Studying without nicotine.....

Subconscious use cue extinguishment

Studying without nicotine.....

Joined: December 19th, 2008, 12:02 am

April 13th, 2008, 1:27 am #1

So this week I have had to retrain my brain that it is possible to learn and study without smoking.

In the past when I would have to study I would go to a coffee shop and sit outside, on the patio, studying and smoking for hours. Right or wrong, this system really worked for me.

A job that I am interested in required me to take a test. I had two days to memorize 86 pages of court law information. This is pretty dry information that would make my eyes begin to glaze over after an hour of reading.

I found that I was really missing the action of smoking and the reaction of the nicotine stimulating my learning center diodes in my brain. I am sure what I have just written is bunk, but it was how I felt. Luckily I didn't have any kind of physical withdrawals. This was all mental.

I didn't smoke. I wasn't tempted to go bum one. I acknowledged that I really really wanted one but then I would be a full time addict again. .

When I really try to reason out why this was so tough for me I guess I would have to say that when I studied in the past I would smoke alot. More than usual. And so maybe what my mind is struggling against is the old pattern of nicotine withdrawal and the additional nicotine reinforcement when studying was involved.

It was very tough but I just didn't take another puff. As dry as the information was, I still was capable of stuffing a good portion of it into to mind without the aid of nicotine. The best was when I went in to take my test, I didn't have to worry about if I smelled smoky or when I would be done so I could get a fix in. That was a really nice reward after a tough couple of days of conciously reprogramming my mind that nicotine is not necessary in my world. I don't need it.

Tracy - Free and Healing for One Month, Nineteen Days, 11 Hours and 20 Minutes.
It isn't always easy, but it is always simple.
Never take another puff or dip!
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Joined: December 19th, 2008, 12:15 am

April 13th, 2008, 1:41 am #2

Yeah I know how you feel, I hve been quit for over a month now and the hardest part for me was work - you see I work from home as a computer programmer and I used to find my self smoking a lot during work - ie to think thru a particularily complex routine, or just as a break thing around every hour - I found that it was hard to concentrate - in fact I still find it a bit hard, but life goes on and I guess this will pass.
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:57 pm

April 13th, 2008, 2:03 am #3

Hey Tracy -

Seems like you hit the nail right on the head. You are having to re-learn your ways of life and your brain has all these smoking memos. Read Triggers - reminders from your executive assistant for an in-depth look at that - Love this post!

You did the right thing by not bumming or even taking a puff. I do understand that the action of smoking is such a great relief and I too loved that combo. But, since quitting, sometimes life has to be tweaked alittle. Maybe try reading and walking at the same time - turns out that you retain more info while you do that anyway, plus it's great for your legs to get moving. Or stop at a different coffee shop or stay inside that particular coffee shop.

Sometimes it is tough getting past that trigger, especially if you smoked throughout that particular activity. But stay strong. You're doing a phenominal job!

Keep your chin up, keep reading, and NTAP! And good luck with your test!

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

April 13th, 2008, 6:21 am #4

I hear ya. Today I had a bunch of seasonal triggers one right after the other. The idea of nicotine was just pulsing through my veins. But I pushed through the feelings and quite honestly I feel pretty good about myself.

I have noticed that it is true, once you experience a trigger once or twice and do not reinforce the nicotine habit, that the trigger loses its power.

I am still amazed that I am no longer a nicotine junkie...I don't know what to do with myself.

John day 36
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:57 pm

April 13th, 2008, 11:23 pm #5

Congratulations Tracy on 50 days of freedom and healing! This morning when I read this post it made me think that we owe this topic a bit more discussion that given. It caused me to write the below post which is now indexed on the Addiction message board. I hope you find it beneficial.

In regard to taking tests lasting longer than an hour (2-3 hours) I recall leaving the exam room during many occasions in order to smoke nicotine. But it wasn't that my natural brain power wasn't sufficient to respond but that early withdrawal was driving me nuts ; )

Still just one rule, Tracy! No nicotine today!

