Smoking Triggers

Subconscious use cue extinguishment

Smoking Triggers

Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:57 pm

May 28th, 2000, 9:41 pm #1

Recently someone mentioned to me how when she had been off smoking for a week she was hit with a major urge while in the ice cream isle of her supermarket. Not only was it strong, but it lasted longer than most of the urges she had in the days prior to this event. This is the explanation I gave her as to why the thought was triggered and the reason for the longer than average duration. It helps explains a little further about smoking patterns.

 My explanation:

There is a reason the ice cream aisle might have triggered the urge to smoke. The ice cream aisle was likely one of the last items you shopped for since you didn't want it to melt. As a smoker, the half-life of nicotine is 20 to 30 minutes, meaning after this time period you would always be in a slight state of withdrawal. You were never allowed to smoke in the store, so by the time you would leave, lighting up would be an automatic response. You may always have had a tough time though even before leaving. You would likely be in a hurry to check out and exit by the time you hit that aisle for you may have already been in withdrawal.

If you had not shopped for ice cream since you quit, the first time would probably be an automatic trigger. If not then, as soon as you would leave the store it probably would have done it. Other situations which will also trigger this way is when you first leave a movie theatre, library, or non-smokers homes who you have visited in the past and never smoked at.

It's kind of funny, it's the places some people try to escape to the first week they quit smoking, places they never could smoke. What they fail to recognize sometimes though is they have to leave those places. They better understand that these times will be powerful triggers.

It is important to do these things though to break the triggers. Time doesn't teach you how not to smoke, experience does. The more things you experience and the sooner, the more you recognize that there is life after smoking.

Don't let it get you down, acknowledge the crave, recognize you don't want to be a smoker and congratulate yourself for overcoming another trigger. Oh yeah, enjoy the ice cream and when finished with the same sized helping you would have had when you were still a smoker (don't increase quantity even if it does taste better, calories you know), go for a short walk and think to yourself that no matter how many triggers occur like this, you will Never Take Another Puff!

 Joel

 Some further clarification:

The kind of trigger talked about here is not just when going out to different places though, home based activities will have the same reaction. Any activity that takes over 20 minutes would eventually get tied into smoking. Mowing the lawn, laundry, using the bathroom, paying bills, talking on the phone, basically, anything that took time very likely became a smoking based activity or had built in smoking breaks associated with them. The first time encountering any of these activities after cessation would be a powerful trigger.

But again, the only way to break these associations is by encountering them the first times, and overcoming them. After a few repeated episodes, not smoking will become the habit for the event. Again, not by time passing but rather by repeated experience. But my closing statement above still applies to them. No matter what triggers occur, all that you need to do to overcome it and learn a new experience as an ex-smoker is to Never Take Another Puff!

Edited 11-24-2012 to add in related video

   
Last edited by Joel on September 7th, 2013, 11:24 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Joined: December 19th, 2008, 12:02 am

May 28th, 2000, 10:27 pm #2

Joel! How on earth did you become so wise?!! That was an excellent answer that made so much sense! We are truly lucky to have you here Joel!! Thank you.

Penny

I have been Quit for: 5M 3W 6D 11h 9m 2s. I have NOT smoked 6316, for a savings of $1,260.73. Life Saved: 3W 22h 20m.
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:57 pm

May 29th, 2000, 8:10 am #3

Hello Penny:

Sometimes the triggers don't make so much sense, at least not on the surface. The trick is just to always have your guard up, being prepared daily for anything. For no matter how long you are off smoking, triggers can and will occur.

Sometimes triggers will be obvious and easy to identify, like running into an old friend who is a chain smoker and you always smoked with them in the past. Sometimes they will be less obvious though, like when it is an old friend who has always been a non-smoker. Whenever you were with them in the past, you too would never smoke because they were around. So why would they make you think of a cigarette?

