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Jun 23 12 6:37 AM
From Triggers and craves:
Recently someone mentioned to me how when she had been off smoking for a week she was hit with a major urge while in the ice cream isle of her supermarket. Not only was it strong, but it lasted longer than most of the urges she had in the days prior to this event. This is the explanation I gave her as to why the thought was triggered and the reason for the longer than average duration. It helps explains a little further about smoking patterns.
There is a reason the ice cream isle might have triggered the urge to smoke. The ice cream isle was likely one of the last items you shopped for since you didn't want it to melt. As a smoker, the half-life of nicotine is 20 to 30 minutes, meaning after this time period you would always be in a slight state of withdrawal. You were never allowed to smoke in the store, so by the time you would leave, lighting up would be an automatic response. You may always have had a tough time though even before leaving. You would likely be in a hurry to check out and exit by the time you hit that aisle for you may have already been in withdrawal.
If you had not shopped for ice cream since you quit, the first time would probably be an automatic trigger. If not then, as soon as you would leave the store it probably would have done it. Other situations which will also trigger this way is when you first leave a movie theatre, library, or non-smokers homes who you have visited in the past and never smoked at.
It's kind of funny, it's the places some people try to escape to the first week they quit smoking, places they never could smoke. What they fail to recognize sometimes though is they have to leave those places. They better understand that these times will be powerful triggers.
It is important to do these things though to break the triggers. Time doesn't teach you how not to smoke, experience does. The more thing you experience and the sooner, the more you recognize that their is life after smoking.
Don't let it get you down, acknowledge the crave, recognize you don't want to be a smoker and congratulate yourself for overcoming another trigger. Oh yeah, enjoy the ice cream and when finished with the same sized helping you would have had when you were still a smoker (don't increase quantity even if it does taste better, calories you know), go for a short walk and think to yourself that no matter how many triggers occur like this, you will Never Take Another Puff!
Some further clarification:
The kind of trigger talked about here is not just when going out to different places though, home based activities will have the same reaction. Any activity that takes over 20 minutes would eventually get tied into smoking. Mowing the lawn, laundry, using the bathroom, paying bills, talking on the phone, basically, anything that took time very likely became a smoking based activity or had built in smoking breaks associated with them. The first time encountering any of these activities after cessation would be a powerful trigger.
But again, the only way to break these associations is by encountering them the first times, and overcoming them. After a few repeated episodes, not smoking will become the habit for the event. Again, not by time passing but rather by repeated experience. But my closing statement above still applies to them. No matter what triggers occur, all that you need to do to overcome it and learn a new experience as an ex-smoker is to Never Take Another Puff!
Jun 23 12 8:55 AM
Jun 23 12 9:39 AM
At every clinic graduation I make an impassioned plea for all participants to come to future sessions as a way of reinforcing their resolve to stay off nicotine. At the time I make the request many, if not most, of the clinic graduates realize the benefit and commit to the concept of returning to future clinics. While the commitment is made in all good faith, compliance is pitifully low. Within weeks of graduation, most feel they are so secure not smoking that coming into available clinics for further reinforcement is unnecessary and inconvenient. They still have good feelings about the clinic and generally feel they will come back when they "need to."
Unfortunately, most only recognize they need to come back by one obvious symptom. They are once again chronically administering nicotine and can't seem to stop. This is a dangerous way to find out they could have benefited from reinforcement meetings. For once a relapse has occurred there is no guarantee a smoker will have the strength, desire or opportunity to quit again before smoking tragically interferes with his health, social status, and maybe even his life.
Reinforcement in our clinic is basically a sharing process. The sharing offered by successful graduates is a powerful motivation to the current clinic participants who are desperately attempting to keep the strong resolve needed to overcome the powerful physical and emotional traumas experienced during the initial quitting process. Seeing a variety of people who have successfully overcome such a seemingly impossible task offers hope and encouragement at the time they most need it. Your presence and sharing one day every couple of months can make a real difference, and, possibly, in the long run even saving the life of one or more current clinic participants. What else would you do for an hour and a half on a weekday evening that could play such a pivotal role in other people's lives?
But sharing is a two way process. By coming to help current clinic participants you will walk away with more than a good feeling that you helped others that day. You will walk out with a greater understanding and appreciation of just how lucky you are to be off smoking and a lot more prepared to deal with the occasional obstacles that can still threaten any ex-smoker weeks, months, years and even decades after cessation.
In the clinic I just graduated, we had one participant who relapsed almost 11 years after being in our program. She was feeling great not smoking but complacency led to relapse, which led to smoking and the painful process of quitting. Another participant there had once been off of smoking for over 35 years before his first relapse. Since then he's tried three previous times and still can't get off. Witnessing these people and others like them is a sobering but beneficial process. It will make any ex-smoker recognize just how close he is to being a smoker again and greatly appreciate that, to this day, he made the right decision not to take that first puff.