John
The "concentration"
smoking rationalization
First things first, if you are a new quitter and experiencing difficulty concentrating it may be due to blood sugar issues. During the first three days, unless diabetic or for other health reasons, we recommend three days of natural fruit juices to help stabilize blood sugar while the brain adjusts to coming off of nicotine. Cranberry is excellent.
Our thread entitled Blood Sugar Changes When Quitting addresses this issue in detail. Note that nicotine was our spoon pumping stored fats and sugars into our bloodstream with each puff. If we attempt to skip meals after ending nicotine use we should fully expect brain glucose levels to be low and for concentration to be challenging. I used to often skip both breakfast and lunch and wondered why my non-smoking friends couldn't do the same. One of recovery's greatest challenges can be learning to again properly fuel the body once nicotine is no longer our spoon.
But the purpose of this thread isn't to address poor concentrate due to improper fueling during early recovery but the use of "improved concentation" as an excuse for smoking. Let's make one thing clear, none of us smoked nicotine in order to concentrate. We smoked it because the only alternative was the onset of full-blown withdrawal. We smoked it because our brains truly were slaves to it. It just happens that one of life's requirements is concentation and one of the body's reactions to the presence of nicotine is central nervous system stimulation. But claiming to remain a chemically captive prisoner inside our own mind, so that the prisoner can better concentrate, shows the depth of captivity.
In that both are legal central nervous system stimulants, we often see rationalizations that attempt to equate caffeine to nicotine. Please understand that here at Freedom it is against the forum's rules to promote drug use of any kind, including other legal stimulants. But that does not mean that we do not educate members regarding drug use rationalizations that can, and do, cross chemical lines.
Just as physical exercise is needed to stimulate the body, mental exercise, proper and regular nutrition and adequate oxygen are tools to stimulate the mind. Many of the wealthiest and most powerful minds on the planet daily stimulate their own brains, and so can we if that be our desire.
Whether or not we use caffeine or natural brain stimulation, every mental challenge we engaged while using nicotine can be accomplished without it. All of them!! Yes, there is a temporary period of re-adjustment called quitting (what many of us term "recovery") and, yes, concentrating while not using it can take a bit of practice, including re-learning to eat normally again. But once residing here on Easy Street I think you'll look back and laugh at a mind that once truly believed that it "needed" nicotine to concentrate.
For those who insist on employing rationalizations that compare drinking caffeine to smoking nicotine, according to the World Health Organization we could very well see
one billion
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Joined: April 4th, 2005, 7:00 am

April 14th, 2008, 2:53 am #6

Hello Tracy,

Your one month nineteen days are testimony to your committment to living nicotine free. Good for you. Your post elicited John's response, another bright light on the road of recovery. Thank you for posting your thoughts.

I was watching a program recently on the local public television station about what is called "brain plasticity." The brain is consider plastic, maleable, adaptable not just in the developing years of childhood, but throughout life. One of the concepts of learning that was described is "Nuerons that fire together, wire together." an interesting concept and not one that is entirely new or foreign. Where it fits the description in your post is here. If you are accustomed to smoking your brains out while you study then the two activities become intertwined and doing one without the other is not impossible but something you must relearn. The period of readjustment that we describe here is real and can be a challenge but it is not beyond our capability. We have the ability to learn throughout our lifespan and despite our brain's natural and un-natural deterioration, we can create new associations, wire new nuerons together, that are consistent with a healthier, more rewarding exsistence.

Yes we can.

Joseph
3.5 years
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:57 pm

April 14th, 2008, 3:26 am #7

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

April 14th, 2008, 3:28 am #8

There is a phenomenon known as state dependent learning. How it works is that when a person learns something while under the influence of a drug or even under some certain environmental conditions, they are often able to recall the information better when under the exact same conditions.

An example can be how a person may learn something when they are drunk, and only be able to recall the event at a time when there are under a similar level of intoxication. If this is true for smoking, then things you learn while smoking may come back to you easier when you are smoking.

Here is the catch now. There are not too many places nowadays that are going to let you smoke when you are taking your test. Many places may not offer the option of smoking breaks. In fact, some companies that offer breaks may now be totally smoke free campuses, so even if you get bathroom breaks smoking may not be an option when a person is taking a test or working on other necessary tasks requiring deep thought or the ability to recall previously learned facts. If indeed state dependent learning is a variable with a person when under the influence of nicotine, studying while smoking may be counterproductive for the actual task of test taking.

Just something to think about regarding using smoking to learn. I suspect that the best way for you to remember this principle over your lifetime is to stay at the same nicotine level as you are currently learning this one fact under and that will be as simple now as just remembering to stick to your personal commitment to never take another puff.

Joel
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