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How to prevent a relapse


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Subtitle: The Romance Is Dead!

 

 

This is the time of year when many people quit smoking. Most especially, people who quit before but relapsed are trying again. I think that is wonderful (that they're coming back, not that they relapsed).

 

Reading their posts has made me realize that in very many cases, people relapse because they are still romancing the cigarette. That means that they still WANT to smoke even though they know that smoking does nothing good for them. They still remember those quietly satisfying evenings on the deck smoking. They remember that a-a-a-h-h-h! of satisfaction with the first long draw on a cigarette. And they want that again. And so even if they are weeks or months into a quit-- even though the PHYSICAL addiction is long gone-- they essentially choose to go back to smoking because of the pull of these romantic fantasies about how good smoking was.

 

Well, I was the poster child for romancing the cigarette. Throughout this quit and all my previous quits (of which there were several) I always wanted to smoke. I didn't smoke-- I controlled myself-- but I wanted to smoke. All the time. Almost every day. It seemed to me that after 4 or 5 months quit, almost everybody on the board was way done with smoking and happy about it. I still missed it. And that was frustrating because my rational brain KNEW that the "pleasure" of smoking was vastly over rated and mostly imaginary. I KNEW that I was romancing the cigarette and I really did not want to go back to smoking. But the seductive thoughts were there. Maybe not every day, but often enough to be very annoying.

 

I'm here to tell you that today, more than 9 months after my quit, I realize that I am not desiring a cigarette hardly ever! This is a first for me. And this death of the romance is not just a matter of time-- I quit smoking before for periods of up to a year and still suffered from romancing.

 

I think that the difference this time is that I educated myself about Nicodemon's lies. It's as though my rational brain has told my junkie brain over and over and over again "No, smoking is NOT pleasurable! And such small, brief pleasure as you feel when you smoke comes at way too great a cost! Forget it!" and finally, FINALLY junkie brain is quieting down. What a relief!

 

Now I do admit that during these "romancing episodes" that I'm talking about-- those days when I really, really wanted a cigarette-- I had to remind myself over and over again about why I quit smoking in the first place and remind myself over and over again that I wanted to quit more than I wanted to smoke. I had to FIGHT to keep my quit many, many times over the months. The urge to smoke wasn't constant, but it was frequent. Sometimes it was quite miserable.

 

I'm still jealous of people who seemed to have it easier than I did. I often thought that I was a "special snowflake" and I had it harder than other quitters-- few people admitted that they still wanted to smoke many months after a quit. But whether I had it worse than anyone else or not, I hung in there, reminded myself about why I quit, and that I was DETERMINED not to smoke.


Now, at last, I can look back over the last few weeks and realize that the romance is dead. I finally, finally am at the point where I do think about smoking once in a while but it's like a vague thought that is easily dismissed, not a serious desire. I have heard others describe this "vague thought" phenomenon many months after a quit and I finally understand what they are talking about.

 

So I guess I am writing this to say that if you are many weeks or months into a quit and you still want a cigarette, you are not alone. What you are experiencing is real. It does happen to some people (like me, for example). You are romancing the cigarette and you have to use your rational brain, your smoking education, and your strong desire to quit to fight the urge. And eventually, sooner or later, you will turn around one day and realize that the romance is dead. You really don't have to fight to keep your quit anymore-- you just have to remain vigilant and committed.

 

Hang in there, folks!  You can DO this!

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Subtitle: The Romance Is Dead!     This is the time of year when many people quit smoking. Most especially, people who quit before but relapsed are trying again. I think that is wonderful (that the

Up until recently I thought that I would be quit but wistful about smoking.  For example, the type of quitter who 20 years later mentions that she would smoke again if they came out with a harmless ci

What I like, very much, about this post is that if someone (like me) had read Allen Carr numerous times but still felt the urge it shows you that you're ok and it can be perfectly normal. I wish I'd h

I really needed to hear this right now. I'm constantly romancing the cigarette and it's what made me relapse a week and a half ago.

 

Everybody said that the cravings will pass but I felt like they just wouldn't! I felt, and sometimes still feel, like I'm fighting every moment of the day to stay quit. The rational mind just goes out the window.

 

I have a huge hurdle this weekend...I'll be alone which is a trigger for me...and your post will hopefully help me through it.

