Quitting by gradual withdrawal

Quitting by gradual withdrawal

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

03 Oct 2000, 06:35 #1


Quitting by Gradual Withdrawal


Quitting by the gradual withdrawal method. I discuss this method quite extensively in my seminars. I always tell how if there is anyone attending who knows a smoker who they really despise they should actively encourage them to follow the gradual withdrawal "cut down" approach. They should call them up ever day and tell them to just get rid of one cigarette. Meaning, if they usually smoke 40 a day, just smoke 39 on the first day of the attempt to quit. The next day they should be encouraged to smoke only 38 then 37 the next day and so on. Then the seminar participant should call these people every day to congratulate them and encourage them to continue. I must reemphasize, this should only be done to a smoker you really despise.

You see, most smokers will agree to this approach. It sounds so easy to just smoke one less each day. Thirty-nine cigarettes to a two pack a day smoker seems like nothing. The trick is to convince the person that you are only trying to help them. For the first week or two the one downside is you have to pretend to like the person and you have to talk to them every day. They won't whine to bad either. When they are down to 30 from 40, they may start to complain a little. You really won't be having fun yet. When the payoff comes is about three weeks into scam. Now you've got them to less than half their normal amount. They are in moderate withdrawal all the time.

A month into the approach you've got them into pretty major withdrawal. But be persistent. Call them and tell them how great they are doing and how proud you are of them. When they are in their 35th to 39th day, you have pulled off a major coup. This poor person is in peak withdrawal, suffering miserably and having absolutely nothing to show for it. They are no closer to ending withdrawal than the day you started the process. They are in chronic withdrawal, not treating him or herself to one or two a day, but actually depriving him or herself of 35 to 40 per day.

If you want to go in for the kill, when you got them down to zero, tell them don't worry if things get tough, just take a puff every once in a while. If you can get them to fall for this, taking one puff every third day, they will remain in withdrawal forever. Did I mention you really should despise this person to do this to them? It is probably the cruelest practical joke that you could ever pull on anyone. You will undercut their chance to quit, make them suffer immeasurably and likely they will at some point throw in the towel, return to smoking, have such fear of quitting because of what they went through cutting down, that they will continue to smoke until it kills them. Like I said, you better really despise this person.

Hopefully there is no one you despise that much to do this to them. I hope nobody despises themselves enough to do this to themselves. Quitting cold turkey may be hard but quitting by this withdrawal technique is virtually impossible. If you have a choice between hard and impossible, go for hard. You will have something to show at the end of a hard process, but nothing but misery at the end of an impossible approach. Quit cold and in 72 hours it eases up. Cut down and it will basically get progressively worse for weeks, months, years if you let it.

I should mention, this is not a new technique. It has been around for decades. Talk to every long-term ex-smoker you know. Try to find one person who successfully used the cut down approach, gradually reducing to eventual zero over weeks or months. You will be hard pressed to find even one person who fits this bill. One other perspective that should help you see the flaw in the approach. Look at people here who had once quit for months or years and then relapsed. One day, after such a long time period, they take a drag and are smoking again. If one puff can do this after years or decades, guess what it will do after days or hours of being smoke free. It puts the smoker back to square one. All that any ex-smoker has to do to avoid relapse or chronic withdrawal is to - NEVER TAKE ANOTHER PUFF!

Joel
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Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

25 Nov 2000, 21:28 #2

Last edited by Joel on 04 Mar 2011, 01:04, edited 1 time in total.
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Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

09 Jan 2001, 22:49 #3

Again for Marianne:

Your husband needs to understand addiction if he is going to quit. Encouraging him that cutting down is just fine is going to undercut this attempt and possibly even scare from from trying cold when he is ready to do so. He will think, if cutting down did this to me, going cold will kill me. Focus on your own quit, don't worry about his. But don't give him a bumb steer either. If he is going to smoke, he is going to smoke. If he is going or wanting to quit, share with him the real understanding of his addiction and the real solution for it. It is the same as your solution to your addiction, if you want to get control over it, and keep control over it, then never take another puff!

