Should I avoid triggers or confront them?

Subconscious use cue extinguishment

Should I avoid triggers or confront them?

John (Gold)
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

21 Dec 2000, 02:52 #1

Nomohack (Mike) buried this very qood question deep inside another wonderful thread. I hope you don't mind Mike but I'm reposting your question here so that other's might post to it directly.


Hello All

I feel I need to clear something up in my own mind here.. Triggers seem to be such a major concern, and I fear I'm in some state of denial. Since my wife and parents all smoke and a lot of people at work smoke, I don't feel that avoiding triggers is the thing to do at all. Lets face it..there will always be triggers everywhere we go,..and we're always one step away from total relapse. These things are the very nature of "the beast" Right now I see my wife's ashtray,but to me it doesn't "trigger" a desire to smoke at all. Not any more anyway. If it did trigger a desire, I'd try to mentally picture licking the ash tray. Not that I actually know anything mind you...I'm taking myself with a grain just seems to me that triggers would best be dealt with directly;and as soon as possible.

It doesn't bother me to smell smoke. I still enjoy the smell,and it sometimes does trigger a desire, but dealing with desires is what we all need to concentrate on isn't it ??? I feel I should say,..and Zep will probably get a kick out of this,... that the mental image of taking a good,hearty,hungry lick out of the bottom of an old ashtray has stopped a whole lot of my cravings and desires !! Especially on those occasions when you remember a certain,extra enjoyable smoke and forget the bad and the 'blah' smokes. For me, turning the "positive image" of a "good smoke" (alien concepts now) into a repulsive demonstration of the true nastiness of what we're dealing with, has been a very effective method of turning desires around. Lets face it---Just as I've read on these pages, what we're dealing with is no less serious than a literal fight for our very lives.

My last remaining Grandparent died recently at the age of 93 . He had smoked for as long as anyone could remember. Unfortunately for me, this has been a strong source of rationalization. I used it to avoid quitting for a long time. Now I think, "If he didn't smoke, he'd probably still be alive today" and "He at least would have enjoyed his life a lot more toward the end"

To get to my point (((sorry for rambling))), I think that if I'm going to "make it in the real world" I need to grab these triggers and thoughts by the proverbial 'tail' and show em who's boss !!!!

Last edited by John (Gold) on 24 Dec 2013, 13:02, edited 3 times in total.

S Sweet
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:59

21 Dec 2000, 03:56 #2

hey mike! my experience with triggers is this... i felt as if in the beginning they should be avoided as much as possible... ya know triggers like going to bars with smokers, drinking alot, going out to eat was a big one for me... after **** week.. i made a list of all the things i was afraid to do becuz smoking was a big part of it. each of the things on my list i faced head on, with NEVER-smokers first.... i gave myself a taste of what it was like to try out each thing as an ex-smoker... by the middle of my second month, i was very confident doing pretty much everything i had done before without smoking. the one trigger i still avoid at this point is clubbing ....i can go to bars drink and surround myself with smokers and i dont crave it.. but you play a bit of music, get me drunk and even if i am with non smokers i CRAVE, BUT i think you should always have a degree of fear in those situations anywaz.,.. afterall if we were too confident, we might lose our head in a drunken state and pick up a cigarette without even thinking abt it! afterall .. smoking is second nature to us Image

i dont suggest avoiding triggers, but i dont suggest trudging into them without some thought ahead of time... sometimes we confuse "confidence" with "denial" and ya gotta be careful... your addiction can make you think you are confident and can handle being out with alot of smokers early on in your quit.. when you very well might not be ready for that (but your addiction denies that ... just so you can be in a trigger situation)... and your addiction is just waiting for that moment

enough babbling from me.... triggers get easier.... thats the one thing i know for sure... and the more level headed you are before you go into them.. the more likely you are to stay level headed IN them :)
Last edited by S Sweet on 24 Dec 2013, 13:03, edited 1 time in total.

