When Gary wrote this in '05 he was a seven year quitter. I am now at that stage timewise in my quit. He was one of those Elders on the the site I first joined (a 12 step quit site called unofficial nicanon) His wisdom I found extradordinary enough to copy, fortunately. And so I'm posting here. It helped me enormously. (Understand that the "program" to which he refers is the 12 step program. I did not follow it, but I followed his wisdom.) He was a great teacher for me. And perhaps I can thank him by regurgitating his words here.
The Man on the Street <garynica@...> wrote:
These are my thoughts on triggers and such...
Now that I have taken a monumental step in quitting smoking and
haven't smoked for several days. When in the hell are these cravings
going to go away? I was told the withdrawal is about 3 days so why
am I wanting a cigarette say 30 days later ? Am I being lied to or
what? Is this what I have to look forward to for the rest of my
life? I can't handle the thought of wanting a cigarette every time
I turn around. I rather smoke and die than put up with all of these
emotional thoughts. Its not worth it. These and other thoughts
plague the crap out of me with a full force like I never experienced
before. Let me assure, though, these are very normal feelings that
all of us have gone through.
You have to go through the craving process to get to the other side.
I was actually grieving the loss of my cigarettes and it was very
painful. I had lost my mistress as I spent more time with the
cigarette than my wife. It was a companion so to speak even though
its aim was to kill me. It gave me solace when I needed it, gave me
joy, and it let me hide big time from all my feelings. It was my
mediator , my great guru, and it was the only thing I could hang on
to when life just sucked!
So yes when we quit the cravings are enormous but we have to learn
to accept them as something we have no control over. Its stupid to
think I shouldn't have these cravings. I had to learn to accept them
and move on. In the beginning drink a lot of water as water is
nicotine soluble and is the best thing you can drink. Yes after
about 3 days nicotine is out of the physical system but that devious
mind works overtime like a true obsession that it is. This is where
the 12 steps of this program comes into play. As a lifetime process
of changing the obsession does leave but not overnight.
Why don't the cravings go away after we quit for a few days or
weeks. If it was all that easy to quit, I would of done that a long
time ago and I wouldn't need this program. However that isn't the
case. I smoked for 49 years and just because I am making another
great attempt to quit I expect the cravings to go away. If
everything I did during the day was preempted with a cigarette, 3-4
packs a day while I was in my hay day, it becomes presumptuous to
think desires would go away automatically. My brain has been wired
for 49 years to function a certain way.
When I quit, my brain didn't know what the hell to do. It went
wacko, berserk and malfunctioned for some time before it got used to
the idea there is no more nicotine for me. After it got over the
shock affect it began saying to me .."feed me or change me" do one
or the other. As an addict I cannot stay in pain forever. I have to
move in one direction or the other. Either change my lifestyle or
give in to the addiction I am trying to get recovery from.
The thought of a cigarette comes so subtly you really a lot of times
don't know where it came from. It could be the wind whistling in
your ear. Something your eyes seen, a gentle thought, an idea,
walking on the beach, pain, joy, sadness, happiness. Drinking
coffee, driving, working, talking, going to the bathroom, taking a
shower. Everything but everything triggered a thought of a cigarette
to me. It was hard to overcome but I did with the help of this
The craving goes away whether we smoke or don't smoke. O.K. I have a
craving ,ok, I accept that but I just won't smoke for now. I have to
change routine behaviors for new habit patterns that do not have
triggers associated with them. Like driving a different direction to
work, don't drink coffee or at best cut way back , don't drink
alcohol as alcohol will let your guard down big time.
Eat out more often, go to a show in the middle of the afternoon,
eat in a different restaurant that you haven't eaten before. Always
try to do different things on a ongoing basis.
Always carry a water bottle with you. The hard thing to do is what
in the hell do I do with my hands now? I am use to seeing them go to
my mouth. You want a smoke, drink water instead.
That helps the hand to mouth problem. Replace the cigarette to the
mouth with the water bottle to the mouth. Substitute one thing for
another. In due course time the anxiety level will begin to
decrease. And believe it or not the day will come and you will look
back on it and think to yourself., My God I haven't thought of a
I had to do this one day at a time and even that was hard at times.
So it became a moment at a time. As long as you don't light up, then
whatever works, works. I had to not promise myself anything except
for right now I won't smoke. I didn't commit myself to anything. I
just didn't smoke for right now. And the nows became days and the
days became weeks and before I knew it I was doing this one day at
a time. Never play the forever game. It always has disastrous
Remember this. Cravings are a thought process that you have no
control over coming into your brain. What you can do is reject the
thought and not fantasize on it. Don't feel guilty because you think
of a cigarette. That's a very normal thing to do for a smoker to
think of. Its very abnormal for me not to think of a cigarette but I
don't think of them anymore. It takes time. Time is your best
friend. As time goes on you learn to trust in a higher power of your
own understanding to help you along on this journey and that is what
this is. A new journey, a new life, a new freedom.
I've been on this journey now for over 7 years and let me tell you,
it feels damm good!