Joel
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Joined: 10 Jan 2009, 00:47

09 Jan 2001, 23:36 #4

NEVER TAKE ANOTHER PUFF!!!!!Thanks Joel...
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Joined: 07 Jan 2009, 19:25

10 Feb 2001, 01:49 #5

Thanks, Joel, this is really the one I need to print out for my friend--I was trying to tell her about not having ANY nicotine is better than torturing yourself with less and less---this says it better than I could. I hope she thinks about it real hard, cuz if she really wants to quit---the only way is cold turkey--get over the 72 hours and get on with redoing your thinking and combatting triggers... Hope this helps---I tell her that she can read what I give her or throw it away, no pressure from here--I just truly want to help. I am now smokefree for 3 weeks, 6 days, 10 hours, 50 minutes and I have not smoked over 818 cigs and I enjoyed stealing over $122.70 from the liars at the tobacco industries.....LOL thanks again, Joel..
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Joined: 19 Dec 2008, 00:00

25 Apr 2001, 02:50 #6

In the 40 years that I smoked gradual quitting never worked. Believe me a tried it a million times. Always failed. It only took one stressful minute or something really stupid to make me go right back to a smoke every 20 minutes or so. You are still supplying your body with nicotine. Thinking that anyone can just smoke one once in awhile or cutting down two or three a day is Junkie Nicodemon thinking. The only way to go is Cold Turkey. Great advice Joel.
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Joined: 19 Dec 2008, 00:00

25 Apr 2001, 11:05 #7

Oh, the gradual drive-you-right-into-the-bowels-of-****-quit-method!!! I know it well!!! I tried this method of quit. See, that's why I'm here now. It didn't work, any time I tried it. It is a method recommended by the American Lung Association, though, and others---can you believe it? First, I write down each cig I smoked, why, where, time, how I was feeling, etc., Then after a week or two, I think, I'd pick one I wouldn't smoke that day. How, I asked, throw darts at the wall? No-o-o-o, each cigarette was rated from easy to give up (yeah, right) to most difficult to give up (aren't they all?)
Well, it couldn't be the first in the morning, not the ones after meals, not the ones after I first got home from somewhere, not the ones when I was stressed, not the ones before bed. Gosh, which one will it be? Hmmmmmm So, finally I picked ONE, thinking the whole time---No sweat, I can make it an hour, there's always all of the others. Ha Ha, I'm pretty clever!!! As the days passed, so did the number of smokes eliminated, until, finally, I was at the point of giving up the ones I ranked VERY IMPORTANT (translated--these are the ones I think my life depends on smoking). As I sat looking at my list I'd come to one---Nope not that one, Nope not that one either. I'd spend at least half an hour trying to eliminate one cigarette!! Then, the moment of truth,-- The all important first-thing-in-the-morning, and after-meals----No-o-o-o-o-o not tha-a-a-t one, I moaned to my tortured self. I almost cried. Come to think of it, I did cry.
Does this sound like anything a sane person would do? I always thought of myself as sane, but I did this to myself, day after day, quit after quit. Over and over, trying to quit by torturing myself with protracted withdrawal and playing games with my list trying to eliminate cigarettes and still not crave nicotine. Just to think about the amount of time I spent planning which cigarette to give up until that day when I would be nicotine free was almost a lifetime---it sure seemed like it. In retrospect, knowing what I know about smoking, nicotine, addiction, and myself, I believe it is an insane method. I think I spent many more than the 72 hours needed for detox either playing the "which-cig-elimination" game, agonizing over which one would be next, obsessing about doing without the next targeted one on the list, or just plain stressing. Also, I was feeling the effects of withdrawal, and, the torture of the amount of brain work it was taking to quit. Then as if that wasn't enough, I couldn't imagine a lifetime without cigarettes. No, not me!!! In short order I could have been through the detox period and on the road to comfort! Instead I was still red-lining cigarettes on a list. And I was miserable! Hello, people!!! What is wrong with this picture?!
There just isn't any comparison to those quits and this one. Those of you still here remember that day three and day six were bears for me! But, after they were over, they were over for good. I was moving on, and I wasn't playing counting games while running in place anymore! No more---The hurrier I go the behinder I get!!! Not for this quitter. Each day is a day of progress, a day of healing, and a day of victory, with the promise, renewed daily, that I will never take another puff. And the beauty of it is---I'm 100% guaranteed success as long as I don't take that puff. Now that doesn't take any calculation, conniving, or pain. It just takes, education, determination, and support. And, I don't have to worry about all of those years without a cigarette either, just today. That I can handle, sometimes by the minute, but it's doable. For that I'm eternally grateful! I couldn't have done it without all of you!!
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Joined: 19 Dec 2008, 00:00

