Quit Smoking Cards -- What To Tell Yourself When Strong Cravings Won't Go Away -- The Main Cards (CardsB.html)

Contents of This Page:

[C] The Main Non-Smoking Cards (thoughts to combat cravings)

[C1] What To Do In a crisis (vertigo) -- Think 'CAR'

The first thing to do in a crisis is to remember the acronym 'CAR':

Cough -- imagine coughing in someone's face, spraying him/her
Ash -- imagine a hot ash falling on my clothes
Read -- read the cards.

The disastrous imagery of coughing in someone's face and of a hot ash falling on my clothes quickly gets rid of the pleasurable thoughts of smoking. Then read these cards, which tell me all about the bad things about smoking, and why it is irrational to smoke even 'just one'.

Vertigo is the state of mind when I am flooded with strong cravings, and I haven't been able to get them out of my mind.

Also, say 'stop' out loud, and put a finger in my throat or down my throat. Think of putting something wet, slimy and disgusting in my mouth. Slap myself.

Calm down, deep breathe -- inhale slowly thru nose, exhale slowly thru mouth, thru slightly parted lips. Breathe with abdomen (deeply). Concentrate on breathing slowly and the breathing process itself.

Think of something pleasurable -- fantasize, daydream. Or visualize a beautiful mountain scene or seashore -- hear the waves and smell the salt air

After reading the cards and having calmed down, then dispute the stinking thinking and irrational thoughts that led to the smoking urge. Perhaps write it down on a card -- what was the trigger? What were the irrational thoughts? What were the helpful rational thoughts?

Change irrational statements to questions: I will feel better if I have one (?). One cig will taste so good (?).

OK, think of the pleasure of having a sickarette. Imagine the 1st puff... The 10th puff. Nice, eh? But is it that nice? Is it really worth getting up and dressing and shaving for? In RET lingo, 'it would be nice to have a sickarette, but I don't feel any overwhelming need for one'

What are my expectations about what smoking one sickarette or several will do for me? What is the reality? Instead of thinking of it as being so super - great, think of it as being nice (for a few minutes anyway), but just nice.

Shifting -- imagine burning a hole in my clothes.

Say: I stubbornly refuse to smoke. I don't do that anymore.

Wiggle my finger. Then challenge the nico-beast to wiggle my finger. This demonstrates that my higher self is in control of my body. The beast can't make me go to the store or light a cig. It has to convince my rational self to do so.

Practice crisis management -- think of the pleasure of smoking, and let these thoughts gain momentum. Then think 'CAR'! (Cough, Ash, Read the cards)

[C2] Trigger: on way home from meeting or from work

The situation and the stinking thinking: I want to buy a pack and smoke one immediately. I must relax. I can't stand the thought of just going home to the same tired, boring routine or working on the computer. Yuk. I'm tense from driving home or tense from contemplating driving.

* I am usually very happy once I get home that I have 'dodged the bullet', i.e. that I have not succumbed to the temptation of buying a pack on the way home and having one.

* I can reward myself (for not buying the pack) when I get home for the 1st 15 minutes -- do nothing / day-dream, read something enjoyable.

* I can stand it. It is not perfect but it is OK that I go home w/o my crutch.

* I will think so much more highly of myself if I dodge the bullet.

* I'm just suffering from Euphoric Recall. In actuality, a smoke would probably be nice, but not all that great.

* I need the success of stopping smoking -- it's the only thing I've succeeded at in the past 2 years.

* Quitting smoking gives me control of my life.

* Thought stoppage: CAR: Cough, Ash, Read the cards

* I will feel depressed after having the cig. So instead of it being an uplifting experience, as my euphoric recall indicated, it is really a downer, after the cig is done.

[C3] Trigger: Some project is turning disastrous

The situation and the stinking thinking: I can't get some software installed, or something is taking a lot longer and is more difficult than expected. I have an urge to go out and buy a pack. Irrational beliefs: I can't stand being deprived and I can't stand the thought of fighting cravings for an indefinitely long period of time.

* I am not that deprived or craved. It is in my head. I am suffering from euphoric recall.

