The Law of Addiction


December 10th, 2008, 2:03 pm #1

Joel's Reinforcement Library
The Law of Addiction

"Administration of a drug to an addict will cause
re-establishment of chemical dependence
upon the addictive substance."

Smokers are often furious with me because they believe I caused them to go back to smoking.  Why do they think this?  Well, I have this nasty habit of making a really big deal any time a clinic participant takes one puff or maybe just a few cigarettes.  The smoker feels I am so persuasive in my arguments that he has no choice but to have a full-fledged relapse.  In his opinion, I forced him back to the lifetime dependency which will impair his health and may eventually cost him his life.  He is convinced that if I had not made such a major issue out of the incident, he would just have smoked that one time and would never have done it again.  How can I sleep each night knowing what I have done?

I sleep quite well, thank you.  For, you see, I am not responsible for these people's relapses to cigarettes.  They can take full credit for becoming smokers again.  They relapsed because they broke the one major law of nicotine addiction - they took a puff.  This is not my law.  I am not setting myself up to be judge, jury, and executioner.  The law of physiological addiction states that administration of a drug to an addict will cause reestablishment of the dependence on that substance.  I didn't write that law.  I don't execute that law.  My job is much simpler than that.  All I do is interpret the law.  This means, by taking a puff, the smoker either goes back to full-fledged smoking or goes through the withdrawal process associated with quitting.  Most don't opt for the withdrawal.

Every clinic has a number of participants who have quit in the past for one year or longer.  In fact, I had one clinic participant who had stopped for a period of 24 years before he relapsed.  He never heard that such a law existed, that even after 24 years, the ex-smoker is not totally freed from his imprisonment of addiction.  He didn't understand that the day he tossed his "last" cigarette, he was placed "on probation" for the rest of his life.  But ignorance of the law is not excusable - not the way the laws of a physiological nature are written.  By the American standards of justice, this seems to be cruel and unusual punishment.  But this is the way things are.

Maybe instead of going to a smoking clinic, a recently relapsed person should contact his attorney to plead his case of why he should be able to have an occasional cigarette when he desires.  Maybe he can cheat just once, get a sympathetic jury, be judged innocent, and walk out of the courtroom a free and independent person.  Surely, in pleading his case before twelve impartial people, he will probably have no problem convincing them that he is innocent of any wrongdoing.  And, as he happily walks out of court a free and independent person, he will probably have an uncontrollable urge and then light a cigarette.

Don't look for loopholes in the law of addiction.  You will be convicting yourself back to smoking.  While it may seem harsh and unfair, to many, smoking is a crime punishable by death.  Don't try to cheat the system - NEVER TAKE ANOTHER PUFF!

© Joel Spitzer 1988, 2003
Page last updated by Joel Spitzer on August 23, 2003

  Freedom from Nicotine - The Journey Home  


The Law of Addiction

 "Administration of a drug to an addict will cause
of chemical dependence
upon the addictive substance."
According to the World Health Organization, “In the 20th century, the tobacco epidemic killed 100 million people worldwide.  During the 21st century, it could kill one billion.”[1]  Year after year, at least 70% of surveyed smokers say they want to stop,[2] and 40% make an attempt of at least one day.[3]

There is no lack of desire or effort.   Sadly, what most do not know is “how.”  Key to breaking free and staying free is an understanding of the "Law of Addiction." Whether users know it by name or simply understand the basic premise, failure to self-discover or to be taught this law is a horrible reason to die.   The “Law of Addiction” is not man-made law.  It is as fundamental as the law of gravity and refusal to abide by it is likely to result in serious injury or death.

The Law is rather simple.   It states, “Administration of a drug to an addict will cause re-establishment of chemical dependence upon the addictive substance."

Mastering it requires acceptance of three fundamental principles: (1) that dependency upon using nicotine is true chemical addiction, captivating the same brain dopamine reward pathways as alcoholism, cocaine or heroin addiction; (2) that once established we cannot cure or kill an addiction but only arrest it; and (3) that once arrested, regardless of how long we have remained nicotine free, that just one hit of nicotine will create a high degree of probability of a full relapse.


We need not guess as to what happens inside a human brain that’s subjected to nicotine during recovery. The evidence seen on brain PET scans is undeniable.  Just one puff of nicotine and within ten seconds up to 50% of the brain’s nicotinic-type acetylcholine receptors will become occupied by nicotine.[4]

While the smoker’s conscious mind may find itself struggling with tobacco toxin tissue burning sensations and carbon monoxide induced dizziness, well-engineered dopamine pay-attention pathways will do their job and make the experience difficult to forget.   We may actually walk away from the relapse experience thinking we have gotten away with using.   But it won’t be long before our brain is wanting and begging for more. 

Recovery isn’t about battling an entire pack, pouch, tin or box of our particular nicotine delivery vehicle.  It’s about that first bolus of nicotine striking the brain, a hit that will end our journey, cost us liberty, and land us back behind bars.

Unfortunately, conventional “quitting” wisdom invites relapse with statements such as “Don’t let a little slip put you back to smoking.”   As Joel says, it’s like telling the alcoholic, “Don’t let a sip put you back to drinking” or the heroin addict, “Don’t let shooting-up put you back to using.”

Experts are fond of stating that "on average, it takes between 3-5 serious quit attempts before breaking free of tobacco dependence,” and that “every time you make an effort you're smarter and you can use that information to increase the likelihood that your subsequent quit attempt is successful."

What these so called experts fail to reveal is the precise lesson eventually learned.  Why?   Why can’t it be taught and mastered prior to a user’s first attempt ever?   They don’t teach it because most don’t understand it themselves.  Instead they excuse failure before it even occurs, as if trying to protect the particular quitting product they are pushing from being blamed for defeat.

The lesson eventually gleaned from the school of hard-recovery-knocks is that “if I take so much as one puff, dip or chew I will relapse.”  Just one, just once and defeat is all but assured.

“The idea that you can't quit the first time is absolutely wrong,” says Joel.
[5]  “The only reason it takes most people multiple attempts to quit is that they don't understand their addiction to nicotine. How could they, no one really teaches it. People have to learn by screwing up one attempt after another until it finally dawns on them that each time they lost it, it happened by taking a puff. If you understand this concept from the get-go, you don't have to go through chronic quitting and smoking.”

The Law Reflected in Studies

Yes, once all nicotine use ends, a single subsequent use is extremely accurate in predicting full and complete relapse.   Whether it happens immediately or even when we think we’ve gotten away it, the brain’s “pay attention” circuitry records the relapse event in high definition memory.  It will be etched along side survival instinct memories recording the behaviors needed to keep us alive.

The 1990 Brandon lapse/relapse study followed 129 smokers who successfully completed a two-week stop smoking program for two additional years.
[6]    Lapse was defined as any tobacco use regardless of how much.

