Why am I still having "urges?"

Subconscious use cue extinguishment

Why am I still having "urges?"

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

19 May 2002, 19:42 #1

For the benefits of newbies wondering if they will ever stop wanting a cigarette, I thought I would elaborate on the concept of "urges" that happen weeks, months or even years into a quit. When we say that the urge hits after any significant time period after being smoke free, it is a desire or a thought for a cigarette that is different than the physical "urge" experienced during initial withdrawal. Those urges are physiological craves, the body demanding nicotine to alleviate a drug withdrawal state. The thoughts that happened down the road are triggers of fond memories. The thought is often that it seems like a good idea now to smoke a cigarette. Kind of like the urge you get to clean your house on a slow day. Seems like a good idea for a few seconds, but if you find something better to do, so be it. The same concept holds true for the thought of a cigarette.

Other times there will be thoughts of "I used to smoke when I did this." Not a desire for a cigarette or smoking, but a feeling that your timing or ritual is off. Sometimes there may even be a feeling that you are supposed to be doing "something" right now, but do not even realize what it is. All of a sudden you realize you used to smoke at this particular juncture of time or a specific new situation. Again, it is not that you want or need a cigarette in these two cases, just that the routine was a little off.

Years into a quit though, most days ex-smokers will go days, weeks and maybe even months without a thought. Even days which they call "bad" with desires, they may be going 23 hours and 59 minutes and 50 seconds without a thought, but because they think of it once, they think that was a lot. It really does get easier and easier.

The alternative side, smoking, is constantly riddled with thought of quitting. Whenever you are going to a doctor, a non-smoking friends or family home where you want to visit but cannot smoke, getting a new symptoms or aggravated by a chronic problem, read a news headline or hear a news report on television or radio on a new danger from smoking, have to pay another price increase for cigarettes, find another friend who has quit while you do not, stand outside in blizzards or heat waves or torrential downpour for the luxury of getting a quick fix or experience some horrible withdrawal because you can't escape for a cigarette or heaven forbid, you run out of cigarettes.

Yes there were plenty of times smoking made your life totally unmanageable. Not to mention the times that may come where a diagnosis of a horrible condition that require extraordinary measures to save your life that in themselves are almost as terrifying and painful as the disease itself. That unpleasant scenario still provides a chance of survival. There are frequently the cases where the first real symptom of a smoking induced illness is sudden death. Then you don't even have a chance to save your life.

As an ex-smoker, there may be times you want a cigarette. As a smoker, there will be times you want to quit. Neither side is perfect, but the ex-smoker side has clear advantages. It will get easier and easier over time getting to the point of smoking becoming a thing of the past. The smoking side leads to a much more ominous road.

Keep focused, whether it is hours into a quit or decades into a quit. It was a good decision to quit, maybe the most important decision you have made in your life as far as quality and length of your life goes. To keep the decision alive and continue to reap the benefit, always remember, Never Take Another Puff!


Related videos added to string August 13, 2012

Last edited by Joel on 13 Aug 2012, 22:30, edited 3 times in total.

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:59

19 May 2002, 20:26 #2

Dear Joel,

Thank you for what I think must be one of the best threads I've read. Such an encouragement! I love how honest and straight forward you are and the fact that you acknowledge how yes, ex-smokers do sometimes want a cigarette makes me believe you ONE HUNDRED PERCENT when you say that one day I might not think about it at all.
It isn't easy but I'm doing pretty well I think and I'm already enjoying my more manageable life.
Clac xxx
2 weeks, 2 days, 21 hours 33 minutes 50 seconds tick tick tick

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

19 May 2002, 20:43 #3

Hello Clac:

The time will come where when you won't want or think about a cigarette on a given day, and eventually week, month or year. But my suggestion is when that day comes, get back here to read and reinforce your quit so that you do not slip into complacency. When you stop having thoughts, you stop talking yourself out of having cigarettes. You in essense then stop reinforcing your reasons for quitting. Then when a trigger comes out from no where, you can be caught off guard without having sufficient ammuniton to squelch the thought. This is where it becomes crucial to keep yourself focused on a daily basis as to why you decided to quit and more important, why you never want to go back. Pay a little attention every day as to why you quit and you will forever stay committed to never take another puff!


Rosemary (Gold)
Joined: 19 Dec 2008, 00:04

20 May 2002, 22:25 #4


It is interesting that you post this. I was going to post about an urge that I had this weekend. I haven't had one for a while, and frankly, after the first three weeks, I haven't much in the way of bad urges at all. Sure, I occasionally get a thought of smoking, but no real desire to actully light a cigarette and smoke it. I usually acknowledge the urge, and move past it by telling myself that a cigarette will not help, and that the perfect cigarette is fictional.

But Saturday, I had a bad one. We are moving out of state, so my husband and I have been trying to get everything in our house packed. Needless to say, we are a bit stressed out. I spent the morning packing the (way too many) toys in our daughter's room, which was a trial of patience as I supervised her careful packing of broken toys that I was just itching to throw out (Honey, do you really need a doll with one leg or, for that matter, a car with three wheels? (sob!)). Well, after that, we ate and then it was down to the basement to tackle the storage area.

