"I miss smoking"

Retraining the conscious mind

"I miss smoking"

Joined: 19 Dec 2008, 00:02

03 Dec 2003, 01:20 #1

For people who still have smoking thoughts.

There are times when a member writes that after weeks or months, they still have thoughts for cigarettes. Often other members respond to these comments by telling the person to "whip it into shape" or by conveying other basic tough-love advice.

I agree with tough-love to a point, but wanted to share a different perspective on "missing" cigarettes.

I have been quit for 8 months 1 week 4 days (to be exact ) and I still have feelings sometimes of "missing" smoking. I know it's wrong, I know that people are now missing lungs and limbs and everything else. I have read my brains out at Freedom and for the first six months of my quit was a very active poster here. I am still here every day, I still read the library, I still read everyone's posts... I just don't post as much myself.

I do not think there is anything really wrong with a person "missing" smoking, at any time in their quits. As everyone here always says, everyone's quit is different. Some people have more thoughts of missing smoking than others even though they are off the exact same amount of time.

Like I said, I sometimes "miss" smoking too. I know I am not going to relapse. I have been somewhat bothered by my own thoughts of missing smoking. Therefore, I have tried to come up with various theories as to why this may be happening.

I think that for me, it has a lot to do with the NOSTALGIA factor. Do you ever go through phases in your life where you are sort of stuck in wanting to go "back" to a previous time in your life? And everything about that period in your life seems great, even though it wasn't necessarily all that great at the time? I think back to a time when I lived in a very rural area. A city person, I felt VERY out of touch with society, and I did not enjoy it very much. All of my "friends" were neighbors thatwere about 40 years my senior. I smoked out my window all the time. I finally moved to a more metropolitan area because I was not happy in the rural area. Would you believe, though, that I sometimes look back on my days in the country with a very high level of nostalgia? Sometimes I'd love to be able to re-experience the tranquility of living in that area again, just for a few days. Was I happy then? Seriously, not really. I wasn't happy to the point that I even moved. And haven't really looked back, save some of these moments of nostalgia.

I am 27 years old, a pretty young quitter. I can tell you that I started smoking in college, at age 17. Talk about nostalgia -- if anyone had a college experience similar to mine (and I think most people who went to college have), they'd go back and relive college in the blink of an eye. I have no regrets, I had a great time in college, I learned a great deal in my classes and I also partied like a typical college kid. And I smoked, the whole way through. On breaks between classes, at parties, sitting outside chatting with friends, after every meal, through finals.... Smoking is associated with college. And there kicks in the nostalgia. And it makes me miss everything about that era in my life,including smoking.

Does this mean that I am going to smoke because I miss these periods in my life? No. Doesn't everyone go through periods of missing things, even if the things weren't that great? Think of what is triggering thoughts of nostalgia. Just because I sometimes miss living in the country, am I going to go move there again? NO. Just because I miss college, am I going to start applying to schools to get a second degree? NO. Same with smoking. Just because there are times when I think back to smoking with a hint of nostalgia (YES I do, and I think it's because I'm human), am I going to go buy a pack and light up? NO.

People should not beat themselves up for having these thoughts. There will still be triggers faced by ex-smokers, weeks, months and years into their quits. I know that lots of people (including myself) post many months into their quit, talking about difficult times.

Just remember this well-known Freedom advice: You'd rather be a non-smoker who occasionally thinks about smoking than a smoker who constantly thinks about quitting. You quit for a reason, you came here for a reason. You will enjoy your life smoke-free. Trust that it's true, I'm can say this from 8+ months into a quit. And I don't even know as well as our gold members who all say that it gets better. Don't mix nostalgia feelings with feelings of wanting to smoke. They are different. Try to recognize the difference.

I bet some people have a former relationship that did not work out for one reason or another. Even if the relationship was not even a *GOOD* relationship, sometimes we still look back on those relationships, every so often, with a hint of nostalgia. I think it's the way of the world, and those thoughts are similar to thoughts of "missing" smoking. Missing smoking is not always different (or more detrimental) than missing a former flame, childhood days of playing on a swingset until dark, a city in which you used to live, or anything else.

Just wanted to share. You may recognize this from a different thread that was dropped. I copied it and revised it with the help of Joel (thanks) hoping to share with others.

8 months 1 week 4 days

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

03 Dec 2003, 01:45 #2

Hi CF,

Great post there!

Here's a thread that touches a similar vein: I want "something"
Like you, at 8 months, 1 week and 4 days, I still felt nostalgic about smoking. Heck, anything you do 20+/day for day after day, year after year, is bound to seem a little intimate!