Among those who lapsed, the mean number of days between the end of the “quitting” program and lapse was two months (58 days), with nearly all lapsing within the first three months.  While 14% took only one or two puffs, 42% smoked the entire cigarette, while the average smoked about two-thirds.   A second cigarette was smoked by 93.5% who had lapsed.  Nearly half (47%) smoked that second cigarette within 24 hours, with one in five smoking it within an hour (21%).   Still, a mean average of nine days passed between subjects sampling their first and second cigarette.  Clearly, most of them likely thought they’d gotten away with it, that they were controlling the uncontrollable.

The Brandon study found that 60% who lapsed “asked for” the cigarette (bummed it), 23% purchased it, 9% found it, 6% stole it, and 2% were offered it.  Also of note, 47% who lapsed drank alcohol prior to doing so. 

Overall, the study found that 88% who “tasted” a cigarette relapsed.  In discussing the finding Brandon wrote, “The high rate of return to regular smoking (88%) once a cigarette is tasted suggests that the distinction between an initial lapse and full relapse may be unnecessary.”  “In our study, high initial confidence levels may have reduced subjects' motivation to acquire skills and engage productively in treatment.”

The Brandon study’s finding was echoed by the 1990 Boreland study, which followed callers to an Australian telephone quit smoking line.  There, among 339 quitters who lapsed (123 who didn’t make it an entire day and 172 who quit for at least 24 hours) 295 or 87% experienced relapse within 90 days.

Although the challenges of recovery have ended for hundreds of millions of now comfortable ex-users, each lives with nicotine dependency’s imprint permanently burned into their brain.   Even after 10, 20 or 30 years, they remain wired for relapse.

We’re not stronger than nicotine but then we don’t need to be.  It is only a chemical.   Like the salt or pepper in our shakers, it has an I.Q. of zero.  Like the sugar in our sugar bowl, it cannot plot, plan, think or conspire.  And it is not some big or little monster that dwells inside us.

Our blood serum becomes nicotine-free and withdrawal peaks in intensity within three days of ending all nicotine use.  But just one powerful jolt of nicotine and the deck gets stacked against us.  The odds of us having the stamina to withstand and endure nicotine’s influence upon the brain without relapsing are horrible.  While Brandon and Boreland teach us that relapse isn’t 100% guaranteed, I encourage you to treat and see one hit of nicotine as though it were. 

Our greatest weapon has always been our infinitely superior intelligence.   The most important recovery lesson our intelligence can master is that being 99% successful at not using nicotine equates to an 87% to 88% chance of defeat.

As Joel Spitzer has now burned into my brain, there’s just one controlling principle determining the outcome for all.  Unlike quitting products, total adherence to a personal commitment to not violate the law of addiction provides a 100% guarantee of success.  Although obedience may not always be easy, the law is clear, concise and simple - no nicotine today, not one puff, dip or chew! 

Missed Lessons

In 1984 Joel wrote an article with the heartless sounding title, “The Lucky Ones Get Hooked.”
[8]   It’s anything but callous.  In it, Joel makes the important point that those who experience full relapse within days of taking a puff, dip or chew are fortunate in that the experience offers potential to self-teach them the most critical recovery lesson of all, “The Law of Addiction.” 

But as the Brandon study teaches, while nearly half who smoke nicotine will experience full relapse within one day, a mean average of nine days passed between their first and second nicotine fixes.   Those who quickly experience full relapse increase the likelihood of learning, right away, the critical lesson of the power of using nicotine just once.  But the more time and distance there is between that first use and full dependency resumption, the greater likelihood there is of learning the wrong lesson, a lesson that for far too many smokers proves deadly.

“The ex-smoker who takes a drag and doesn't get hooked gets a false sense of confidence,” writes Joel. “He thinks he can take one any time he wants and not get hooked.  Usually, within a short period of time sneaking a drag here and there, he will become hooked.  One day he too may try to quit and actually succeed.  He may quit for a week, month, or even years.  But always in the back of   his mind he feels, "I know I can have one if I really want to.  After all, I did it last time and didn't get hooked right away.  One day, at a party or under stress or just out of boredom he will try one again. Maybe this time he will get hooked, maybe not. But you can be sure that there will be a next time.  Eventually he will become hooked again.”

Living a series of perpetual relapses, having to quit again, and again, and again, each time enduring a two-week withdrawal process, it’s no way to live life.  “Taking the first drag is a no-win situation,” writes Joel.

Over the years, hundreds of millions of ex-users have been able to discover the power of one puff, dip or chew of nicotine totally on their own.  But self-discovery of the Law of Addiction has become increasingly difficult with each passing year and arrival of each new magic quitting cure.

Think back to 1980, prior to arrival of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) and nicotine gum.  Yes, the traveling hypnotist came to town every now and then.  But the only readily available alternatives to cold turkey and abrupt nicotine cessation were forms of gradual nicotine weaning or tapering which had proven dismal.  The likelihood of any particular attempt being a cold turkey attempt was substantial.  Thus, the chances of self-discovering the Law of Addiction were significant.

Absent was the negative influence of pharmaceutical company marketing intentionally designed to shatter confidence in our natural instincts and abilities.  Cold turkey had cornered the recovery market.  When NRT arrived the pharmaceutical industry saw no alternative but to attack.  Industry assaults falsely paint stopping nicotine use abruptly or cold turkey as nearly impossible and with very few succeeding. 

Cold turkey is free.  It has no bank account, economic muscle or political clout.  The industry’s attacks, representations and its makeover of cessation literature have gone largely unchallenged.
[9]   Industry influence was soon writing national cessation policy.[10] 

Unopposed, by June 2000 its muscle had grown so powerful that U.S. cessation policy was rewritten so as to make use of pharmaceutical industry cessation products mandatory unless the user’s medical condition prohibited it.
[11]  Amazingly, ending nicotine use abruptly, the method responsible for generating almost 90% of all long-term successful ex-users, was effectively outlawed and blacklisted by official U.S. policy.

Instead of teaching the Law of Addiction and the power of nicotine to foster relapse, the pharmaceutical industry teaches the opposite, that nicotine is “medicine” and that its use is “therapy.”   It has never made a commercial announcing to smokers that it has redefined “quitting smoking” from meaning quitting both smoking and nicotine, to just ending smoking it. 

The pharmaceutical industry has yet to reveal that its almost 200 “quitting medication” studies have nothing to do with drug addicts arresting their chemical dependency.  It has no idea -- worse yet it doesn’t seem to care -- how many former smokers continue to be dependent upon pharmaceutical forms of nicotine delivery at study’s end or have turned to oral tobacco.

That is why it is so important that as recovered addicts we reach out within our sphere of influence to those who are still in nicotine bondage and share the most important lesson of all, “The Law of Addiction.”  Why?  Because being unable to discover the Law due to corporate ambition burying this truth is a horrible reason to remain trapped in bondage with increased risk of dependency induced disease, disability or death.  

