Carrying Cigarettes

Carrying Cigarettes

Joel
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

13 Mar 2001, 21:08 #1

Joel's Reinforcement Library

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"I'm going to have to carry
cigarettes with me at all times
for me to quit smoking."




I hear this comment almost every time I start a new clinic. The smoker truly believes that if he does not have cigarettes with him, he will not succeed in quitting. His reasoning for carrying cigarettes is that he has to show himself that he is stronger than the cigarettes, or that if he is faced with some traumatic stress he will need a cigarette to survive through the situation. Both of these beliefs carry serious implications, which almost guarantee failure at permanent cessation from cigarettes.

The first hypothesis-that the smoker must show he is stronger than the cigarette-assumes that the smoker believes he is stronger than his cigarettes. This is the gravest mistake the smoker can make. He is not stronger than his addiction. The day he admits this fact will be the day he has a fighting chance at quitting, the day he forgets it will be the day he again is caught in the grip of addiction.

If he were stronger, he would have been smoking one or two cigarettes a day whenever he wanted. But by the time he enrolled in our clinic he was probably smoking twenty to thirty times that amount. If he were stronger than cigarettes, he would never have showed his face in a smoking clinic. He would have just stopped. But at the time he joined, he recognized he was not in control. He was probably out of control for many years. And as with any other addictive drug, he would never be in control again. Once he forgets that cigarettes controlled him, he will probably smoke his first cigarette. That will be a tragic day when he relapses into his past addiction and he may never be able to muster the strength necessary to break free from cigarettes again.

The second idea-that cigarettes are essential to overcome life's traumas-will almost certainly result in smoking within days of trying to stop. No matter how thorough the smoker is at planning a tranquil period when stress is at a minimum, stress will occur. With cigarettes present, one is sure to be taken. Even if he overcomes that one situation, the idea that cigarettes are capable of making life bearable is a false and dangerous belief.

The smoker feels he needs cigarettes to function properly in our world. Then he takes it one step further, he begins to believe that he will not only be less effective at functioning, he will be totally incapable of surviving. He is giving up the substance that makes life possible. With this belief present, he has about as good a chance of giving up smoking as he has of giving up breathing or eating. If cigarettes are essential to maintain life, quitting is a futile effort. But this is just not true. Everything a smoker can do with cigarettes he can do without them, but he will not learn this or believe it until he successfully quits and starts dealing with life without smoking.

Don't ever forget how cigarettes once controlled your behaviors and beliefs. When you quit smoking you admitted cigarettes controlled you. You were literally afraid that one puff could put you back. That was not an irrational fear. One puff today will lead to the same tragic results as it would have the day you quit. Cigarettes were stronger than you before, and, if given the chance, will be stronger than you again. If you want to show you are now in control, do it by admitting you can function without having cigarettes as a worthless and dangerous crutch. To permanently stay free from cigarettes, all that needs to be done is to NEVER TAKE ANOTHER PUFF!

Edited June 17, 2012 to add related video
Last edited by Joel on 17 Jun 2012, 13:04, edited 2 times in total.
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Joel
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

16 Mar 2001, 22:00 #2

I know I just had this one up a couple of days ago, but it really is an important one. So many people lose quits because they really miss the importance of this one. Keeping them to show you are stronger is a pretty strong sign that you don't appreciate just how strong the addiction is. You won't win this battle by being stronger than nicotine, you will win it by being smarter than nicotine.

If you keep them around to help in case of emergency, you are still looking at cigarettes as good things with mystical qualities of helping in crisis. As many have said here before, a relapse does not help any crisis, it is a crisis in its own right, one that in almost every case is bigger than the one leading you to take the cigarette. Because the crisis of a relapse can eventually take your health and then take your life.

Stay focused on the fact that you are quitting because you want to, because you want to live a long and healthy life. To accomplish both goals always remember to never take another puff!

Joel
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Joel
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

26 Mar 2001, 21:52 #3

Hello again Marty. Of course I am bringing this one up again for obvious reasons. The risks of carrying cigarettes as discussed in this letter are obvious. But there is another issue not mentioned in here. It is at what point does a person move on from the emotional state of being a smoker trying to quit to the phase of considering him or herself an ex-smoker. See, ex-smokers, or non-smokers or never smokers don't carry cigarettes. There is no reason to. Smoking is not a part of their life anymore or in the case of a never smoker, it never was. As long as you keep cigarettes you are keeping the mindset that you are a smoker trying not to smoke. As long as you feel this mindset, you will have issues of being a smoker trying not to smoke. Some where down the line you want to change your attitude to that of an ex-smoker. You are still at risk as an ex-smoker, one puff and the quit can go out the window, but the time period that you are fixated on thoughts of smoking will get further and further apart and diminish in overall intensity. This can all expedited by the simple act of getting rid of cigarettes. So besides the obvious risk, the less than obvious ones are also worth considering.