07 May 2001, 23:00 #8

Wow ~ Joanne -thanks for bringing this up again and Mari that is a fantastic post! Yes, yes, yes!

You going to be a writer one day?? Actually I think we have a few good writers around here - or maybe that's how you get when you write straight from your own experience eh?

Anyway BIG THANKS FOR THIS ONE! It makes so much sense.
yqs Maz.
NEVER TAKE ANOTHER PUFF!!
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Joined: 19 Dec 2008, 00:00

08 May 2001, 06:40 #9

Yes again ~ for Mrs Weedhopper.
yqs Maz
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Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:59

08 May 2001, 06:57 #10

Yes, I have tried to quit by gradual withdrawal, but I cannot even call them serious tryings, because they didn't last for even an hour! Mary was able to give up some of the cigarettes (not the important ones) but I couldn't even do that. All it took was a little junkie thought and eventually thinking about quitting made me smoke more! (I think my addicted self was so afraid of loosing it that I felt the need to smoke more). I had also tried to quit cold turkey and these quits lasted longer - twice over a month. Unfortunately I didn't know that I cannot take another puff, and I relapsed.

This one is my final quit.

YQS
Triin
I have been Quit for: 2M 2W 3D 5m 34s. I have NOT smoked 1560, for a savings of $107.25. Life Saved: 5D 10h.
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Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

16 Aug 2001, 11:22 #11

One of my young seminar participants was cutting down, thought this would be a good one to bring up for his benefit.
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Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:59

24 Oct 2001, 03:57 #12

Dear Joel,

How I wish I had found your site a few weeks ago. Maybe gradual withdrawl does work for some but I found it very difficult. Being determined I kept at it until I was down to 6 cigarettes a day and then I decided quitting couldn't be any worse. Should have gone that route to start with. But the main thing is I did quit and I found this site and I realize all I have to do is never take another puff.

Thanks for all the great insights and inspiration,

SweetLorraine
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Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

24 Oct 2001, 04:36 #13

Hello SweetLorraine:

Sorry you didn't find us a little earlier too to avoid and unecessary extended withdrawal but for now, it is not really important. What is important is that you got off, even though it was hard. Bottom line always is that it is not important if it was hard or easy to get off smoking--all that is really important is that you first got off smoking and now, equally important is that you stay off smoking. For that I think you found us in time--for all you have to do now is follow our one simple relapse prevention rule--to remember to never take another puff!

Joel
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Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

19 Nov 2001, 07:28 #14

For Little Conya's cousin. Hopefully his life will ease up now that he knows to never take another puff!

Joel
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Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

21 Dec 2001, 10:49 #15

For Ladynblk
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Joined: 19 Dec 2008, 00:14

10 Jul 2002, 07:41 #16

This post made me think of my Mother's comment during one of my many previous attempts to quit. I was wearing the patches and had cut back to like 5 a day or something like that. She said:

"Oh my God, why the heck would you want to prolong the agony? Just get it over with!"