Just one rule - “No nicotine today!”

There are hundreds of quitting books with millions of words and scores of quick-fix magic cures promising near painless and sure-fire success.   There is but one principle that affords a 100% guarantee of success to all adhering to it ... “No nicotine today.” 

While the Brandon and Boreland studies afford the junkie-mind an ever so slight amount of wiggle-room on the violation side of “The Law,” there is zero wiggle-room for those of us who fully take it to heart.  It is impossible to fail so long as no nicotine enters our bloodstream.  If we want to live nicotine-free then why toy with horrible odds? 

The Final Truth

Assume for a moment that we made it!  We learned how to remain patient during the few minutes a crave episode clamored for compliance.   We knocked them dead.   We stuck with it for the full 72 hours it took to empty our blood, brain and body of all nicotine.  At last we were clean!  Our healing and glory continued for the roughly two to three weeks it took for our mind to adjust to chemically functioning without nicotine and all the other chemicals that arrived with it.  We confronted and extinguished all but our remote, infrequent or seasonal subconscious crave triggers, and tasted that very first day of total and complete comfort where we never once thought about wanting to use nicotine. 

But still, we have days where our mind becomes occupied with thoughts of lighting a fire between our lips, or of chewing “nicotiana tabacum” (the tobacco plant’s biological name) or of a quick dip in nicotine’s pond.  Years of hard to suppress dopamine “aaah” replenishment memories keep teasing us. 

How does the recovering, rationalizing or bargaining mind’s vision of what it would be like to just once more use nicotine, compare with the realities that occur during relapse?

Recall that the 1990 Brandon study examined lapse and relapse in smokers who’d successfully completed a two-week stop smoking program.  The study also documented the primary emotion felt immediately following smoking nicotine.

Assume that at two weeks into recovery, each who lapsed during the Brandon study had already succeeded in fully navigating physical withdrawal.  Assume that their brains had almost fully re-sensitized.  Reflect on the fact that the addict’s sense of “nicotine normal” no longer existed.  By that I mean, there was no chemical missing, nothing in need of replenishment, the number of acetylcholine receptors had fully down-regulated, and their brain’s sense of homeostasis had been fully restored.  So what was their prime emotion following relapse?

The vast majority had a negative reaction.  Among them, 13% felt depressed and hopeless, 33% experienced anxiety and tension, 16% were angry and irritated, and 12% felt boredom or fatigue.   Only 3.6% reported what most of us would have expected following normal replenishment, which was “feeling relaxed.”

Although some of us hated bondage, there is no denying that each nicotine fix brought relief from falling blood nicotine levels that were beginning to deprive us of a level of dopamine to which we'd grown accustomed.  Each nicotine fix played a vital role in restoring us to a relaxed level of comfort upon which we had each come to depend.

Chronic nicotine use creates its own artificial sense of normalcy, an addiction comfort level. Yes, each fix brought the addict in us a true sense of comfort (from the pains of our own addiction) and yes, most of those memories still remain.  However, one important thing has changed: our brain no longer has a chemical need for nicotine. 

If we visit online quitting forums and dig back through messages describing relapses that occurred beyond week two, most will have a common ring to them.   They read like this, "I had a mouth full of smoke, I was dizzy and I coughed, but I didn’t get the sense of satisfaction I expected. It just didn’t come!" 

The thousands of enticing memories in their mind expected a sense of "aaah" relief from wanting.   But their body and mind had already adjusted to life without nicotine.  There was no need for replenishment as nothing was missing.  The take it or leave it feeling in no way matched the relief felt when satisfying dopamine pathway want.  The need to use just wasn’t there.   Unlike when those old want satisfaction “aaah” memories were created, there was nothing missing, no withdrawal induced anxieties or depression, and nothing that needed replenishing.

Without realizing it, while their conscious mind simply tinkered with the prospect of functioning without nicotine, their body and brain were on a path of real and significant physical healing.   Falsely convinced of the need for nicotine in order to feel normal, while they briefly paused in using it, they did not embrace the prospect of life without it.   They longed for what was left behind, blamed every healing sensation on its absence, and in doing so transformed a culprit into a cure.   So, with great expectations they took that first puff; expectations now shattered. 

So what happens next?  Sadly, most are clueless as to why relapse doesn’t match expectations.  They find it hard not to believe and trust the small mountain of once true replenishment memories still enshrined within their head.  Although relapse has already occurred and their brain will soon be begging for more, they keep digging inside the pack, pouch, tin, packet, tube or box, trying to get the experience to match expectations. 

Sadly, eventually they succeed and use it long enough for replenishment to again be meaningful.   Active dependency has at last been restored to its full-blown freedom shattering rage.  They can then finally look in the mirror and say to themselves, "See, I was right.”  “Smoking did bring me a relaxed “aaah” feeling and a sense of relief!"

It’s important to appreciate that any memories of those "perfect" fixes were created inside the mind of an actively feeding addict who was riding an endless cycle of highs and lows.  They belong to who we once were.  It’s time to let go of the influence of these memories upon us.  There’s just one guiding principle we each need follow  ... No nicotine today! 

Exerpts from a free pdf book by Polito JR entitled
"Freedom from Nicotine - The Journey Home"
Copyright 2008 John R. Polito

[1]  World Health Organization, WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic, 2008, The MPOWER Package, Fresh and Alive, Forward by WHO Director General, 2008.

[2]  U.S. Centers for Disease Control, Cigarette Smoking Among Adults - United States, 2000, Weekly MMWR, July 26, 2002, Volume 51(29), Pages 642-645.

[3]  U.S. Centers for Disease Control, Cigarette Smoking Among Adults - United States, 2007, Weekly MMWR, November 14, 2008, Volume 57(45), Pages 1221-1226.
[4]    Brody AL et al, Cigarette smoking saturates brain alpha 4 beta 2 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, Archives of General Psychiatry, August 2006, Volume 63(8), Pages 907-915.
[5]   Spitzer, J, Is this your first time quitting?  Freedom from Tobacco, Message #92492, December 29, 2001.
[6]    Brandon, TH et al, Postcessation cigarette use: the process of relapse, Addictive Behaviors, 1990; 15(2), pages 105-114.  
[7]    Borland R., Slip-ups and relapse in attempts to quit smoking, Addictive Behaviors, 1990, Volume 15(3), Pages 235-45.
[8]    Spitzer, J, Joel’s Library, The Lucky Ones Get Hooked, 1984,
[9]   Polito, JR, Flawed research equates placebo to cold turkey,, March 12, 2007.

[10]  Helliker, K, Nicotine Fix - Behind Antismoking Policy, Influence of Drug Industry, Wall Street Journal - February 8, 2007, Page A1; also see, Polito JR, U.S. quit smoking policy integrity drowns in pharmaceutical influence,, May 13, 2008.

