You Smoke Because You're A Smoke-a-holic!

You Smoke Because You're A Smoke-a-holic!

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

25 Feb 2001, 22:14 #1

Joel's Reinforcement Library

You Smoke Because
You're A Smoke-a-holic!

Some smokers say they smoke because they are nervous. Others say they smoke to celebrate. Some think they smoke for energy. Many smoke to look sexy. Yet others smoke to stay awake or to sleep. Some think they smoke to think. One truly unique smoker once told me she smoked to breathe better. Another once said she returned to smoking when experiencing chest pains. She figured the fear of a heart attack is enough to make anyone smoke. None of these reasons satisfactorily explain why people continue smoking. However, the answer is, in fact, quite simple. Smokers smoke cigarettes because they are smokers. More precisely, smokers smoke cigarettes because they are smoke-a-holics.

A smoke-a-holic, like any other drug addict, has become hooked on a chemical substance. In the cigarette smoker's case, nicotine is the culprit. He is at the point where the failure to maintain a minimum level of nicotine in his blood stream leads to the nicotine abstinence syndrome, otherwise known as drug withdrawal. Anything that makes him lose nicotine makes him smoke.

This concept explains why so many smokers feel they smoke under stress. Stress has a physiological effect on the body which makes the urine acidic. Whenever the urine becomes acidic, the body excretes nicotine at an accelerated rate. Thus, when a smoker encounters a stressful situation he loses nicotine and goes into drug withdrawal. Most smokers feel that when they are nervous or upset cigarettes help calm them down. The calming effect, however, is not relief from the emotional strain of the situation, but actually the effect of replenishing the nicotine supply and ending the withdrawal. It is easy to understand why the smoker without this basic knowledge of stress and its nicotine effect is afraid to give up smoking. They feel that they will be giving up a very effective stress management technique. But once they give up smoking for a short period of time, they will become calmer, even under stress, than when they were smokers.

The explanation of how physiological changes in the body make smokers smoke is difficult for some smokers to believe. But nearly all smokers can easily relate to other situations which also alter the excretion rate of nicotine. Ask a smoker what happens to their smoking consumption after drinking alcohol, and you can be sure they will answer that it goes up. If asked how much their consumption rises, they will normally reply that it doubles or even triples when drinking. They usually are convinced that this happens because everyone around them is smoking. But if they think back to a time when they were the only smoker in the room, they will realize that drinking still caused them to smoke more. Alcohol consumption results in the same physiological effect as stress - acidification of the urine. The nicotine level drops dramatically, and the smoker must light one cigarette after another or suffer drug withdrawal.

It is important for the smoker considering quitting to understand these concepts because once they truly understand why they smoke they will be able to more fully appreciate how much more simple their life will become as an ex-smoker.

Once the smoker stops, nicotine will begin to leave their body and within two weeks all the nicotine will be gone. Once the nicotine is totally out of the body, all withdrawal will cease. No longer will they experience drug withdrawal states whenever encountering stress, drinking, or just going too long without smoking. In short, they will soon realize that all the benefits they thought they derived from smoking were false effects. They did not need to smoke to deal with stress, or to drink, socialize, or work. Everything they did as a smoker they can do as a non-smoker, and in most cases they will now do these activities more efficiently and feel better during them.

They will become a more independent people. It is a good feeling and a major accomplishment to break free from this addiction. But no matter how long they are off smoking and how confident they feel, the ex-smoker must always remember that they are a smoke-a-holic.

Being a smoke-a-holic means that as long as they don't take a single drag off a cigarette, cigar or pipe, or chew tobacco, or inject it into their bloodstream with a syringe, they will never again become hooked on nicotine. If, on the other hand, they do make the tragic mistake of experimenting with any nicotine product, they will reinforce their addiction. This will result either in returning to their old level of consumption or experiencing a full fledged withdrawal process. Neither situation is fun to go through.

So, once off of smoking, the ex-smoker must always remember just who and what they are - a smoke-a-holic for the rest of their life. Remembering this, you can remain truly independent from nicotine by following one simple practice - Never Take Another Puff!

Last edited by Joel on 13 Sep 2012, 18:12, edited 1 time in total.

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

25 Feb 2001, 22:15 #2

From: Penny Sent: 5/24/2000 6:53 AM 1 of 25
Excellent Post Joel!! I love that one. Especially the part about smoking more when drinking. I really thought it was because others lit up so you felt you should! Wow! Yes, I am a smoke-a-holic!! Even now I have triggers. Now that the weather is nice, driving with the windows down, good tunes on the radio, I will look over at the next car and someone will be doing the same thing but with a cigarette. I ALMOST envy them. Really! Isn't that sad. Then I think about how much better I feel, and that hideous withdrawal process and realize that they should actually envy me! LOL!! I NEVER want to go through that again. I also really enjoy breathing without wheezing, staying in a room for a whole conversation or visit without going outside, smelling a WHOLE lot better.......... the list goes on and on....... Thanks again Joel! Have a great day!


