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"Just one rule - “No nicotine today!”





Quit Date: 2-26-2014


Posted April 17, 2014 


I love this bit by John Polito on the nature of a relapse; I need the reiteration of some of these basic ideas of addiction and the dangers of romanticizing the smoke.


"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. "




Exerpt from a free pdf book by Polito JR entitled 

"Freedom from Nicotine - The Journey Home" 


Link to original post: https://www.quittrain.com/topic/756-just-one-rule-“no-nicotine-today”/


Edited by jillar

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