[11]  Polito, JR, Does updated tobacco treatment "Guideline" reflect sham science?, May 5, 2008.

Predictors of smoking relapse among self-quitters: a report from the Normative Aging Study.
Journal: Addictive Behavior 1992, Volume 17(4), Pages 367-377.

Authors: Garvey AJ, Bliss RE, Hitchcock JL, Heinold JW, Rosner B.
SourceVeterans Administration Medical Center, Boston, MA.

Erratum in Addictive Behaviors 1992 Sep-Oct;17(5):513.


We followed 235 adults for one year after a self-initiated attempt to stop smoking cigarettes. Relapse rates were much larger than expected in the early days and weeks after the quit attempt. Approximately 62% had relapsed by 2 weeks after their quit dates.

Those who smoked any cigarettes at all in the post-cessation period (i.e., lapsed) had a 95% probability of resuming their regular pattern of smoking subsequently. Shorter periods of abstinence on prior quit attempts, greater pre-cessation consumption of alcoholic beverages, and lower pre-cessation levels of confidence in quitting were related to relapse.

In addition, abstainers who reported decreased confidence after cessation concerning their ability to maintain abstinence were more likely to relapse thereafter. The presence of a greater proportion of smokers in the subjects' environment also increased the likelihood of relapse. Demographic variables such as age, gender, and education level did not predict relapse. Likewise, neither baseline psychosocial stress levels, nor post-cessation increases in stress were related prospectively to relapse. Clinical implications of finding are discussed.

PMID:1502970[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

PubMed Link:

Link to full text PDF copy of study: ... ercent.pdf
Last edited by FreedomNicotine on July 26th, 2017, 10:38 am, edited 26 times in total.


March 12th, 2009, 2:40 pm #2

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March 20th, 2009, 8:21 am #3

Being quit for a significant amount of time now, I have forgotten some of the particulars of my early quit. However I still faithfully obey the Law of Addiction by never ingesting nicotine. Though happy as a former smoker I know better than to get too complacent. It's not often, but on the rare occasion when cigarettes do come to mind I'm sure to remind myself how One Equals All. Remembering this and recalling my quitting difficulties keeps my silly curiosities about smoking from going any further. Education really pays off.

Education isn't just reading Joel's articles alone. Its about connecting with people too. Someone I will never forget is Kim. I was here when she lost her battle with cancer. Her struggle taught me to never take my quit for granted. I learned that quitting isn't just fun and games; this is serious business. Our lives are at stake.

There's a reason Freedom requires us to learn the Law of Addiction, because knowing it will not only save your quit early on it will save it and your life long term as well. If I forget everything else on this forum I will always remember that to stay free from nicotine all I ever have to do is Never Take Another Puff.

Keeping the Law of Addiction close at heart,

My name is Tony, and I am a nicotine addict and a proud nonsmoker. I have stopped using nicotine for 5 years, 5 months, 9 days, 20 hours, 4 minutes and 52 seconds (1987 days). I've not smoked 89453 cigarettes, have saved $19,435.00, and added 310 days, 14 hours and 23 minutes to my life.


March 21st, 2009, 2:59 pm #4

Good early morn Tony: you wrote a wonderful letter, it was good to read even being the believer I am.
I'm also into a long time quit and wouldn't consider the ridiculous notion of putting burning material to my mouth or any addictive chemical into my body. The thought is soooo stupid it pales all others.
So anyway just thought I'd tell I like the entire thread.
You were read today in Kauai while waiting for the dawn so I could lace up my running shoes and get on down the road. I had my 68th birthday a few days ago and I assure you I would not be running nor probably alive if I hadn't quit over 8 years ago. I hadn't run in almost a year when I found the courage to step up to Freedom.
Yours, Dionne


May 22nd, 2009, 9:14 am #5

WOW! I certainly put this in my new Favorites folder for Freedom From Nicotine. Thanks alot!

Ann - Free and Healing for Eleven Days and 44 Minutes, while extending my life expectancy 1 Day and 12 Hours, by avoiding the use of 441 nicotine delivery devices that would have cost me $128.02.


May 25th, 2009, 11:55 pm #6

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May 27th, 2009, 12:40 am #7

This is really good stuff here to take in, absorb, and apply to my life. I've been quit a little over a month now and it's easier but it's still a part of me as far as I will always be an addict but I know I can't take not one puff or I'll destroy all I've worked for and accomplished. Besides it's a stupid thing to do to my body. I used to think I deserved a cig now I know I don't deserve a cig and/or nicotene in any form. It has no positive effects or outcomes only if I am addicted then it will feel good to feed the addiction but then I am not in control, it is controlling me. I'm not going to let cigs, nicotene or smoke rule my life, take my breath, take my health, take my life. I'm never going to take another puff, not today if it comes down to it I'll just get through this day and do the same thing tommorow. Thanks for the article it's the positive reinforcement I need instead of negative reinforcement that used to be provided by cigs YYYYYYYYYYYUCK! NTAP (((hugz)))


May 27th, 2009, 9:25 pm #8

I agree so much, Jenni! I could visualize you with your arms up hooraying that message you just wrote. Thank you.

Ann - Free and Healing for Sixteen Days, 12 Hours and 53 Minutes, while extending my life expectancy 2 Days and 7 Hours, by avoiding the use of 661 nicotine delivery devices that would have cost me $191.96.

Joined: November 11th, 2008, 7:22 pm

June 10th, 2009, 11:11 am #9

If you think that one hit of nicotine won't cause your brain to
see using it again as important as eating food, forget it!

If you think that one hit of nicotine will not soon cause
your brain to beg for more, forget it!!

Our brain's reward and punishment circuitry was designed
to make sure that species survival events are not ignored.
Drug addiction is about external chemicals taking these pathways hostage.

Although our dopamine high is accompanied by alert
stimulation instead of numbness, euphoria, speed or
drunkeness, we are true drug addicts in every sense.
We can't kill our addiction. We can only arrest it.
Once hooked, the only remaining question is, on which
side of the bars will we spend the balance of life?

Just one rule ... no nicotine today!

Joined: November 11th, 2008, 7:22 pm

June 30th, 2009, 2:14 pm #10

Experimental model of smoking re-exposure: effects on relapse.
Psychopharmacology (Berlin). 1992; Volume 108(4), Pages 495-500.

Authors:  Chornock WM, Stitzer ML, Gross J, Leischow S.

Source:  Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Francis Scott Key Medical Center, Baltimore, MD 21224.


This study used a short-term laboratory model of smoking cessation and relapse to prospectively examine the effects of programmed self-administered smoking re-exposure during early abstinence.

Sixty-seven subjects who had quit smoking for 3 days were randomly assigned either to smoke five cigarettes in their natural environment or to remain abstinent during the exposure period. The main hypothesis, that relapse to regular smoking would be quicker and more prevalent in exposed subjects, was supported.