 

It's good to dear that the cravings, or romancing the cigarette, takes a long time to subside for some people but even for those of us who take a while, they WILL go away.

 

Thank you, thank you.

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Wonderful post Chrys.

 

Addiction to smoking is like any relationship - you need to work at it.

 

The more that we addicts romance the notion of smoking, the more we bestow power on the cigarette by imbuing it with relaxing powers that it never had, then the more we feed and nurture the relationship.

 

Sitting on the dock, kicking back, looking wistfully into the middle distance and taking a sip of cool clear water is just as relaxing as smoking the cigarette was...it is the moment of relaxation, of peace that we romance (quite rightly). Where we get it wrong is by believing that it was the sucking in of 10,000 noxious chemicals that 'made' the moment.

 

For me, the key was to see how abusive the relationship was and to actively stop working at it.

 

Smoking is not fun. It never was.

 

The Great Pretender

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... Sitting on the dock, kicking back, looking wistfully into the middle distance and taking a sip of cool clear water is just as relaxing as smoking the cigarette was...it is the moment of relaxation, of peace that we romance (quite rightly). Where we get it wrong is by believing that it was the sucking in of 10,000 noxious chemicals that 'made' the moment...

 

You are oh so right, EB! For the longest time I thought that I could no longer enjoy any "quiet moments" because I no longer could sit and smoke. It took me forever to realize that I could still enjoy my quiet moments-- I could still savor a victory or celebrate a job well done or get away from screaming kids for a few minutes-- WITHOUT A CIGARETTE!!

 

It seems silly to say this, but I was so used to resting and smoking that I really thought that if I couldn't smoke, I couldn't rest. Period. My life had to be go...go...go! I know, I know, that sounds crazy to you successful quitters, but when I was new to my quit, I really believed that. 

 

Now, as you say, I understand that the cigarettes did not allow me to rest and/or reflect. I allowed myself to rest and/or reflect and Nicodemon was just co-opting that time to inject more poison into my body. Jeeze, isn't it amazing how nicotine scrambled our brains for so many years??!!

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This is a wonderful post Chrysalis. I struggled like you did at certain times of my quit but when you hit that point where it becomes a vague, fleeting and easily dismissed thought THAT is a true "a-h-h-h-h-h-h" moment of satisfaction.

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What I like, very much, about this post is that if someone (like me) had read Allen Carr numerous times but still felt the urge it shows you that you're ok and it can be perfectly normal. I wish I'd have had this post to read many years ago as I would have cracked on, head down, instead of thinking well I must be a special snowflake who can't quit because I still don't feel that peace and excitement that I thought was a given.

 

This deserves to be pinned if you ask me.

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Up until recently I thought that I would be quit but wistful about smoking.  For example, the type of quitter who 20 years later mentions that she would smoke again if they came out with a harmless cig. I did  not find myself disgusted by smoke or wanting to tell people on the street not to smoke.  I was sad that I wasn't free like Allen Carr mentioned and wondered why. 

 

However, over the last few months, gradually, any romancing went away. Previously, if I craved a smoke, I would picture myself smoking it, coughing, reversing any good health benefits I have now.  I would tell myself that I would not want to hurt my family or friends who were proud of me, or I would think about how this quit, my first quit, is my golden ticket, and to relapse would probably lead to me smoking and quitting over and over. 

 

The other day I thought , because of an executive assistant moment , about smoking and my immediate response was, why would you want to do that? My self inventory found no emotion, no struggle, no disgust, just a simple, straight forward thought that I do not smoke.

 

I am writing this just to show that quitting is a gradual process for many, I think, and one may need to take time to be neutral, free , according to his or her own path. 

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Awesome piece of writing, I have sometimes those voices that romantise cigarettes and I always use common sense to explain no I can't smoke one, it's junkie thinking and I'm not going to reply wit lighting up one. 

Even when I read the article I felt romance coming up. I just say NOPE I don't NEED a cig, I don't like a cig and it's awful. NOPE.

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Excellent video, Sharon, thank you! 

 

You know, I never believed that relapse happens suddenly. When people say, "I don't know what happened. I was doing fine and then I was at a party and someone offered me a cigarette and BAM! I was back to smoking before I even realized what happened!" Really, the seeds of relapse are planted days or weeks before the event; we just don't realize it. One of the things I like about this video is that it recognizes that these seeds are planted early and tells you how to recognize it and how to deal with it. 