Threecrowsgold, aka Liz

PS Thanks Joel
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Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:58

26 Aug 2002, 01:11 #17

Quitting cold turkey may be hard but quitting by this withdrawal technique is virtually impossible. If you have a choice between hard and impossible, go for hard. You will have something to show at the end of a hard process, but nothing but misery at the end of an impossible approach. Quit cold and in 72 hours it eases up. Cut down and it will basically get progressively worse for weeks, months, years if you let it.
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Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:59

07 Feb 2003, 22:48 #18

for a friend who may be looking in.
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Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

05 Apr 2003, 02:10 #19

I love this article! Thanks, Joel.
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Joined: 19 Dec 2008, 00:10

01 Jun 2003, 11:21 #20

I tried this and it was the meanest thing I have ever done to myself. I decided I would have one cig when I woke up and then one right before I went to bed. I was so miserable. Quitting cold turkey has been rough. I got sick for a few days, but I got over it. It's not like I am not teasing myself with a little nicotine here and there; the nicotine is gone, time to get over it, the other way is just teasing yourself constantly. 2 weeks 5 days 15 hours 56 minutes.
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Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:59

02 Jun 2003, 23:15 #21

This also includes "treating yourself" to a cigar every night, or suddenly taking up smoking a pipe. Nicotine is nicotine is nicotine!
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Joined: 09 Jan 2009, 23:31

24 Feb 2005, 14:24 #22

I missed this one when I was reading. Someone said that I should tell the Doc about whyquit. Maybe I should just sent this post to him along with the whyquit address. I am really concerned that a Doc would actually suggest such torture to his patients. He is a vascular surgeon for God's sake. I can't believe he would lie to his patients like that. Obviously he has never been addicted to the nic sticks. I tend to be gullable at times. I wonder if anyone ever has quit by his method........
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Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

24 Feb 2005, 19:47 #23

Hello Barb:

Your vascular surgeon is not lying to his patients--he very likely believes what he is saying. He is just totally misinformed. A vascular surgeon has likely had no more training in the field of smoking cessation than a doctor of any other specialty. Actually, if a doctor goes out of his or her way to find some training he or she is probably going to be trained about how to prescribe NRT or other medications.

There is a reason that your doctor probably believes what he is saying though. He has probably had some patients pull off the quit. They suffered more in the process but ended up succeeding. They did not succeed because of the method though--they succeeded in spite of it. The reason they likely succeeded was that they had a problem so serious and so scary that they were very highly motivated to quit smoking. Following his suggestion just prolonged a process that did not need to be prolonged and the odds are pretty good that if he could get a real understanding of nicotine addiction and pass along more productive advice he would in fact be able to get a lot more of his highly motivated patients to succeed.

I am going to attach a few links below that would be good to read and give some insights on materials that if understood can give you ideas that you can pass along to any physician in a manner that will not alienate them. I think it is important to reach all doctors with the information we have made available at www.whyquit.com for they are daily working with people who need to quit and who are looking to their doctors for help. Every doctor reached has the potential of helping hundreds or thousands of patients over his or her career.

Is cold turkey the only way to quit? (While it talks a lot about NRT, it also explains the issue of people succeeding with alternative methods.

Conventional quitting wisdom
Last edited by Joel on 22 Feb 2009, 21:00, edited 1 time in total.
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Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

01 Apr 2005, 22:17 #24

Another example of how people end up fooling themselves into thinking that they are making quitting easier.
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Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

03 Jan 2006, 11:06 #25

I just had an email from a person that made me realize I need to alter this one a little. I based it on comments I used to say early on in my lecturing days. In the second to last paragraph I wrote:
"Quitting cold turkey may be hard but quitting by this withdrawal technique is virtually impossible."
That really should have read "close to impossible" instead of "virtually impossible." I actually addressed this a couple of years ago in the article Is cold turkey the only way to quit?, where it says:
"There are people who have quit using alternative approaches. There are some who cut down gradually and actually succeeded at quitting. For every person who did it like this and succeeded, there are many many many many others who tried it and failed. The individual who used the method will think it is great because it worked for him or her, but since it works for so few people it will generally be recognized as a pretty ineffective technique by most people who do "real world" research into how to quit."
I will try to get this adjusted in all future renditions of the article and future versions of the PDF book.


Joel
Last edited by Joel on 22 Feb 2009, 21:04, edited 2 times in total.
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