All exposed subjects had relapsed by 2 days post-exposure while 16% of unexposed subjects remained continuously abstinent throughout the 8 day study.

This behavioral effect was seen in spite of acute decreases in reported desire to smoke and increases in guilt measured just after exposure. The study supports a role for stimulus re-exposure effects in the relapse process and suggests that additional research on experimental re-exposure is warranted.

PMID:1410165[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

PubMed Link:

There was always only one rule
... no nicotine today!

The next few minutes are all that matter
... and each is doable!
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July 25th, 2009, 1:31 am #11

We may think that we can get away with just one, just once but
within 8 to 10 seconds of that first puff up to 50% of the brain's
a4b2-type nicotinic receptors will become occupied by nicotine,
creating a dopamine "aaah" sensation that our mind's priorities
teacher will record in high definition memory. We may walk
away thinking we've gotten away with just one, just once but
our brain will soon be begging for more! There's only one rule ...

No Nicotine Today!


August 16th, 2009, 11:24 pm #12

Hi to everyone,well I think I finally quit smoking for good this time.I started when I was around 13 and am now 50.I have tried to quit numerous times before but deep down I did'nt want to.I got a scare a few weeks ago,bad sharp pains and a very heavy feeling in my chest.I went to the doctor convinced I had cancer but he did'nt seem concerned after examining me.I asked for a chest ex-ray just to be sure,I havent heard back yet which means good news.I quit the next day and altho it has been tough at times I read and read on here and that helps.I have been quit for 14 days at noon today.

Joined: November 11th, 2008, 7:22 pm

August 17th, 2009, 1:56 am #13

Welcome to the group, BQuit, but more importantly, welcome to freedom! You're the boss now and you call the shots. So long as zero nicotine enters your bloodstream you get to continue living on this side of the bars while keeping your dependency securely arrested on the other. As Joel is fond of reminding us, the true test of nicotine's power isn't how hard it is to quit but how easy it is to relapse.

Let this recovery be your loving gift to you, BQuit. To keep those risks headed in the opposite direction there's only one rule ... no nicotine today! Be proud of how far you've come as there's no guarantee you could ever come this far again.

Breathe deep, hug hard, live long,

John (Gold x10)


August 26th, 2009, 7:25 pm #14

I really do believe this. I finally get it. I can not even think about just cutting back or maybe do smoking when I am with smokers. I can not cheat myself and take one little puff. My addictive mind thoughts would have me going through withdrawl all over again and again. I have made it through 8 days and 1 hour plus 23 min. Thanks to the first 72 hours that I counted down as each hour passed. I know I am going to love being a non smoker. Love to all, Robin


October 10th, 2009, 1:58 am #15

Addiction to Smoking Nicotine
a Mental Illness and Disease
by []John R. Polito[/url][/size]
Schizophrenics commonly hear voices, while dependent smokers sense want for more nicotine. Although the title of this article sounds horrible, romanticizing smoking while denying the existence or nature of dependency lures youth into getting hooked, and dooms millions to early graves. The good news is that freedom from nicotine is vastly more rewarding than the dread-filled message playing inside the fooled addict's diseased mind.

According to Dr. Nora D. Volkow, Director of the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), "drug addiction is a mental illness. It is a complex brain disease characterized by compulsive, at times uncontrollable drug craving, seeking, and use despite devastating consequences - behaviors that stem from drug-induced changes in brain structure and function."

Five million smokers annually smoke themselves to death. Every puff destroys additional tissues while introducing up to 81 cancer causing chemicals. Smoking claims half of adult smokers and is projected to kill one billion before century's end. Here in the U.S., males claimed by smoking lose an average of 13 years of life, while females lose 14. Frankly, there's no nice way of saying it. Smokers are committing slow suicide, and they know it. But why?

These photos of 34 year-old Bryan Lee Curtis were taken 66 days apart.
As shown, small cell lung cancer is extremely aggressive. One-quarter
of adult smokers are claimed by their addiction during middle-age.

Smoking nicotine is extremely addictive. An alarming 26% of youth report signs of loss of control over continued smoking after just 3 to 4 cigarettes, rising to 44% after 5 to 9 cigarettes. There's growing consensus among addiction experts that nicotine dependency is as permanent as alcoholism, that it hijacks the same brain dopamine pathways as illegal drugs, and that successfully arresting nicotine dependency is as hard or harder than quitting heroin.

Dr. Volkow's 1999 brain imaging study showed smoked nicotine's amazingly quick arrival time, its stimulation of dopamine pathways, and how cigarette smoke diminishes MAO (a killjoy enzyme), making smoked nicotine possibly the most perfectly designed drug of addiction. Not only does nicotine stimulate dopamine release within ten seconds of a puff, suppression of MAO and normal dopamine clean-up allows it to linger far longer than a natural release, such as occurs when eating food or quenching thirst.

More recently, scientists have documented how nicotine physically alters the brain. Nicotine activates, saturates and desensitizes dopamine pathway receptors, which is followed by growth or activation of millions of extra receptors, a process known as up-regulation. One cigarette per day, then two, then three, the longer nicotine is smoked, the more receptors become saturated and desensitized, the more grown, and the more nicotine needed to satisfy resulting "want" for replenishment.
According to Dr. Volkow, addiction is a disease where brain changes translate into an inability to control drug intake. These drug induced brain modifications then signal the brain with a message that's equivalent to "when you are starving," the signal to "seek food and eat it," that the drug is "necessary to survival."

Dr. Volkow has documented how the brain's dopamine system makes us take notice and "pay attention" to critical survival events such as food, water and reproduction, how it generates extremely durable memories, its effects upon motivation and drive, and how certain drugs like nicotine are able to take the system hostage. As Dr. Volkow puts it, dopamine ensures "long-lasting memory of salient events."

A true priority or "wanting" disease, it's why the dependent user seems deaf to their loved one's pleas to quit, and blind to articles such as this.

What right do any of us have to expect to awaken them to truth when their mind's priorities teacher is pounding home the contrary message that smoking nicotine is as important as eating food? Whom should they believe, us or their mental illness? It doesn't mean we'll stop trying.

Dr. Volkow teaches that drug addiction damages impulse control, the ability of the rational, thinking mind to control unhealthy impulses flowing from the primitive limbic mind. "So, it's like when the brakes in your car don't function, and an onlooker says, 'You should have stopped at the red light! Why didn't you brake?'"

Priorities hijacked, their mental disorder leaves them convinced that smoking nicotine defines who they are, gives them their edge, helps them cope, that life without it would be horrible, that quitting would mean endless suffering and feeling deprived for the rest of their life.

The Good News

The good news is that it's all a lie, that drug addiction is about living a lie. It's hard work being an actively feeding drug addict, and comfortable again being you. The good news is that knowledge is power, that we can each grow smarter than our addiction is strong, and that recovery is entirely do-able. In fact, today there are more ex-smokers in the U.S. than smokers.

