“You said it would get better. It's just as bad as the day I quit smoking!”

Subconscious use cue extinguishment

“You said it would get better. It's just as bad as the day I quit smoking!”

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

27 Jan 2001, 19:20 #1

Joel's Reinforcement Library

"You said it would get better. It's just as bad as the day I quit smoking!"

Recently I was met with this warm greeting from a clinic participant on his 8th day without smoking. As you may recall, we explain during the clinic that if a smoker can get through the first three days without smoking, the physiological withdrawal will start to diminish, and within two weeks all physiological withdrawal will stop.

While we can accurately predict the physiological withdrawal, psychological withdrawals can occur at anytime. It is possible that the urge this man was having was just as painful as the ones he had a week earlier. While the urge may have been as strong, it was different. When he had an urge before, there was really nothing he could do to get over it. If he just held out a few minutes, the urge would pass. But psychological urges are more under the ex-smoker's conscious control. A good analogy demonstrating the difference between physiological and psychological pain can be seen by analyzing a common toothache.

A rotting tooth can cause a lot of pain. If your dentist explains to you why the tooth hurts it really doesn't resolve the situation. You know why it hurts, but it still hurts. Simply understanding physical pain does not make the pain go away.

To illustrate another point, say you go to the dentist and find out that you have a cavity. He has to drill the tooth and put in a filling. The drilling can be a very rough experience. After it is all over the pain will stop, but whenever you hear the sound of a dentist's drill, even if it's years later, you cringe at the thought of the pain. Once you realize that you are simply reacting to the sound, you know that you are not really in danger and the reaction will end. Understanding the root of the fear alleviates the anxiety and the associated pain.

Any urges for cigarettes that occur today are reactions to conditioned triggers. You are doing or experiencing something for the first time without smoking. It may be going to a bar, a wedding or going on a plane. It may be seeing a person or being in a place where you always had a cigarette in the past. It may be something you hear or even an old familiar aroma. The sense of smell is a powerful mechanism for triggering old emotional feelings.

So today, if you find yourself desiring a cigarette, look around you and see why at this particular time and place a cigarette is on your mind. Once you understand that the desire is being triggered by some reaction to an insignificant event, you can just say "no" to the cigarette without further problem. All you need to do is understand what triggered the thought. The urge will pass. The next time you encounter a similar situation you will not even think of a cigarette. You will have learned how to face another experience as a ex-smoker.

Quitting smoking is a learning experience. Every time you overcome an urge you will have overcome another obstacle that threatened your status as an ex-smoker. As time goes by, you will run out of obstacles and you can comfortably go through life a happier and healthier person. All you need to remember and practice to stay an ex-smoker is - NEVER TAKE ANOTHER PUFF.


Joined: 07 Jan 2009, 19:54

28 Jan 2001, 00:21 #2

Thank you for this reinforcement! Just yesterday (day 4) and today (day 5), I was thinking I was having the strongest cravings to smoke. I took some deep breaths, drank my water and thought about the cravings. I realized I wasn't having a craving for a smoke - I was having a panic attack! I realized it would not be cured by smoking - it would only get worse. I got through another day.... Sometimes what we think are cravings are really something else. Sometimes we need to look really deep inside ourselves to find the real problem and work on THAT. KathyJo
Four days, 14 hours, 21 minutes and 23 seconds. 68 cigarettes not smoked, saving $16.69. Life saved: 5 hours, 40 minutes.

Edited October 9, 2012 to add in the following videos discussing concepts covered in original post. Both videos cover the same material, you only need to watch one of them to get same information. First one titled Will I ever stop thinking of smoking," the second one titled "Difference between physical and psychological cravings":

Last edited by KathyJo on 09 Oct 2012, 14:37, edited 2 times in total.

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:58

02 Feb 2001, 00:55 #3

Wow, I needed this article. I am going to Wash DC for work on Sat. I have taken this flight many times, and there is a stop for about an hour in Pittsburgh. So, in the past I have gotten off the plane, and headed right for the bar where I paid too much for a soda just to have the priviledge of smoking in their establishment. Then, you know smoking in the hotel room etc. This is my first trip without cigs. Even in the past when I have "tried" to quit before, I always broke down and bought some cigs. When I was at this same conference last year, I got to my room and saw an ashtray (trigger!), and went out and bought a pack right away (I mean, I could SMOKE in my room!). Ok, so this year, I called the hotel and made sure I was in a NON smoking room. The article reminded me that I can work through those triggers, and to expect an urge during this trip. I will have a laptop with me, and I made sure I would be able to access the internet with it. I will keep in touch, and keep saying NEVER TAKE ANOTHER PUFF. Debi289
I have been smoke free for 3W 10h 39m 13s. I have NOT smoked 428 life destroying cigarettes, for a savings of $60.04. I have saved 1D 11h 40m of my wonderful life.
Last edited by Debi289(Gold) on 06 Nov 2009, 11:47, edited 1 time in total.

John (Gold)
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

09 Feb 2001, 14:01 #4


Please take the time now to make a written record of what yesterday and tomorrow will be like. As best you can, explain to yourself exactly what a real live honest to goodness crave feels like. Boredom and impatience at the seeming pace of recovery can grow substantial within a few weeks. You'll need a reference point from which to measure your healing. Without it can be like being lost in the woods. Also be sure to write a DETAILED list of all your reasons for wanting to make this journey home. Make it a loving letter to you, to be read in a year from now, as by then your primary adversary will be complacency, as you go days without once thinking about wanting to use nicotine. Congratulations on reaching the mountain's top! A nicotine free body! Wowsers!!!!

