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It is many years since I have had a cigarette and I don't want to sound discouraging but I still have moments of temptation.
I must stress however that these moments are rare and fleeting these days. I have collected a number of strategies to deal with temptation and some of these have become so often used that they are now ingrained as automatic responses. Here are a couple of ideas that work for me and may work for you.
* Surely one won't hurt? Last time this hit me I was watching a movie and after a strenuous battle the star sat in the sun with his mates and lit up. It looked so good - and I was 10 years off the cigarettes at the time.
I remind myself at times like this that it is the first cigarette that does the damage. The first cigarette leads to the second, to a pack. I have to follow the temptation to its conclusion. I have a mental image of myself leaning out of my window at 3 AM trying to get air into my lungs, coughing and gasping.
So, whenever I am confronted with tempting imagery I substitute an image taken from reality and remind myself, "This is where smoking takes me."
* After so long I am stronger. I could smoke now and control it.
Occasionally this thought crops up. When I no longer have the cravings caused by nicotine withdrawal it is easy to forget just how demanding and insistent they can be.
At such times I remind myself that my addiction is still alive and real and always will be. While I have been off the tobacco my addiction has been waiting, doing push-ups in the corner. It will come back at me just as strong as before.
I never say I will never smoke again. I hope this is the case but I prefer to take it in 24 hour chunks. For today, I won't smoke.
Something I have noticed over the years is that my addiction (I always visualise my addiction as an opponent that must be defeated), having been knocked out on the initial levels like attacking me with cravings etc, comes at me in a little more sophisticated manner. I have started to have thoughts of smoking as a lifestyle choice, something that someone, having achieved many of the benchmarks ordained for Western people, should be able to indulge in with impunity.
It was an article on television about heroin use in high society that sparked this dangerous train of thought.
Even though I have worked with a lot of recovering heroin addicts and I know very well that drug addition does not play snobbery with the pain it brings, my head still tried to tell me that ones station in life could somehow shield a person from its misery.
Of course, translated this meant I could smoke successfully.
Like I said, it's a little more convoluted way of achieving the same result; Harry lights up.
There have been a couple of times when down on my luck the idea of smoking has hit me like a hammer. At these times I have had to say that no matter what happens, no matter how bad - or good - I feel, I absolutely will not smoke today.
I must stress that these times are very rare. Most of the time days and weeks go by without my even thinking of smoking. I have even been to social events with smokers and the idea of smoking is as far from my mind as is the idea of driving a submarine. It just doesn't occur to me. This has been the case for many years.
If you are going through the tough stages in quitting I wish you well. It is worth it. You will feel better and one day you will look at a smoker and wonder just how you ever got drawn into that to begin with.
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