craving

craving

Joined: January 7th, 2010, 10:27 pm

January 9th, 2010, 1:44 am #1

Its Fri night on day 4 of my quit, and I just had one of those overwhelming cravings. Thought that wouldn't happen after 72 hours. I guess this struggle will go on
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Joined: December 6th, 2008, 4:58 pm

January 9th, 2010, 2:22 am #2

Joel's Reinforcement Library


"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.


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Joined: December 6th, 2008, 4:58 pm

January 9th, 2010, 2:24 am #3

For the benefits of newbies wondering if they will ever stop wanting a cigarette, I thought I would elaborate on the concept of "urges" that happen weeks, months or even years into a quit. When we say that the urge hits after any significant time period after being smoke free, it is a desire or a thought for a cigarette that is different than the physical "urge" experienced during initial withdrawal. Those urges are physiological craves, the body demanding nicotine to alleviate a drug withdrawal state. The thoughts that happed down the road are triggers of fond memories. The thought is often that it seems like a good idea now to smoke a cigarette. Kind of like the urge you get to clean your house on a slow day. Seems like a good idea for a few seconds, but if you find something better to do, so be it. The same concept holds true for the thought of a cigarette.

Other times there will be thoughts of "I used to smoke when I did this." Not a desire for a cigarette or smoking, but a feeling that your timing or ritual is off. Sometimes there may even be a feeling that you are supposed to be doing "something" right now, but do not even realize what it is. All of a sudden you realize you used to smoke at this particular juncture of time or a specific new situation. Again, it is not that you want or need a cigarette in these two cases, just that the routine was a little off.

Years into a quit though, most days ex-smokers will go days, weeks and maybe even months without a thought. Even days which they call "bad" with desires, they may be going 23 hours and 59 minutes and 50 seconds without a thought, but because they think of it once, they think that was a lot. It really does get easier and easier.

The alternative side, smoking, is constantly riddled with thought of quitting. Whenever you are going to a doctor, a non-smoking friends or family home where you want to visit but cannot smoke, getting a new symptoms or aggravated by a chronic problem, read a news headline or hear a news report on television or radio on a new danger from smoking, have to pay another price increase for cigarettes, find another friend who has quit while you do not, stand outside in blizzards or heat waves or torrential downpour for the luxury of getting a quick fix or experience some horrible withdrawal because you can't escape for a cigarette or heaven forbid, you run out of cigarettes.

Yes there were plenty of times smoking made your life totally unmanageable. Not to mention the times that may come where a diagnosis of a horrible condition that require extraordinary measures to save your life that in themselves are almost as terrifying and painful as the disease itself. That unpleasant scenario still provides a chance of survival. There are frequently the cases where the first real symptom of a smoking induced illness is sudden death. Then you don't even have a chance to save your life.

As an ex-smoker, there may be times you want a cigarette. As a smoker, there will be times you want to quit. Neither side is perfect, but the ex-smoker side has clear advantages. It will get easier and easier over time getting to the point of smoking becoming a thing of the past. The smoking side leads to a much more ominous road.

Keep focused, whether it is hours into a quit or decades into a quit. It was a good decision to quit, maybe the most important decision you have made in your life as far as quality and length of your life goes. To keep the decision alive and continue to reap the benefit, always remember, Never Take Another Puff!

Joel
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Joined: December 6th, 2008, 4:58 pm

January 9th, 2010, 2:26 am #4

Joel's Reinforcement Library

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!
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Joined: January 7th, 2010, 10:27 pm

January 9th, 2010, 3:05 am #5

I went on the website just not to smoke, and sent an email into space to help myself. Being on the website and reading about my nasty addiction did stop me from the drive to the gas station, but as a bonus and to my surprise, there were answers to the email that I threw out there that were extremely helpful. Thank Y'all. Am a lot more greatful about tomorrow being day 5 when I was having such an easy day 4 before the big one hit
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