Video discusses the irony of how many people often feel that they need to reward themselves with a cigarette for getting through a major obstacle or milestone.
“I got through a year without smoking–Boy do I deserve a cigarette for that!”
This is a kind of strange logic that some people experience when first quitting smoking. They lock in to a specific time frame as being the problem when quitting, and when they pass that period they are sure that not smoking will now just be a breeze. For some people that mental time frame being set is the one month mark.
For some people after getting through the first few days of quitting, the rest of the first year is no big deal, physical symptoms probably don’t exist at all and thoughts for cigarettes are marginal at best. But when the year is over, all of a sudden the ex-smoker drops his or her guard and thinks that vigilance is no longer an issue. Then when a thought is triggered the person can really get caught off guard and the thoughts and desires for a cigarette can become much more exaggerated than the person is expecting or ready for.
Once through the first year the person quitting no longer has to be worried about the kind of physical withdrawal symptoms that at times can really be intense, especially some of the symptoms that may have occurred during the first first 72 hours. To some degree, what happened then was beyond the person’s control. There are steps that people can take to minimize or squelch psychological thoughts, but some of the physical reactions that occur the first three days may just have to run their natural course. That is why getting through that time period is really important for a person quitting.
There are other situations that will occur over time that will still likely trigger thoughts for cigarettes. Holidays, family gatherings, meetings, tests, weddings, funerals, flights, movies or a host of other non day to day events can be tricky for a person who has not kept himself or herself mentally prepared. That is the key to keep the risk of relapse minimized when facing new situations–being mentally prepared by keeping your reasons for quitting strong and reasons for wanting to stay smoke free reinforced.
The mindset that should be used to get through all of these events is pretty much the same that a person should use when getting through the first three days or any quit milestones. Getting through 72 hours, a week , a month, a year or a decade is great. But getting though today, whether it is your first day or you thousandth day is the greatest accomplishment of all when it comes to addiction. For if you have a friend who had been totally smoke free for the previous few decades, but happened to have blown his or her quit last night–today is really a lousy day for him or her in regards to nicotine addiction. For all practical purposes, you are much further along and secure in your quit than this person is–even if today is only your second or third day being nicotine free.
So congratulations on getting through your first year nicotine free. More important now though is staying resolute in your resolve to get through today nicotine free. To be able to keep celebrating your nicotine free life for as long as you to choose to stay smoke and nicotine free always remember why you committed to never take another puff!
Originally written in 2001 for the Freedom from Nicotine board
We have a number of people who have just reached a major milestone in smoking cessation–they have made it whole year nicotine free. This really is a major accomplishment. For when a person is off for a year it means they have learned to deal with annual events and holidays, changes of seasons, major national and world tragedies, and a host of other life upheavals all the while proving to themselves and to others that they are fully capable of experiencing life’s ups and downs smoke free.
Basically making it a year means that a person has proven that there can be a full life after smoking. While a year is a major accomplishment, it is still important to keep working with the premise that every day is also still a major accomplishment. Also please note, that being off for a year does not mean that you have ended your addiction. It is still there and if given the opportunity will come out in full force.
Almost every clinic or seminar I do I will have people who were once off for many years, and sometimes even decades. I actually did a group two nights ago. I only had seven people there. Five were kids who were caught smoking and sentenced by the courts to attend the seminar. The two other were a man and women who did not know each other and who were there because they wanted to quit. Both of them coincidentally had five year quits in the past that they had lost. Of course they both lost it the same way, one day after fives years they took a puff.
The point I am trying to make is that being off for a year is great. It means you have learned how to do lots of things as an ex-smoker. It means they you have proved countless times that you can overcome adversity and still remain smoke free. It means you have learned how to celebrate major events without “needing” to smoke.
Being off a year proves a lot of things, but it does not prove that a person is cured or immune to relapse. Our one and two year ex-smokers are still addicts in recovery and hopefully will stay this way for the rest of their lives. Enforcing one simple rule can insure that that they never will relapse. That rule is to remain smoke free simply entails remembering and keeping in practice the decision to never take another puff!