Well, before you would ever go to see them, you would smoke a few extra cigarettes just to be able to stay with them a little longer. Or more likely, the trigger wouldn't happen when you first see them, but rather as soon as they would leave. More accurately, it would hit as soon as you were out of their line of vision. In the past, that is when you would instantly light up. Even though you never smoked in their presence, you were still a smoker when with them. This association will last until these initial first encounters with them breaking the pattern and mindset that you are a smoker in this particular circumstance.

As more and more time passes, experiences like this become more sporadic. But keep focused daily. When you wake up say today is another day you will not smoke. So if these rare occurrences happen, you are ready. And again at the end of the day congratulate yourself for another victorious day without smoking.

Hang in there and don't let the triggers get you. Make each one just another learning experience. The lesson, no matter what triggers a thought, to beat it, Never Take Another Puff!
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:44 pm

May 29th, 2000, 10:08 am #4

Hi Joel,

Thanks for that enlightening information. I have been smokefree for 4 months and not really experiencing any major craves, so I was suprised that having a few drinks with a smoking friend would cause me to have such an intense urge to smoke. I almost smoked!!! I have had drinks since I quit but not with any smokers. That was the strongest urge I've had so far. I didnt smoke but it was a wake up call.

Lauren
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Joined: January 7th, 2009, 6:58 pm

July 24th, 2000, 8:11 am #5

Joel...somehow I missed this post earlier. It has answered a big question for me and makes so much sense. It explains why weekends have been particularly hard for me. There are always so many things that need to be done, and after each task I smoked. Thanks.

Linnee Three weeks, six days, 17 hours, 14 minutes and 17 seconds. 970 cigarettes not smoked, saving $145.52. Life saved: 3 days, 8 hours, 50 minutes.
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Joined: January 7th, 2009, 7:13 pm

July 24th, 2000, 10:39 am #6

Oh Joel...If I could have only put you in my suitcase and taken you to VA Beach with us last week!!! The triggers just kept coming and coming and I just kept whumping them. Sounds easy, but it really wasn't. It does feel great to be able (and smart enough) to fight back without caving in though. As always, thanks for your advice and encouragement, GJ

Five months, three weeks, five days, 22 hours, 38 minutes and 9 seconds. 7157 cigarettes not smoked, saving $1,073.41. Life saved: 3 weeks, 3 days, 20 hours, 25 minutes.
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Joined: January 7th, 2009, 7:13 pm

September 23rd, 2000, 9:05 am #7

Again this is great information for me, so it is not always the event that causes the trigger, but events also coupled with time elements. Interesting. Either way, understanding where all these urges, triggers, and cravings are coming from and why, is the difference between me letting addiction totally have its way with me, which is a lousy feeling, and me being one step ahead. Thanking you Christiana
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:57 pm

November 30th, 2000, 8:44 pm #8

I see we have a number of people just over three days now so I thought I would bring up a few posts about the thoughts for cigarettes still happening and contrast them with the demands your body was creating the first few days for nicotine, or true urges. They are different and you will find that if focused on now, the desires can be squelched. I will bring up a couple of other articles on the topic too and will just cut and paste this description on all of them. Have a good day everyone.

Joel
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:57 pm

January 4th, 2001, 1:05 am #9

In a membership appication a person named Sue wrote:

hi,
today is my second day of not smoking. I really want to quit, but today is a difficult day, and if I can resist the urge to smoke today, then I will make it.I have the flu and the last 2 days went real well, but I feel some better today, and the craving is real bad, What is the best way to keep the urge for a cigarette down? I am really wanting to quit, but I am concerened that the withdrawel today may break my will to stop, as it is pretty strong today.

Response:

Getting well is a trigger. As a smoker when you were sick you likely cut back to a bare minimum of cigarettes considering they were each painful. But when you would get well you would often make up for lost time. That is why today may smoking may be having a little more of an appeal than normal. Congratulations on getting well and learning how to get healthier without relasping. It is a valuable lesson whenever you get to learn it. To stay on the road to better health remember to never take another puff!