Here's a glimpse forward to 2 years, 6 months, 1 week and 2 days: I'm not so nostalgic for smoking anymore. Sure, it's still familiar and a very real part of my past, but I don't have quite the strong emotional attachments to it. Once in a while, I remember fondly a time I spent smoking and really enjoyed it, but I see it more clearly as a time I remember fondly that happened to include smoking or the relief from the constant tides of withdrawal.

More and more for me, the quit education I have received and continue to receive here eclipses those Fleeting Whimsy's about smoking. We all will likely have those Fleeting Whimsy's for the rest of our lives and aren't we lucky to have our Freedom education to put them in perspective?!

Thanks for your thoughtful post!

30 months
Last edited by Toast (GOLD ) on 25 Sep 2011, 15:43, edited 1 time in total.

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:58

03 Dec 2003, 04:44 #3

Great post, CF. Here's the link to one touching on that topic, as well: Forgiveness.

I simply do not think it is "wrong" if anyone has a feeling of missing smoking sometimes. However, it can be difficult to figure out right and wrong and normal and dangerous. Our early quits can be fraught with so much guilt about smoking for all those years and worry about what it might (or has) done to our bodies and concerns about triggers and relapsing and are we healing on schedule and should we be spending this much time at the forum and so on. The first few months are full of change and adjustment and learning new coping skills. It is difficult to sort it all out.

As a very wise man has said, this is a real addiction with real withdrawal. (BillW, I am probably misquoting you.) That means that on the other side of that is real recovery. Recovery takes time. For most people it isn't a straight line -- especially at the beginning. We're human. We bumble and stumble and soar and whine and rejoice and feel sorry for ourselves and have great days and rotten ones. We eagerly absorb everything in Joel's library and then have days when we try to convince ourselves that it doesn't really apply to us. We celebrate our freedom and yet find ourselves sad at the thought of never smoking again.
I have experienced bits and pieces of all of the above. It's all been part of this fascinating, difficult, rewarding journey. I have occasional thoughts of smoking pop into my head. I don't berate myself for them anymore. I just say, "Here's your hat. What's your hurry?" as I escort them on out. They no longer frighten me. They just serve as a reminder of where I used to be.

Parker - gratefully and comfortably embracing freedom for another day (the 543rd!)

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:59

03 Dec 2003, 06:21 #4

That's a thoughtful and insightful post, CF.

Your central point is absolutely right --- people shouldn't be concerned about missing smoking. What matters is how they respond to those feelings.

Joel once wrote something like "Thinking about smoking never caused anyone to relapse. Only responding to that thought by taking a puff can make that happen" and that surely sums it up.

When people post here that they "miss smoking" that is sometimes a first step by them in the bargaining process, the first indication that they are actually considering relapse and this is their first salvo in the "here is my justification" barrage. So what happens is that we all dive in to help and to support, some with reasoned explanation and arguments, some with soothing words of comfort, and ... well, some with harsh words -- what you called "tough love". And I think that's as it should be. None of us really knows what the member is thinking, so we have to cover all possibilities. You see, we may have only one shot at helping our friend to avoid relapse, we may not get a second chance. Relapse is just too serious for us to take a risk.

I think people at the receiving end understand this. I hope they do.

I'm sure your post will help people to see "missing smoking" in its proper light --- exactly as you have described it --- as something in their past, which evokes memories and nostalgia for days gone by, and like all other things in our past, something which we cannot and should not try to re-create.

Thanks again for a great post.

NOT A PUFF FOR three years, two days, : 19749 cigarettes not smoked, saving £4,532.45. Life saved: 9 weeks, 5 days

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:59

03 Dec 2003, 06:58 #5

Hi CF.... and congratulations on a solid 8 months quit..... b ut, I'm a tad worried.... how "solid" is it ?

Trips down memory lane are wonderful.... and Nostalgia can often be over romanticised.

You're missing smoking....

Are you also, perhaps, missing out on remembering the following:

"....Also, because for many months prior to my quit, I felt like a lazy "slug". I had no energgy to do anything (even the laundry) and I just smoked my cigs, watched TV, and laid around all night. I'd talk to my best friend on the phone and we'd smoke together over the phone. Seriously!! I got SO fed up with my lifestyle. Literally disgusted with myself. It's like smoking and the lifestyle associated with it was sucking the energy and enthusiasm out of my being. If that makes sense…. "

Makes perfect sense, CF ... congratulations on not smoking... great achievement.

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

03 Dec 2003, 07:07 #6

From the string Actions speak louder than words-or thought

A thought for a cigarette will never cause a person to go back to smoking-only an action can do that. The action is a puff on a cigarette or any administration of nicotine from any source for that matter. Thoughts or words are not decisive factors of anything. Lets say you never quit smoking, and are eventually diagnosed with emphysema, and then knowing that every puff you took was destroying more and more lung tissue, basically crippling you a little bit more every smoking moment.