Joined: 07 Jan 2009, 19:13

21 Dec 2000, 04:13 #3

I would say that for me, with the exception of alcohol, which impairs your judgement, this approach of facing triggers works for me. For some people, they certainly have no choice, for example if a spouse or other family member or co-worker is a smoker then cigarettes cannot be avoided. As for the smell, I flip-flop on this one, in one instance I rather enjoy it and in the next it repulses me. I hate coming home from somewhere finding smoke smell on me though!!! Ugh! I have people who are close to me who smoke and it would have been impossible for me to quit and avoid being around smoke. Some people do a total life change when they quit smoking and this seems to work for some people, but I have tried this in the past and found the whole thing much too drastic. This time I vowed to continue my life exactly as it was with the exception of the cigarette, and am finding it by far the easiest and most effective quit ever!!! It feels as if I have actually quit smoking not some new me, but the old me, the real me. I do derive pleasure from new things that as a smoker would have been stressful, such as long meetings or concerts, but for the most part my life is as it was, smokers and all.
As many different quits as there are quitters, and then some. This is what works for me.
I have been Quit for: 3 Weeks 5 Days 8 Hours 56 Minutes. I have NOT smoked 395, for a savings of $68.24. Life Saved: 1 Day 8 Hours 55 Minutes.

Laila (staff3)
Joined: 07 Jan 2009, 19:26

21 Dec 2000, 04:22 #4

You are absolutly right Mike, you should imbrace your triggers as soon as you can, so that you can face them, deprogram them and move on with your life.

Like with your wife's smoking, you very early on faced that trigger, delt with it, turned it off so to speak, and moved on to bigger and better things :-) When smoke triggers you, it possibly even isn't the smoke directly anymore, it is something else the the subconcious mind has not untriggered yet, such as walking out of a mall, you smell smoke and go "gee, I really feel like I want one" when you smell the smoke, but is it the smoke or is it the act of walking out of the mall that triggers the urge? Nic is a very very devious creep, which is why you always have to be on gaurd!!! It may not even be an act as profound as leaving a place or doing something, maybe it is a piece of cloths that for some reason you associate with a sickarette or the smell of cookies, hey, we encorportate sickarettes into EVERYTHING we do, and it takes a long time to stop it :-)

Boy are you ever comming through with flying colours, you deserve a real pat on the back :-)

The only time you should avoid triggers is when you know you are looking for a reason to light up, (junkie thinking... if this happens... then I can...) and when the act which is asociated with the trigger may lower your inhabitions, such as drinking, not usually the brightest thing to do when you first quit...

Anyway, it is a real pleasure watching you kick some nicodemon butt :-)

your quit sis

Joined: 07 Jan 2009, 19:00

21 Dec 2000, 20:26 #5

Hey Mike, good article. When I first quit, probably for the first 3 weeks or so, I was terrified of going into restaurants, into public, etc. Once I got my quit underway, and due to the fact I was tired of staying home all the time and hiding in shadows, shall we say, I started going out again. I walked into a restaurant, and proudly asked for the non-smoking section; however, I had to go through the smoking section to get there (isn't that "special"). It didn't affect me. The next time, I went to dinner with smokers, and guess where we sat? In the smoking section. But this time I didn't let it get me down. I felt twice as proud of myself for being able to sit in that section and not feel the urge (although the smoke did bother me - it STUNK!). Now, when I walk thru the hallways at work, or get into an elevator after a smoker HAD BEEN in there, I can smell the smoke, and thank God it isn't me!

Have a great smokefree life, huh?

Jitterbug (Staff2)

Joined: 07 Jan 2009, 19:57

04 Jun 2001, 02:32 #6

I think it's really important to confront your cravings, as much and as often as possible. I've always gotten in trouble because I got complacent as it got easier, and convinced myself that I was "in control now", and could surely manage "just one."

If I get get to the point where it's second-nature to effectively confront these urges and rationalizations, I'll be better off.

