Crave episodes: the bigger the better

John (Gold)

January 11th, 2006, 9:54 pm#1

Craves episodes: the bigger the better
Although the above crave episode chart reflects averages of quitter data from a specific study of a unique population, it shows two factors common to every recovery: that the number of daily crave episodes (those mini panic attacks) will peak, and that they will then begin to gradually decline. I'd like to focus on the decline.

Nicotine's two-hour half-life inside human blood serum combined with dependency onset (initial neuronal saturation, desensitization and loss of use autonomy) and tolerance (the mind's continuing desensitization to the presence of increasing amounts of nicotine - known as a4b2 receptor count upregulation) to compel each of us to seek regular nicotine replenishment. Without even realizing it, we each selected our own unique nicotine feeding patterns in order to avoid sensing the arrival of urges and anxieties associated with the onset of early nicotine withdrawal.

Unless hiding in a closet or locked up in a hospital room, we had no choice but to meet, greet, defeat and extinguish the bulk of our subconscious mind's normal daily nicotine feeding cues within the first week. The early stream of battles in extinguishing our normal daily primary use cues kept us on our toes, prepared and ready, on a moment's notice to swing into action.

The above graph shows that by the 10th day the average quitter was experiencing just 1.4 crave episodes per day. That translates to less than five minutes of serious challenge. But what about the days that follow? What would be the normal, natural and expected consequences of beginning to go entire days without encountering an un-extinguished crave trigger? What would happen to anticipation, your preparedness, your defenses, battle plans and your recovery guard?

For purposes of discussion only, let's pretend that during days 14, 15 and 16, that although you remained occupied in dealing with highly controllable conscious thoughts about wanting to smoke, that you did not encounter any un-extinguished nicotine feeding cue. Although unlikely that you'd notice, wouldn't it be normal to begin to relax and slowly lower your guard?

And then it happens. On day 17 you encounter a subconscious crave trigger that wasn't part of normal daily life. It catches you totally unprepared, off-guard and surprised. You scramble to muster your defenses but it's as if they too are being swallowed by a fast moving tsunami of rising anxieties. You feel as if you've been sucker-punched hard by the most intense crave ever.  It feels endless. Your conscious thinking mind tells you that things are getting worse, not better. The thought of throwing in the towel and giving-up suddenly begins sloshing through a horrified mind.

It is then, when things seem worst, that we need to briefly pause and reflect upon what we're really seeing. Things are not getting worse but better. Think about how long it's been since your last significant challenge and how relaxed you had allowed yourself to become. It's likely that this episode is no more intense than prior craves. But you'd taken off your life jacket and you couldn't quickly locate and put it on. You panicked.

If an event similar should happen to you I'd encourage you to stop, reflect and then celebrate!!! You've reclaimed so many once conditioned aspects of a nicotine dependent life that serious challenges are growing rare. Oh, you'll still encounter remote or possibly even seasonal triggers but with the passing of time they'll grow further apart, shorter in duration and generally less intense.

Try to keep a clock handy as recovery time distortion is very real and a less than three minute episode can feel much longer. None of us will ever be stronger than nicotine but then we don't need to be as it's simply a chemical with an IQ of zero. Trust your dreams to your vastly superior intelligence, your greatest weapon of all.

Still just one guiding principle, a principle that no matter how far we travel or how deep our comfort becomes will always remain our common bond ... no nicotine today, Never Take Another Puff!

John (Gold x6)

 
Last edited by John (Gold) on October 13th, 2012, 11:05 am, edited 1 time in total.
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ChurnedSue

January 13th, 2006, 9:57 pm#2

Very helpful
Sue
Nicotine free since 12 .15 am 1/1/2006
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John (Gold)

January 18th, 2006, 8:39 pm#3



Be prepared for a natural transition where you begin coming out of your war mode and lowering your guard. If any crave episode feels worse than before, stop, reflect on the date of your last real challenge and then celebrate!



 
Last edited by John (Gold) on October 13th, 2012, 11:08 am, edited 2 times in total.
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FoolishWorkinj

January 20th, 2006, 11:16 pm#4

This was really helpful to me today.
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0124tracyquits

February 9th, 2006, 10:15 am#5

Thank you John!! I love this post!