I have been Quit for: 5M 3W 2D 8h 35m 21s. I have NOT smoked 6172, for a savings of $1,232.03. Life Saved: 3W 10h 20m.
From: Cindy Sent: 5/24/2000 8:29 AM 2 of 25
I agree, excellent posting Joel, I thank you as I almost slipped up yesterday but I didn't thanks to people on this wonderful board that really helped me over those terrible cravings yesterday. I needed to read your post this morning just as a reinforcement I'd sure hate to mess up now after going through 9 days without nicotine. The thought of starting over again is not a pleasant thought.

Thanks again, have a pleasant day.

From: Penny Sent: 5/24/2000 8:47 AM 3 of 25
((Cindy)) I just knew you would make it!!!! Stay close and e-mail me just whenever you want!!!


From: Joel (Mgr) Sent: 5/24/2000 8:58 AM 4 of 25
Congratulations on 9 days Cindy. You've invested a lot of time, effort, pain to get through this time period. You want that kind of effort to be for a good cause. Can't think of a better cause than what you've done, quit smoking!

As much discomfort or momentary problems quitting may have caused, always keep in mind it is nothing compared to the pain and suffering smoking could result in given the time and opportunity. Pain and suffering to you, your family, and your friends. While quitting may bring discomfort, it is short term and often brings great joy in the long run to many, especially to yourself. Smoking could never accomplish that.

Hang in there Cindy, and if anything I can do to help, don't hesitate to get in touch.

From: GrumpyOMrsS (mgr) Sent: 5/24/2000 9:15 AM 5 of 25
Penny and all....

actually smokers DO envy you.......they would do anything to be in your shoes!! I see and hear this every time I speak to a smoker that comes into the drugstore. Boy do they want to quit.......they just don't think they can. I know how they feel because I've been there.

Me...I like the term addict better..know it's the same thing but more forceful. That one puff, that one cigarette that I have chosen not to all that lies between me and my death. Envy other smokers.....not me! I see them smoke and I pity them, I smell them and I wrinkle my nose in disgust, I listen to them, and hear their yearning to rid themselves of a deadly, costly and filthy habit and their fears of trying. I see people carrying around portable oxygen, coming in to get their inhalers in the pharmacy..not one inhaler, but two, three, and four different kinds....and then stopping on their way out of the store to buy a carton a cigarettes. Envy them....not on your life! They are miserable, unhappy, and sick. Very nice people, good people, but people locked into an addiction that they're afraid to break....but they wil.....when they take their last breath.

Do I ever have a desire to bet! Will I? Not on your life! I've worked way to hard to become free of an addiction that had a hold on me for 41 years. Instead, every night I rejoice in remaining smoke free, and every morning, I look forward to living without the monkey on my back.


From: Connie Sent: 5/24/2000 11:42 AM 6 of 25

How do you always know what to post? Are you inside my head?

Thanks, I needed that today.

Connie F

Four months, three weeks, 12 hours, 43 minutes and 9 seconds. 2850 cigarettes not smoked, saving $455.96. Life saved: 1 week, 2 days, 21 hours, 30 minutes.

From: Arlene Sent: 5/24/2000 10:05 PM 7 of 25
This is a very, very cool post, Joel. It answered some questions I've always had, like about when true withdrawal ends (when does nicotine exit for good) and about the calming effect of nicotine, etc. The facts help me a lot now that I can retain a few things in my brain at a time. This has just been recent, though (data retention). I experienced CRS and continue to, far longer, I think, than I hear of others suffering from it. Thank you Joel. Love and Faith, ArleneMary

From: Joel (Mgr) Sent: 7/9/2000 9:11 AM 8 of 25
Habit? Addiction? It's both. The addictive nature creates the habits. The 20 to 30 minute half life of nicotine in the brain makes activities that take this time period or longer eventually become associated and habituated to smoking during them.

Once you quit, the addiction becomes secondary, basically asymptomatic as referred to earlier today. But the habit lingers, only to be broken by slowly being unlearned one event after another. But the intense effects of the addiction are much more debilitating than the annoying reactions triggered by the habit.

When you first quit, both hit concurrently. You survived then. Now its just habit triggering. Still a battle at times but nothing compared to before. To keep initial quitting a thing of the past, alway keep focused to never take another puff!