Joel
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Joined: January 7th, 2009, 7:27 pm

January 20th, 2001, 2:59 am #10

I just finished vacuuming the rugs since my quit. Couldn't quite understand why I was having such a powerful crave. This article explains it all.

Thanks so much for being here!
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Joined: January 7th, 2009, 7:13 pm

February 3rd, 2001, 12:38 pm #11

THANK YOU JOEL,YOU HAVE ONCE AGAIN ANSWERED MY QUESTION!!!
YQS SISSY(WHAT WOULD WE DO WITHOUT YOU?)
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:57 pm

February 7th, 2001, 7:41 am #12

I saw the habit/addiction debate issue up today. I am pressed for time to read it clearly but just bringing up a few articles on the difference between the two. They are both real phenomena and the first few days you all dealt with both of them concurrently. The important point to recognize is that you all got through both of them at that time. Now you have the triggers without the withdrawal complicating it. It is in a sense then a much "easier" to overcome battle, as long as you keep your initial ammunition and thus motivation to quit strong. That is the key now to overcome these obstacles. Keep reinforcing why you quit and remembering what it was truley like to be a full-fledged smoker with all of its inherent risks. By doing this you will overcome the thoughts and successfully and equally important happily never take another puff!

Joel
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:57 pm

February 10th, 2001, 3:12 am #13

Another article for Roadmaster on how a specific stress may be a trigger. But a trigger will not cause a relapse, just a thought. A relapse will only occur if the thought leads to a puff.
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:57 pm

March 13th, 2001, 9:20 pm #14

I saw where Joy posed a question to what is a craving. There are different kinds of "cravings" and different reasons for those kinds. Physical cravings are from the body demand of nicotine experienced during withdrawal. Psychological cravings or are really just thoughts of desire for cigarettes being elicited by a trigger. Then there are thoughts caused by triggers that are not actual cravings or desires, but just thoughts that "I used to smoke when I do did this," or even sometimes thoughts of, "Boy, am I glad I quit smoking." Those are smoking thoughts, but not a longing for smoking but more an appreciation of not smoking. I will bring up one other article that clarifies the difference between the physical and the psychological. Both are real but both will dissipate with time and experience. They will continue on a path of general easing as long as you stay focused on your resolve to stay free and as long as you never take another puff!

Joel
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:57 pm

April 13th, 2001, 8:56 pm #15

Not just for Beccy, Joel, also for Anne - thank you for always having the right post at the right time for those of us who haven't read them before!!!!
anne
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Joined: January 7th, 2009, 6:59 pm

May 11th, 2001, 2:33 am #16

Thanks Joel. Knew I's seen this page somewhere. Found it easily as it was in a Post on the Board. Perfect. Yep, a small crisis passing now .... albeit a little too slowly. Stress, anger set me off big time. Yeah, I wouldn't feel comfortable enough to day to be exposed to sickerttes, not for a few more hours or so anyway. Calming down tho, fianlly spending time there at Freedom. Zep can always finds these real gross pictures of sick lungs. the nicorttee needle etc. Going to do everything I can to relax myself. Thank you. Still mad, but I'm on top of the situation now, and I know my rights. Smoking wouldn't cause anygood feels, perhaps a fleeting momemt or any solution. And then the guilt. Be ashamed, actually, like a weakly. sunshineray 14th day (gees 2 weeks, 1l2 way to green!
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:57 pm

July 21st, 2001, 6:47 pm #17

Again, as talked about in the string "Thought that seem worse than the first day urges," these thoughts are being triggered by associations. They have real reasons for occuring, but sometimes a person will not be able to recognize what the exact situation triggering the thought actually is. But whether or not you ever identify the exact cause of the trigger, you still break it or at least weaken it significantly none the less. For whatever it was that was causing it, you survived it without a cigarette and have taught yourself that the specific circumstance was doable without a cigarette. As more and more time passes, totally new experiences become more sporadic and these thoughts become much less infrequent. Preventing triggers from occuring may not be in any idividuals conscious control, but overcoming the thoughts and even squelching them quickly are under concsious controls. Focus all your attention on why you quit and why you don't want to go back to smoking and you will always have the ability to happily never take another puff!

