How I Quit Smoking and Created 

My story is all too familiar. 

I grew up in a house where smoking was the norm. It didn’t take long for me to graduate from passive smoker to full-blown smoker. I first started playing with cigarettes when I was 10 years old, and though I didn’t inhale at  that time, I did get to almost a pack a day at just 15. By the time I was 18, I was smoking  more than 2 packs a day and continued to do so well into my 40s. 

And yes, there were many moments when I desperately tried to quit. I jumped at any  “hack” or “solution” that came my way: 

  • Cold turkey 
  • Quit smoking subliminal tapes 
  • A 12 step program 
  • Acupuncture 
  • Hypnosis 
  • Nicotine replacement therapies of various kinds

Some helped for a month or so, others not at all. 

I was angry. All these “solutions” were telling me empowering stories about people who  finally quit and reclaimed control over their own bodies.

So, why didn’t the stop smoking products and programs I tried work for me? Was there something that different about me?

My Pattern with “Quitting” 

Little did I know, I was stuck in a pattern: try the new thing in smoking cessation, fail, and give up. Then repeat the entire thing all over again, hoping something would change. Of course, nothing ever did, except for the number of dollars I wasted on these ineffective solutions.

But the worst part wasn’t that nothing worked. The worst part was that with each failure, I  began accepting that I’d always be a smoker. I accepted that for me at least, it was just impossible to quit. Even the one time I managed to give up smoking for a year, I was completely miserable  because I kept having to fight powerful cravings, every single day. And because willpower  isn’t enough, it took just one moment to light a cigarette again, after a year of desperately  trying to “push through”. I gave up. I was a smoker, and I would always be a smoker. 

A buddy of mine once told me: “I can’t imagine you without a cigarette. You’re just a  natural-born smoker.” He said that after learning I kept trying to quit. And his words hit me, but not in the way you think. Because instead of trying again, I just thought “I AM a natural-born smoker. So why fight  it?” 

My Wake-up Call 

15 years later, I was still a “natural-born smoker”.

But soon enough, I was in for a wake-up call. You see, my father smoked all his life. And like me, he was stuck in the try to quit and fail  loop. With his health in severe decline he continued to smoke. Even while battling with emphysema  and needing an oxygen tank, I still saw him reach for the cigarettes. This man couldn’t even walk across the room, yet he smoked. It was utterly insane. In all other areas of his life he was disciplined and accomplished. But cigarettes owned him.

On his doctor’s orders, my dad began using a nicotine patch to try to help him stop smoking. Unfortunately, he lost track of them and with two patches on lit a cigarette. He suffered a nicotine overdose which because of his frail health, led to a stroke. After he was discharged from the  hospital he was right back to smoking again, I finally had enough. Maybe this wasn’t his wake-up call, but, it was mine.

It was time to quit. 

And This Is How The ASNM Program Was Born 

I began looking into stop smoking products and programs.

I was shocked to see how little had changed in the decade and a half since I went through all my gyrations trying to quit. As I searched, I realized no one had really solved the equation of how to make the urge to smoke go away. Lots of empty promises, but from all the comments available, they seemed just that, empty promises.

As I searched, my dismay deepened. Disappointed at discovering that with all the time that had passed since my last attempts at quitting, there was nothing that was any better on the market? There were lots of free websites and programs that gave you bits and pieces and plenty of encouragement to quit smoking, but they were pretty general. None really laid it out step by step, and no one seemed to have a real solution to the cravings. Certainly not anything that wasn’t accompanied by serious health warnings. So, what, I’m going to risk doing damage to myself or killing myself to stop from doing damage to myself or killing myself? That makes perfect sense.

At the same time all this was going on, there was something pretty astonishing going on with my father. Through physical therapy, I watched as he regained skills and movements that had been affected by the stroke. The therapists explained to me that he was able to regain these skills by rerouting the wiring of his brain around the damaged area of his brain.

This led me to another a-ha moment. Not to be understated, it was a huge a-ha moment.

If physical therapy, which was a basic repetition of movement (I realize that’s putting it in the simplest of terms), could help my dad regain skills by rewiring around damaged parts of his brain, could I rewire my brain to the brain of a non-smoker, thereby avoiding the incessant urges to smoke? That question led me to learn about neuroscience and that “neurons that fire together, wire together.”

Now, I had to put all this together and formulate a program to help myself get over this cigarette addiction, and I had the perfect tools to accomplish this. Personally, and as a volunteer, I had been involved in addiction recovery for many years and had spent countless hours learning about addictions and guiding others to healthy recoveries. And as a career, I was a project manager and knew all about how to break down tasks and put together a step-by-step schedule for complex projects.

Through my research, I came to a startling conclusion. Nicotine is one of the most addictive substances known to man. It is addictive to the point that people damage and or kill themselves in the pursuit and use of it. So why the additives? What’s the point? It doesn’t take upwards of 350 chemical additives simply to make cigarettes taste better and burn efficiently. Could the chemical concoctions be addictive too? Or do they increase the addictiveness of the nicotine? This was an important key. Was I designing a program to overcome a single addiction or two addictions?

I had a hunch about the real point of the additives. As an experiment, I had three friends switch from their regular, popular, cigarette brands to cigarettes with no additives for a week. All three reported a marked increase in their cigarette consumption, with one of them smoking one and a half times her normal daily cigarette amount. It was clear the chemical additives were an addiction or at least acting like an addition unto themselves. While this wasn’t qualified research, it was good enough for me. My intention was to create a program that treated them both as addictions and treat them separately. To me, this seemed to be just plain common sense, with no risk attached to it, only reward.

The crux of the program had all come together, and it was exciting! With the base principles of the program in place, I built the rest of the program. I set my start date and was off and running. 12 weeks later, I stubbed out my last cigarette. That date was May 4, 1998, and I have been gratefully smoke-free ever since. Just as importantly, I have never once had the urge to pick up another cigarette.

Through that time, I had been through the gamut of life. Happy times, sad times, heartbreaking times, thrilling times. Through them all, never once did I ever even think of picking up a cigarette.

Of course, my program had no name in the beginning, as I just created it for myself to quit smoking. Over the years, I helped friends and acquaintances quit smoking with my program. In 2013, I was idly searching the web to see what kind of advancements there had been in smoking cessation and to see if anyone had come up with the same program I had.

It was shocking to see little to no advancement in products or methods to help people quit smoking. It dawned on me that I had been given this gift and was meant to share it with other people enslaved to this addiction. Especially since, with a modest amount of work and sustained focus, they could put this addiction behind them too and not compromise their health and the health of those they love.

From those humble beginnings, the program came into existence. It morphed from my program to our program, and now we can happily say the program has helped countless people become ex-smokers and lead fuller, healthier lives.

And hopefully, you’ll be one of those people too.

Mick Byrne 

Founder of

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