Stop Smoking without Fighting Cravings

When we decide to put down the cigarettes, one of the first questions a Smoker asks is ” How do I stop smoking without fighting cravings?” This question is born of fear of experiencing withdrawal symptoms.

The problem is not in having the symptoms themselves. The problem is all in how we approach and handle those symptoms. We want to learn how to stop smoking without the side effects.

Let’s take a look at the underlying thought processes to understand how and why this happens.

Smokers’ Brains Change

When we smoke, our brains change in response to the very high levels of nicotine delivered by cigarettes. Those brain changes cause us to become addicted to nicotine, and that addiction can make stopping smoking very difficult.

When receptors in the brain are activated, they release a brain chemical called dopamine, which makes you feel good. This pleasure response to dopamine is a big part of the nicotine addiction process.

Over time, as you continue to smoke, the number of nicotine receptors in your brain increases. Addicted smokers have billions more of these receptors than nonsmokers do. But not all smokers have such a high level of receptors.

To make stopping smoking even more difficult, the brain receptors can be conditioned to expect nicotine in certain situations long after you have stopped smoking. These would be the times that we identify as “Triggers” such as smoking while driving the car, during coffee breaks, or after sex.

For this reason, simply treating the nicotine withdrawal is an inadequate approach. The damage done to the brain and it’s subsequent thought processes also need to be treated.

Total abstinence right from the beginning is the only effective course of action and this requires reconditioning the brain’s thought processes. This will take some time and we need tools to counteract this in the meantime.

This is the reason we see many Smokers relapse, sometimes several years after their last cigarette, despite nicotine’s absence after only 48-72 hours of total abstinence.

Vaping, Smoking, and Nicotine

Vaping “helps” anxiety for the same reason that smoking is perceived as being helpful. When we ingest nicotine (whether from smoking OR vaping), the nicotine releases Dopamine and Serotonin, which are a “Feel Good” drugs.

The Dopamine relaxes us only temporarily, then we need another “Fix”…

As a 3 pack/day Smoker, I did this 60 times every day for 22 years. This caused distorted thinking (addiction) and all else became secondary to getting that “Fix” at any cost.

This yoyo effect causes us to believe that the Fix is relaxing, when in fact it causes more stress and anxiety…

Before I understood my own behavior and made a decision to get honest about it, I “relaxed” 60 times every day, trying to get the natural relaxation that Non-Smokers enjoy continually every single day.

If you vape without nicotine, there will probably be minimal side effects, but something else will begin to occur.

You will soon see the truth behind this process that I just described and you will soon become bored with it and drop vaping…. You will have no further reason to continue.

The Benefits

The good news is that once you stop smoking entirely, the number of nicotine receptors in your brain will eventually return to normal. As that happens, the craving response will occur less often, won’t last as long or be as intense and, in time, will fade away completely.

Benefits will begin to appear almost immediately. In only 20 minutes after your last cigarette, your heart rate slows. Twelve hours later, levels of carbon monoxide, a gas lethal to humans in high doses, will begin to return to normal levels.

Within three months, your lung function improves and your circulation starts to get better .

After a year, your risk of having a heart attack drops by half. And after five to 15 years, your stroke risk will be the same as that of a nonsmoker.

Solutions

As we have just learned, we do not have a choice about whether or not we have withdrawal cravings. We are withdrawing from a very powerful drug and attempting to sidestep the cravings is impossible.

Our choice is simply how we will handle them.

We have also learned that fighting cravings sets us up for failure long after the nicotine is gone.

Our solution can only be retraining our thinking so that we can easily accept and deal with those cravings at any time, under any circumstances so that we do not get blindsided years down the road by triggers.

Available here

 

 

 

 

 

 

14 Replies to “Stop Smoking without Fighting Cravings”

  1. This is a really interesting topic, something I luckily have never had to deal with, but many family members have. From this post, what I got from it was, there is simply no easy way of stopping smoking and getting rid of those cravings. It is tough but once you do it, your body will absolutely thank you for it. I watched my father quit smoking a few years ago and that was so tough for him, however now he has, he is so much happier and healthier for it.

    1. Hi Joe,

      The point of the article is that making the goal to rid ourselves of something that we cannot get rid of is nothing more than a waste of time. We have falsely convinced ourselves otherwise.

      Stopping smoking is easy.

      Stopping the thinking that causes us to procrastinate and fail is the only hard part.

      John

  2. Thank you for sharing this knowledge, John. Although I’m not a smoker myself, I can attest to what you’re saying here because yes, I have smoked in the past — and it’s more about training your mind, than exploring the different products available out there. This being said, I’m somewhat worried about my father in law who I believe, is not able to drop this awful habit, even though he knows it will be the end of him (along with alcohol). 

    It’s really interesting to know how the brain works in response to all the different addictions, and how we slowly give in, and are unable to escape when we prolong the addiction.

    Again, thanks for sharing! 

    1. Hello Alexandre,

       You are correct when you say that it’s more about training your mind, than exploring the different products available on the market. 

      Belief that those products are needed  is a result of the fears that we have developed over the course of our smoking lives. The truth is, none are needed.. None…We only think they are.

      We have duped ourselves into believing that they are and have thereby created a whole new market of products that, for the most part, do not work and only frustrate futura attempts.

      This does.

      Best wishes!

  3. So you are saying that vaping is just a prelude to quit smoking and it doesn’t really replace smoking altogether? I find it interesting that some smokers switched to vaping and said that it’s ‘better’ for them. I wonder if they know about the positive effect it has on the brain when they have no intention to stop smoking.

  4. I think you did an amazing job of explaining some of the science behind what makes smoking so addictive AND so hard to quit.  I had never considered how we have conditioned our brain to come to expect a cigarette at different times.  Yet what you are saying seems to make a lot of sense. 

    Will the length of time that it takes a person to recondition their thought processes be  dependent on the length of time that they smoked or how many packs they smoked each day?  

    Thanks in advance, 

    1. Hi Sondra,

      No, the length of time is not an issue. The techniques will work for you under any conditions no matter how long you have smoked, how mush you smoke, or how many times you have tried to stop.

      The link is right here or at the bottom of every post.

      Come back next week and share your success with our readers.

      John

  5. My husband is going to try and stop smoking for the third time and is very anxious about it. I’ve never smoked, so it’s always been hard for me to understand why it’s so difficult to stop. Thank you for a wonderful explanation that will help me be much more supportive!

  6. Quit smoking, I have never been a smoker but my brother is a heavy smoker and has tried numerous times to stop but nothing seems to work. I will recommend this article to him.

    I do agree that our minds are what helps us to over come cravings. The mind is a powerful thing, and with positive thinking and retraining we can over come any obstacle not just cravings. Well written

  7. I have a loved one that is trying to stop smoking but is paralyzed by the fear of withdrawal symptoms that he believes may be worse than the consequences of smoking. The information in your article is very helpful and i intend to share with him , maybe it can help him to understand that there will be withdrawal issues but if he prepares his mind ,then he can certainly stop smoking.

    What would your advice on the process of stopping be?can he do it slowly by reducing the number of cigarettes per day ?or just go cold turkey and stop ?

    1. Hi Florence,

      The fear of withdrawal is a product of what we have done to our own minds. Certainly, nothing is worse than the consequences of smoking, but the fear comes from the addiction.

      There are many articles on this site that anyone can use.

      Here is one that you should find especially helpful.

      Thanks for your input !

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