 

One thing I noticed about smoking (and that the video addresses early on) is that when we quit, if we don't do "self care" we are setting ourselves up for relapse. I mean, look at why we smoke. We smoke because we're bored or anxious or lonely. We smoke because we want to celebrate a small victory or because we're up to "here" with screaming kids and just need a 5 minute break. So we step outside or kick back in our chair and smoke for a few minutes. Then we feel calmer and ready to get back to our day.

 

When we quit smoking, what do we do to fill those needs instead of smoking? How you do bleed off stress or anxiety? What do you do when you're up to "here" with the kids? When can you even get a break if you're not smoking? I used to use smoking as a way to sit down and rest and relax for 7 minutes several times a day. When I stopped smoking, I no longer had an excuse to sit and do nothing-- I expected myself to go, go, go all day long without stopping. After all, if I don't need to smoke, why should I stop working? 

 

So with no way to bleed off stress, no excuse to step outside or have a seat and clear your mind for a few minutes, of course the desire to smoke is going to build. You don't really miss the nicotine per se, you miss having a ritual or a strategy to care for yourself and give yourself periodic relaxation breaks throughout the day. So the emotional pressure and frustration build up. Remembering the good things you associated with smoking build up. And the next thing you know, you accept an offered cigarette and BAM! you relapse. From "out of the blue" right? Wrong. The relapse had been building for weeks because you weren't paying attention to your inner needs or providing yourself any alternatives to cigarettes. 

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I couldn't agree with you more Chrys!

 

I have mentioned before that I still have some sectioning of the day breaks, and at times have a long deep breathing session or two. I consider that my self care, as with it I just feel. So much happier in myself. I'm glad you like this video and thought it would perfectly tie in with your thread, and seemed to match your observations perfectly.

 

Self care people... Self care!

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This is also taken from his page.

 

It informs us that most nicotine withdrawal is done by about 3 months, so hopefully that might help readers see that thoughts are coming from an emotional place, so you can take action on your self care.

 

Withdrawal Symptoms Last?

 

Nicotine is out of your body 72 hours after you quit smoking. Nicotine withdrawal symptoms usually reach their peak 2 to 3 days after you quit, and are gone within 1 to 3 months.1 It takes at least 3 months for your brain chemistry to return to normal after you quit smoking.2 The last two symptoms to go usually are irritability and low energy.

 

 

 

In summary, most people start to feel better after 1 week, and the symptoms are usually gone within 3 months.

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Just exactly what I need to read, the constant craves for the nicotine no matter where you are in your quit are the ones I need to overcome, my biggest problem is if they go on for days I get so frustrated, thinking OMG surely I should not be having these types of craves, surely it should be easier by now, but that is the problem, I allow that frustration to creep in and allow my thoughts to grow bigger and bigger until its all that fills my head, it drives me crazy, I really think I am going to go mad, so I give in, its so much easier to give in I think, ummm no because I really know that I do not want to smoke, its disgusting and it will kill me, but I do not summon the strength to overcome it.  I am going to dig just a little bit deeper and get the strength to overcome those annoying thoughts, the thoughts wont kill me in the long run, they may annoy me, but they will not kill me, the smoking will.  Thanks Crys, I needed to read this xxx

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Be careful, Tyme2B. The video/web site that Sharon linked to is about addictions in general, not about nicotine specifically. I can't speak for other drugs (thank heavens!) but you are not free of nicotine addiction within 3 months. At 3 months the symptoms are much, much better than they were after the first 3 weeks. The cravings, such as they are, are very infrequent and much weaker than they were. They are usually triggered by some event (i.e. holiday season or a new job) or a particular emotion (i.e., boredom, loneliness, stress, etc). 

 

I'm not telling you this to discourage you. I believe that if you know what to expect you can be prepared for it and weather it more easily. You're doing great. You have already kept your quit through the worst days and things will gradually get easier and easier for you every day. But don't be surprised if every once in awhile you get hit with a strong desire for a cigarette many months after you quit. It happens to all of us. Don't freak out; it's not permanent. 

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I had strong craves today but just used the nicotine gum. It beats smoking! I want to get off the gum but I need a little more time. Without it I think I could have fallen off the train today. I have a stressful job....not to say most others do not...and I'm tired from sleep deprivation. It will pass. I just do one day at a time but look forward to no cravings :(

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