For Cindy: "Holidays" Once again, the holiday season is upon us. The snow on the ground, the chill in the air, crowded stores, people hurrying to and from, family get togethers, television specials, and the sound of Christmas carols everywhere you go. All this hustle and bustle affects everyone, although not always in the same way. Some people find this a happy, exciting time of the year, while others feel the sense of loneliness and depression more now than at any other time. While the holidays may make some people happy and others sad, there is one special group of people who are universally affected the same way. The group, recent ex-smokers, the effect--desiring a cigarette.
It is not that holidays reinforce the need for nicotine. When a person quits smoking, the addiction is broken. Within two weeks of his last puff, he ceases having any physiological withdrawals or cravings. He does not, though, automatically break the established associations between his activities and cigarettes. Whenever he gets into a new situation, sees a person, feels an emotion, hears a song, or smells an aroma which he has not encountered since he has quit smoking, it will trigger the thought for a cigarette. But if he does not take the cigarette, he will break the triggered response. Next time encountering the same situation, he will not even think of a cigarette.
The holiday season is filled with new sensations and emotions. These feelings vary from individual to individual. No matter what the exact emotion is, the automatic impulse is to take a cigarette. If the holidays make you happy, a cigarette just seems like the icing on the cake. "If I just had a cigarette, everything would be perfect!" If the holidays results in a sense of loneliness, the thought will be, "I really miss my cigarette. It was a good friend."
But if he doesn't take the cigarette, he will soon realize an interesting fact. The holidays go on without smoking. If the holidays made him happy before, he can be happy again. If instead holidays made him sad, he will be sad again. Smoking does not change it one way or the other. One thing is for sure, though, in a few days the holiday will be over. If he makes it through without taking a cigarette, he will forget about smoking completely until the next time a new situation is encountered. Even then, the desire for a cigarette will be a fleeting thought. The realization that he overcame the urges and didn't take a cigarette will be a good feeling.
If, on the other hand, he took the first drag, he is once again hooked into a deadly addiction. He will not only crave cigarettes during holidays, but every day, every hour, every waking minute. He will once again be under total control of his cigarette. He will be totally addicted and truly miserable.
Don't ruin all you achieved when you quit smoking. While the thoughts for a cigarette may be more frequent during the holidays, they are not strong and they will not last long. If you overcome them this year, next year they will be even weaker, and more infrequent, and eventually you will think of them no further. To stay permanently free from this miserable addiction requires only one step, NEVER TAKE ANOTHER PUFF!