Why not just stop smoking and simply walk away from it? There are stories of those who do!
Try, and see if you can... Most of us have found out that it does not work like that.
The modern world and its super-fast ways of going on demand instant gratification and instant just about everything else, regardless of what the facts may actually be.
This includes instant cures to cigarette smoking.
Getting rid of cigarettes is, in some ways, very similar to a forced carreer change.
It has to be worked at, and the many symptoms that arise might need to be wrestled with over many years, especially if the addiction is particularily strong.
Consider a smoker who started at age 13. At this age the brain is still developing. This person has been mentally and emotionally formed and has grown up as a smoker, and might never be able to get rid of cigarettes without experiencing severe psychiatric disorders - If this describes you and if you are contemplating getting rid of cigarettes, do get some professional psychiatric help.
Whatever might be the case most smokers attempting to get rid of cigarettes will experience a variety of psychological and physical symptoms, and by far the worst are the cravings.
These are all too familiar. You are in the store with your spouse and it happens, not one more minute,
and its out into the parking lot for a smoke! Nicotine withdrawal symptoms have struck again.
If you are trying to get rid of cigarettes, then there is no relief, everywhere has overnight become a no-smoking
Whether we like it or not our ultimate success in getting rid of cigarettes
will depend on how well we understand and deal with cravings and other, mostly unwelcome,
emotional surges and feelings.
Before attempting to stop smoking, intensive preparations need to be made that will help combat them.
Cravings and these other surges can and will strike or appear unexpectedly for the rest of our lives! with
the real danger period occuring during the first seven years,
in which the first three are by far the worst.
It can be instructive to visit a road construction site where those giant yellow
earth-moving machines are in use.
The driver sits in the middle of a cluster of levers. Each lever has a separate
function, like 'steer left', 'lower blade' and so on. Pull on the wrong lever at the wrong time
and the result can be a total disaster. In managing our lives we are like
the driver of one of these machines, where we were never instructed in the
function and purpose of the various levers in the first place.
Most cigarettte smokers develop a state of advanced nicotine(+) addiction,
the results of which, by default, pull the levers instead of the smoker.
Their nicotine addiction has been and is literally JERKING THEM AROUND.
The following is an attempt to get a handle on what is often a confusing situation.
Find out what the levers are, get some useful ideas on how to regain control and steer
the way out from this WEIRD addiction.
- Levers Group One
- Each day the body reserves and produces energies for its regular tasks
and the persons routines and habits.
- If a person smokes then smoking is most likely a routine habit.
- If a person smokes 50 cigarettes per day, it requires lighting up every 20 minutes.
- If smoking has been going on for thirty years then it is a deeply ingrained habit.
- By now the body will be producing in support, many different energies in quantity and with persistance.
- The body is not and will not be able to instantly stop this production.
- For a time any person resisting the urge to smoke will be awash in excess energies.
- These unused energies will turn to poison if not used up, and can cause harm.
- The major symptoms of these unused energies are a variety of irritations,
that if not checked and dealt with, can lead to anger and violent outburst.
- Levers Group Two
- Smoking releases nicotine+ into the blood via the lungs where it is rapidly transported
to the brain.
- Here it instantly rewards and gives an illusionary pleasure,
a kind of mellowness or enhancement of the moment, together with either stimulation or relaxation.
- The body and brain of the smoker are programmed through usage to expect
these regular rewards.
- The program continues to run, even if a person seriously cuts down or stops smoking, but is now
- Cravings are the primary symptom of this unfullfilled urge or hunger
for more nicotine+,
the principle agent of satisfaction, and the experiences it promotes.
- These urges can turn up in many ways and if severe or strong enough, they can propel the
person back into smoking and other irrational acts.
- Levers Group Three
Other strong emotions and a variety out of character behaviours
can turn up. All of them associated with some facet of getting rid of cigarettes.
Here is a partial list:
- Grief.... The life as a smoker is dying.
- Depression.... Cigarettes were a pick-me-up.
- Exciteability.... Cigarettes were used to calm and sedate.
- Melt Downs.... Supressed lives surface.
- Erratic Mental Process....Cigarette smoking was an affirmation of character.
- Social Withdrawal....Smoking was a vital social prop and a medium of sharing.
- Obsession....Cigarettes provided the stimulus to promote thinking.
- Anxiety....The brain is fighting back.
- Levers Group Four
- Fears..... Smoking was used to blur the harsh edges of life.
The rose colored specs are departing, reality is returning.
- Disorientation.... Smoking cigarettes helped capture the moment and were an aid for reflection.
- Levers Other
- This makes the notation that there are other levers to research. They are hidden.
and can be detected in the other four groups.
This page will focus on the study and understanding of Cravings, the other matters raised will
have to be left for another venue, for like shoes, they require an individual fitting.
Cravings, like natural forces, are predictable in their nature but can often strike without warning.
Surviving them is crucial to success, an essential preparation is to work out in advance how
to behave when they occur.
Using natural analogy, here follows a review of some basic modes that cravings might adopt,
together will some pointers on ways to handle them.