I am the newbie who has recently been bragging about how easy I feel my quit has been to date (11 Days, 5 Hours and 5 Minutes). Today, I had my hardest day so far. I can recall at least 2 crave episodes where I was really beginning to "wig-out". It took me totally by surprise and I had no real explanation for why today should have been any different than the last 11 days. (My routine and regular triggers haven't changed at all) but WHAM...out of the blue...there was the monster breathing down my neck.

I decided to come to the Freedom site and read, post or anything to get my mind off of cigarettes. Then one of the first threads I came across was this one and these words (your words) explained it all. Thank you, thank you!!

Tracy - Free and Healing for Eleven Days, 5 Hours and 14 Minutes. I have extended my life by 18 Hours by avoiding the use of 224 cigarettes that would have cost me $82.61.
And then it happens. On day 17 you encounter a subconscious crave trigger that wasn't part of normal daily life. It catches you totally unprepared, off-guard and surprised. You scramble to muster your defenses but it's as if they too are being swallowed by a fast moving tsunami of rising anxieties. You feel as if you've been sucker-punched hard by the most intense crave ever. It feels endless. Your conscious thinking mind tells you that things are getting worse, not better. The thought of throwing in the towel and giving-up suddenly begins sloshing through a horrified mind.

It is then, when things seem worst, that we need to briefly pause and reflect upon what we're really seeing. Things are not getting worse but better. Think about how long it's been since your last significant challenge and how relaxed you've allowed yourself to become. It's likely that this episode is no more intense than prior craves. But you'd taken off your life jacket and you couldn't quickly locate it and put it on. You panicked.

If an event similar should happen to you I'd encourage you to stop, reflect and then celebrate!!! You've reclaimed so many once conditioned aspects of a nicotine dependent life that serious challenges are growing rare. Oh you'll still encounter remote or even seasonal triggers but with the passing of time they'll grow further apart, shorter in duration and generally less intense.
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JJGambino

February 24th, 2006, 4:27 am#6

regarding above post in blue: I hope so, because it's really something. I stopped using nicotine on 2/1/06 at 8 am. The cravings have gotten fewer and further between, but when they do come....it's like a punch in the face!! Everytime, I feel that I almost might.....but I don't. When the craving hits, it's almost like it doesn't matter how long I've been quit for. I'm in that moment at that time and I'm soooo close to relapse. Like the grip is only loosened. I guess this will get better with time though.
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vbede772

February 24th, 2006, 5:01 am#7

I had some major fights up until week 6...I nearly told myself I couldn't keep living like that and was about ready to give up. I was tired of fighting. I came here and read and read some more. I decided to give it one more day. I did the same thing the next day and the next. At some unknown time during that tough period I stopped fighting without knowing it. I realized that the quit was somehow easier and more comfortable...not total comfort---but very close.

Looking back now from 4 months quit I can definitely say I am glad I stuck with it. It's so very worth it. I can breathe freely now. I am not tied to any particular place--I can go anywhere and stay as long as I want. There is nothing I "need" to go get every night, or morning or whatever. I can sit in a meeting for 3 hours in comfort. I alone make the decisions...no drug has any power over my thoughts. I am truly free for the first time in 15 years.

You must resolve just to NTAP for the moment you are in...and just keep doing that over and over until you get to a time when you aren't having to fight so hard. If there is one easy trend to spot among the quitters it is that with time the quit only gets better and easier. I had to realize I wasn't different. I had to do my suffering and facing of the truth just like anyone else here. I'm an addict. I used cigarettes for nicotine...period. Nicotine and the chemicals in cigarettes will likely kill you and will definitely make your life miserable even if they don't. Do not romanticize your addiction---there is nothing romantic about it. See it for what it really was---an expensive, dirty, life-threatening addiction and let it go.

I'm not yet at the comfort I hear of from the long time quitters. I don't think I have had that magical day where I don't have any thoughts about my quit or smoking or whatever yet. This is not to say I am not comfortable...I very much am for 23 hrs and 59 mins per day.