While the first few days may feel like an emotional train wreck, beyond them, with each passing day the challenges grow fewer, generally less intense and shorter in duration. Recovery leads to a calm and quiet mind where addiction chatter and wanting gradually fade into rarity, where the ex-smoker begins going days, weeks or even months without once wanting for nicotine.

Recovery is good, not bad. It needs to be embraced not feared. The good news is that everything done while under nicotine's influence can be done as well or better without it.

"Our brain has tremendous capacity for recovery," says Dr. Volkow. But the addicted person "has to take responsibility that they have a disease."

While no cure for the disease, there is only one rule that if followed provides a 100% guarantee of success in arresting it -- no nicotine today.

Successful Recovery

Each year, more successful ex-smokers stop smoking cold turkey than all other methods combined. Their common thread? No nicotine, just one hour, challenge and day at a time. The common element among all who relapsed? A puff of nicotine.

On a conscious level, roughly 70% of daily smokers want to stop. But few understand how and even fewer appreciate that they're dealing with a permanent priorities disorder and disease of the mind. Instead, they invent justifications and rationalizations to explain why they must smoke that next cigarette. Subconsciously, they've established nicotine use cues. Their use cues trigger urges or craves upon encountering a specific time, place, person, situation or emotion during which they've trained their mind to expect a new supply of nicotine. But the catalyst and foundation for both conscious rationalizations and subconscious conditioning is their underlying chemical dependency.

Trapped between nicotine's two-hour elimination half-life and a gradually escalating need to smoke harder or more, the dependent smoker faces five primary recovery hurdles: (1) appreciation for where they now find themselves, (2) reclaiming their hijacked dopamine pathways, (3) breaking and extinguishing smoking cues, (4) abandoning smoking rationalizations, and (5) relapse prevention.

The Law of Addiction

Most quitting literature suggests that it normally takes multiple failed quit smoking attempts before the smoker self-discovers the key to success. What they don't tell you is the lesson eventually learned, or that it can be learned and mastered during the very first attempt.

Successful recovery isn't about strength or weakness. It's about a mental disorder where by chance and happenstance dopamine pathway receptors have eight times greater attraction to nicotine than the receptor's own neurotransmitter, where just one puff and within ten seconds up to 50% of those receptors become occupied by nicotine. It's called the "Law of Addiction" and it states, "Administration of a drug to an addict will cause reestablishment of chemical dependence upon the addictive substance."

Roughly half of relapsing quitters report thinking that they thought they could get away with smoking just once. The benefit of fully accepting that we have a true chemical dependency and permanent priorities disease can't be overstated. It greatly simplifies recovery's rules while helping protect against relapse. Key to arresting our disease is obedience to one simple concept, that "one is too many and a thousand never enough." There was always only one rule, no nicotine just one hour, challenge and day at a time

Navigating Withdrawal and Reclaiming Hijacked Dopamine Pathways

Like clockwork, constantly falling nicotine reserves soon had hostage dopamine pathways generating "want" for more. Sensing that "want" thousands of times per year, how could we not expect the dependent smoker to equate quitting to starving yourself to death? The essence of drug addiction is about dependency quickly burying all memory of the pre-dependency self. The first step in coming home and again meeting the real us is emptying the body of nicotine.

It's surprisingly fast too. The amount of nicotine remaining in the bloodstream is cut by half every two hours. The new ex-user experiences peak withdrawal and becomes 100% nicotine-free within 72 hours of ending all use. Extraction complete, healing can now begin. While receptor sensitivities are quickly restored, down-regulation of the number of receptors to levels seen in non-smokers may take up to 21 days. But after two to three weeks the ex-user's dependency is no longer doing the talking.

It's critical during early withdrawal to not skip meals, especially breakfast. Attempting to do so will likely cause blood sugar levels to plummet, making recovery far more challenging than need be.

Nicotine is a stimulant that activates the body's fight or flight response, feeding the smoker instant energy by pumping stored fats and sugars into the bloodstream. It allowed us to skip breakfast and/or lunch without experiencing low blood sugar symptoms such as feeling nervous or jittery, trembling, irritability, anxiousness, anger, confusion, difficulty thinking or an inability to concentrate. Eat little, healthy and often.

Also, heavy caffeine users need to know that (as strange as this sounds), nicotine doubles the rate by which caffeine is removed from the bloodstream. One cup of coffee, tea or one cola may now feel like two. While most caffeine users can handle a doubling of intake, consider a modest reduction of up to one-half if feeling anxious or irritable after using caffeine.

If your diet and health permit, drink some form of natural fruit juice use for the first three days. Cranberry juice is excellent. It will aid in stabilizing blood sugar while accelerating removal of the alkaloid nicotine from the bloodstream.

One caution. While we need not give-up any activity except nicotine use, use extreme caution with early alcohol use as it is associated with roughly 50% of all relapses.

Extinguishing Use Conditioning

Embrace recovery don't fear it. Why fear a temporary journey of re-adjustment that transports us to a point in time where we're going days, weeks and eventually months without wanting to smoke nicotine?

Each cue driven crave episode presents an opportunity to extinguish additional conditioning and reclaim another aspect of life. We may have trained our mind to expect nicotine during stressful events, when walking in the back yard, while driving a car, talking on the phone or encountering a smoking friend. Attempting these activities after quitting may generate a short yet possibly powerful crave episode.

Success in moving beyond each episode awards the new ex-user return of another slice of a nicotine-free life, a surprising sense of calm during crisis, return of their yard, car, phone or friends. But be sure and look at a clock during craves as cessation time distortion can combine with fear or even panic to make a less than 3 minute episode feel much longer.

Research suggests that the average quitter experiences a maximum of 6 crave episodes per day on the third day of quitting, declining to about 1.4 per day by day ten. If each crave is less than 3 minutes and the average quitter experiences a maximum of 6 on their most challenging day, can you handle 18 minutes of challenge?

But what if you're not average or normal. What if, instead, you've created twice as many nicotine use cues as the "average" smoker? Can you handle 36 minutes of significant challenge if it means arresting your dependency, improving your mental and physical health and the prospect of a significant increase in life expectancy? Absolutely!

Abandonment of Use Rationalizations

Acceptance that drug addiction is a mental disorder and that we're just as addicted as the alcoholic, heroin or meth addict, destroys the need for nicotine use rationalizations. Try this. List your top ten reasons for smoking. Now go back and cross off all the reasons except the truth, that hijacked pay attention pathways kept us wanting for more.

We didn't continue destroying our body's ability to receive and transport life giving oxygen because we wanted to. We did so because a rising tide of withdrawal anxieties would begin to hurt when we didn't.

Contrary to convenience store tobacco marketing, we did not smoke for flavor or taste. In fact, there are zero taste buds inside human lungs. Contrary to hundreds of store "pleasure" signs, drug addiction isn't about seeking pleasure but about satisfying a brain "wanting" disorder.