As soon as we opened the door to the storage area, and I saw all the junk, I had a tremendous desire to run to the store for cigarettes. I had to take a break in the back yard. "What is this? Why is this happening now?" I questioned as I paced, with my nostrils flaring. I think that the urge came on so strong for a variety of reasons. First, is the general stress of moving out of state. Second, I had just finished packing up my daughter's room, that would mean a "reward" cigarette in the old junky days. Third, we had just eaten, that would mean an "after eating" cigarette to the junky. Fourth, the pile of dusty **** in the storage area was too much for me to deal with at that moment. What better way to hide from it and delay the reality of it than by smoking?

Of course I was dreaming of that Ahhh cigarette. I was hoping to smoke a perfect one. I was hoping to smoke away the reality of the move and the dirt and dust, and the aching back. I was hoping to smoke away the whiny child, and the husband who is more ready to move than I am, and the stress. But we all know that smoking would not do that. We all know that it would just add one more issue to my alreay full plate. We all know it would just increase my stress. We all know that I would be a full-fledged addict as soon as I took that first puff. We all know that instead of being that perfect Ahhh cigarette, a smoke would most likely make me dizzy enough to fall down the back stairs, and then, on top of all my other issues, I would be packing with a broken arm, or broken leg, or the beginnings of lung cancer, or worse. This was not fun, but during the whole thing, I knew I wasn't going to smoke. I did need to teach my junky-self that I wasn't going to give in. Let me tell you, I whupped that urge's butt and still went through all that garbage in the storage area.

The next day, I went to my sister's house. She smokes my brand, and I never once thought of asking her for one. And when we got home, and my clothes smelled, and I needed to shower to get the smell out of my hair, I felt good. I really did get choked up when I congratulated myself for staying smoke free last night. I am so happy to be free! Even with the occasional urge, life without cigarettes is really wonderful.

I have a new thought: I am free! And unless I hand my freedom over to old Nic, I will remain free.

Rosemary--Battle-scarred, but breathing--Nicotine free for 3 Months 1 Week 2 Days 9 Hours 49 Minutes. Cigarettes not smoked: 1968. Money saved: $492.01. (Almost $500.00!) Life reclaimed: 1 Wk 6 Days 16 Hrs 29 Secs.

Joined: 19 Dec 2008, 00:02

20 May 2002, 23:05 #5

Hi Joel:

These cravings and urges are very strange sometimes. Sometimes within seconds I get this really bad urge and it comes over me like a gush of wind. Than for a second I think that I still smoke but in another second I realize that I don't smoke anymore. It's strange and sometimes you think you just had a cigarette or you know it's time to have a cigarette. In that second you realize that you don't smoke, you get depressed for a second and ask yourself "What am I going to do now"??? But than it passes pretty fast and you get on with things...

Sometimes you get confussed. Almost like your standing there but not really there??? Do you know what I mean? It kind of plays mind games with you.

Sometimes you don't feel like yourself because you don't smoke anymore. Sometimes you don't enjoy the things that you use to really love to do when you smoked, which has happened to me quite frequently. Sometimes I just want to sleep because it makes the urges less...

But I'm hoping this is all a passing faze and that I will get back to normal someday soon...


BillW Gold.ffn
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:59

20 May 2002, 23:34 #6

Hi Judy:

What you are describing is just about where I was at that time. Feeling a bit confused is something I went through my first month or so. (Since I'm a college professor, being confused and light headed almost meant that I wasn't productive for that time. I had to continually remind myself that quitting smoking was the most important job I had to get done right now....)

I too went to bed early....to just duck out of another (possible) smoking situation.

But all this really does get better. You form new memories without smoking, you do things without smoking, you meet and defeat your previous programming. Your're doing great Judy.

BillW Three months, one week, five days, 2 hours, 34 minutes and 8 seconds. 3033 cigarettes not smoked, saving $598.81. Life saved: 1 week, 3 days, 12 hours, 45 minutes.

wcsdancer (Gold)
Joined: 19 Dec 2008, 00:29

21 May 2002, 00:32 #7

Joel, I was just asking myself this very question! Thanks for answering for me! I haven't been without nicotine during the springtime for a very long time. There must be tons of memories surfacing. It helps to think of the alternative...as a smoker there were constant thoughts of quitting (exactly as you've said). I'd much rather be on this side of the coin!
6 Months 1 Week 4 Days 13 Hours 30 Minutes 17 Seconds. Cigarettes not smoked: 2310. Money saved: $519.92.

Joined: 07 Jan 2009, 19:25

20 Oct 2002, 23:06 #8

I got a very strong crave yesterday. It was a nice and sunny day so I decided to wash my car. I got to the waxing part when all of a sudden I got this intense feeling that I needed a cigarette. I remembered about "embraceing your crave". I looked at the crave. Then I remembered that I used to take smoke breaks whenever I did chores outside. So washing the car was a trigger. Hopefully next time it won't be. It was still annoying haveing that crave though. It bothered me that I could still feel that way.
Gena (green)

Joined: 07 Jan 2009, 18:58

28 Aug 2003, 06:36 #9

Thanks, Joel I really needed that today.

Joined: 19 Dec 2008, 00:02

14 Feb 2004, 05:20 #10

Thanks Joel,

Sometimes i think these urges will never cease and then i read something like this. I'm
going to print this one and hang it all over the place. I guess we all need some reinforcement
from time to time. thanks again