I wish I could let "younger" quitters into my mind for a day---then they would know to stick with their quits. But I can't. You just have to trust me...and the many many other longer term quitters here that it will get better...it's not always going to be the struggle it is for you today or tomorrow or next week.

And remember...you are doing just fine as long as you NTAP. You ARE in control of what you do. You do have a choice in the matter. Rationally, there is only one thing to do---and that is NTAP. There is no valid reason for a relapse. I understand tough times---cry, scream, squeeze a pair of socks---whatever you must do---but NTAP and you will get to feel comfort someday soon.

Jeff, 4 months, 7 days nicotine free
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JoeJFree Gold

February 24th, 2006, 6:41 am#8

Wise words indeed Jeff.
We don't find comfort, it finds us when we are willing to allow it entry.

I see the word "Crave" bandied about here alot lately. Craves are physical in nature and are actually very rare in a quit after the first two weeks. Can they happen after that time? Yes. They are anxiety based for the most part and come on when our minds are allowed to escalate thoughts of smoking into something akin to a want or desire to use a cigarette. But I ask you WHY (not you Jeff) are you allowing that to happen?
Once nicotine is removed there is no Need for the chemical. Thoughts, and in some fashion, desires will remain for quite awhile. I still have 'smoking' thoughts of one kind or another. So What!

What you need to ask yourself - young quitter - is will you ever want to go back to ingesting nicotine and rekindling your addiction more than you want to never be ensnared by the grip of nicotine addiction agian.

Jeff tells true, we all do who have gone beyond wanting.
Comfort will come to all who keep their personal pledge to NTAP.

Thanks for the great affirming post Jeff.

Be Free, it's the way you're supposed to be.
There is no legitimate reason to relapse.

I have not had a flutter in my heartbeat, feel it in my gut have to breathe deep and slow crave since a few days before my Bronze milestone passing. I may have one again, I may not. I've had thoughts and urges reminders to be sure.

But there is no thought or urge or even an honest to goodness have to grab my knees and grit my teeth crave that would cause me to give up my long sought Freedom From Tobacco by lighting up or taking a dip. No way never never uh uh uh.

How bout You?

JoeJ Free - NicotineFree and Living as I was meant to be for One Year, One Month, Thirteen Days, 7 Hours and 19 Minutes, while reclaiming 35 Days and 12 Hours,  by choosing not to use 10233 nicotine delivery devices that would have cost me $2,055.32.
Last edited by JoeJFree Gold on October 13th, 2012, 11:15 am, edited 1 time in total.
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KatieDidIt1999

February 24th, 2006, 7:46 am#9

JoeJ,
You said "I have not had a flutter in my heartbeat, feel it in my gut have to breathe deep and slow crave since a few days before my Bronze milestone passing." I don't have to tell you how much good it did me to hear that because I know you've been where I am. It's probably the most fantastic thing I've heard all week. Thank you for writing it.
Kat
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JoeJFree Gold

February 24th, 2006, 9:08 am#10

Kat,

You are welcome. I would like to add that I had that reaction MAYBE a total of 8 times from day one. The first 6 were in the first two weeks. Read my journal, the story of the last 'Biggie' is in there.

I'll also let you know that I had nearly those same type anxiety attacks (yep that's what the are not really craves for a drug no longer in play) nearly every time I seriously would begin thinking about getting rid of 'my cigs'.

Little did I know that worrying about quitting was much worse than the actual temporary period of adjustment we commonly call quitting. I never was able to break free until I paid the 72 hour price of admission to Freedom forum and became nicotine clean. As soon as I regained control I knew I was gonna make my way back to the real me I'd left behind in my childhood. By simply NTAP, no matter what. The logic is irrefuable.

In my mind the most important part of my message and Jeff's as well is that comfort comes to all who are stubbornly determined enough to get through a couple of tough patches and break on through to a calm state of mind that will bring a lifetime of comfort being who we were meant to be by staying nicotine free. It really is as elemental as NTAP.