While these two people and others in the clinic had valuable experiences they wanted and needed to share, it was really sad that, except for the 10 people who came panel night, no other past participants came to help or came to benefit from these experiences. Ten out of over 4,000! It's time to join the minority. Be one of the few who comes to reinforce resolve. It is so much better to learn from others' mistakes, as opposed to maybe one day having to learn from your own.
Consider coming to share your time and experiences with one of our groups. You will not regret it. If traveling is impossible, call me or write me some time and share a story I may pass on to others of how you still overcome the occasional obstacles that can lead to relapse. If you do, I promise I will share a concept with you which will help secure your continued ex-smoking status. I will share with you the knowledge that to stay off of smoking you simply need to remember to never take another puff!
Jun 23 12 9:41 AM
Jun 23 12 10:11 AM
Jun 24 12 9:13 AM
Jun 24 12 9:35 AM
From "Just think about something else."
Sometimes you will encounter a person who says they are constantly thinking about smoking or sometimes you yourself feel that you fit into this category of individual. Generally when a person says they are constantly thinking about smoking, people around them tries to share the advice to think about something else. First, there is an inaccuracy about what the ex-smoker is saying. He or she is not constantly thinking about smoking, rather, he or she is fixating on "one cigarette" or "one puff." It's hard to think about something else because one puff seems like such a wonderful concept. They are often reminiscing about one of the best cigarettes, or more accurately, about the sensation around one of the best fixes they ever had. It may be one the smoked 20 years earlier but that is the one they are focused on.
So what about thinking about something else? Well, it's hard to think of something else that can deliver such pleasure as this magic memory. Even if they successfully think of something else and overcome that urge, they walk away from the moment with a sense of longing or sadness with what they have just been deprived of again.
So, what is an ex-smoker to do? Change the tactic. Instead of trying (often unsuccessfully) of something else, acknowledge the desire. Don't tell yourself you don't want one, you do and you know it. But remember there is a catch. To take the one you have to have all the others with it. And with the others, you have to take all the problems that go with "them." The smell, the expense, the embarrassment, social ostracization, the total loss of control, and the health implications. The health effects are the most serious of the implications considering they lead to slowly being crippled then death.
This is what to focus on when the thought of one creeps into consciousness, the package deal of smoking. Think about the hundreds of cigarettes that have to go with that first one weekly. Think about the thousands that go with that first one every year, or the hundreds of thousands that will go with it until it kills you. These are not exaggerated numbers. Do the math yourself; calculate how much you smoked in your lifetime and figure out how many more will be consumed if you didn't quit.
I am not saying to look at cigarettes negatively, just look at them exactly as they really were. If you pull the whole spectrum of smoking into focus, you will be able to walk away from the "urge" with the attitude that you are glad you are not doing that anymore. You won't feel deprived you will feel grateful. The more you remember smoking the less you will think about a cigarette. In a sense forcing yourself to remember will help you forget. Not forget smoking, but the fantasy, the appeal of a nicotine fix. A nicotine fix was not worth smoking for while you were a smoker, you can bet it is not worth it as an ex-smoker with freedom to lose now as well as all the other implications that always went with smoking.
In summing up, I will say that not smoking will never seem as good as the fantasy of smoking. But smoking was never that good either. The fantasy is "one" with no side effects, and no loss of control. The reality though is a dirty, disgusting, and deadly addiction. See them for what they are and you will stop wanting them as much.
Again, it can't be said too often, you are fighting for your health and your life. To win this fight is no more complicated than just keeping your commitment enforced to never take another puff!
Tell a newbie how many seconds a day you still want a cigarette
I want one...
Neither side is perfect!
Jun 24 12 4:37 PM
Jun 25 12 9:56 AM
Jun 25 12 12:37 PM
From the string You Smoke Because You're A Smoke-a-holic!
For people who feel they smoked to deal with boredom, or sadness, or whatever. You smoked because you were addicted to nicotine. As far as boredom is concerned though, it is the hardest thing to do when you first quit smoking, doing nothing without a cigarette. But learning to do nothing without a cigarette is learned the same way as learning any other activity is reconditioned, by doing the routine and not smoking. Eventually the routine that must be learned is inactivity without smoking. Everyone can do it. Sooner or later you have to relax. Don't fight it when the time comes. Again, the sooner you prove to yourself that this too can be survived, the sooner the anxiety of facing slow times without smoking will be dissipated.
Jun 25 12 2:23 PM
Jun 25 12 11:01 PM
think it was kind of sad to so blithely make a joke that acknowledged
that I was placing my health at risk.
Jun 26 12 9:23 AM
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