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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 aisle might have triggered the urge to smoke. The ice cream aisle 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 things you experience and the sooner, the more you recognize that there 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!
Have a good holiday weekend everyone.
Edited 11-24-2012 to add in related video
Sep 10 13 8:00 PM
I've had a few discussions recently with people who have encountered doctors who were encouraging members of their families or their friends to consider taking NRTs to help deal with occasional smoking thoughts even though the people were totally off smoking and nicotine for very significant time periods. Again, some of these people assumed the doctors understood something because they were trained medical professionals. As this article discusses, training in smoking cessation for medical professionals is usually inadequate to almost non-existant. All of our members and lurkers have an opportunity to help their doctors to be better able to help their patients. It is not even by just referring them to Freedom, or WhyQuit.com or to any online support. It is by helping them see that for you what made quitting possible was simply getting nicotine out of your system and the one thing that is making this quit stick is the fact that you recognize that you cannot put nicotine back into your system ever again. If physicians, dentists and other health care professionals see and hear this enough they will start to recognize what message they can give to really help their other patients break free from nicotine. The message is oh so simple, to get and then stay nicotine free just never deliver nicotine again from any replacement source and as far as the smoked form goes, to stay nicotine free is as simple as just knowing to never take another puff! Joel
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