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Nine days & fifteen days, Wowsers! You're both doing fantastic and absolutely nothing can stop your healing so long as you both continue living by that one simple rule - no nicotine, never take another puff. Unlike all the quick fix magic cures, Freedom is just a learning and support tool that can not take credit for being used nor is it responsible for being ignored. The glory is all yours Christine & Rickdabler! Be proud of how far you've each come!
Breathe deep, hug hard, live long. John
Don't try to forget about what it was like living life from the inside of pack after pack after pack after pack but keep those memories honest, vivid and alive as they are the fuel the motivated you to begin this journey, and they are also the fuel that will see you through challenging times. Just one day at a time Never Take Another Puff!
NTAP vs. Nicotine NormalYou can embrace recovery or fight it. You can keep yourself on pins and needles or totally relax for just a moment and test the real waters. You can listen to conditioned junkie thinking fostered by years of "nicotine normal" and the powerful emotions that may flow from the inner mind, or cozy-up to the simple truths that the emerging "NTAP you" cannot deny - you're free, in control and the next few minutes are entirely doable!
Addiction isn't about getting high but about feeling "nicotine normal" again. It's a place we've each been thousands upon thousands of times after sucking deeply to replace missing nicotine that forever was leaving our bodies at the rate of one-half every two hours. The nicotine induced dopamine and adrenaline releases took us back to "nicotine normal" where we sensed a relaxing big hug aaahhh sensation while at the exact same time having our heart pound faster while every vessel in our body constricted.
Recovery isn't about strength or willpower but about allowing your dreams to flood your inner mind as you allow yourself time to adjust to embracing the real you again. It's letting those honest dreams occupy center stage while laughing at the lies that once kept you in denial. You're headed home to see what it's like being the real you, engaging every aspect of life while having the expectation of going each and every day without wanting for nicotine.
It wasn't that you liked being chemically married to what may be earth's most captivating substance, but that once true dependency was established you lost all choice in the matter. Yes, believing you liked being addicted made defeat a bit more palatable.
You don't miss the foul and nasty taste of "nicotine normal" and the 4,000+ chemicals that filled your mouth and lungs. Again, it's that once enslaved you had absolutely no choice but to play the denial game and find a few reasons to justify each defeat. Think about the alternative, how could we have lived in these minds if each and every day, all day long, we were forced to **** down chemical soot that we told ourselves we hated?
Relax, go the distance, embrace the real you! There's absolutely nothing to fear by continuing to heal that amazing body of yours, by stopping your own senseless self- destruction, by keeping more of your money, by taking back control and restoring stolen self-esteem and by having great odds of adding thousands of extra sunrises to your life.
Do you remember that first puff ever when your taste buds were healthy? Remember how your lungs rebelled before becoming used to living in soot? After that first puff it was simply a matter or getting used to your new master. Freedom is your birthright and it's time to go home! The next few minutes are all that matter and are entirely doable! Baby steps, just one day at a time and there's only one rule - no nicotine today, Never Take Another Puff! John (Gold)
> Listen to your rational well reasoned dreams while laughing at those deep inner emotions that are were so conditioned by years of chemical dependency that they are now afraid of "you" returning to the real "you!" Embrace recovery as it's nothing more again becoming comfortable engaging life as "you!"
Only one rule - no nicotine today! John
Denial is the unconscious defensive filtering system of the addict's conscious mind. It's characterized by refusal to acknowledge the painful realities of true chemical dependency, gradual self-destruction and the process needed for recovery. It's objective is simple - protect the addict's chemical world of "nicotine normal" while preserving as much human dignity as possible. Over time it can grow into a thick insulating wall that is almost impenetrable by the world around us.
Denial vs. Dreams
Our wall was built of dependency ignorance, fabrications, distortions, rationalizations, half-truths, minimizations, intellectualizations, blame transference and avoidance. Protective during active dependency, years of denial can quickly become the primary adversary following the early challenges of chemical withdrawal and trigger reconditioning, as it conflicts with and chips away at our dreams fueling cessation.
When quitting, it is normal to picture leaving our smoking history behind us as we step into that fresh clean world of ex-smoker-hood but in reality the wall is deeply embedded in our consciousness and comes with us. It can easily result in anxiety filled smoking-fixation tug-o-wars between dreams and denial that, if allowed, have the potential to gradually **** the juice from freedom's dreams.
Addressing denial is a matter of using intelligence, new understanding, insights and honesty to take the wall apart piece by piece. Although the dreams and motivations of many are powerful enough to permit them to reach acceptance and begin tasting the fruits of full recovery, not addressing denial is like intentionally holding on to the seeds of relapse.
Be careful not to allow a conscious understanding of denial to become yet another brick in your wall of denial. Use it as a tool to contrast concepts such as "like" and "love" with addiction. What's love got to do with it? Addicted to love? No, you were addicted to nicotine!
Is it a love of having life constantly interrupted to feed sagging blood-serum nicotine levels as the real clock in your life is nicotine's two-hour chemical half-life? Is it that you love having your brain's dopamine, serotonin and adrenaline pathways, and roughly 200 other neurochemicals, controlled by nicotine?
