New reactions to anger as an ex-smoker

The emotions that flow from nicotine cessation

New reactions to anger as an ex-smoker

Joel
Joel

August 3rd, 2000, 10:41 pm #1

Dealing with emotional loss has similarities to dealing with anger in regards to smoking cessation and its aftermath. When a smoker encounters a person or situation that angers them, they initially feel the frustration of the moment, making them, depending on the severity of the situation, churn in side. This effect in non-smokers or even ex-smokers is annoying to say the least. The only thing that resolves the internal conflict for a person not in the midst of an active addiction is resolution of the situation or, in the case of a situation which doesn't lend itself to a quick resolution, time to assimilate the frustration and in a sense move on. An active smoker though, facing the exact same stress has an additional complication which even though they don't recognize it, it creates real significant implications to their smoking behavior and belief structures regarding the benefit of smoking.

When a person encounters stress, it has a physiological effect causing acidification of urine. In a non-active tobacco user urine acidity has no real perceivable effect. It is something that internally happens and they don't know it, and actually, probably don't care to know. Nicotine users are more complex. When a person maintaining any level of nicotine in their body encounters stress, the urine acidifies and this process causes nicotine to be pulled from the blood stream, not even becoming metabolized, and into the urinary bladder. This then in fact drops the brain supply of nicotine, throwing the smoker into drug withdrawal. Now they are really churning inside, not just from the initial stress, but also from the withdrawal effect itself. Interesting enough, even if the stress is resolved, the smoker generally is still not going to feel good. The withdrawal doesn't ease up by the conflict resolution, only by re-administration of nicotine, or, even better, riding out the withdrawal for 72 hours totally eradicating nicotine via excretion from the body of metabolizing it into bi-products which don't cause withdrawal. Most of the time, the active smoker more often uses the first method to alleviate withdrawal, taking another cigarette. While it calms them down for the moment, its effect is short lived, basically having to be redone ever 20 minutes to half hour for the rest of the smokers life to permanently stave off the symptoms.

Even though this is a false calming effect, since it doesn't really calm the stress, it just replaces the nicotine loss from the stress, the smoker feels it helped them deal with the conflict. It became what they viewed as an effective crutch. But the implications of that crutch are more far reaching than just making initial stress effects more severe. It effects how the person may deal with conflict and sadness in a way not real obvious, but real serious. In a way, it effects their ability to communicate and maybe even in someway, grow from the experience.

Here is simple example of what I mean. Let's say you don't like the way a significant other in your life squeezes toothpaste. If you point out the way it's a problem to you in a calm rational manner, maybe the person will change and do it a way that is not disturbing to you. By communicating your feeling you make a minor annoyance basically disappear. But now lets say you're a smoker who sees the tube of toothpaste, get a little upset, and are about to say something, again, address the problem. But wait, because you are a little annoyed, you lose nicotine, go into withdrawal, and before you are going to deal with the problem, you have to go smoke. You smoke, alleviate the withdrawal, in-fact, you feel better. At the same time, you put a little time between you and the toothpaste situation and on further evaluation, you decide its not that big of a deal, forget it. Sounds like and feels like you resolved the stress. But in fact, you didn't. You suppressed the feeling. It still there, not resolved, not communicated. Next time it happens again, you again get mad. You go into withdrawal. You have to smoke. You repeat the cycle, again not communicating and not resolving the conflict. Over and over again, maybe for years this pattern is repeated.

One day you quit smoking. You may in fact be off for weeks, maybe months. All of a sudden, one day the exact problem presents itself again, they annoying toothpaste. You don't have an automatic withdrawal kicked in pulling you away from the situation. You see it, nothing else effecting you and you blow up. If the person is within earshot, you may explode. When you look back in retrospect, you feel you have blown up inappropriately, the reaction was greatly exaggerated for the situation. You faced it hundreds of times before and nothing like this ever happened. You begin to question what happened to you to turn you into such a horrible or explosive person. Understand what happened. You are not blowing up at what just happened, you are blowing up for what has been bothering you for years and now, because of the build up of frustration, you are blowing up much more severe than you ever would have if you addressed it early on. It is like pulling a cork out of a shaken carbonated bottle, the more shaken the worse the explosion.