Should you then feel solace for saying as you are lighting up a cigarette, "Yes, I know I am destroying more lung tissue and I am likely going to be on oxygen soon and gasping for air at some point until my heart finally gives out from the overload, but at least I thought about quitting today."

I don't think you or your family, friends, or doctor will look at this statement as a major accomplishment as you are lighting up one cigarette off the one that is about to burn out. Especially if you have said the comment earlier that same day, and have been saying it day after day for decades now.

If you think back to when you were first quitting, the odds were you had numerous thoughts for days and maybe weeks and still, here you are smoke free. It is because you never gave into those thoughts.

Today still your actions are speaking louder than your words or your thoughts. The action is you didn't take a puff yesterday and I strongly suspect if you are here reading now you are not planning on taking one puff today either. As long as you continue this practice, it does not matter if you never think of a puff again or if you think of it daily. You will never relapse as long as you never take another puff!

Last edited by Joel on 25 Sep 2011, 15:46, edited 1 time in total.

Joined: 19 Dec 2008, 00:02

03 Dec 2003, 22:20 #7

Thanks for responding to my long-winded (as always) post about missing smoking. I just wanted to put it out there to maybe provoke some thoughts. What I found interesting is how all members who responded are GOLD. It is interesting to see that you gold members understand what I am saying about nostalgia. But you are all cautious in your responses, which is one of things that is so great about advice from Freedom members.

Marty, good point about the tough love approach. I guess I did not see it as much that way until you explained it. I understand now that, really, as you said, we do not know where our members stand when they post something about missing smoking. It could be the first step toward rationalization that could then lead to a downward spiral, and it's best to cover all angles. Definitely.

Richard, oh, believe me, my quit is very solid. I just wanted to offer a take on missing smoking from a nostalgia perspective versus missing smoking from an "I want to go back and start smoking again and I'm about to do just that because I can't stop missing it" perspective. I am a "thinker" type… I will often go through old audio tapes I made from the radio (did anyone ever do that before, back in the day, tape songs from the radio on audio tapes?) 15 years ago…just to sit back, listen, and let the music take me back fifteen years. My life wasn't so great as a teenager, but I still like to sit back and remember it sometimes.

I am not saying that it's healthy (and it definitely could be dangerous, as some of you pointed out) to sit and miss smoking every day of your life, obsess about it, and focus on it non-stop. I'm just saying that every so often looking back on certain times in your life and for a split second (or two), missing those moments, isn't always a bad thing. Since I do know my quit is solid and I feel confident about my commitment to NTAP, I do not beat myself up too much for thinking - "that time in my life was fun, but that's not my life now." I don't know, maybe I'm in the minority but that's how I think. Not to mention that, based on what I've learned from you gold members, when I'm 1 YEAR, 8 months into my quit, I probably won't feel the same way.

Thanks everyone!

8 months 1 week 5 days

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

04 Dec 2003, 00:17 #8

"I'm just saying that every so often looking back on certain times in your life and for a split second (or two), missing those moments, isn't always a bad thing." ComicForces
I think you'd agree, ComicForces, that no one who has responded to this thread has remotely suggested that we give-up our childhood memories or beat ourselves for encountering a thought of wanting to smoke. What they have pointed out is the tremendous danger associated with advocating that it's a good thing for recovering nicotine addicts to fondly frame those memories specifically associated with their early days of chemical bondage.

There is a big big ditch between telling smokers that it is impossible for un-acted upon thoughts of wanting to smoke to cause relapse, and encouraging them to think fondly or affectionately when reflecting upon smoking nicotine. I deeply believe it's a relapse ditch that few can long survive as nicotine is all around us and relapse is far too easy.

What youthful memory was made better because we were addicted to smoking nicotine? If we want to reflect upon moments spent sharing our addiction with other addicts, what nostalgic memories did we miss creating with them or others became chemical dependency was then central to our life and the moment? Once dependent, what puff of nicotine did not help move us further away from sensing the onset of early withdrawal?

Yes, even our gold clubbers will likely each find themselves at some point yearning to sense a highly addictive unearned flood of dopamine riding an instant mood adrenaline rush but is that where their thinking should stop? No it's not a bad thing but how we teach new members to deal with such memories and challenge can, like a cancer, infect their thinking and possibly cost lives.