* Imagine the pleasure of the 1st puff. Of the 10th puff. Is it that big a deal? Nice, yes, but is it something to get into a frenzy about?

* Remember to read the cards. During some incidents, I went ahead and bought a pack of cigs without even bothering to read the cards. DON'T IGNORE THE CARDS! Read them before buying the pack. For just 5 minutes, relax, lay on the couch, and read the cards.

[C4] Trigger: I'm thinking of relapsing

(A card that I wrote when I was on day 2 of my quit in early Sept. 1997, while I was in a quit smoking class. I quit 2 weeks before the class's official scheduled 'quit date')

The situation and the stinking thinking: I'm ahead of the others in the quit-smoking class. I'm all alone, I have no quit buddy. Maybe I ought to just 'screw it' and wait for the class's quit day in late September.

* I'm 48 hours free now, worst is over in another 48. Its not much worse now than it usually was when I was having 3 a day. In a couple of days it will probably be less than that. (Or, worst is over now, cravings are less now than what they were when I was smoking).

* The nicotine is out of my blood (if beyond 3 days) or nearly out of my blood (if beyond 2 days).

* I don't want to have to go through the last ____ days and ____ hours all over again! (Or if I'm more than 5 days quit: I don't want to have to go through another quit. I may not succeed in quitting for a long time, and perhaps only after many painful unsuccessful quit attempts).

* The only reason I want to smoke is not the craving, but rather that I am bored and want the thrill. But what thrill? Its a perverse desire to rebel, to break the rules, even though the rules are those I made for my own good.

* I'm curious about what a cig will taste like now. (CURIOUS? WHY?) Why is it so important to find out -- after all, it probably would taste a little yukky and make me feel dizzy now.

* I want to quit now so that a possible future job hunt will be easier (so I don't stink and cough at interviews, or crave because of the stress of it) and so that I am on the road to lower insurance rates.

* It won't be or taste all that supergreat to have 3 cigs.

* Quitting now increases the probability that I will succeed quitting during the non-smoking class.

* I've told 3 groups of people that I quit Tue Aug 19. I don't want to tell these groups that I relapsed AGAIN.

* Replace 'I can never smoke again' with 'Thank God I don't have to put up with that smoking crap again'.

[C5] Trigger: why not have 3 sickarettes once a week?

The irrational thinking: I'm sure that if I smoke such a small amount that I can discipline myself to stick to that level or less.

* Change the irrational statement into a question by inserting a question mark at one or two places: 'I'm sure that if I smoke such a small amount that I can discipline myself to stick to that level or less. (??)'

* It was moderately enjoyable. Just moderately. Except that I felt kind of queasy after.

* The next morning for a couple of hours I had cravings when I vividly tasted the sickarettes. Also I had sporadic short bursts of cravings and 'tasting' the sickarettes. The suffering from these cravings was far in excess of the only modest pleasure of smoking the 3 sickarettes.

* If I keep having 3 cigs a week, I will have to schedule those times around a preemployment medical screening so that I will be 4 days free (and thus not have nicotine in my blood). Note -- if they take hair samples instead, then its best to assume that they will detect 3 cigs a week even if I completely quit a month ago.

* My experience is that for the day before, or at least a few hours before my scheduled next sickarette pack purchase day/hour, I strongly anticipate the smoking -- I have urges that I find hard to resist. I have been known to give in early. I don't know if I've ever done that from the level of 3 cigs a week from an otherwise nicotine - free experience, but I have experienced it while chewing Nicorette. I may have more tools and knowledge now, but I'm also pretty sure that I will suffer moderately both the day after, and the day before.

* Having 3 cigs once a week keeps it all 'alive' and keeps me 'on the brink'. I start worrying again about relapsing and I spend a lot of time and mental energy on it. I feel 'delicate' and 'vulnerable' again, and I'm less willing or able to do high stress work. I find myself using these feelings as an excuse to procrastinate.

[C6] Relapse Prevention (week 2):

The situation and the stinking thinking (note that I again am using the technique of inserting question marks in some of my irrational statements): I don't have any strong cravings, and only a few short weak ones. But I want one because I'm curious (?). I've been good and I deserve (?) one.