What smoking had done over the years was stopped you from dealing early on with feelings, making them fester and grow to a point where when the came out, it was more severe than when initially encountered. Understand something though, if you had not quit smoking, the feelings sooner or later would manifest. Either by a similar reaction as the blow up or by physical manifestations which ongoing unresolved stress has the full potential of causing. Many a relationships end because of claming up early on effectively shutting down conflict resolution by communication between partners.

Hope this helps explain why it hurts so much but also helps you to understand why it is still so important not to smoke.

Will talk to you again soon.

Joel
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Darcy
Darcy

August 4th, 2000, 2:02 am #2

Joel,

Thank you. You always know how to help. :)

Darcy




Just adding a new video related to this string:

Last edited by Darcy on August 13th, 2012, 7:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Pumpkineater
Pumpkineater

August 4th, 2000, 3:53 am #3

Wow. This makes so much sence to me. It is me. I am it. Thank you Joel. This site is such an inspiration. People helping people for the joy of it all. Ya gotta love it.

Peter
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Laila
Laila

August 8th, 2000, 9:28 pm #4

thanks,

how did I miss this one?
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Mojo
Mojo

September 17th, 2000, 1:00 am #5

Wow didn't see this one before. Makes me really glad I don't smoke. I use to suppress so much with nicotine. I have my life back. Thanks everyone for all the help. Mojo
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GrumpyGuy1
GrumpyGuy1

September 17th, 2000, 2:41 am #6

Joel,

Great article, too bad I missed this until know but it is really helpful! Thanks for sharing it!

GrumpyGuy

One week, one day, 12 hours, 26 minutes and 21 seconds. 255 cigarettes not smoked, saving $42.59. Life saved: 21 hours, 15 minutes.
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Jitterbug
Jitterbug

September 20th, 2000, 2:13 am #7

Joel, Thanks muches. I feel better than this morning, and I read your article. It seems to help as well. I've always said, you know exactly what to say!

Jitterbug
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delandersen (bronze)
delandersen (bronze)

September 25th, 2000, 12:55 am #8

Thanks Joel,

I've fallen a bit behind on my reading- I just saw your depression article today, and it really helped me understand some things about my anger. I'm trying to learn to really resolve issues instead of avoiding them.

Thanks again!

debbie
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Joel
Joel

October 31st, 2000, 9:39 am #9

Hello Jitterbug:

Time isn't the real determinant factor for these kind of triggers, experience is. The odds are next time your friends pull a similar weekend incident with you (if they ever do it again), you will handle it better. But lets say they didn't do it this past weekend, but instead did it six months from now. Even though you would have had well over half a year under your belt, the reaction could have been the same for it would still have been the first time with that specific stress without a cigarette. In essense, you did what you had to, you lived through it without taking a cigarette. Again, because of your actions you are still smokefree. For this you should be proud and happy.

Hang in there Jitterbug.
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aprill
aprill

November 10th, 2000, 3:03 pm #10

Thank you Joel. I think I understand what you are saying here. Basically it's going to take some time to relearn how to deal with stress and conflict. As a smoker, I didn't deal with conflict, but instead just lit up a cigarette. This really helps to explain the psychological aspect of the addiction. The act of smoking is woven into the fabric of my thought processes, emotional responses and entire being to such an extent that even after getting the nicotine completely out of my system 3 weeks ago today, I still associate conflict and stress with cigarettes (even without consciously making that connection). One thing I know, that I have learned here at freedom is that I can go through some unpleasant, embarrasing, uncomfortable and even painful moments, but I don't have to smoke to get through them and as long as I never take another puff, I have this beaten.
April
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Joel
Joel

November 10th, 2000, 7:46 pm #11

Hello April:

Your one lesson learned in your last sentence (actually two lessons, you can live through anything and you will stay off as long as you never take another puff) is really all you really need to know. Other information is supportive of your decision, but these two concepts are the real key to understanding you can live without smoking and how to keep that life for as long as you choose. You learned your lessons well April. You get an A+ from me today. For everyone to pass this course all they need to do is never take another puff!

