Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Dealing with Habit Cigarettes

Smokers are connected to their cigarettes in many different ways, one is through habits. Just like the scientist Pavlov taught dogs to salivate by ringing a bell, a smoker becomes conditioned to smoke by external events such as drinking coffee, driving in a car, answering the phone. Nicotine acts on the brain to heighten these associations. So to be successful, the quitter needs to have different tools to deal with different situations. What works for one habit may not work for another.

  • Telephone: only answer the phone in rooms where you do not normally smoke such as the bedroom, have a piece of paper and pen handy to doodle, don't answer the phone when you are feeling particularly weak.
  • After meals: have a breathe mint, go brush your teeth, take a walk,
  • With coffee: sit in a different chair, drink tea instead or a different flavor of coffee, change your morning routine--having coffee after you read the paper instead of while you read.
  • Driving: have unsalted sunflower seeds available and eat them one at a time (mimics the hand to mouth motion, smoke a "fake" cigarette--often the unconscious mind doens't know the difference since we are not consciously aware of each cigarette we smoke.

The trick is to have a variety of tools to deal with each craving as it comes up. The good news is that habit cigarettes fall away very quickly since you get to practice them each day. If you're not ready to quit just yet, why not start changing your habit cigarettes, one at a time, so that when you are ready to quit, you have already dealt with that aspect. Habits cigarettes can be associated with people, places, times, situations, and emotions.

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