The best test of a house is an earthquake. From a mild tremblor to an all out shaker, is the house designed to
withstand the shocks and aftershocks? Has it been built with the bricks of the real reasons,
the cement of firm intentions, the foundations of well researched understandings,
and the framework of unyielding purpose?
If not well designed and built, it will all come tumbling down. Building designers
recommend that houses built in earthquake zones use 'Triangular Bracing'.
Inspite of all preparations, the worst can happen. If so, there is little option but to simply
pick oneself up from the wreckage, smile wistfully and go back to the beginning, rebuild and
The Dangers at Sea
The sea is full of perils; typhoons, tidal waves, icebergs, shoals, sudden squalls,
water spouts, extreme tides, whirlpools, 'U'-boats and places like the Sargasso Sea, being but a few that come to mind. If only the signs could be read in advance then it would be possible to navigate around these hazards. Until a cravings alert system is invented, the best that can be done is to learn from the experience of earlier attempts and prepare for the worst.
Figure out how to deal better with them this time, advice is useless here. Everyone is unique and must needs fashion their own solutions.
Nothing is over until its completely over, and that can be many years down the road. Cravings can have the persistence of the shark featured in "Jaws" or can band together like the weather in the "Perfect Storm" or appear unexpectedly like the iceberg in "Titanic", all intent on wrecking the good ship 'RESOLVE'.
It roars in and destroys the house knocking you unconscious. Transported by the whirlwind, you come to your senses
outside a 24 hour gas-station at four in the morning.
There is money in your hand and are about to enter and buy a pack of cigarettes. The plan is to:
- Go in and buy a pack then throw it away.
- Buy a pack and give it away.
- Turn around and go back home.
- Buy the cigarettes, smoke one as a test, then throw the rest away.
- Wish you weren't there, break down and go back to smoking.
- Go in, put down the money, buy nothing, say nothing, smile and leave.
- Fine yourself for being weak.
Which solution is the best?
- Try to avoid (g),(contract with someone else to levy the fine if the circumstances fit.
In this situation the crime is "for failing to manage the brain." What ought the fine
to be? )
- With (e) its all over.
- (d) Is most certainly fatal.
- (b) Is a false trail, it attempts to make a virtue out of a lost cause.
- With (c) its hardly a test.
- The introverted kind will do best with (a).
- (f) Is for those who want and are able to match their wits to the problem.
The Forest Fire
Uncontrollable passions are like a raging forest fire, that consumes everything in its path. It ends
when all the fuel is exhausted, leaving a desolated house in its wake.
Beware of this once, for all the good work
of preparation can be used up in one bout of anger.
Beware of this twice, since depression and
the need for solace or comfort soon follow, increasing vulnerablity to the lure of cigarettes.
Try to anticipate and avoid contentious situations for a while, go with the flow, put up with it.
Wait until the grip on not-smoking has become better developed. If prone to this, find some to-be-done-alone
activities to turn to, which will create some space, just like a fire-break in a forest.
Lightning accompanies tornadoes and is also a primary cause of forest fires...It is said that lightning never strikes twice, well some places are prone to it.
Cravings can manifest an intensity similar to lightning,
and strike repeatedly in the same places creating weak spots.
Causing unsettlement, forcing forgetfulness and a weakening of intention to the point of lighting up a cigarette.
Maybe three or four years after smoking the last one,
a weak spot can reappear and attract a pocket of undispersed craving. If not prepared for this eventuality,
it can devastate a good run at getting rid of cigarettes.
Benjamin Franklin noticed that lightning mostly strikes at the highest point, and went on to invent the lightning conductor. It works by dispersing any accumulation
of electical charge by grounding it before it has a chance to build.
So in the spirit of "Its worth trying anything", it might help to stick a metal spike on our heads, like the one on a prussian generals helmet... Due to the sheer intensity of these kinds of cravings, this is the most difficult aspect to deal with.
(with appologies to A.Warhol.)
Trying to live through them is possibly like sitting in an electric chair, and surviving. Using the method for working at getting rid of cigarettes, Each and Every Day will help to ground some of this 'potential high electrical tension' and diagnose weak spots in advance.
Avalanches and other disasters
There are many other natural disasters that would be useful as analogies for
cravings. They come in many flavors and disguises and make for an interesting research.
The few outlined above are just for starters...
Most likely you have already tried several times to get rid of cigarettes, and
know its going to be tough. Its good to know that most ex-smokers succeed by or on their
seventh serious attempt, and that cravings and other surges can be resisted and fought off.
So, for when it happens again keep the following in mind...
...Please try to Remember
- Each day, renew the decision to get rid of cigarettes, it is a very wise decision.
- Stick to the plan and stay firm in the intention to see it through.
- The reasons, have them written down ready for when they are needed.
- You are recovering from a lengthy addiction, strange physical symptoms will occur.(If worrisome see an MD or a dentist)
- The pain in the craving will soon pass, let it pass.
- Keep busy, watch out for boredom.
- As a researcher, stay interested in what is happening to you.
- Feeling healthier? mark your progress.
- Your friends, who know all about this attempt to get rid of cigarettes and have agreed to help.