From: Suz Sent: 7/9/2000 3:35 PM 9 of 25
Joel - this is one of my favorites....

To quote a very wise man (hmmmm.....)

Treat an addiction as an addiction, and you will keep control of it.

Treat an addiction as a bad habit, and you don't have a prayer.

When I forget that I am a nicotine addict, that's when the nicodemon starts making sense :(

Hang tough everyone, we've got the tools, we've got the brains, we've got each other - we're gonna make it!


Three weeks, one day, 17 hours, 51 minutes and 7 seconds. 682 cigarettes not smoked, saving $102.35. Life saved: 2 days, 8 hours, 50 minutes.

From: Joel (Mgr) Sent: 7/9/2000 5:12 PM 10 of 25
Thank you Suz. It's funny, I have said that saying for years when lecturing, probably since my earliest clinics but I don't know for sure if I ever wrote it in anything until the post last week. It may be in one of the letters but I can't recall for sure. Have you seen it before or was that the first you recall seeing it? I don't usually get confused about this stuff. Must be the heat and humidity today.

Anyway, glad it struck a chord with you. Talk to you soon.

From: Lori Sent: 7/9/2000 9:52 PM 11 of 25
Hi Joel, that was a great posting .Its almost 3 weeks for me and i must say i can breath better, smell better and even taste things better. I must say though the craving comes back when i am around people puffing all over me. I wonder if i avoid these crowds for a while if it will help me?I think your posting covered just about everything that could help a person and not want them to light up any more. Well thanks for all the wonderful information it was great!

Lori quit june 17th,2000
From: Suz Sent: 7/9/2000 10:09 PM 12 of 25
Hey Joel:

Nope, never seen it before I read it here. I guess that means you can claim it as your own. And I guess that would make you the 'o-wise-one'. Hmmmm.......

Thanks again for sharing that one; I've printed it out to add to my 'emergency' book.

Have a good night,


P.S. - Lori, I saw you sneak in - Welcome.....
From: Joel (Mgr) Sent: 7/19/2000 7:42 AM 13 of 25
With all this talk of stress today, I thought this one was important to bring up again. Sorry it's so soon, but stress waits for no man, or woman.
From: Stef Sent: 7/19/2000 12:26 PM 14 of 25
Yes and thank you Joel, Oh! And thank you Suz, that little message of how to treat this addiction really hit home! Wednesday was one of my "bad days", The cravings were relentless. Actually they manisfested themselves to me last Friday at 5:00, the minute I got off work. They kept getting longer and worse. By Monday I dumped to you all ,I was off work on Tuesday and that's when it was really bad, but here I am on Wednesday, still here and holding my own! Talk to you later, Stef
From: Linnee Sent: 7/30/2000 2:49 PM 15 of 25
I'm bringing this post up for David. Well... for myself as well. I think we need to be reminded from time to time how serious this addiction is and why we can never take another puff.

I will not smoke today.

Linnee One month, four days, 12 hours, 53 minutes and 24 seconds. 1208 cigarettes not smoked, saving $181.32. Life saved: 4 days, 4 hours, 40 minutes.


Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

25 Feb 2001, 22:16 #3

From: quitting in Alaska Sent: 7/30/2000 7:48 PM 16 of 25
Thanks from me too, I don't think I have read this yet. It is interesting because no matter what we do we all feel that we have stressful jobs. It is very interesting to read about the physical aspects of stress and how they affect our bodies. I guess the idea of yoga is not a bad one.


One week, two days, 10 hours, 47 minutes and 50 seconds. 94 cigarettes not smoked, saving $18.90. Life saved: 7 hours, 50 minutes.

From: GrumpyOMrsS (mgr) Sent: 7/30/2000 8:10 PM 17 of 25
reread an old post of mine in this thread......wrote, "do I have a desire to bet" Well here it is two months later and if anyone asks me the same question about I have a desire to still smoke.....NOT ONE IOTA! Both the desire to smoke and the thought of smoking makes cringe.

Linda........Six months, three weeks, six days, 9 hours, 6 minutes and 6 seconds. 4187 cigarettes not smoked, saving $715.93. Life saved: 2 weeks, 12 hours, 55 minutes.

From: Linnee Sent: 7/30/2000 10:20 PM 18 of 25
You're right, Nancy. No matter what we do, we all feel stressed. (Do you think even Yoga instructors get stressed?)

Linda, you give me such hope. Thanks!

Linnee One month, four days, 20 hours, 18 minutes and 46 seconds. 1219 cigarettes not smoked, saving $182.94. Life saved: 4 days, 5 hours, 35 minutes.