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

14 Jan 2002, 09:47 #7

ImageFor Sisyfus. I think this string illustrates the same concepts your post does of the importance of going into challenges mentally prepared. Facing conflicts and stresses smoke free is what proves to each person here that he or she can survive though life as an ex-smoker, as long as he or she is always prepped and keeps himself or herself reminded that he or she has personally committed to never take another puff!


amey (bronze)
Joined: 07 Jan 2009, 18:56

14 Jan 2002, 10:27 #8

My approach whether correct or not is to face triggers face on..... I still do hang out with smoking friends and family.... I also did not give up drinking alcohol..... in past quits I avoided everything... which only made me feel like I was "sacrificing" so on this my final quit..... I decided to live life as usual...... which is definately smarter..... because last time the "triggers" were soooooo hard... now I still drink..... I even go outside with my "smokers" on occasion..... but I do not have to...... when it is too cold I just tell my friends and family that Iwill just stay in where it is warm.... they can go shiver their a**es off by themselves.....(no smoking has ever been allowed in my house for I have always hated the smell of stale smoke in houses, plus my son has asthma)
anyway it seems easier so far to face my "triggers" face on........and so far I do not feel "deprived"..... anyway sorry for the ramble ...... just my feelings on the subject
your friend amey

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

29 Nov 2003, 07:05 #9

The comment was just made by a newer member that holiday shopping seemed to have been a cause of a major trigger and that maybe she should not have partaken in the activity. Actually, considering that she got through the experience smoke free it was actually a good thing to have done. The only way that triggers are broken is by getting through them A person may think that he or she is not ready for a specific experience but if the person gets through the experience without smoking he or she was in fact ready. By getting through it the first time it will make the next time easier and after a few times the same situation won't even trigger the thought--not smoking will become a habit under this specific circumstance. All activities will eventually become routine as an ex-smoker as long as you continue to face one trigger after another and getting through them with your commitment intact to never take another puff!


Roger (Gold)
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:58

22 Feb 2004, 03:30 #10

For Lynda....................I forgot about this one! Some perspectives to the question you brought up in your post last evening.
From: ImageImagesmurfetteirl (Original Message) Sent: 2/20/2004 7:37 PM
Hi gang,

my mother who smokes met my sister and i while we were shopping today,she had just finished work and asked us to go and have a cup of tea with her, i nearly died and ran through as many excuses i could think of so we couldnt go,told her i had to get home to my son who was out with his dad! i was just in a panic,my sis who had told me she was quit 3 weeks now started to have cravings and was nearly at the newsdesk to buy a pack , i begged her not to and she dad told me tonight she had a cigarette last night with him he's a smoker too. she hasnt said a thing to me about it and i know shes lurking here.

what can i do for her??????

what can i do for me?im 33days quit ive kept away from smokers the whole time,those of you who read my posts know that i have had strong urges to smoke since turning green,im reading believe me i konw i wont go back can somebody give me threads on how to be comfortable i seriously dont want to stress myself out but im feeling worked up. how can i cope around smokers? i feel like if i smell that smoke it will be like blood to a shark and it scares me i dont want to crave them again.
Message 2 of 6 in Discussion
From: ImageImageJery9282 Sent: 2/20/2004 7:57 PM
Hey Smurff, hang on to your quit. You are doing great.Image I think some Freedom heavy hitters will be here soon to help you. But in the meantime, you have worked really hard for your quit and just need some support to keep it up. Good job.Image
Don't give it up. And just don't smoke today. Image jery
Message 3 of 6 in Discussion
From: Roger (Gold) Sent: 2/20/2004 8:51 PM

Not too much you can do for your sister because she has a mind of her own. You cannot rely on her to keep your quit. The best thing you can do for your sis is to become the person you would like her to be. By that I mean become a comfortable x-smoker. That can be done by living your life one day at a time. Each day we live and not use nicotine is another day of experience.