- The unexpected, this journey has only just begun, what else will happen?
- Be proud of what has been achieved so far.
- Be inspired that others have done it, you are not alone.
This is one way of handling cravings, but as mentioned earlier they are not all that will come to prevent. Consider a hurricane where the main event is the eye (the cravings) but there are also attendant tornadoes (other psychological and physical symptoms) that can also wreak much havoc. And this needs to be touched upon
The expression of anger and irritability is an act of getting rid of energies that have turned to poison by their non-acceptance or non-usage. it is something we all experience in life and develop a great deal of wisdom in ways to deal with it. An instance of this occurs when a friend is late or fails to turn up for an appointment. The energies for dealing with the occasion are coded and manufactured in advance. If the person is late
these energies pass their freshness date, so when the person eventually arrives, instead of getting a warm "Hello!" they get an irritable "You're late!" (Unless of course the waiter has been trained to wait).
The body and brains have been trained to recieve a cigarette every so often and the energies for smoking them are automatically manufactured. These energies keep being manufactured, the body and brains not knowing to stop. The appointment is not kept, the smoker is late, and irritability the result. Part of the cure is to inform the inner lives. They need to be told that cigarette smoking is now over.
If done, then the irritability will gradually diminish and eventually cease. It takes a while for the systems to respond. And at any rate the inner lives are probably not used to being taken care of and informed.
Not being able to handle this irritability is a major cause of returning full-time to smoking. Relationships and and conscience can only take so much heat. Another part of the cure is to direct any build up of anger and irritability at an object in the garden, something like a tree stump, rather than attacking a member of one's immediate family. (It is you getting rid of cigarettes not them).
Which is why it is important to inform all those nearest and dearest in advance concernining the intention to get rid of cigarettes. Inviting them to help by temporarily suspending their judgement, to give time and opportunity for the smoker to get a handle on the problem and regain some composure. It will be useful to put a signalling system in place in advance of the attempt.
This will most likely show up as constantly talking to others about this attempt to get rid of cigarettes. All the troubles and difficulties, thoughts about combatting them , progress reports etc will all come flooding out at the slightest provocation. Others will get quickly bored with all this, it will appear obesessive in the extreme to them, even manic. This
is not entirely preventable but should weaken with time.
The best cure is to dilute it by having other things to do. For instance, try playing golf and writing. Doing many new things is preferable since taking up with only one could wind up creating a new obsession.
Grief, Depression and Anxiety
Getting rid of cigarettes deprives the smoker of a potent ally - a staunch companion for maybe thirty or more years. Over the years this servant, whilst doing harm, has in some instances served well. It provided solace, pleasure, something to do, fake stress relief in times of trouble, helped out in human dealings - in fact everything one might expect to find in a substitute spouse.
Now that cigarettes are going or have entirely gone, symptoms of grief will apppear. In a variety of intensities and strengths all or some of the folowing might occur:
- Bouts of misery,
- Periods of intense anxiety,
- Feelings of emptiness and loss,
- A numbness,
- Paralysis in human dealings.
These like cravings will be strong at first but in time should weaken. In particular:
- The feelings of anxiety can reoccur for years after the last cigarette has been smoked. They are being produced by the brain pressuring for a return to smoking cigarettes.
- Many people deal with depression by overeating junk food; consequently weight gain can become a problem. (It is healthier to overeat a little rather than smoke). For help with this and other difficulties either a smoker's support group or, if too severe, a physician should be sought.
Quite often smokers smoke cigarettes as a self medication for undiagnosed psychiatric disorders. Upon cessation, these disorders can reappear, become a problem, strenthen etc. If this is the case in your case then please see an appropriate professional without delay.
Another side effect from getting rid of cigarettes is a mild and temporary schizophrenic-like state. Tobacco is a mild mind and mood altering drug. Its side effects accumulate over the many years of smoking creating alongside the physical addiction an incremental psychological dependency. Upon cessation the long time smoker might experience
mental disorientation, identity loss, mild hallucinations, memory disruption and even slight paranoia. Others may register and remark upon character changes. How long this may last
depends upon the state of 'mental wellness' of the smoker at commencement of the 'getting rid of' process.
If you are currently undergoing psychiatric care it is important to check with the doctor before attempting to get rid of cigarettes.
Continually having to fight or deal with the cravings, the irritability, grief etc puts a great strain upon the mental and emotional reserves. These can quickly become depleted which can give rise to lowered tolerances. So please try to not do everything all at once, it will not be possible. It is essential at first to have "Time outs" alone...
This is also why it is all important to enlist the full support of one's family and friends.
The process cannot be avoided, it will all have to be lived through. So it is important to make up one's mind and face it all, knowing and believing that eventually matters will get better.
Very much better indeed and in time will produce a new "You" to the delight of family and friends alike...
And The Many Other Things That Will Happen On This journey...
Well, that has outlined some of the worst things that can happen on this journey of getting rid of cigarettes. Knowing how to handle the bad frees one up to experience the good. And on this journey there are also many good things that will now begin to happen and become a great source of encouragement. These are for you to discover and perhaps write about...
Let it Pass.