Eat, drink and be merry. The holiday season is again upon us. It is the time of year when people celebrate as they reflect on their year's accomplishments and rejoice with their loved ones for all their good fortunes. It is an emotionally rewarding time of year for children and adults alike. Why blow it all on a mistake like taking a cigarette? I must address this issue because many ex-smokers return to their past addiction during the holiday season. While most people fear they will return to smoking due to some horrible crisis, smokers are in fact more prone to take their first puff during a pleasant social encounter, typically after a couple of drinks.
There are two reasons why people are more likely to return to smoking at this time of the year. First, and probably most importantly, alcohol consumption, which is characteristically higher during the holidays, can trigger a very strong desire to take one cigarette. Smokers and ex-smokers alike strongly associate alcohol and cigarettes. The reason for this association is the physiological effect of alcohol on the urine pH level. Alcohol makes the urine more acidic than normal. Whenever the acidity of the urine is increased the excretion rate of nicotine is dramatically accelerated. Since the smoker is in a constant battle to maintain a high level of nicotine in the bloodstream, this physiological effect leads to increased cigarette consumption, and hence, a conditioned response between cigarettes and alcohol. This, in addition to the fact that alcohol can lower your level of inhibition, can create an atmosphere ripe for experimenting with one cigarette. Unfortunately, this kind of experimentation can be a tragic mistake. Instead of just smoking one cigarette, the first puff usually reinforces the full fledged addiction, sending the person back to the old multiple pack per day, deadly habit.
Another holiday situation which often triggers the response for taking the first puff is dealing with people and situations you have not encountered as an ex-smoker. The first time you take part in any new experience as an ex-smoker can create a powerful urge, similar to those encountered during the initial quitting process. Handle the urges the same way you did during those first few days without smoking. Take it one day at a time! By the next day, instead of fighting the urge you will be wondering how you could ever have considered taking one. You will be eternally thankful that you didn't give in.
Lets start out the New Year right. Be especially careful this holiday season. Have a happy and healthy New Year and keep in mind our one simple fail-safe method of staying free from cigarettes this season as well as for all future holidays. . . NEVER TAKE ANOTHER PUFF!