What I'm saying is this, ComicForces, acts have consequences. Nostalgia doesn't get to be nostalgia without being framed by the mind and having some reference to reality. Is it intellectually honest to teach that it isn't dangerous to see mandatory chemical feedings as somehow being nostalgic if it takes ignoring present perspective and understanding to do so?

As dependency educated adults should we advocate reflecting back upon youthful memories of feeding a deadly chemical addiction and encourage those doing so to not reflect upon why we needed to feed at that particular time, the true price being paid, or the moments and memories missed by being forced to attend to our addiction? Would such memories then be so nostalgic after having bathed them in current understanding and analyzed them under honest light? Can teaching new quitters that it's ok to ignore questioning why they feel nostalgic actually cause them to endure a much longer period of recovery than might otherwise be necessary?

Correct me if wrong but nostalgia is generally used to refer to a homesickness or yearning to return to the past. In that not one of the more then 188,000 posts here at Freedom advocates that any member discard any childhood memory we must be referring to being nostalgic about specific memories associated with becoming permanently addicted or the endless stream of mandatory feedings that followed. Why would a forum such as this want to reassure members that it isn't "a bad thing" to feel nostalgic about returning to a life of chemical captivity?

To watch the amazing diversity of support given in any "Help Me" thread as the member's nostalgia for their dependency past has them yearning to return, is a special moment around here. Do we try covering all bases including tough love, you bet! Are we wrong for doing so? Absolutely not. Part of the beauty of this forum is the multitude of perspectives that have bred by tremendous diversity of experience.

One of the hardest lessons for me to learn and accept was the lesson taught in Joel's "Every Quit is Different." I read it over and over but somehow it just didn't seem to apply to me until my time here had allowed me to see just how unique my experience had been. It is normal to think that our experience is average, the norm, and that our outlook and handling of recovery issues is the reason for our success, even more so than knowing the law of addiction.

If you go back through Freedom's early posts I promise that you'll find me trying to convince others that my handling of recovery and my recovery timing were average, normal and correct. My ignorance of the tremendous diversity of recovery experiences is one of my deepest regrets but with hindsight also a necessary part of normal insight development for each of us. It's why our Goldies may seem a bit reserved when in fact their insights and depth of understanding are much further along than those still struggling with varying aspects of psychological recovery might tend to appreciate.

The difference between getting homesick for earlier times and chemical relapse is that one is impossible to physically accomplish while the other just one powerful puff away. Millions of words but they all boil down to one amazingly simple concept -- no nicotine just one day at a time! John

Joined: 07 Jan 2009, 20:02

02 Jun 2004, 08:07 #9

Hi, CF!

Believe this is the first time I have encountered a post from you. I found your writing to be very interesting and thought provoking. I need to read your posts and the responses again tomorrow to totally soak everything in. Well, DUH, I'm a little older and cogitating takes a little longer.

Although I am a youngster -- only 77 days in my quit -- I totally appreciate reading posts from those who "have gone beyond." I smoked for about 42 years and never thought I could quit. I have done so now for an extended period of time which is totally encouraging. I consider this my first, and last, quit.

However, I do have thoughts of going back to smoking. I don't act on those thoughts -- I always use the plan I found on this website about, well, if I want to smoke, I'll do it tomorrow. Tomorrow never really comes, does it? How cool is that?

I am endeavoring to persevere, like Chief Dan George and will continue to do so.

Thanks for your post. I will re-read tomorrow....


Free and healing for 77 days.

Joined: 19 Dec 2008, 00:02

05 Jun 2004, 00:14 #10

Wow, Naydeen and Richard (rickrob53)!

I haven't been to Freedom in a loooong time. (I'm out enjoying my life as a non-smoker!!!) I logged in today to sort of browse around and check out what's new in the Freedom World.

I was surprised to see a post by me pulled up recently! And even more surprised that it was this one. I'm glad you appreciate what I was trying to say in this post! I think to some people my point might have been misconstrued, but it sounds like you see what I was saying! Wow!!!! (Not to mention that I'm quite the rambler and if you read through that whole thing, you've got to be very invested in your FREEDOM! ). My quit was not threatened at the time, it was very strong, and still is!!

I figured this was a good time to pop in - I am still annoyed that I can't get GOLD to show up next to my name (MSN claims that they are "working on it" but cannot say when it will be done)... How frustrating! Either way, I am 1 year 3 plus months into my quit, and GOLD as ever. Sometimes I do get a glint of nostalgia about smoking when I see an old friend or think back to my partying days. No worries, especially because most of my memories are followed by "I can't believe I smoked that much all the time, I remember how awful my throat, etc, felt then" ... So....

Do with that what you wish!