Our mind's priorities disorder had most of us convinced that we liked or even loved smoking. But what basis did we have for making honest comparisons? Try hard to recall the calm inside your mind prior to getting hooked, going days, weeks and months without once having an urge or crave to smoke. You can't do it, can you? Vivid dopamine pathway nicotine use memories long ago buried all remaining memory of the beauty of life without nicotine. It isn't that we liked smoking but that we didn't like what happened when we didn't smoke, the onset of withdrawal.

Most of us convinced ourselves that we smoked to relieve stress when in reality our addiction intensified it. While nicotine is an alkaloid, stress, alcohol and vitamin C are each acid generating events that accelerate elimination of nicotine from the bloodstream. Stressful situations would often induce early withdrawal, forcing immediate nicotine replenishment. Replenishment's temporary silencing of our disease left us falsely convinced that smoking had relieved our stress, when all it had relieved was nicotine's absence and the onset of early withdrawal.

Think about it. Once we finished tanking-up with a new supply of nicotine and had satisfied our dependency, the car's tire was still flat, or the bad news was still bad. One of the greatest recovery gifts of all is an amazing sense of calm during crisis, as we're no longer adding nicotine withdrawal atop every stressful event.

Probably the most destructive rationalization of all is pretending that all we suffer from is a nasty little habit, that like using a cuss word now and then, that we can smoke just once now and then after quitting and get away with it.

Why tease yourself? Willpower cannot stop smoked nicotine from arriving in the brain. Ask yourself, how many marathon runners have the endurance to run two marathons in a row? While we may walk away from one puff and relapse thinking we've gotten away with it, as sure as the sun rises in the sky our disease will soon be begging for more. We can no more take a puff than an alcoholic can take a sip.

"But now just isn't the right time," you say? Frankly, there will never be a perfect time to arrest mental illness. In fact, planning and putting it off until some future date actually breeds needless anticipation anxieties that diminish our odds of success. As backwards as this sounds, two recent studies, one in the UK and the other in the US, found that unplanned attempts are twice as successful as planned ones. The next few minutes are all within our ability to control and each is entirely do-able.

One concern Dr. Volkow hears is that by telling smokers that they have an addiction that's both a mental illness and disease that it will cause some to use it as an excuse for avoiding responsibility for arresting it. But as she notes, does a person who's told that they have cancer or heart disease pretend helplessness, or do they instead fight to save and extend their life?

Nicotine dependency recovery can be the greatest personal awakening we've ever known. Destruction of needless fears allow us to savor the beauty unfolding before us. Our breathing and taste buds healing, even white flour and rain drops have smell. It's a clean ash free world where the the oil on our skin isn't tar's but ours. Imagine the return of self respect, of being home and residing here on Easy Street with hundreds of millions of comfortable ex-users, of knowing it's a keeper, and never having to quit again.

Relapse Prevention

"One day at a time" is an empowering focus accomplishment skill. Why worry about how much of the mountain is left to climb or how far we could fall when all that matters is our grip upon here and now, the next few minutes? Combining the "Law of Addiction" with a "one day at a time" recovery philosophy is all that's needed to remain free and keep our mind's priorities disease arrested for life.

The greatest unsolved mystery is why after having successfully quit for 5, 10 or even 30 years that it normally only takes a single lapse in judgment - smoking on just one occasion - to trigger full and complete relapse. What makes our disease permanent? Did years of smoking somehow burn or etch permanent tracks into our brain? Does new nicotine somehow turn on our addiction switch? Once the brain restores natural receptor counts (down-regulates), is some record kept of how many receptors there once were? Or, does one powerful hit of nicotine simply awaken thousands of old memories of an addict having "wanted" for more?

Frankly, science doesn't yet know. What it does know is that it's impossible to fail so long as all nicotine remains on the outside. There was always only one rule, no nicotine, just one hour, challenge and day at a time. The next few minutes are yours to command and each is entirely do-able. Baby steps to glory. Yes you can!
Last edited by FreedomNicotine on December 31st, 2010, 3:38 pm, edited 3 times in total.


November 7th, 2009, 8:13 am #16

Just doing some revision on the Law of Addiction - some prep for the weekend.
I have a university degree but have always been wary of the value of this thing called getting "an education".
I have always had a huge respect for knowledge tho.
But the true Power of Knowledge has only really hit home when I found & explored this site - and then amazingly, quit smoking!!!!!!!!
With Love & Gratitude
Stopped Smoking for Twenty Eight Days, 15 Hours and 27 Minutes, by avoiding the use of 945 nicotine delivery devices. Quit Day : 09/10/2009.


November 11th, 2009, 1:05 am #17

I agree. The way whyquit and FFN is layed out it makes it pretty clear that one needs to quit. I guess I milled aroung for about 3 days reading till I made the sudden decision to give them up. I have been trying to quit and thinking about quiting for sometime. The way that it lays out the raw truth is an eye opener. I think that people need to be shown the reality of smokeing and what it does to ones body. It jerked me right into reality that I may very well die and it may just be to late to save me from the damage to my body from years of abuse that I have put it through with all the smokeing. I have quit now and will never again take another puff.

I have been quit for 1 Week, 6 Days, 3 hours, 5 minutes and 44 seconds (13 days). I have saved $123.14 by not smoking 367 cigarettes. I have saved 1 Day, 6 hours and 35 minutes of my life. My Quit Date: 10/28/2009 2:00 PM


Joined: November 11th, 2008, 7:22 pm

January 4th, 2010, 8:48 pm #18

There was always only one rule ... NONE  =  NO Nicotine Ever!
Last edited by JohnPolito on July 26th, 2017, 10:40 am, edited 1 time in total.

Joined: November 11th, 2008, 7:22 pm

April 12th, 2010, 6:38 pm #19

A recent dependency study summary of note
Tobacco addiction: a biochemical
model of nicotine dependence

Journal:  Medical Hypotheses. 2010 May; Volume 74(5): Pages 884-894. Epub 2009 Dec 3.
Authors:  Ortells MO, Barrantes GE.
Facultad de Medicina, Universidad de Morón - Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET), Argentina. [][/url]

Nicotine is the main psychoactive substance present in tobacco, targeting in the CNS the nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChR). The main effects of nicotine associated with smoking are nAChR upregulation, nAChR desensitization and modulation of the dopaminergic system. However, there is a lack of a comprehensive explanation of their roles that effectively makes clear how nicotine dependence might be established on those grounds.

Receptor upregulation is an unusual effect for a drug of abuse, because theoretically this implies less need for drug consumption. Receptor upregulation and receptor desensitization are commonly viewed as opposite, homeostatic mechanisms.

We here analyze the available information under a model in which both receptor upregulation and receptor desensitization are responsible for establishing a mechanism of nicotine dependence, consequently having an important role in starting and maintaining tobacco addiction.