We are all dealing with addiction here. Carrying cigarettes once you have quit is as logical as carrying a flask of alcohol when in recovery for alcoholism or carrying heroin or cocaine when recovering from those substances. The risks are great. It may cost the recovering addict their quit. In the case of illegal substances, it may cost them their freedom. While the smoker may not end up incarcerated from carrying their cigarettes, it can ultimately take an even higher toll, it can, if under a weak moment or a temporary loss of judgment it can cost him or her their quit and that can cost him or her their health and ultimately their life. It simply is not worth the risk. Your best route for mental health and for physical health is always to keep yourself nicotine free. The best way to accomplish that is not having personal sources of nicotine and when encountering other people's stashes to stay focused on the fact that your plan is to never take another puff!

Joel
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marty (gold)
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:59

26 Mar 2001, 22:12 #4

Image Joel
I didn't find this site until 6 weeks into my quit, so I hadn't read your advice while I was still carrying cigarettes. I realise now that I was risking my quit for no better reason than my own macho pride. I was lucky! I only mentioned it in my post to demonstrate exactly that point - pitting your belief in your own strength of will against the strength of nicotine addiction is a foolish risk to take with something that is simply too important to play macho games with - QUITTING.
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marty (gold)
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:59

26 Mar 2001, 22:17 #5

...and Joel, I hadn't thought about the mental attitude thing. You're right that while I was carrying cigarettes I was thinking about myself as someone in the process of quitting. When I threw them away after 6 weeks I immediately thought of myself as an ex-smoker. NICE THOUGHT - thanks.
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Joel
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

26 Mar 2001, 22:24 #6

Hello Marty:

I suspected that might have been the case. This is a clear example of how people have gotten off by methods that are ill advised. Even though they sometimes work, as it did for you, there were real risks involved with the process. That is what we try to do on this board. Not censor the topic but openly point out the risks with a particular method, trying to make this quit the safest and most effective for everyone. We can't make everyone believe everything, but we feel we have an obligation to at least point out the pitfalls that a specific technique may present. Thanks for understanding. Didn't want you to think I was giving you a hard time.

Some things are worth debate, but one issue should not be questioned by anyone. That is to be able to stay smoke free over the long haul, you must never take another puff!

Joel
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Joel
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

06 Jul 2001, 01:12 #7

I see we have a number of new members in and that this one has not circulated for over a month. It covers the issue of carrying cigarettes as well as the issue of being careful not to perpetuate other "bad habits" from past quits that even though they may have worked the last time, they pose a particular risk for others and may even be a high risk for you this time around. We always try to give tricks and suggestions that carry the best chance of success and the least risk. We also try to expose tactics that while they may be widely accepted by some as good ideas, they may actually have logical flaws that can cost a person their quit.

We have one piece of information though that is above reproach and any controversy though and that is to stay free from smoking all you need to keep in practice is to never take another puff!

Joel
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pammers
Joined: 07 Jan 2009, 18:56

31 Jul 2001, 11:14 #8

Thanks,Joel. You say"carrying cigarettes once you have quit is as logical as carrying a flask of alcohol when in recovery for alcoholism or carrying heroin or cocaine when recovering from those substances." I had never looked at it that way and it totally makes sense.
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Treese (Silver)
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:59

31 Jul 2001, 11:39 #9

Joel
Even before I ever found this site, I knew that I was not strong enough not to smoke if I carried cigs with me. It took me until I found this site to resist going to the store to buy them once I decided to quit. I would always go out and buy them after not smoking for a day. Decided that I would quit again after I finished off that pack. It was a never ending cycle. As soon as I was out of them for a day if I lasted that long, I would go get another pack and say I'll quit as SOON as I finished this one pack. I finally realized that I was so sick of myself and knew that if I had them I would definately smoke them. I was sick of myself for being so weak. Then I found this site. Thanks for teaching me that we are addicts and that we can NEVER TAKE ANOTHER PUFF!! I have control now and it feels SOOOO GOOD!!
Treese @5 weeks
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pammers
Joined: 07 Jan 2009, 18:56

31 Jul 2001, 12:08 #10

OMG Treese, I can totally relate to what you're saying. I was doing exactly the same thing.I'd go a few hours without and then whip out to the store and get yet another pack,telling myself that "THIS WAS IT,FOR SURE!" I was always determined to make THAT pack the last one.Boy,what a vicious draining cycle.Everynight I went to bed cursing myself about what a loser I was,which then leads to depression.....and on and on.Congratulations Treese on 5 weeks,you really give me hope.Your doing fantastic!
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