ComicForces - GOLD
1 year 3 months plus

Joined: 07 Jan 2009, 20:04

05 Jun 2004, 01:29 #11

Very well put. I don't think about smoking very much anymore but here and there it pops in my head.

But so do other things that I am nostalgic about and I have no desire to go back there either.

Once in awhile when I hear a Grateful Dead song I remember having long hair, wearing a head band, cut off shorts, beads, reeking of patchouli oil, standing barefoot at the front of the show but do I want to go back there?

Do I want to be a smelly hippie? Do I want to scare old people? Of course not, that was then and this is now.

Your right that we are human and will sometimes remember things as being better than they were. The last time I ruined my quit I thought I was really craving a cigarette, but when I put it in my mouth and lit it up, it was not good and not satisfying like I had imagined. This was a turning point for me when I realized my perception of smoking was far better than it actually was.

Thanks for the post.


I have been quit for 6 Months, 3 Days.

Joined: 07 Jan 2009, 20:02

05 Jun 2004, 08:40 #12

Hi, CF, thanks for checking back in!

The important thing is that you know in your heart of hearts that you are TOTALLY gold. Your on-screen name doesn't matter to us para-newbies -- just the fact that you got where you are, and that's where we are headed is what's important!

I'm lovin' that I'm headed down that road.



Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

22 Apr 2005, 01:46 #13

Nostalgia is defined as a longing for the past often idealized and unrealistic; longing for something past; homesickness.

I do feel nostalgia for many things I've experienced in my life. However, not all memories qualify as nostalgia. Many rememberences and memories are good, some of them are painful, a few of them are bad and shameful. Smoking would not be in that first group, more appropriately I'd classify it in the last two. Is smoking a part of all those memories? Well, since I became addicted to nicotine from the time I was 9 smoking is as inseperable to my memories of life as nicotine is from tobacco. They will forever be a matched set. However, let me ask this question - Do you remember the day you graduated from grade school, high school, your first solo bike ride, your first kiss, the birth of your first child, your wedding day? Is the first thing you remember about these events is that you were a tobacco user?! When I remember great times in my life and friendships long gone I remember the good times and the friends, not that I smoked constantly (in the early years whenever I could sneak it in) because I had to feed my addiction. But maybe that's just my way of recalling memories.

Isn't recommending a controversial article like this one to a newbie a little like saying -
"Hello friend, welcome to Freedom, that's a really nice ball & chain you're dragging along there. Wanted to let you know there are two paths you can go by to find your Freedom & Comfort and get rid of that ball and chain*. On one path you put off making your final commitment to change. You'll get to wish and wonder, and yearn, and mope about what you're missing and drag around that ball & chain you're trying to get free of. Could make the journey a whole lot tougher but you'll find the process enirely doable with the right drive. After a while you'll wear that ball down to almost nothin. It'll get easier. I did find a key to get rid of the whole thing quite a ways down this path. I'm sure you'll find it too if you just stick with it and don't give up no matter what.
Now to walk on the other path you need to make a big and momentous decision. You need to make the commitment RIGHT NOW to get absolutely 100% comfortable with the decision to get rid of that ball and chain. I know you've had it with you for a long time and are pretty attached to it. Leave it behind, let it go. Don't need it anymore, didn't want it in the first place and I'll even bet you've wanted to get rid of that burden for a long, long time. Go ahead, take it off, here's the key to remove that shackle. Take this path, it's smooth easy walkin and the views and vista are spectacular as you travel. Go ahead, embrace and enjoy your walk to FREEDOM"

I'm forever grateful that I was lucky enough to find the path markers a few people were kind enough to leave behind that showed me there indeed was that second, smoother path.

That's my story and I'm stickin to it.
joejFree - Three months, one week, four days, 3 hours, 2 minutes and 30 seconds. 2528 cigarettes not smoked, saving $502.90. Life saved: 1 week, 1 day, 18 hours, 40 minutes.

*(OK I know we will NEVER totally get rid our addiction, that we don't beat it we learn to manage it, but in essence if we NTAP we will never wear that ball & Chain or have to drag it around with us again)

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

06 Jun 2005, 18:27 #14

This post addresses sentiments and questions raised by another longer-term member.

Joined: 23 Sep 2011, 18:54

25 Sep 2011, 05:34 #15

Thank you for posting about this. The last time I told someone that I missed smoking (which happened after the last time I quit, not this one), peeps were all over me about it...said that it was NOT okay to miss smoking.

I also miss my last personal relationship, even though I had to end it (because it was unhealthy), and there were lots of nostalgic moments in that relationship as well. Things that I miss. My therapist asked me if I wanted to be in that relationship again and I flat out told her NO. Same goes with smoking. I miss it but it must not be a part of my life anymore.