This is a kind of strange logic that some people experience when first quitting smoking. They lock in to a specific time frame as being the problem when quitting, and when they pass that period they are sure that not smoking will now just be a breeze. For some people that mental time frame being set is the 72 hour mark.
For some people though actually getting through the first 72 hour period is no big deal, physical symptoms may not exist at all and thoughts for cigarettes are marginal at best. But when the 72 hour time period is over, all of a sudden the ex-smoker drops his or her guard and thinks that vigilance is no longer an issue. Then when a thought is triggered the person can really get caught off guard and the thoughts and desires for a cigarette can become much more exaggerated than the person is expecting or ready for.
Once through the first 72 hours the person quitting no longer has to be worried about the kind of peak physical withdrawal symptoms that at times can really be intense, and to some degree, beyond the person's control. There are steps that people can take to minimize or squelch psychological thoughts, but some of the physical reactions that occur the first three days may just have to run their natural course. That is why getting through that time period is really important for a person quitting.
There are other situations that will occur over time that will still likely trigger thoughts for cigarettes. Holidays, family gatherings, meetings, tests, weddings, funerals, flights, movies or a host of other non day to day events can be tricky for a person who has not kept himself or herself mentally prepared. That is the key to keep the risk of relapse minimized when facing new situations--being mentally prepared by keeping your reasons for quitting strong and reasons for wanting to stay smoke free reinforced.
The mindset that should be used to get through all of these events is pretty much the same that a person should use when getting through the first three days or any quit milestones. Getting through 72 hours, a week , a month, a year or a decade is great. But getting though today, whether it is your first day or you thousandth day is the greatest accomplishment of all when it comes to addiction. For if you have a friend who had been totally smoke free for the previous few decades, but happened to have blown his or her quit last night--today is really a lousy day for him or her in regards to nicotine addiction. For all practical purposes, you are much further along and secure in your quit than this person is--even if today is only your second or third day being nicotine free.
So congratulations on getting through your first 72 hours nicotine free. More important now though is staying resolute in your resolve to get through today nicotine free. To be able to keep celebrating your nicotine free life for as long as you to choose to stay smoke and nicotine free always remember why you committed to never take another puff!

Thoughts that seem worse than
urges experienced the first few days

The urges that happen weeks or months after initial quitting can catch you much more off guard than the urges encountered during the first few days. When you had an urge at 10:00 am the day you quit smoking, it was no big deal. You likely had one at 9:55 am just before it. In fact, the first few days if you went to long without an urge you would have felt something was wrong. Although, some people just have one urge that first day. It hits them when they wake up, goes away when they go to sleep, at which point they dream about smoking all night. In essence, it was chronic.

When you start to get more time under your belt not smoking, the triggers become more sporadic. At first separated by minutes, then hours, eventually days and weeks. But they still happen. When they occur after a long period of time they catch you much more off guard.

Also, in the beginning, when your guard is up and urges are frequent, you are constantly talking yourself through them. You are then basically reinforcing your resolve over and over again all day long. When you stop having chronic urges, you naturally stop reinforcing your resolve throughout the day. Then when the trigger hits, not having talked yourself through it very recently, you sometimes have a harder time mustering up the initial motivation for quitting and ammunition for staying off.

One other factor happens with time making urges feel stronger. You start to forget smoking but still remember the "good" cigarettes. You forget the ones you smoked automatically, paying no real attention to even as you smoked them. You forget the nasty one you despised as you smoked them. You forget all the associated annoyances that went with being a smoker. Then you start to remember the best cigarette you ever had in your life. If you focus on this cigarette without recalling all the others and the problems that went with the others, it is hard to not want it.

But that "one" cigarette concept is a fantasy. Not smoking will never be as good as that fantasy, but smoking will not be like that fantasy either. Smoking is what it was at the end, the day you quit-not what it was like early on when it initially hooked you. At the end, smoking was annoying enough to make you want to quit, even though you were going through a horrid withdrawal and psychological readjustment process to do it. You then understood that smoking was making life complicated, ruining your health and basically slowly killing you. Well, cigarettes haven't changed. Just your memories of them have.

Remember cigarettes as they really were, not how you wished they were. Then when the urge is triggered, you will have the ammunition to squelch it. You will recognize that you were just having a bad moment, when you were quitting you were having "bad days." When you were smoking you were a slave to a product that was killing you. You fought long and hard to overcome that control and you never want to relinquish your freedom of choice over such a deadly product again. To keep the control, remember, when the urge is triggered-never take another puff!

"You said it would get better.
It's just as bad as the day I quit smoking!"

Recently I was met with this warm greeting from a clinic participant on his 8th day without smoking. As you may recall, we explain during the clinic that if a smoker can get through the first three days without smoking, the physiological withdrawal will start to diminish, and within two weeks all physiological withdrawal will stop.

While we can accurately predict the physiological withdrawal, psychological withdrawals can occur at anytime. It is possible that the urge this man was having was just as painful as the ones he had a week earlier. While the urge may have been as strong, it was different. When he had an urge before, there was really nothing he could do to get over it. If he just held out a few minutes, the urge would pass. But psychological urges are more under the ex-smoker's conscious control. A good analogy demonstrating the difference between physiological and psychological pain can be seen by analyzing a common toothache.

A rotting tooth can cause a lot of pain. If your dentist explains to you why the tooth hurts it really doesn't resolve the situation. You know why it hurts, but it still hurts. Simply understanding physical pain does not make the pain go away.

To illustrate another point, say you go to the dentist and find out that you have a cavity. He has to drill the tooth and put in a filling. The drilling can be a very rough experience. After it is all over the pain will stop, but whenever you hear the sound of a dentist's drill, even if it's years later, you cringe at the thought of the pain. Once you realize that you are simply reacting to the sound, you know that you are not really in danger and the reaction will end. Understanding the root of the fear alleviates the anxiety and the associated pain.

Any urges for cigarettes that occur today are reactions to conditioned triggers. You are doing or experiencing something for the first time without smoking. It may be going to a bar, a wedding or going on a plane. It may be seeing a person or being in a place where you always had a cigarette in the past. It may be something you hear or even an old familiar aroma. The sense of smell is a powerful mechanism for triggering old emotional feelings.

So today, if you find yourself desiring a cigarette, look around you and see why at this particular time and place a cigarette is on your mind. Once you understand that the desire is being triggered by some reaction to an insignificant event, you can just say "no" to the cigarette without further problem. All you need to do is understand what triggered the thought. The urge will pass. The next time you encounter a similar situation you will not even think of a cigarette. You will have learned how to face another experience as a ex-smoker.

Quitting smoking is a learning experience. Every time you overcome an urge you will have overcome another obstacle that threatened your status as an ex-smoker. As time goes by, you will run out of obstacles and you can comfortably go through life a happier and healthier person. All you need to remember and practice to stay an ex-smoker is - NEVER TAKE ANOTHER PUFF.

Edited 1 time by FreedomNicotine Sep 4 09 8:07 PM.