with its heavy course-load and the chaos of sharing a house with 12 other girls. I no longer crave the quiet few minutes provided by smoking a cigarette on the back porch.

Mary McCaffrey,

Medical Student

Stony Brook, New York

At age 56, I've never given any thought to givin up either smoking or drinking because I have always indulged in thses pleasures in moderation. A day without my Macanudo cigar or my Cream Sherry on the rocks is unthinkable! Life is filled with all kinds of hazards, so one might as well enjoy its pleasures.

Alan Caruba

Founder

The Boring Institute

I quit drinking 10 years ago. In the last five years of my drinking, I had to have a drink every six hours. If I didn't, my mind was disjointed. Finally one morning I reached the bottom.. On my third day in detox, I heard one of the nurses say that alcoholism is a disease because the body goes through chemical changes. It made sense. I realized it wasn't a matter of willpower, it was a matter of having to stop completely if I ever wanted anything in life.

Ben Peterson

Direct mail fund-raiser

New York, New York

Despite being college educated, I had held only menial jobs int he 10 years prior to my recovery. I tried limiting my drinking to weekends, drinking only certain types of alcohol, not mixing, or waiting until after 5 P.M. before indulging. It was not until I went to Alcoholics Anonymous that I found a way to stay drug and alcohol free. Their philosophy of doing it one day at a time has made it possible for me to stay sober for the last 3,687 days.

E.G. Burkhart, C.S.W.

Psychotherapist

New York, New York

I gave up smoking almost two years ago, cold turkey. I found that telling myself the positive things that would happen to my health has helped me not to smoke.

The most profound question I asked myself was, why are you paying a cigarette company to kill yourself?

Iris McLaughlin,

Research Assistant, Research

Institute on Addictions

Buffalo, New York

I stopped smoking five years ago. My husband had a heart attack and stopped smoking immediately. I used to try to smoke outside so he wouldn't see me. He told me to smoke in from of him so he could get used to being around smokers. I did for about a week, then felt guilty and gave it up cold turkey. I missed it at first, but it was a crutch that I soon found I could live without. I am glad we now live in a smoke-free house with our daughter.

Diane Riegger

Administrative Assistant

United Federation of Teachers

New York, New York

Learning how not to drink took education--and I could not have done it without that education and without some tools. Before, I figured this compulsion was something I couldn't do anything about; I was stuck with it.

But I didn't even know what an alcoholic was, let alone know I was one. Now, I know, so I do one main thing to stay sober: go to AA meetings.

Jeff M.

Communications Manager

Minneapolis, MN

I gave up smoking for three years. Unfortunately, I started smoking again. The only way I was able to stop was to get rid of as much stress as possible. I was then able to focus on quitting... I only started smoking again when I went through a divorce in 1986.

Steven O. Philippi, Driver,

U.P.S., Valley Stream, New York

PHOTO: Shot glasses