Joe
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Flo Babe

June 17th, 2006, 5:13 am#11

JoeJ - it's funny you should ask. This is One Month plus one for me today and perhaps it's the way it is - always after a week, two weeks, a month etc. that the crave comes but I've had a couple today and it's remained all day actually. I've been trying to figure it out. Perhaps you can help. It's like this. Today is a birthday for one of our co-workers. There is a festive feel in the air. I want a cigarette. I know this. It's not a glucose thing. It's a want of a cigarette - the 'perfect' one you know? When you've waited and you are primed for it and you have it and it is that 'ahhh' smoke? I go for a walk. I take deep breaths. I wait for it to pass. I go on this site. Read. Fortify. I'm not craving like in the first 72 hours sort of thing. Don't get me wrong. But it's a definite something as I said. I figure it will pass. It seems to hang around all day. It is now 2:00 and I want one now. I won't have one though but it's bothersome. I feel restless. Want that cigarette.

Perhaps it's this place. My smoke buddy, the way I was before I quit, the way things were before I quit wants to come back. I'm actually fighting the old me. No. I'm fighting the me that hates confrontation. I want to give in. Go back to that person so everything will be safe and hunky dory as it was before I quit.

Now, I am just brimming over with health and self-esteem. I am thinking of quitting this place. Perhaps that is what is pestering me today. I want to get going. Once I'm out of here, this crave will go away. I don't get them at home. Just here. Perhaps this job is so intertwined with smoking that it will be impossible to live with now that I don't smoke. It can be that way with relationships.

Talk to me.
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John (Gold)

August 5th, 2006, 4:18 am#12

   

See moving beyond recovery's most challenging moments as handing you your greatest victories of all, for at the end of each you reclaim one more aspect of a life once owned by nicotine. Yes you can, yes you are, yes you have! We're each with you in spirit. Be proud of you! John
Last edited by John (Gold) on October 13th, 2012, 11:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
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smsh28

October 3rd, 2006, 12:46 am#13

Quote: "And then it happens. On day 17 you encounter a subcounscious crave trigger......

"You feel as if you've been sucker-punched hard by the most intense crave ever. It feels endless"


Ha. Funny this should be bumped up today. I just complained about that very thing happening to me last night...on day 17!!!

I need the reminder that it is getting better...that it won't always be hard. ~~It's nice to be somewhere where other get it, and I don't feel like a psycho drama queen for having a hard time beyond the physical withdrawl period!!
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ChicagoRenee

October 23rd, 2006, 1:16 am#14

I am struggling today....it seems more than usual. I find myself battling the argument of "just one, and I will hate it and stop" syndrome. I 've even come as close as putting on my shoes to run to the store. My subconsious is doing flips and I hope I have the strength to win this intense fight today.

I find the cravings come and go, and at times very intense. Or maybe I just don't notice them much anymore, and when I do, they seem so powerful. I have been smoke free 7 months now. I feel such pride at this accomplishment. But today I struggle. So I come back to the site that I started with. Looking for the encouragement, and support only you give me.

This will pass, as all do. I just wanted to remind myself WHY I quit, and hopefully take back my resolve to NTAP!....Thank you for listening.
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Chipits GOLD.ffn

October 23rd, 2006, 2:19 am#15

  
Hi Renee,

I went for a look-see and brought up your first post..... 1st post - My liberation!!! This may be a great time to reacquaint yourself with the reasons and motivations that started your journey to a smoke free life. I see that there are a number of posts that have been brought to the top of the boards that are related to your situation...Read 'em all and re establish your committment to Never Take Another Puff that you had at the beginning...A little fortification will help you get beyond this day and continue the nicotine free future you desired and accomplished for 7 months of successes and celebrations....Go for the gold,; you not only are capable of doing this, you know how, and you have proved that beautifully already!!! You did the smart, educated thought-busting thing and came here because you already know what you really want to do, and that is to never take another puff....Stay sweet!

Wendy ----Free and Healing for 107 Days
Last edited by Chipits GOLD.ffn on October 13th, 2012, 11:20 am, edited 1 time in total.
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JoeJFree Gold

November 10th, 2006, 8:32 pm#16

   
 
See moving beyond recovery's most challenging moments as handing you your greatest victories of all, for at the end of each you reclaim one more aspect of a life once owned by nicotine.
Yes you can, yes you are, yes you have!
We're each with you in spirit.
Be proud of you!
John
Last edited by JoeJFree Gold on October 13th, 2012, 11:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RobinS614

November 10th, 2006, 8:55 pm#17

 
Every second of every minute...
Every minute of every hour.....
Every hour of every day, week, month and year....