* Think of this as 'don't be an idiot week' (i.e. don't have one). I'm not having strong cravings that I 'must' succumb to, so having a sickarette now would be inexcusable idiocy.

* A cig now might be nice, but maybe not -- it could taste crummy, and make me feel yukky and dizzy. Actually, it would probably take several sickarettes over a long period of time before I begin to get back to the good feeling of satisfaction.

* I don't want to have to go through another quit. I may not succeed in quitting for a long time, and perhaps only after many painful unsuccessful quit attempts. If it is impossible to resist a ciggie now, then it will likely be impossible to quit later.

* I might get hooked again for a long time, and suffer the negative consequences (insurance higher, teeth more costly and painful to keep, damage my self-esteem, constant deprivation feeling, any job hunting will be more difficult and less fruitful, lack of freedom, waste of time, disrupting my schedule).

* The nicotine is out of my system, a goal that has been very difficult to reach. Now pre-employment medical screenings and insurance medical screenings won't detect nicotine.

* My present state is that I have fewer cravings than I had when I was smoking.

* It is so great to be free at last. No more dash to the store just to buy cigs when I need to buy other things too.

* Thank God I don't ever have to put up with this smoking crap again.

* I'm in control of my life now.

* I've finally succeeded at something in the past 2 years. I really needed the success of stopping smoking.

* Vertigo: think CAR (Cough, Ash, Read the cards)

* If I smoke, I will have to reset the meter to 0.

* I don't want to have to tell several groups of people that I relapsed AGAIN.

[C7] Other thoughts

* See cravings as good -- an opportunity to practice Rational Emotive Therapy (RET) and other thought control techniques. The training will help protect me in future addictive crises, and will also give me RET training to deal with other problems.

* Practice Practice Practice the RET techniques -- pretend that I am in the following situations, and then think of some rational thoughts to handle them: (1) Sudden cravings strike me out of nowhere (2) Windows 95 starts having a lot of GPFs, I lose some files ... (3) Coming home from work. I have an urge to stop by the store to buy cigs

* Practice this Sensitizing technique -- Imagine giving in to the urge. Then imagine the consequences -- the horror of the renewed cravings and slipping into full time smoking. The blow to my self-esteem. The disruption of important work. Having to run to the store every day. Having to admit to smoking at a preemployment medical exam. Having to quit again. Having to tell several groups that I'm smoking again.

Then imagine the positive consequences of hanging tough and saying no to the urge. The freedom from cravings. No more ball and chain. Let myself be happy as I visualize these things.

Some More Thoughts To Help Stay Quit (on the cardsc.html page)

[D] The Reasons to Quit list

(This is a list of all the bad things about smoking and the reasons why I want to quit)

* Constant deprivation feeling: If I exercise control (for example as I have been during 12 of the last 15 months), the urges and cravings I suffer are worse than what I experienced after a week of not smoking.

* Waste of time (running to store ...). Much time spent quitting too -- reading books, sleeping.

* Lack of freedom -- running to store every day. Sometimes just to buy sickarettes, even though I needed to shop for other things. Constantly planning my activities around smoking, e.g. shopping trips.

* Money -- its expensive -- near $2/day for cigs. Probably 3X that including indirect costs (driving, dental surgery, insurance)

* Medical Insurance

* Teeth and gum disease (remember the awful scraping during surgery)

* Could get cancer. Even throat cancer, where I'd have to talk through a hole in my neck.

* Difficult breathing through nose, even sleeping at night sometimes difficult because of obstruction.

* Disrupting my schedule, keeping me from doing the most important things, because they were too stressful.

* Job -- Employer's perception of smokers standing outside of building when they should be at or near the workstation. Preemployment exam. Coughing at interview. Employers prefer non-smokers so that the company's health insurance rates will be lower, and for fewer sick days

* Finding a girlfriend would be more difficult (more than 80% of women don't smoke, and the vast majority of those prefer a non-smoker. And many women who smoke prefer a non-smoker as quitting and staying quit is easier with a non-smoker mate).

* Self esteem -- I really need to accomplish this; its the only thing I've succeeded at in 2 years.

Some More Reasons To Quit Smoking (on the cardsc.html page)

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