Breathe deep, hug hard, live long,
Last edited by John (Gold) on 06 Nov 2009, 11:47, edited 2 times in total.

Joined: 07 Jan 2009, 19:54

21 Feb 2001, 00:48 #5

Thanks Joel.......I've been doing my homework for the last few hours....and I really want you all to know how much this site means to us who are really committed to quiting. (H) I am now on my way to 6 days of a smoke free life. thanks Shakes!

Joined: 07 Jan 2009, 19:03

21 Feb 2001, 02:19 #6

Thank you for bumping this, Joel! :) The dentist analogy helped me a lot...no matter whether u understand something intellectually, the emotional part of us needs to have knowledge re-inforced repeatedly! :)

Joined: 07 Jan 2009, 19:27

02 Apr 2001, 23:02 #7

All Physiological Withdrawal should resolve itself in 2 weeks! WOO HOO

This article is helpful to me today after a very trying weekend!! I will have 2 weeks of nicotineless existence tomorrow and that is the longest that I have ever been nicotine free since I was 17 years old! I went to church with my son and my husband went into work. When I got home from church I was just furious that he wasn't home! I called him at his office and told him that if he didn't come home I was going to smoke!!! I guess I'm acting like everything is about me these days and everyone should be catering to me cause I am going thru such a tough time. Normally, I would be very giving and just live and let live and would have gone on to the park with my son or played in the back yard or whatever! One of the problems was that I didn't want to go to the back yard to let my son play outside cause that is where I always smoked. Anyway, I think that if I can weather all of these emotions and all of the triggers for several months then I will be free and I will truly stop thinking about it all of the time as well. That is the freedom that I crave, where cigarettes are not the only thing that pops into my head for good times, bad times, any time.

I smoked my last cigarette on March 20th at 9 am.

1 week 6 days ago!
Last edited by tammer on 06 Nov 2009, 11:49, edited 1 time in total.

Joined: 07 Jan 2009, 19:54

03 Apr 2001, 21:46 #8

Oops! Hit the silly enter key too soon.

Where was I? Oh, for those of you who may or may not know us, Mariah and I quit at the same time, a long time ago when this site was just a bit smaller!!!!

Now that we have gone 18 months, I hardly ever have any cravings let alone think about it. Mariah on the other hand has difficulty if she visits this site. Every day she mentions that she would like a smoke. It passes and we move on to the next day. SHe would probably attribute this to the different amounts that we smoked. I'm not sure how true that could be. She had quit for long periods and I am on my first REAL quit! My mother quit years ago and occassionally has cravings. I guess what I'm getting at is that like just about everything in life, things affect us each individually. You just have to get through those cravings no matter how long it has been. For those fortunate (like me?) who don't seem to have to go throught that, we are the lucky ones? I always remember that SMOKING IS NOT AN OPTION!

Synthman and Mariah
One year, six months, one week, 14 hours, 12 minutes and 22 seconds. 11091 cigarettes not smoked, saving $1,663.90. Life saved: 5 weeks, 3 days, 12 hours, 15 minutes.
Last edited by synthman39 on 06 Nov 2009, 11:51, edited 1 time in total.

Chet Kast (Gold)
Joined: 07 Jan 2009, 18:58

03 Apr 2001, 22:23 #9

I want to say thanks to both Joel and Zep for your threads today. The previous weekend, we purchased a new car (you guys know what that's like) and I made it through that week with the normal stress triggers; and, I now have the first smoke free car in my life. I actually placed paper in the ash tray. I want to say that those cravings, of course, are obvious and easy to identify.

I have a problem with my psychological cravings that occur each day or night where I can't identify the trigger or cause. Your statements made me take a serious look this morning and compare them with the early cravings I experienced. It now makes me feel that some of these desires to smoke may or may not be cravings at all. Can they be new feelings I am experiencing because I don't smoke anymore (simply new hungers, new metabolism) and I am linking those experiences to cravings? Do we identify all our triggers? Can I be undergoing cravings where I will never identify the triggers? Thanks for everything.


I have Quit for: 1M 1W 6D 8h 20m 44s. I have NOT smoked 1108 cigs, for a savings of $166.30. Life Saved: 3D 20h 20m.
Last edited by Chet Kast (Gold) on 18 Mar 2009, 12:11, edited 1 time in total.

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

03 Jun 2001, 19:09 #10

Well this is exciting. I used to feel bad about bringing this one up for it was one of those long titles that caused a scrolling problem on the old board. But low and behold, the new board text wraps the titles. This is great. We probably should still try to keep title lengths to a manageable size so we can keep more posts on the page at once, but it does not appear to be as crucial as it was before. So I guess for once, we seem to be making ourselves less restrictive, one less rule that we have to aggressively try to enforce. This is truly a banner day.

But do not get too festive here--some things haven't changed. Just because we look newer and more spruced up, we are still the same people with the same message here, that quitting smoking is a fight for your health and your life. Some things may look different and change over time, but we will never waiver on the message that to guarantee total success at staying smoke free you must always enforce your own rule that you will never take another puff!