Joel
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Joel
Joel

December 29th, 2000, 10:29 pm #12

Here Tessa:

This one talks about anger and depression, but the same premise applies to other feelings too, how when smoking you pulled yourself away from situations, maybe feeling better but never really addressing the feelings or issues and never really resolving them.

While this may result in pent up anger in some situations, maybe it was resulting in unresolved feelings in other areas of your life that are now surfacing. Maybe for the first time in a long time you will be able to resolve some issues that you didn't even know still existed. While it is hard to come to points like that in your life, the payoff can be fantasitic. For even though you may not have recognized the existence of some of these issues, they were likely taking an emotional toll and you would have no idea how they would have eventually manifested.

If you find other areas of your life that now need addressing, you may want to find help to address those feelings. Or this may just be some transient reaction to triggers from the recent quit. Either way, there are mechanisms to help you through either situation. Personal growth is not easy, but stunting personal growth is a loss of your ability to reach your true potential of life.

Hang in there Tessa. While it may not always seem like it at any given moment, quitting is worth the payoff. Just heep giving it a little more time.

Joel

Joel
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freeflight silver
freeflight silver

December 29th, 2000, 10:46 pm #13

YES, THIS DOES HELP ME ALSO...I REALLY HAVE TO GUARD AGAINST "STUFFING MY FEELINGS" AND NOW I KNOW TO BE ON ALERT THE NEXT TIME I'M ANNOYED. IT'S SORT OF LIKE BEING ABLE TO HEAR AND SEE PAST THE EMOTIONAL "SURF" NOW. WILL HAVE TO THINK SOME MORE ON THIS ONE. IN A WAY THIS FITS IN WITH ZEP'S POST ON THE HOME PAGE YESTERDAY..USING BOTH TOGETHER GIVES ME MORE BALANCE ON THAT EMOTIONAL "SURFBOARD"...LOL
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pookie p
pookie p

January 5th, 2001, 9:31 am #14

Thank you Joel, it realy does help to read and understand what the heck our minds and bodies are doing. I am very new here but your obvious dedication to this site makes it a lot easier for all of us newbies to yell scream complain and generally vent our feelings. Everyone here is very supportive and welcoming. Thank you all.
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Cristy
Cristy

February 21st, 2001, 9:55 pm #15

unknowingly, but still for me...thank you, Joel
-Cristy
I have been FREE from cigarettes for 6D 9h 38m 11s. I have NOT smoked 224 cigarettes, saving myself $33.61. I have added 18h 40m to my life.
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Kristal
Kristal

February 23rd, 2001, 8:18 am #16

WOW! Reading this, was an eye-opener! I have a much better understanding now, of how I work...thank you, Joel!
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happycamper 67
happycamper 67

March 17th, 2001, 10:30 pm #17

this is good stuff. thank you. I have lost many quits due to anger/miscommunication etc.
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LadyJen22
LadyJen22

March 26th, 2001, 6:12 am #18

Thanks Joel. Wish I had read this sooner.
Jen
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Victoria
Victoria

April 4th, 2001, 12:09 pm #19

Hi Joel,
Thanks for the best working definition of HAPPY that I've ever seen:
"Happy means you are satisfied with at least one decision or activity you did that day." -Joel Spitzer