We propose that negative feedbacks on dopamine release regulated by alpha4beta2 nAChRs are disrupted by nicotine. nAChR desensitization is the disrupting mechanism, while nAChR upregulation is the reinforcing process of nicotine dependence, which eventually initiates tobacco addiction. A conclusion of the model is that drugs used for smoking cessation should inhibit preferentially alpha4beta2 nAChRs and to have a low or null ability to upregulate nAChRs, as this characteristic allows the smoker to achieve downregulation without abstinence symptoms. A relationship between this hypothesis and smoking and schizophrenia is also discussed.

PubMed Link:


September 3rd, 2010, 4:47 pm #20

A wise businessman I worked for, way back before laptops were around, used to carry his business around in his shirt pocket, he would say. There, on an index card, he had the five or six essential things he felt he needed to know, about where biz was strong, where it needed work, etc. Nowadays most of us have laptops, PDAs, etc. But my old boss' idea still packs a lot of punch for me. And I hope to distill what I learn on this site down to a half-dozen or so Master Principles.

The Law of Addiction, of course, will always rule the roost.

Joined: November 11th, 2008, 7:22 pm

December 31st, 2010, 3:44 pm #21

I'll never be stronger than nicotine but then I don't need to be as it's only a chemical with an IQ of zero.  What I can do is become vastly more dependency recovery savvy than my addiction is strong! 

Yes you can!!!!

Joined: November 11th, 2008, 7:22 pm

June 7th, 2011, 9:38 pm #22

The below new study followed 63 quitters assigned to two different groups for 14 days but only examined relapses which occurred within the first 9 days .  One group was encouraged to not lapse while the other was told to smoke two of their own brand of cigarettes at 48 hours.  In that it only looked at the first nine days of quitting, the study's most important finding was the effect of smoking those two cigarettes on changes in craving.    The study found that although lapse initially diminished cravings (as would be expected following nicotine replenishment) that thereafter episode craving within the lapse group esclated :
"Among participants in the lapse condition, the hazard of relapse was estimated to be 12 times higher (12.42, 95% CI [2.00, 77.1] .007) after experiencing an increase in craving than it was among participants in the control condition who experienced stable craving."

Here's two more quotes from the full text of the study:

[P]eriods of abstinence following a lapse are typically short-lived: nearly every smoker who lapses eventually relapses (Brandon, Tiffany, Obremski, & Baker, 1990; Chornock, Stitzer, Gross, & Leischow, 1992; Garvey, Bliss, Hitchcock, Heinold, & Rosner, 1992).

From the Discussion portion of the paper:

The results of the current study, in combination with the results of other experimental studies (Chornock et al., 1992; Juliano et al., 2006), firmly establish that lapse has a causal relationship to relapse in smokers. The current study goes beyond these previous studies in that it provides new information about mediating mechanisms that link smoking lapses to relapses. Compared with participants in the no-lapse condition, participants who were assigned to lapse experienced an initial acute decrease in craving followed by a significant surge in craving. The surges in craving experienced by those in the lapse condition, which were observed after controlling for their baseline craving levels, explained their faster rate of relapse relative to participants in the control condition.

The field of tobacco control has long struggled to understand why smoking lapses nearly always lead to relapses. As a result, cognitive– behavioral and pharmacological interventions have had little success in helping smokers to avoid relapse.

The final point above suggests the importance of treating lapse as relapse, versus conventional quitting wisdom which invites lapse/relapse by teaching quitters,  "Don't be discouraged if you slip up and smoke one or two cigarettes. It's not a lost cause," "One cigarette is better than an entire pack, "  "Understand that you've had a slip. You've had a small setback. This doesn't make you a smoker again, " and "Don't be too hard on yourself. One slip up doesn't make you a failure."  

As Joel says, it's like telling an alcoholic not to let a sip now and then put you back to drinking or a heroin addict not to allow shooting up put you back to using.  That's horrible advice.  What this study adds to the knowledge base is what most of us already knew.   That while most who lapse walk away from it thinking that they've gotten away with using just once, that their brain will soon be begging for more.  There was always only one rule ... no nicotine today,  never take another puff, dip or chew!

Breathe deep, hug hard, live long,

John - Gold x12

Lapse-induced surges in craving influence relapse in adult smokers: An experimental investigation
Health Psychology, 2011 May 16. [Epub ahead of print]
Shadel WG, Martino SC, Setodji C, Cervone D, Witkiewitz K, Beckjord EB, Scharf D, Shih R.
Abstract Objectives: Nearly all smokers who lapse experience a full-blown relapse, but the mediating mechanisms that contribute to this relationship are not well understood. A better understanding of these mechanisms would help to advance more effective relapse prevention treatments for smokers. The purpose of this study is to experimentally evaluate the effects of a programmed smoking lapse on smoking relapse and the effects of postlapse changes in craving on relapse.

Method: Adult smokers (n = 63) who quit smoking with a brief cognitive-behavioral intervention and self-help materials were randomly assigned to one of two experimental conditions after 48 h of abstinence: No lapse (a no-smoking control/30-min waiting period) or lapse (smoking two cigarettes of their favored brand during a 30-min period). All participants were then followed daily for 14 days. Craving and biochemically verified self-reported abstinence were assessed on each follow-up day. Time (days) to relapse (7 consecutive days of smoking) was the main dependent measure.

Results: Results of Cox regression analysis revealed that participants in the lapse condition relapsed more quickly than participants in the no-lapse condition (hazard ratio

= 2.12, 95% confidence interval [CI] = [1.03, 4.35]). These effects were attributable, in part, to episodic increases in craving among participants in the lapse condition only (HR = 12.42, 95% CI =[2.00, 77.1]).

Conclusions: Previously abstinent smokers who lapse are at risk for increased cigarette cravings and consequently, full-blown relapse. These results have implications for both cognitive-behavioral treatments for relapse prevention and for medications designed to help smokers manage cravings. [/size][/font]

PubMed Link:


Joined: November 11th, 2008, 7:22 pm

January 2nd, 2012, 4:36 pm #23

Success is 100% guaranteed so long as all nicotine remains on the outside!

The next few moments are all you can control and each is do-able!

Yes you can!



February 6th, 2012, 11:13 pm #24

12 days 19hrs not smoking and feeling pretty good!!! Glad to be here I've been reading from these sites for along time finally decided to quit on jan 24/2012. I had one previous quit about 6years ago that didn't last very long , the funny thing was I was doing very well and than thought why not try one puff from a friend at work(just to see if I remembered what it tasted like) the rest is 6yrs of smoking history. I'v been smoking roughly 32 years. Hoping all the newbies and the oldies stay smoke free forever!and praying the ones that haven't quit yet will realize how very doable it is and find themselves on the rd to better health and freedom now.!!!


May 29th, 2012, 8:08 pm #25

Great info!