Spring Start to Stop Smoking
To emerge and arise, spring, the season of birth can be the greatest period of personal awakening a smoker has ever known. Nicotine dependency is a brain "wanting" disorder, a mental illness as real and permanet as alcoholism.
The "want" felt for that next cigarette is born of slavery not choice. Feed the "want" and bondage continues. Say "no" and the process of rebirth can at last begin, a slow yet steady bloom into entire days where never once do we want for nicotine.
Try recalling what it was like before getting hooked, the beauty of going days, weeks, and months without once wanting to smoke? Can you remember the calm and quiet mind you once called home? If honest, the answer is no, you can't. None of us could. That's what drug addiction is all about, about quickly burying all memory of the comfort we left behind.
The mind's want circuitry, its dopamine pathways, were designed to assure our survival, to create "want" for food and water. Nicotine de-sensitized our dopamine pathway receptors, which in turn caused our brain to grow millions of extra receptors. A vicious cycle, one cigarette, two, three per day then four, the more we smoked, the more receptors nicotine numbed, and the more that were needed. Soon, any attempt to stop brought potential for an emotional train wreck that takes up to 3 days to peak in intensity and up to 3 weeks before the sensitivity and number of receptors return to normal.
Want for food, want for nicotine. The difference is that without food we die, while without nicotine we thrive. Recovery is a temporary journey of re-adjustment that transports us home.
Nicotine addiction is about living a lie. Hijacked "want" pathways pound home the falsehoods that smoking nicotine defines who we are, gives us our edge, helps us cope and that life without it would be horrible. Lies, all lies. In fact, within 2-3 weeks we discover that everything we did while nicotine's slave can be done as well as or better without it.
Although we each invented a long list of reasons to explain why we'd smoke that next cigarette, there was really only one reason. We did so because we had to, because a rising tide of anxieties would begin to hurt if we didn't.
There was always only one nicotine dependency recovery rule determining the outcome for all. It's called the Law of Addiction and it states, "Administration of a drug to an addict will cause re-establishment of chemical dependence upon the addictive substance." Like the alcoholic taking a sip, just one puff of nicotine and all our healing gets flushed like a toilet. "One is too many, a thousand never enough."
Studies show that just one puff and within ten seconds up to 50% of the brain's "want" pathway receptors become occupied by nicotine. While most walk away from relapse feeling like they've gotten away with smoking just once, it isn't long before their brain is soon begging for more. There was always only one rule, no nicotine just one hour, challenge and day at a time.
Freedom is our birthright. A spring recovery means that by summer we can begin experiencing entire days where we never once want to smoke nicotine. After the first such day, they become more and more common, until they become our new sense of normal.
As I'm sure you've heard, smoking costs half of adult male smokers an average of 13 years of life and female smokers an average of 14 years. For each of the five million smokers claimed by nicotine addiction this year, 20 others are suffering from a smoking related disease. Smoke's more than 3,500 chemical particles, 500 gases and 43 cancer causing chemicals destroy additional cells and tissues with each and every puff. Smoking truly is a brain priorities "want" disease that had us committing slow suicide.
It isn't that we loved or liked smoking but that we didn't like what happened when we didn't smoke, up to 72 hours to empty the body of nicotine and reach peak withdrawal.
While it felt like nicotine relieved stress, truth is, all nicotine relieved was its own absence. You see, stress, alcohol and vitamin C are each acid events that cause the alkaloid nicotine to more quickly be removed from the bloodstream. The more stressed we became, the greater the urge to replenish. But once we satisfied our addiction the underlying stressful problem remained. If the car's tire was flat it was still flat. One of recovery's best gifts is an amazing sense of calm during crisis, as we are no longer adding nicotine withdrawal to it.
Imagine a spring awakening where we discover that years of fears about coming home were unwarranted, that even the love in our heart, we get to bring it with us. Imagine lots of extra time, money, improved breathing, enhanced smell and taste, fewer root canals, less hair and vision loss, and a permanent end to ash and the stink. Most of all, imagine not dying by our own hand, of enjoying up to 5,000 extra sunrises.
A few quick tips. Don't skip meals (especially breakfast) and if your diet allows, drink natural fruit juices the first three days. Eating little and often will stabilize blood sugar levels, reducing or eliminating a host of needless symptoms. If concerned about weight gain, consider fruits and vegetables as healthier alternatives or a temporary increase in daily activities.
If a heavy caffeine drinker, you need to know that nicotine doubled the rate by which caffeine was removed from the body. If feeling anxious or jittery consider cutting daily caffeine intake by up to one-half.
Remember, crave episodes are good not bad. See each as an announcement that you are about to be rewarded with the return of another aspect of life, the destruction of a time, place, person, activity or emotion smoking cue during which you had conditioned your subconscious mind to expect a new supply of nicotine. While crave episodes are less than three minutes, time distortion is normal during early recovery, so be sure and look at a clock. The number of crave episodes usually peaks by day three and is down to about one per day by day ten.
Take a few minutes to write down your reasons for wanting to stop, carry them with you and read them during moments of challenge. Also, try not to be afraid during craves as its like pouring fuel on a fire. Instead, fully embrace each as they cannot cut, hurt or harm you. It will soon be over and you'll be rewarded with return of another piece of a nicotine-free life.
How and when to begin? Contrary to pharmaceutical industry brain washing, each year more long-term ex-smokers succeed by quitting cold turkey than by all other methods combined. As for when, as strange as this may sound, two recent studies found that unplanned attempts are twice as likely to succeed as planned ones.
Why allow a mountain of needless anticipation fears and anxieties to build and fester when there has will never be a better moment to reclaim your freedom than here and now?
Knowledge is power. It allows us to become vastly smarter than our addiction is strong. Visit WhyQuit.com to download free stop smoking books, watch free counseling videos or visit Freedom from Nicotine, our free online support group. Remember, spring will birth freedom so long as no nicotine enters the body. There was always only one rule that if followed provides a 100% guarantee of success to all, no nicotine just one hour, challenge and day at a time.
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- WhyQuit.com - WhyQuit is the Internet's oldest forum devoted to the art, science and psychology of cold turkey quitting, the stop smoking method used by the vast majority of all successful long-term ex-smokers.
- Nicotine Addiction 101 - WhyQuit's basic guide to understanding nicotine dependency.
- Nicotine Cessation Topic Index - An alphabetical subject matter index to more than a thousand nicotine cessation articles, videos and support group discussions.
- Joel's Library - Joel Spitzer began presenting stop smoking clinics and seminars in 1976. WhyQuit's education director since 2000, Joel's Library is home to his life's work. It includes Joel's "Daily Quitting Lesson Guide," more than 100 original stop smoking articles, his free ebook "Never Take Another Puff," and to his ever growing collection of more than 400 stop smoking videos.
- "Freedom from Nicotine - The Journey Home" - Written by John R. Polito, a former 30-year heavy smoker and WhyQuit's 1999 founder, Freedom from Nicotine shares the science underlying nicotine dependency and successful abrupt nicotine cessation.
- Turkeyville - Imagine surrounding yourself with more than 10,000 cold turkey quitters. Turkeyville is a Facebook support group exclusively for cold turkey quitters.
- Freedom - Freedom was WhyQuit's original 1999 stop smoking support group. No longer accepting members, its 453,000 archived posts continue to share recovery insights.