There is power in awareness. Smoking can be an automatic or an unconscious response to different situations, places, things, or people. Once you stop smoking and you are in that situation in which you would ‘normally’ and automatically smoke, all your attention becomes focused on ‘where is that cigarette’. That situation can create an ‘urge’ or impulse to smoke that is demanding and powerful but the "urge" or craving usually only lasts a few minutes.
Minefields are dangerous because the land mines are hidden. Uncovering the land mines makes the minefield much easier to safely traverse. Similarly, triggers in the environment can evoke an urge to smoke that is much more difficult to manage if it takes you by surprise. Having a plan that identifies different trigger situations and having well thought out strategies to manage urges can enhance your ability to get through them without smoking.
If you are planning to stop smoking, take a thorough inventory of the situations, places, people and things in which you ‘normally’ smoke. Imagine how you will handle those situations without smoking. Put together a full toolbox of thoughts and actions that you can use to manage trigger situations and urges to smoke. You can use the tools on www.becomeanex.com to help map out your smoking triggers and develop coping skills to walk through those triggers without smoking. Plan your quit attempt and then work your plan.
Dr. Richard D. Hurt is an internationally recognized expert on tobacco dependence. A native of Murray, Kentucky, he joined Mayo Clinic in 1976 and is now a Professor of Medicine at its College of Medicine. In 1988, he founded the Mayo Clinic Nicotine Dependence Center and since then its staff has treated over 33,000 patients for tobacco dependence. Send your questions directly to Dr. Hurt at AskTheExpert@becomeanex.org