Reflect upon the smell and taste of over 4,000 hot burning chemicals. "Like"? "Love"? How did the smell strike you before becoming addicted and how does it smell now? Again, does it really matter how they smell or taste if the autonomy and freedom to not have them touch your senses no longer exists?
Impose honesty upon the concept of just one puff. A basic premise of law of addiction is that "one is too many and a thousand isn't enough."
Can we really take a big puff of nicotine and not immediately revive thousands upon thousands of smoking memories, re-establish at least one feeding cue that will likely be met again, and somehow will or command the nicotine that just entered our bloodstream to not travel up to our brain and release dopamine, adrenaline and serotonin?
When it comes to statistics it was easy for the addict to turn them into yet another brick. For example, take the 50/50 chance of smoking costing you roughly 5,000 days of life. The addict plucks salvation from the jaws of death by declaring that there is a 50% chance that smoking won't kill them while ignoring the equally as great odds that it will. They also ignore the fact that it isn't just death they need to be concerned about as for each smoker robbed of life each year twenty others are battling to recover from or survive with tobacco related strokes, heart attacks, cancers, or COPD.
As normal thoughts and yearnings to smoke nicotine enter your mind they will often be followed by denial thoughts that attempt to justify relapse. Although the yearnings are normal and become less frequent with the passing of time, the denial justifications that often accompany them are a golden opportunity to set the record straight. An open recovering mind that's willing to tear down its wall can accelerate the arrival of acceptance.
Turn the tide. Allow full acceptance of a permanent chemical dependency that can be arrested but never killed, to minimize the nonsense employed to justify continuining captivity. Allow acceptance that each and every puff destroyed a bit more of your body's capacity to receive and transport life giving oxygen to intellectualize the importance of preserving and improving the performance of all capacities that remain. Allow acceptance that recovery leads to new expectations that don't include nicotine - by simply not allowing any nicotine back into your bloodstream just one day at a time - to bring a smile to your face each time a thought or urge crosses your mind.
When it comes to denial's blame game don't blame what you're feeling on where you're going but if you must cast blame, blame it on where you've been. We blamed life's stresses for not being able to quit, blamed zealots and fanatics for not tolerating our smoke, blamed our family and loves ones for not knowing what we were going through, what it was like to endure recovery and not supporting us during it, and even blamed smokers around us for our relapse - "I wish you hadn't of given me that one cigarette as I ended up buying an entire pack."
The intelligent and educated quitter leaves little room for competition between their current dreams and former denial. Some competition is probably inevitable but keeping the memories fueling our dreams robust and alive (our years of endless feedings, our chemical bondage, a 30% diminished lung capacity, escalating circulatory damage, increasing costs, generally declining health, a diminished life expectancy, increasing social stigma, and the mountains of ash, ashtrays, butts, the smoke, stink and the yellow film that covered our world) while directly confronting denial vastly increases the odds of continuing to choose freedom over feed-em.
To continue healing and keep the risks headed in the other direction is a matter of not allowing nicotine into our body today. The next few minutes are all that really matter and each is entirely doable. Just one day at a time Never Take Another Puff!
Breathe deep, hug hard, live long, Freedom! John
Reach for Being You Again!Nicotine is the tobacco plant's natural protection from being eaten by insects. Drop for drop it's more lethal than strychnine and three times deadlier than arsenic. Yet, amazingly, by chance, this natural insecticide's chemical structure is so similar to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine that once inside the brain it fits a host of chemical locks permitting it direct and indirect control over the flow of more than 200 neurochemicals.
Within eight seconds of that first-ever inhaled puff, nicotine arrived at the brain's reward pathways where it generated a flood of dopamine resulting in an immediate "aaahhh" satisfaction sensation. Sensing it would cause most first-time inhalers to soon return for more. Nicotine also fit the adrenaline locks releasing a host of fight or flight neurochemicals and select serotonin locks impacting mood.
A toxic poison, the brain's defenses fought back but in doing so they had no choice but to also turn down the mind's sensitivity to acetylcholine, the body's conductor of an entire orchestra of neurochemicals.
In some neuro-circuits the brain diminished the number of receptors available to receive nicotine, in others it diminished the number of available transporters and in still other regions it grew millions and millions of extra neurons, almost as if trying to protect itself by more widely disbursing the arriving pesticide.
There was only one problem. All the physical changes engineered a new tailored neurochemical sense of normal built entirely upon the presence of nicotine. Now, any attempt to stop using it would come with a risk of intermittent temporary hurtful anxieties and powerful mood shifts. A true chemical addiction was born. Returning home to the "real you" now had a price. Gradually the calmness and comfort associated with being the "real you" faded into distant or even forgotten memory.The brain's protective adjustments insured that any attempt to stop would leave you temporarily desensitized. Your dopamine reward system would briefly offer-up few rewards, your nervous system would see altering the status quo as danger and sound an emotional anxiety alarm throughout your body, and mood circuitry might briefly find it difficult to climb beyond depression.