Joel
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:57 pm

July 28th, 2001, 9:37 pm #18

For Daniela:

Paying bills (even paying off bills) can still be a trigger. It is a matter of just getting it done the first time and the association will become weaker, and after numerous times will be broken all together. Eventually not smoking will become the habit. But it takes time and more accurately, experience to break these associations. Keep focused on how much you don't want to be a smoker and deal with all the risks and consequences that go along with maintaining an expensive and lethal addicition. Keep remembering why you are here and you will stay clear in your resolve to never take another puff!

Joel
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Joined: December 19th, 2008, 12:00 am

August 3rd, 2001, 10:28 pm #19

jmhonline

this is what helped me that day. Take care.
Daniela
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:57 pm

August 9th, 2001, 12:43 am #20

For Shacky Rose:

Being stuck in the house with a broken car can be a trigger as well as causing a bit of cabin fever kind of syndrome.
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:58 pm

September 8th, 2001, 6:25 am #21

For Marty, I was looking all over for this one....hope it helps.

Also, for those of you rooting on your first Football season......no matter what the score is...you remain a winner as long as you remember to never take another puff.
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:57 pm

September 9th, 2001, 6:19 pm #22

For Tiptoe:

Breaking the triggers to smoking is what makes your life as an ex-smoker become comfortable. The only way to break triggers is by experiencing them and overcoming them without smoking. People always ask, "How long is it before I can do this or that without wanting a cigarette?" Time is not the issue though, it is how long is it before you do the activity over and over enough again to break all the associations that particular activity, person, or event. The sooner you start living life to its fullest, the sooner you start to feel that not smoking is a great way to live life to its fullest. It is a life where everything that was possible before is still possible, and one in which some things that were not possible because of physical limitations may now be possible, and a life that will last longer and be better in countless ways as long as you always remember to never take another puff!

Joel
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Joined: January 7th, 2009, 7:42 pm

November 27th, 2001, 12:04 pm #23

Joel you're right about those triggers being associated with just about any activity that lasted for more than about 20 minutes. I am amazed at how predictable those urges are becoming. Almost everything I do was in one way or another associated with the deadly "reward" of a smoke. I can now almost anticipate them and just give them a tiny grunt of acknowledgement....so I used to smoke after this activity too. Well, thank God I don't have to light up anymore. I am steadily becoming free! YQF Michele
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zoo
Joined: January 7th, 2009, 6:58 pm

December 5th, 2001, 1:05 am #24

Thank god for this website and education this site provides. I was hit with a real stressful situation this weekend. By far the most stressful situation I had this quit. I am in a family business, which is not always easy to work in. Sunday night after an argument on by way home the WaWa's seemed liked they were just calling me in to by a pack of cigg's. Instead I went home and went for a run. I feel my getting through that situation I should be able to get through anything. Now that the situation is pertty much resolved, I am sooooooooo! glad I did not smoke. This site has taught me a lot.

z00,
3 months 11 days no smoke
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:59 pm

December 14th, 2001, 11:35 am #25

I'm not even sure that what happens to me is a trigger - sort of - I definitely think about cigarettes in the same place and time - driving home from work - I don't want to smoke - yet thoughts of a cigarette keep coming up on the drive home. Reading about triggers, I should be well past this I've done this drive without a cigarette for more than two months. I'm feeling a little like a particularly backward Pavlov's dog that keeps on salivating though dinner has not appeared for weeks! I still have some thoughts when I sit in my old favorite chair and I haven't smoked there in six months. I'm sure this will pass eventually - I'm not going to smoke because I think of a cigarette - any suggestions are most welcome. Maybe I'm being bothered by nothing. Thanks for listening.

yqf Lorraine

Two months, two days, 23 hours, 4 minutes and 31 seconds. 649 cigarettes not smoked, saving $208.01. Life saved: 2 days, 6 hours, 5 minutes.
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