Facts About Smoking and Quitting

Addiction - Habit – Memories - Urges

Nicotine is addicting

We now know that most smokers are physically addicted to nicotine. If you smoked a half a pack or more per day, chances are that you are addicted to nicotine. This means that your body tried to get used to having nicotine in it. Your body became used to the effects of nicotine, and as this happened, you slowly smoked more and more. Also, when you stopped smoking, your body had to get used to not having nicotine in it. This often feels bad. It is called nicotine withdrawal. As your body gets used to having no nicotine, these feelings do go away, so that after a week or so of not smoking most of the feelings have stopped. Having cigarettes (even one) during this time only makes withdrawal longer and harder.
    
Physical addiction, like nicotine withdrawal, is an important reason that many smokers have trouble quitting. Withdrawal does not feel good. Smoking a cigarette may help, but only for a short time. Thus, it is very tempting to smoke to reduce withdrawal feelings. Some smokers say that they enjoy the taste of a cigarette. Although the taste of cigarettes does vary based on the cigarette brand, studies show that when nicotine is taken out of cigarettes, smokers no longer like the taste. So even taste is related to nicotine addiction.
     Over your years of smoking, your body adjusted to the nicotine. Many of your organs made changes to get used to the effects of nicotine. These include your brain and your heart. These changes let you smoke without feeling all the effects of nicotine that you felt when you first started smoking. For example, after years of smoking you probably did not feel lightheaded after a cigarette. Your pulse no longer raced as fast. But, when you quit smoking your body adjusted again. This time it had to adjust to not getting nicotine. Your brain, heart, and other organs now had to get used to you not smoking! This change can be unpleasant and is called nicotine withdrawal.
The symptoms of nicotine withdrawal can include:

• lightheadedness
• sleep problems
• decreased heart rate
• craving for cigarettes
• increased appetite
• difficulty thinking
• headache
• nausea (sick to your stomach)
• depression (feeling sad)
• irritability
• anxiety (feeling tense)
• constipation

Most people do not have all of these symptoms, but they do have some. Nicotine withdrawal begins about 20 minutes after your last cigarette. If you do not smoke, it lasts between one and two weeks.
The Low Level Laser Treatment, helps eliminate these craving and withdrawal systems .

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Smoking is a habit
     Physical addiction is not the only reason that people keep smoking. Another important reason is called habit. When you first quit smoking you may find that you reach for your pocket or your purse to get a cigarette. That is habit. You may have had strong cigarette cravings when you drank a cup of coffee or talked on the phone, driving the car, feeling bored, drinking alcohol or being at a party, stress, times when you often smoked in the past. This is habit. You will find times and places which lead to urges to smoke after you quit. These times become triggers for urges. Once you realize that the urge is only habit, these triggers will weaken and the urges will go away. The Low Level Laser Treatment can not help you with habit. You have to determine which is urges and which is habit. The things that set off these urges are called “triggers.” The triggers can be people, places, things, and even moods.  

Here is a list of some common “triggers” for habit urges:
• talking on the phone
• driving a car
• seeing cigarettes 
• seeing someone smoking
• being with an old smoking buddy
• agrueing with family members
• feeling bored
• celebrating
• drinking alcohol
• finishing a job
• after eating
• drinking coffee
• feeling angry, sad or nervous
• feeling stressed
• feeling lonely
• trying to solve a problem
• before going to sleep
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As you can see, a lot of different things can cause habit urges. The good news is that you will not have habit urges forever. The longer you go without smoking, the fewer urges you will have.
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Memories of Smoking
     Living your life as a smoker is memories of the past. If you smoked a pack per day, you took about 70,000 puffs of cigarettes each year. There are few things that you have done as many times, besides breathing. Therefore you will have memories of smoking. You may see someone else smoking, taste a certain food, hear an old song and recall that you use to enjoy a cigarette  at that time. People who quit smoking for many years will say they still get urges. But its not urges, it’s memories of when they were smokers.

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How to Deal with Urges to Smoke
Three key ways to deal with smoking urges without smoking

(1.) Think Ahead     (2.) Prepare for the Urge     (3.) Cope with the Urge

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Think Ahead

Most recent x-smokers know the types of situations that are hard for them. These are the kinds of situations listed above. If you can plan ahead for these, you will be able to prepare for them. For example, before going to a wedding, you can tell yourself that the reception may cause urges to smoke. Or, if you have a stressful event coming up (a day in court or a funeral) you can tell yourself that you may crave a cigarette. If you used to smoke at baseball or football game, and the first game is coming soon, you can think ahead that you might want to smoke. Then prepare yourself for the Urge.

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Prepare for the Urge

Thinking ahead is only part of the solution. You also need to prepare for it. Think about what you will do if you do have urges. Will you be able to take control of the situation?
You can eat a piece of candy.
Chew on carrot or celery sticks until the urge passes?

What can you tell yourself in the situation that will help you get through it?
If you think of these things ahead of time, you will be more likely to use the ideas when the urge appears.

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Coping with the Urges

This is the real key. Coping skills are the things that you do or tell yourself in order to get your mind off cigarettes. Research shows that people who use coping skills are much more likely to stay quit than people who do not. People who rely upon “willpower” tend to start smoking again. There are two types of coping skills:


Behavioral Coping Skills

Are things that you can do… actions that you take. Here is a list:
• Leave the situation
• Call or talk to a friend who will listen
• Exercise
• Take deep breaths
• Have a drink of water
• Eat or chew on something (gum, candy, vegetables)
• Do a relaxation exercise.
• Keep your hands busy–play cards, sew, write
• Take a shower
• Do something with a non-smoker

Mental Coping Skills
Are things that you can tell yourself. Here is a list:
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Remind yourself of the reasons you wanted to quit
• Think of how long you have been cigarette free. You do not want to start over again
• Think of how you got through this situation in the past without smoking
• Try to figure out what is making you want a cigarette now
• Tell yourself that smoking will not solve any problem. It will only create new ones
• Surf the urge. Imagine the urge is a wave that builds up, then breaks. Imagine you are a
   surfer riding the urge wave, rather than being “wiped out” by it
• Think of how your health is improving because you quit smoking
• Tell yourself that
smoking is not an option - You have been smoke free and you are not
   going to start smoking again

Click here for Exercise Sheet

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