Successful nicotine dependency recovery is developing the patience to allow the mind the time needed to readjust to functioning normally, and the recovering nicotine addict time to both readjust to their brain's adjustments and to become 100% comfortable engaging life without wanting for nicotine.
The body's nicotine reserves decline by about half every two hours. It's not only the basic chemical half-life clock which determines mandatory nicotine feeding times, when quitting, it's also the clock that determines how long it takes before the brain begins bathing in nicotine free blood-serum, the moment that real healing begins.It can take up to 72 hours for the blood-serum to become nicotine-free and 90% of nicotine's metabolites to exit the body via your urine. It's then that the anxieties associated with readjustment normally peak in intensity and begin to gradually decline.
But just one powerful puff of nicotine and you'll again face another 72 hours of detox anxieties. It's why the one puff survival rate is almost zero. None of us are stronger than nicotine but then we don't need to be as it is just a chemical with an I.Q. of zero. It does not plot nor conspire and is not some demon within you. It's a chemical.The key to nicotine dependency recovery isn't dragging out 72 hours of detox by toying for months with gradual weaning or creative means for delivering nicotine. You need to know that the over-the-counter patch and gum generated an average 93% six-month smoking relapse rate in the seven studies conducted to date (Tobacco Control, March 2003). The key is education and understanding.The next few minutes are entirely doable and there's only one rule - no nicotine today!John
" I have no trouble visualising lung cancer and other horrific examples, but my smoke cravings are intolerable. I have been quit for 10 days, and I almost feel like the life is not worth living if I can't smoke. Please tell me that I can have fun eventually, without cigarettes. No scary lung cancer examples, please, this just insults my intelligence lately."
"Also my throat biopsy came back all clear - the removed "thing" turned out to be completely non-malignant ulceration. This was my main reason for quitting smoking as I was afraid that I was getting some throat cancer and I am only 32, well, 33 tomorrow. I am no longer excited that "I did it" like I was after the first 72 hours. Help"In response Joel posted as follows ...
Recast Fear into HopeAlthough fear is an important initial motivator it is not an enduring or sustaining motivation as your body is likely undergoing its most widespread healing ever. What will happen to your fear as your senses recover, the cough or wheeze disappear and all of the sudden you find an extra 30% functional lung capacity?
If your list of reasons contain lots of fear factors do not fret but instead gradually recast each of them into sustainable positive motives that build instead of decay. Instead of fearing the worst, dream about being all you can be and reaching for your best. Turn a fear of failing health into a dream of improving your health. By doing so, each time you notice your healing it will not deprive you of a bit more of your core motivation but will bring a smile to your face and add purpose to this wonderful temporary journey of adjustment!
Keep your conscious rational mind's dreams louder than your subconscious irrational fears that fear the unfolding amazing glory of again comfortably engaging life as you! The key to staying on this side of the bars and keeping our arrested dependency on the other is as simple as no nicotine! The next few minutes are doable! John
Cost as a Motive
How we look at and define the motivations we choose to elevate to the top of our list is important. Take the cost of smoking for example. If it only takes one powerful puff of nicotine to induce the onset of full and complete relapse what's the actual cost to relapse, one bummed cigarette? In fact it's far far more including a 50% risk of costing yourself about 14 years of life but as fixation anxieties begin to mount looking into the future and imaging smoking yourself to death can seem a bit hard to do. If cost is on your list below is the beginning of a relapse cost list that I invite you to build upon and keep close at hand in case the challenge should ever seem bigger than you.
- The actual cost of buying enough nicotine for the balance of life so that you can attempt to die a comfortable nicotine addict with your blood serum nicotine level not to high and not to low.
- The actual costs associated with obtaining your supply of nicotine (time, gas, vehicle wear and tear).
- The cost in memories of interrupting life's finest events, gathering and moments so that you can go find an acceptable location to feed a never ending mandatory chemical need.
- The cost in terms of daily tim devoted to planning and maintaining your addiction.
- The cost in diminished quality of life as pulmonary or circulatory disease begins to substanitially impair breathing and/or bloodflow.
- The medical costs.
- Your emotional cost in self-esteem and self-worth in remaining nicotine's slave every hour of every day.
- The neurochemical cost that defines "you" and "normal" as nicotine controls the direct and indirect flow of more than 200 of your body's neurochemicals including serotonin, adrenaline and dopamine.
- The cost in years of life expectancy after choosing nicotine over life itself.
- The emotional cost to your loved ones after having watched you smoke yourself to death knowing that you chose nicotine over them.
If you find yourself at or near the top of withdrawal's mountain and the challenge at times seems bigger than you, reach for your dreams. This temporary journey of adjustment is likely one of the best present you've ever given you. Embrace recovering "you" don't fear it. Slow deep breaths into the bottom of each lung, a nice cool glass of water and a tiny smile for the victory that today was yours! Baby steps! The next few minutes are all that matter and each is entirely doable. We're with you in spirit! John