I CAN, I AM AND I WILL

Robin - 151 days ago, I said -  "Finito. I'm done. For the last time. Forever"
Last edited by RobinS614 on October 13th, 2012, 11:40 am, edited 1 time in total.
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John (Gold)

January 13th, 2007, 9:40 pm#19

Two Weeks
Many of our New Year's group, now around the two week mark, find themselves increasingly focusing upon the final, by far easiest and yet longest stage of recovery, gradually moving beyond the influence of years of nicotine feeding memories and all the rationalizations that went with them. Don't be too frightened or panicked upon encountering any remaining crave triggers associated with non-daily events that until this point may not have been encountered and confronted. If any feel a bit bigger it's a good sign not bad. It's sort of like catching a fish and that final big kick as it breaks the surface or senses sunlight. But even after landed, it still needs cleaning.
As for this final phase, it's normal to grow impatient and want it over and done. It's here that our "one day at a time" victory philosophy really serves us well. Although not nearly as challenging as nicotine withdrawal or panic type attacks associated with trigger reconditioning, it takes time for new natural and earned dopamine "aaah" memories to bury the pile we stole. Although we cannot destroy those stolen, moving out from under the influence of your dependency, you've now put yourself in position to see them under honest light.

The memories reflect the "aaah" wanting satisfaction following an addict's replenishment. There's nothing missing now and nothing in need of replenishment. Relapse now would not match expectations created by these addict's memories. Instead it would likely be closer to the rebellion your body exhibited with that first cigarette ever.

But instead of just focusing on the recorded "aaah" associated with nicotine replenishment think about the corresponding low that didn't get recorded, and all the negatives that filled that day. It may have been a case of early replenishment so as to avoid a crave command to do so, but picture your response to anger, frustration or worry as your body's fluids turned more acidic and depleted reserves of the alkaloid nicotine. Think about having waited too long between feedings, having misplaced your nicotine or running out. Remember the panic of "WHERE ARE MY CIGARETTES!! I NEED A SMOKE NOW!!!!"

Do you know the exact number of the roughly 800 million air sacs you started life with that were collectively destroyed by the last cigarette you smoked? It's nearly impossible to know. How about the nicotine/carbon monoxide double whammy to every artery in your body? Did you record the degree of blood flow destruction beside the "aaah"? How about the new studies evidencing nicotine destruction of brain gray matter? Did the "aaahs" record that the mind's ability to remember likely sustained some degree of damage at the hand of the super toxin which triggered the "aaah"?

This final phase of recovery, the one that transports us to complacency, can be the most fascinating of all. It's here we come face to face with a drug addict's rationalizations, minimizations and blame transference. It's here we discover that escaping into servicing our addiction may have left some things undone. Although some will feel a need to create new avenues of escape, hopefully they'll discover that it isn't necessary, that escapes can be self-destructive.

No, we cannot change or destroy your pile of nicotine induced "aaah" wanting satisfaction memories.  But we can certainly help you see them in honest light. As with ending any relationship, chemical or otherwise, clinging to romantic fixations can lengthen the period of emotional loss.  Think about it, each memory tells a lie, the lie that the way to end wanting is to use.  Truth is, the only way to bring wanting to an end is the path you now walk. 

I also hope you'll reflect upon how stealing "pay attention" salient memories may have overshadowed the need to earn them via goal setting, accomplishment, nurturing and companionship. Also, how nicotine became our spoon pumping stored fats and sugars into our bloodstream. Some of us never knew true hunger or that the anticipation of satisfying it brought its own aaah.

Yes, snow and flour have smell. No, it wasn't the real us to smoke a central nervous system stimulant when it was time to relax or steal a dopamine "aaah" when told that someone we love was ill, dead or dying.

At two weeks you're now at a point where you've already proven to yourself that one of your biggest fears was a lie. Nicotine did not define who you are and you don't leave your life or your edge behind. With each subconscious smoking trigger you've extinguished you've reclaimed yet another aspect of life. You're beginning to realize that recovery is a period where each challenge overcome awards you another piece of a puzzle, a puzzle that once complete will reflect a life reclaimed.