From: Zep (mgr) Sent: 8/3/2000 4:00 PM 19 of 25
From: sahara Sent: 8/31/2000 12:41 PM 20 of 25
I needed this one today.. Thanks for your wisdom

From: Joel (Mgr) Sent: 9/12/2000 9:58 AM 21 of 25
For people who feel they smoked to deal with boredom, or sadness, or whatever. You smoked because you were addicted to nicotine. As far as boredom is concerned though, it is the hardest thing to do when you first quit smoking, doing nothing without a cigarette. But learning to do nothing without a cigarette is learned the same way as learning any other activity is reconditioned, by doing the routine and not smoking. Eventually the routine that must be learned is inactivity without smoking. Everyone can do it. Sooner or later you have to relax. Don't fight it when the time comes. Again, the sooner you prove to yourself that this too can be survived, the sooner the anxiety of facing slow times without smoking will be dissipated.

Hang in there everyone.

From: Jitterbug (Staff2) Sent: 9/12/2000 12:40 PM 22 of 25
As always, great post Joel. As always, you're an inspiration and always know the best post to put in here when needed the most. And since I'm having a REALLY BAD DAY, I needed to read that.


Pat. (in 45 minutes will be 10 days!)
From: Robin Sent: 9/12/2000 12:44 PM 23 of 25
HI! New here. I have been smoking for 17 yrs (I am 32), I want to quit. I'm tired of being dependent and needing it, but I am truly scared. I don't know how Ican! what in the world will I do? In the car, at home, after food, after sex after everything. When I'm on the phone, or at a party Please HELP ME!


Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

28 Feb 2001, 08:13 #4

For Kickin It

It explains the overall calmness effect you mentioned.


Suzanne T Gold
Joined: 07 Jan 2009, 19:08

28 Feb 2001, 09:36 #5

Wow...thank you Joel for bringing up this article. I too am experiencing a deep calm that was a total surprise to me.
A concern I've had is that I used smokes as a crutch for 45 years and now am concerned about not having developed healthy coping skills to deal w/stress, anger, crisis etc. While I still think that is true, this article helps balance that a bit.
Thanks again for this wonderful web site and all the great information and support.
Suzanne 3W 5D 22hours

Joined: 07 Jan 2009, 19:17

28 Feb 2001, 11:56 #6

Thanks Joel ! What a nice tidbit of information! As the saying goes,timing is everything.This is so true with this thread.As for my addiction,without the information available here ,sometimes I wonder about my resolve if not having the support so close. Thank you for that.Just knowing that I am an addict forever is enough strength to endure all of the triggers . Knowing that as an addict I will never allow that which ruled me to ever rule me again!~~~~~ EAZY ~~~One month, three weeks, four days!! Thanks to this forum !!Image

Tash (Gold )
Joined: 07 Jan 2009, 19:17

07 Mar 2001, 09:46 #7

Wow're the best!

Thanks :)

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

23 Mar 2001, 20:30 #8

Image The addiction issue. Yes smoking is a habit too, but that habit was formed out of the addiction. The behaviors and associations smokers have are direct responses to the every building need of nicotine as tolerance established stronger and stronger. No one here took a drag when they were 10 or 12, thought "wow, this is great, I will smoke two packs a day for the rest of my life." As tolerance was established, smoking was gradually incorporated into your patterns of life, thus the habit were forming. The way you break those habits is the same way you established them, gradually doing one activity after another without taking a cigarette. Not smoking will become the predominate pattern then over time. Not smoking becomes the habit. The way to break the addiction, or at least the need to feed the addiction is even simpler, it is simply by knowing and practicing to never take another puff!


Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

05 Jun 2001, 05:19 #9

I missed where Zep saw two people refer to smoking as a habit but I too want to reinforce the concept that everyone here are nicotine addicts. There are habitual behaviors and patterns which coexist with the drug seeking behaviors caused by nicotine, in fact these habits were initiated through through the addictive properties of nicotine. Needing to keep your nicotine level from falling below a minimum threshold caused you to have to learn how to smoke while doing numerous activities, eventually resulting in the activities becoming triggers for cigarettes

The habits will be broken with time and experience, but the addiction will be there for the rest of your life. Luckily it will become an asymptomatic addiction, and over time will pose no real health risk, except one. It leave the ex-smoker prone to a relapse if they ever forget they are recovering. That is in fact a real big risk, one that can cripple and kill you if ever forgotten. Everyone note that to stay in a state of permanent recovery you must always remember to never take another puff!


Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

20 Jul 2001, 22:20 #10

Hello Marty:

This article is I use that discusses the effect of urine acidity on nicotine by stress and alcohol. I'll try to search out some of the studies too. It was well before my days of computerization, going to need to go through old books and journals. I have a lot of them.