To Guilt or Not to Guilt

First an update on my last blag:  Since my last blog regarding gestational diabetes, I was retested and I do not have it, not even close. I should add that 20% of women who take the test have a “higher than normal levels” result the first time around and only 5% of those women actually have it upon re testing (also women 25 or younger are not even tested for this). Though this information was available to me before, I wasn’t hearing any of it at the time anyways.

To Guilt or Not to Guilt

I have always thought anti-smoking campaigns that use guilt to get people to quit smoking are coercive and ineffective. The more I feel like a jerk > the more I feel alienated from people > the more I want to smoke. The less I feel connected with others or unworthy of their empathy, the more I lean into my trusty friend the cigarette who never judges me; don’t we know this by now about addiction? I feel like this should be common knowledge. I have a few friends who have put pressure on my partner to put more pressure on me about quitting, saying things like “You need to get on her more about this, tell her it’s unacceptable and she needs to quit!” But he has never done that and I have always appreciated that about him.

However, I cannot deny that guilt is a powerful modifier, just look at the quitting smoking statistics for pregnant versus non-pregnant women. On average about 2% of smokers trying to quit are successful, whereas 5% of female smokers are successful in quitting (1 in 20) during pregnancy. I’m not sure that’s enough to stay quit but it shows that the fears and guilty feelings associated with smoking during pregnancy more than doubles the success rate for quitting this powerful drug. Though maybe it’s less about guilt and more about a shift in thinking about oneself as a caregiver responsible for more than yourself for the first time in life.

I’m sure it’s different for everyone.

I know I have had thoughts of sneaking away for a smoke only to realize I can’t actually sneak away from my own body, it’s infinitely different from smoking when no one’s looking and lying to colleagues, friends, family or even yourself about the little cheat you had.

I guess I’m still (desperately) searching for the motivation and method that will work for me to stay quit, beyond the momentary guilt I felt at even the thought of smoking a cigarette. I actually had multiple dreams in my first trimester and half way into my second where I would be offered a cigarette, say “no thanks I’m pregnant” then wake-up so frustrated with myself for not taking the smoke in the dream that I would not give myself in waking life.

What do you think? Does it help or hinder a quitting process for ad campaigns, concerned loved ones (or even yourself) to use guilt as a way to force addicts to consider quitting?