You are the first person to ever talk to me about what happy is and isn't in real down-to-earth practical ways that I can understand and apply. Ivory towers of lovely words are mere bric-a-brac to be dusted. But I like your definition because I can tell with it where I stand with myself.
Lots of well-meaning folks have labeled me as a perfectionist and suggested how destructive that pattern is. And I know that it is partly rooted in a set of unrealistic expectations, whether too high or too low for any given set of circumstances, unrealistic is unrealistic.
This definition allows me to be happy with myself.I took a very satisfing walk with a hyperactive yellow labrador retriever named Luau, and a man named Husband Wonderful. I did not take a puff today. It was my decision and I'm satisfied with it. Ergo, I'm happy.
Victoria.
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Joel
Joel

April 4th, 2001, 8:51 pm #20

Hello Victoria:

I am "happy" the definition made you happy. I didn't even remember writing it and had to go back to look at what you were referring to. But your finding it helpful in self understanding and in a little way helping to secure your quit did bring a smile to my face. So for that I hope you feel a little extra happiness today too.

Talk to you soon.

Joel
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Joel
Joel

April 23rd, 2001, 8:52 pm #21

For Phoenix:

This string addresses dealing with anger, but the same concepts apply to other emotions too. Thought it would give a little more understanding of using tobacco in your masking of emotions post in general.

Joel
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Bobby Bull
Bobby Bull

June 16th, 2001, 1:20 pm #22

Hi...This is my first post I'm a new member as of today. THIS SITE IS AWESOME its helped me beyond belief over the last month YES MONTH exactly a month today SMOKE FREE... and i love it... and i could not have done it without reading and reading and reading from this site. I have a question.... maybe to Joel.? (as i said its my first post not sure who i direct it to). Question: Overall doing EXCELLENT weight control...craves while having a few beers etc etc. Not severe but I actually have mood swings . I go from happy and content that Im not smoking one day to kinda like sad the next like I lost a friend. Once again ONE MONTH TODAY... are these feelings normal cause i really think I have control of this thing this quit COLD TURKEY IS THE WAY TO GO. THANKS SO MUCH
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mirigirl (silver)
mirigirl (silver)

June 16th, 2001, 4:43 pm #23

Joel.. YES..... thank you ..as always!
yqs Maz
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Joel
Joel

June 16th, 2001, 7:16 pm #24

Hello Bobby:

Yes it is not uncommon for people to have the kind of mood swings you are describing. As you encounter different triggers, associated memories can incorporate bringing a person down. But when realizing that you have for the first time in years taken the upper hand over nicotine, and really recognize the Freedom you have attained, you can feel a great sense of pride and accomplishment.

Don't be alarmed at the bad moments. The trick is in those minutes or seconds to focus on how you would feel about being a full-fledged smoker again. If you think about one or two cigarettes you will feel deprived. If you think about smoking in its entirety, not just in the sense of the old quantity but the problems and long-term implications that go with it, you will generally be able to lessen the time you feel the loss of a friend feeling and maybe be able to snap yourself out of it all together.

One other issue I should point out. Not all happy or sad moods experienced one month post quit are actually caused by not smoking. People who never smoked a day in their life also have up and down days. Weather can be a strong external variable factoring into these feelings, as well as many other situations we have faced in the past or are currently facing which may have their own influences on triggering memories or moods. Everyone must be careful not to assume smoking or not smoking is the cause of all feelings, all though at one month it probably still have its fair share.

Either way, if quitting is responsible or not, general moods will swing over a lifetime. But if an ex-smoker remembers smoking the way it was at the end, or considers where smoking was leading him or her to if he or she did not quit, the overall mood when regarding quitting will be one of thankfulness and self-gratitude. You have done yourself a favor by quitting. As long as you don't lose sight of this you will be happier and healthier. To help secure both improvements in your mental and physical health always remember to never take another puff!

Joel
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Rena (green)
Rena (green)

June 26th, 2001, 7:08 pm #25

Thank you Joel, so very true and I understand that tears of mine much better now.
And even if I cry for many days to come that is fine - I am alive, I am healthy and
I will never take another puff.
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