I have to smoke because of all my stress

I have to smoke because of all my stress

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

20 Nov 2000, 06:26 #1

Joel's Reinforcement Library

I Have to Smoke
Because of All My Stress!

Stress is considered a cause for smoking by many people. Actually, smoking is a cause of stress. Recent correspondence dealt with reasons people give for going back to smoking: social situations, parties, alcohol consumption and stress. This month I wish to amplify on stress.

In January of 1979, Chicago and vicinity was devastated by a major blizzard. Heavy snows fell just after the New Year crippling the area. Additional snowfall continued throughout the week. During this time period I was barraged with phone calls from participants of the November, 1978 clinic claiming to be terribly nervous, upset and anxious from "not smoking." Curiously, most of them were feeling well during the month of December. They had occasional urges which lasted only seconds and were quite easy to overcome. What they were experiencing in January was different. Many felt that they were on the verge of cracking up. To them life was "just no good" without their cigarettes. Was the anxiety they were now experiencing really a side effect from giving up smoking?

To any outside observer the answer to the mysterious intensification of perceived withdrawal was obvious. In fact, if our ex-smokers listened to radio or television or read the front page of any newspaper, they would have encountered a story on cabin fever. By simply comparing their symptoms with those accompanying cabin fever they would understand what was happening.

Attributing the anxiety to smoking cessation was transference of blame. In fact, they were having a normal reaction to an abnormal situation - confinement due to the blizzard. They would have had the same anxiety whether or not they had given up cigarettes.

The above story illustrates an atypical time period in which numerous people experience similar complaints. In everyday life inherent problems exist. Work, family, friends, and money can all contribute to daily distress. Ex-smokers often think that if they just take a cigarette during a stressful episode the situation will be solved. For example, consider a person who finds he has a flat tire in a parking lot during a freezing rain. When encountering this kind of misfortune, the ex-smoker's first reaction often is, "I need a cigarette." What will actually solve this problem is changing the tire, and driving off in a warm car. What would a cigarette do to help this situation? It only makes the person see the flat tire longer and freeze more. This adds up to greater frustration. The first puff will probably reinforce the addiction to cigarettes which is a much greater crisis than the flat tire ever was. In fact, taking the first puff almost always results in a bigger problem than the crisis that "caused" them to take the puff. Even in a real catastrophe, such as a death in the family, injuries, illnesses, flooding resulting in major property loss, bankruptcy and so on, a cigarette will not solve the problem. It will just add another major problem to the originally bad situation.

Remember, smoking cannot solve problems of daily living. No matter what the problem, there is a more effective way of solving it than smoking. In fact, a smoker's health risks are a real problem that can only be solved if they - NEVER TAKE ANOTHER PUFF!

Last edited by Joel on 07 Oct 2009, 23:04, edited 3 times in total.

Joined: 07 Jan 2009, 19:34

20 Nov 2000, 08:36 #2

Added following links and videos 06-12-2012

"I'll be a nervous wreck forever if I quit smoking"
"I am climbing the walls because I quit smoking"

[font=ARIAL, GEORGIA, 'TIMES NEW ROMAN', TIMES, SERIF]Added link to section of video "[/font]Why do smokers smoke[font=ARIAL, GEORGIA, 'TIMES NEW ROMAN', TIMES, SERIF]" that addresses stress issue 07-02-2013[/font]
[font=ARIAL, GEORGIA, 'TIMES NEW ROMAN', TIMES, SERIF]Added link to [/font]Quitting smoking can make you calmer, happier and healthier 02-28-2014
Last edited by STACY on 28 Feb 2014, 16:09, edited 3 times in total.

Joined: 07 Jan 2009, 19:05

01 Mar 2001, 21:53 #3

For me, the title of this post should have been " I have to smoke to give me all my stress"
I wake feeling rested, refreshed, and well . I used to wake feeling sick, more tired than when I went to bed, angry and in need of a jolt of smoke to get me going.
I go through the day a step at a time, feeling able and not all churned up inside. I used to look for a reason to get upset, so I could do the "I have to go have a cigarette to calm down and think routine"
Instead of soothing ,I was jittering myself . Instead of sitting to think with a cigarette I was medicating so I wouldn`t need
to deal with my thoughts.
I could, and do, tend to go on and on with the pros ( like there is one) and cons . I just cannot believe that I could let that little straw of tobacco, affect the me I thought I was.
Instead of addiction to cigarettes I`ve been addicted, to a lifetime of feeling stressed, to the point of illness, and using the stressor ,thinking it was an aid not the cause!!!!! I hope this makes some sense to you. It was a light bulb moment for me..
Reading this back I probably should scratch it but if it sounds crazy that's OK , someone out there may relate . If not are there
spinoff sites that would welcome me????? Love Ya
Last edited by Tessa on 07 Oct 2009, 23:04, edited 2 times in total.

Joined: 07 Jan 2009, 19:49

31 May 2001, 23:25 #4

I really like this post, it makes sense!! As you know I'm trying to help my hubby to quit. He has been reading here at freedom and this one I'm going to print out!!!

Grateful to be free, 3m 4d...Heather
Last edited by heath on 07 Oct 2009, 23:05, edited 2 times in total.