I understand your concerns being around smokers. I believe there may not be a person out there with a young and fragile quit that doesn't fear this. There are two ways to deal with it. The first is to avoid smokers all together until you feel comfortable being around them. It does happen in its own time. Be patient. Another way is to just charge forward and live your life. Each trigger you meet head on and make it past is a victory in itself. The hi road or low road. It is a choice you have to make. If a vote were put to our brothers and sisters at freedom as to what path to take I believe it would favor the path of least resistance. Of course this is my opinion only. Personally I have always challenged myself. I am bring it on kind of person. My wife always insists I am a person who enjoys paddling upstream and against the current. I have always believed in the following saying. As usual I do not pay attention to the author of most of my quotes. My philosophy is this. The first time used (quote) it is borrowed. After that it is mine. Anyway Ihead this a few years ago and it stuck in my memory.

"To become comfortable one must be willing to do the uncomfortable."

Lynda, whatever way you choose to go will wind up in the same place as long as you never take another puff. With a bit of patience you will be on the comfortable end of being an x-smoker.

Another slant on how to watch people smoke

Being tempted watching others smoke
Breaking links to our crave generator
How do you handle being with smokers?

Please read the threads above. I hope you can find them usefull. Be patient with you and your healing Lynda. The comfort you seek will wrap itself around you.

One Day At A Time, You Can If You Think You CanImage
Gold N Comfortable
Recommend Message 4 of 6 in Discussion
From: ImageImagekattatonic1 Sent: 2/20/2004 8:55 PM
Hi Lynda,
Way to go today! You did not smoke. You are green and you are mean.
You are very caring for wanting to help your sister, and still, her quit is NOT your quit. Nice fantasy for the world, especially our loved ones, to quit with us, but ultimately we are the only ones in control of our quits and they are in control of theirs. You can help your sister best by example at this point. Hang on as tight to your quit as you possibly can!

These threads came to mind while I read your post. I hope there's some help here:

Fixating on a cigarette
<--- really good one!

Acknowledge the negative but dwell on the positive
Are "aaahh" memories calling your name?
The emotional loss
"I think I have decided to go back to smoking"
Being tempted watching others smoke
How do you handle being with smokers?

I hope something in there helps!

~ YQS Kay ~

Deeply breathing in 1 Month, 29 Days, 18 Hours and 25 Minutes of Freedom.
Refusing 1195 poisonous infusions has saved $383.45 and 4 Days and 3 Hours of my life.

Message 5 of 6 in Discussion
From: ImageImagesmurfetteirl Sent: 2/21/2004 2:32 AM
thank you guys for the posts
roger i would love to have your attitude,maybe ill get it when i reach gold!!! but really your post was fantastic to read first thing this morning,you will never realise how valuable what you said is to me!

kat the threads you showed me are everything i wanted to hear,and jery thanks for the support and advice.i feel like i can make it through today with these threads to read, and roger i am going to just keep on avoiding smokers til im strong enough i seriously would hate to paddle upstream lol i like to mossey along.

thanks again lads

Message 6 of 6 in Discussion
From: ImageImagedlunybronze Sent: 2/21/2004 6:04 AM
Hi Lynda. Glad to read you are doing better! You got help from some fine people this morning. Just remember that it does get easier over time.

I remember when I was about 2-3 weeks quit we went to my Sister-in-law's house. My mother-in-law lives there and they both smoke in the house. I noticed my sister-in-law was scurrying outside to smoke and I finally told her "This is your house. If you want to smoke in that is your business. There is NOTHING you can do that will make me smoke!"

This is how I handle being around smokers. It is their business to smoke if they choose to, and it is my choice RIGHT NOW not to smoke. Take it one day at a time (or even one second at a time if necessary). Smoking IS an option but you can't have just one--you have to take them all! I don't worry about whether I will smoke in a particular situation or not, I just know that today I will not. Tomorrow, as Scarlett O'Hara says, is another day!

yqb, David Three months, two weeks, 6 minutes and 20 seconds. 1908 cigarettes not smoked, saving $143.11. Life saved: 6 days, 15 hours, 0 minutes.
Last edited by Roger (Gold) on 04 Jul 2009, 12:49, edited 2 times in total.