We encourage you to continue to reflect honestly upon where you've been and the amazing sense of mental quiet, calm and complacency that awaits you. This is a period where honest reflection can make thinking about relapse almost laughable. Flavor, taste? How many taste buds are inside human lungs? Still just one rule, no nicotine today!

Breathe deep, hug hard, live long,

John (Gold x7)
Last edited by John (Gold) on October 13th, 2012, 11:35 am, edited 1 time in total.
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JoeJFree Gold

January 15th, 2008, 12:33 pm#20

......."At two weeks you're now at a point where you've already proven to yourself that one of your biggest fears was a lie. Nicotine did not define who you are and you don't leave your life or your edge behind. With each subconscious smoking trigger you've extinguished you've reclaimed yet another aspect of life. You're beginning to realize that recovery is a period where each challenge overcome awards you another piece of a puzzle, a puzzle that once complete will reflect a life reclaimed. We encourage you to continue to reflect honestly upon where you've been and the amazing sense of mental quiet, calm and complacency that awaits you. This is a period where honest reflection can make thinking about relapse almost laughable. Flavor, taste? How many taste buds are inside human lungs? Still just one rule, no nicotine today!

Breathe deep, hug hard, live long,

John (Gold x7)"
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July 11th, 2008, 8:05 am#21

Excerpt from above:
For purposes of discussion only, let's pretend that during days 14, 15 and 16 that although you remained occupied in dealing with an almost steady stream of conscious thoughts about wanting to smoke that you did not encounter any un-extinguished nicotine feeding cue. Although unlikely that you'd notice, wouldn't it be normal to begin to relax and slowly lower your guard?

And then it happens. On day 17 you encounter a subconscious crave trigger that wasn't part of normal daily life. It catches you totally unprepared, off-guard and surprised. You scramble to muster your defenses but it's as if they too are being swallowed by a fast moving tsunami of rising anxieties. You feel as if you've been sucker-punched hard by the most intense crave ever. It feels endless. Your conscious thinking mind tells you that things are getting worse, not better. The thought of throwing in the towel and giving-up suddenly begins sloshing through a horrified mind.

It is then, when things seem worst, that we need to briefly pause and reflect upon what we're really seeing. Things are not getting worse but better. Think about how long it's been since your last significant challenge and how relaxed you've allowed yourself to become. It's likely that this episode is no more intense than prior craves. But you'd taken off your life jacket and you couldn't quickly locate it and put it on. You panicked.

If an event similar should happen to you I'd encourage you to stop, reflect and then celebrate!!! You've reclaimed so many once conditioned aspects of a nicotine dependent life that serious challenges are growing rare. Oh you'll still encounter remote or even seasonal triggers but with the passing of time they'll grow further apart, shorter in duration and generally less intense.
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paweb

July 11th, 2008, 10:11 am#22

Little did I know that worrying about quitting was much worse than the actual temporary period of adjustment we commonly call quitting. ... comfort comes to all who are stubbornly determined enough to get through a couple of tough patches and break on through to a calm state of mind that will bring a lifetime of comfort being who we were meant to be by staying nicotine free.
It really is as elemental as NTAP.

From above - JoeJFree - Message 13
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October 1st, 2008, 6:13 am#23

From post #25 within Embracing craves :
That next crave can't hurt you and it won't make you bleed!
It won't last longer than it took to smoke a cigarette!
Relax, embrace it, and say goodbye to your needless fears!
Patience!
This isn't what it feels like to be a comfortable ex-smoker.
This is what it feels like to say goodbye to your former master!
Smile! The calmness ahead is permanent and deep!
John
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Johnnie

August 26th, 2010, 3:38 pm#24

A fabulous thread with which to end my time on line today. Thank you all!
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October 13th, 2012, 11:40 am#25




Think about it, crave episodes are good not bad.
At the end of each is a reward, the return of a
time, place, emotion, person or location that  
once served as your mind's cue to use nicotine.
Extinguish all use cues and take back your life!

Baby steps, yes you can!

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