Joined: 07 Jan 2009, 19:05

31 May 2001, 23:28 #5

I still can`t believe how unstressed and able to cope one can become when you quit
smoking.... If anyone would have told me I would have said they were crazy! Then again I never
truly believed I would be near 6 days with out a smoke and I`m nearing 6 months.
If you think "well maybe nothing has happened since she quit to get her stressed"
NOT!! There is always something in life to do it. May 4th my hubby had prostate surgery and from
the time the Dr. said the C word until we made the decision and he had it done was one of the most
upsetting few months of our lives. If I didn`t smoke then and got through so well anyone can be free
no matter what life throws their way.
Thanks Joel and all for the words of wisdom and the means to get free. To all you
sweeties hanging in there, keep at it. Give it some more time (day by day) and you will see it is true.
There is no serenity at the smoking lamp!!!!
Love ya all............................Tessa
Last edited by Tessa on 15 Feb 2009, 19:53, edited 1 time in total.

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

15 Jul 2001, 04:28 #6

Neither smoking or drinking is a legitmate route for dealing with stress.

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

20 Jul 2001, 15:38 #7

I am not sure how clear this picture will come out online. On the left you can see how non-smokers react to stress. Without it they are happy and comfortable, when encountering stress they lose this comfort and depending on its severity they can get either mildly annoyed or really upset. The resolution of the stress will normally bring the non-smoker back to the original state of comfort, after a little time of cooling down of course.
Smokers are much more complex. After the initial stress they feel like a non-smoker encountering stress, for a few seconds. But then the delineation occurs, the smoker's nicotine level depletes because of the urine acidity induced by the stress, and the smoker is kicked into a drug withdrawal state. The smoker has four ways to deal with the situation now.
First, the smoker can just smoke a cigarette. Well low and behold if the smoker does this he or she will feel "better." He or she will not feel good; he or she just won't be feeling withdrawal for the moment but still be feeling the initial stress. In essence, he or she will feel like a non-smoker under stress, not great, but not in withdrawal either.
The second way a smoker can handle the stress is to solve it and also smoke a cigarette. This results in one happy smoker. No stress now and no withdrawal, life is good at the moment. The feeling of bliss is basically the same feeling a non-smoker has who resolves his or her stress.
But then there are the other two scenarios. The smoker can solve the problem but not smoke. Here is the kicker here, the problem is resolved but the smoker is still in withdrawal, the nicotine level has dropped and problem resolution has no way to stop the nicotine depletion, only a cigarette can do that.
The worst of all situations is the smoker who cannot solve the problem and also cannot smoke a cigarette. This is a miserable situation to ever be in. You normally don't want to be around a smoker in this situation let alone being one yourself. Many smokers find themselves facing this dilemma daily since many jobs and social settings do not allow smoking yet constantly force the smoker to face stresses.
When you quit smoking these last four reactions to stress become a thing of the past. You still face stress, but you no longer have to face drug withdrawals induced by it. In essence you deal with stress in a totally different way when you don't have chronic drug withdrawals exaggerating it.
To stay in the position of being able to handle stresses with greater clarity and minimal discomfort always know that no matter what the stress, to avoid it having any long lasting and life threatening complications always remember to never take another puff!
Edited 06-12-2012 inserting following video:
Last edited by Joel on 12 Jun 2012, 21:02, edited 1 time in total.

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

20 Jul 2001, 18:28 #8

Joel, I've had a thought Image (wow, that makes two this year already Image)
Stress causes a biological reaction in the body - increased urine acidity, which in turn "uses up" extra nicotine in the bloodstream (as I understand it) , which in turn puts a smoker into withdrawal.
Is it possible that ALL triggers are induced in the same way. Traditionally we have always assumed that what we call smoking triggers (such as drinking in a bar, finishing a meal, etc) have simple mental "habit and training" associations with smoking (like Pavlov's dogs). Is it possible, though, that drinking alcohol creates stress which increases urine acidity.... which creates withdrawal symptoms ???? And similarly that all triggers are actually causing this biological chain of reactions?
If so, then maybe it would be possible to medicate against this using something fairly harmless like indigestion tablets (or other alkaline substances to offset the acidity). Personally I am not a supporter of the "if it moves, medicate it" brigade, but certainly this could make sense in the first week of a quit, and could be useful for quitters who continue to struggle with triggers.
That's my thought for the month, which probably simply displays how medically and biologically ignorant I really am Image .
Last edited by marty (gold) on 07 Oct 2009, 23:11, edited 1 time in total.

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

20 Jul 2001, 21:12 #9

Hello Marty:

Only have a little time at the moment and will give a better detailed response later. The actual reason smoking increases while drinking is that alcohol itself increases urine acidity. More than 20 some years ago there were studies about giving antacid tablets to smokers before drinking as a means of reducing smoking that were shown to work. But from what I remember (I haven't seen this report in 20 years but I will try to locate it later), constant administration of the antacids were resulting in a state of alkalosis, throwing off blood chemistries and that had some problems associated with it and was thus discouraged as a cut back tool.

I'll try to lay my hands on this material later. It never was very important research to me because it was never meant as a means to quit smoking, just reduce it. This was an acceptable thought to many experts, a real value in smoking reduction. This was for people who they felt could not quit. I never felt that a person who really wanted to stop could not actually quit. The whole concept that cutting down was a good alternative can easily prevent some people from quitting and that I felt was counterproductive.

I'll get back to you soon on this.


Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

20 Jul 2001, 22:10 #10

Here is another slide from the specific set I use to discuss why people smoke at certain intervals and frequencies. As you can see stress and alcohol are covered in the urine pH categories, along with vitamin C. This is the principle behind the cranberry juice we suggest the first few days of your quit. Again, I will try to run down the original studies, but it may take a while.