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The cards were the most crucial part of my last and so far successful quit.
You don't need to read this page in order to apply card therapy. The information below is just background information for the interested.
The two books listed below, 'When AA Doesn't Work For You -- Rational Steps To Quitting Alcohol' and 'Rational Recovery, The New Cure For Substance Addiction' are aimed at alcohol and mind - altering drugs, but the techniques are applicable to any addictive substance, including tobacco. Both concentrate on techniques on controlling one's own thinking and quelling one's cravings by remembering and using rational statements. These books provided much of the ideas for the 3 X 5 cards I wrote.
Irrational: 'I must have a cigarette now'
Rational: 'I would like to have a cigarette now, but I don't have to have one. And I won't feel all that much better if I do -- it will feel nice, but not all that great. And tomorrow I will regret it deeply'.
A Activating Event: I've had a hard day at work. At last I'm done and outside, so I can light up now. Tomorrow is also going to be bad -- I have a presentation to give at work. I'm nervous and need to relax.
B Beliefs about A (irrational): I need to calm myself down. I need a smoke now. I can't stand not smoking any longer. It is awful that I have to put up with this suffering. Whenever I have a craving this strong, I have to give in to it.
C Consequences: I blow my quit (yet again). Everyone will know soon. I will have to start my quit all over again and repeat all of the suffering that I have endured over the last few hours / days.
D Dispute the irrational beliefs, and replace them with rational beliefs: I don't need a smoke, although one would sure be nice. I can relax by meditating, walking, and / or thinking of something pleasant. It's painful not being able to smoke, but in a few days, I will seldom have serious cravings. Those cravings will be less than the cravings I had as a smoker, when I wasn't able to smoke.
Note: RET techniques can be applied to almost any kind of mental problem, such as procrastination and anxiety. The latter part of the book has a lot on how to use RET to deal with difficult life situation other than addiction.
An addicted person is fighting a war with himself. It is like a person is of two minds.
One part of the mind is jumping up and down screaming, 'I must have a cigarette now! It will taste so good.' This mind is called 'the beast'. The voice one hears is called the addictive voice. The beast is the primitive survival - oriented part of the brain that demands what it needs -- food, water, air, etc. Unfortunately, in an addicted person, this beast brain also thinks it needs the addictive substance.
The other part of the mind is saying, 'if I have a cigarette, I might relapse back into full time smoking. And a cigarette will only satisfy me momentarily. I will soon want another'. This mind is the 'rational' mind, the part of the mind that reasons things out and makes decisions.
Rational Recovery (RR) consists of training the rational mind to recognize the beast's addictive voice. And how to combat it -- by use of addiction diction, and by realizing that the beast is physically helpless. This consists of a few techniques:
It has been very comforting for me to realize that the beast can't take direct control of my muscles and force a cigarete into my mouth. Rather, I have to decide first to smoke.
Cough -- imagine coughing in someone's face
Ash -- imagine an ash dropping from a cigarette onto an expensive piece of clothing.
Read the cards -- now read the cards which lists the thoughts, affirmations, and reasons why it would be a bad idea to give in to the urge.
Once you fight it out with your beast and convince yourself to quit for your lifetime (try writing down why you never again want to touch one of the nasty things), then the quit process will become much easier, and maybe even almost effortless.
Whenever I had a trigger situation or trigger thoughts that were not already covered by an existing card, I'd write a card to cover that situation or thoughts.
I finally learned that even after several weeks without a slip, just 2 cigarettes would cause increased cravings and enhanced sensitivity to stress for 2 or 3 WEEKS. When I learned this lesson, I really made up my mind not to ever touch a cigarette again.
(2) Something especially bad suddenly happens, so why not have 2 cigs?
(3) Why not quit next week, or next month when ...
(4) I've been quit for a week now. So why not have 2 cigs once a week?
(1) Briefly list the emergency CAR procedure,
(2) list the bad short-term consequences of giving in.
(3) list some good short-term benefits of NOT giving in.
(4) Write a reminder(s) that even in the very short term, if I do give in, that it won't taste all that great or feel all that great. It will be nice, but not great or euphoric.
(5) Write some RET statements, such as that I would like a cig, but don't need one. (See sections B1.A and B1.B).
Examples of Bad Short Term Consequences:
(1) I will feel depressed shortly after finishing the cig.
(2) I will have to set my meter back to zero.
(3) I will worry that I may never succeed in quitting. Or I will worry that it will be a long time before I succeed, and only after many painful attempts
(4) I will have more and stronger urges now
(5) I will feel weak and vulnerable again to stress
Some good short term consequences of resisting the urge:
(1) I will feel better about myself. Sometimes I even feel exhilarated when I get through a crisis situation without smoking.
(2) I need the feeling of success of stopping smoking
(3) After this crisis trigger situation passes without smoking, I can reward myself, (e.g. after I get home withOUT buying a pack of cigarettes, I can reward myself for 15 minutes by laying on the couch and reading something enjoyable)
(4) I have fewer urges now than when I was smoking (probably applies after day 4)
(5) I enjoy the freedom of not being bound to the cigarette habit
(1) Constant Deprivation
(2) Constant Obsession With The Problem
(3) Lack of Freedom and Waste of Time
(4) Job Hunting (Coughing At A Job Interview)
(5) Other Irritants (Short Term)
If you ask him why he started on that last bender, the chances are he will offer you any one of a hundred alibis. Sometimes these excuses have a certain plausibility, but none of them really makes sense in the light of the havoc an alcoholic's drinking bout creates. They sound like the philosophy of the man who, having a headache, beats himself on the head with a hammer so that he can't feel the ache.The following is from pp. 34-35 of "Alcoholics Anonymous". The story about Jim trying to make alcohol safe by pouring whiskey into milk is illustrative of the kind of illogical thinking that a smoker has when succumbing to "just one" thinking:
... There is the obsession that somehow, someday, they will beat the game.
Our so-called will power becomes practically nonexistent. We are unable, at certain times, to bring into our consciousness with sufficient force the memory of the suffering and humiliation of even a week or a month ago. We are without defense against the first drink.
The almost certain consequences that follow taking even a glass of beer do not crowd into the mind to deter us. If these thoughts occur, they are hazy and readily supplanted with the old threadbare idea that this time we shall handle ourselves like other people. There is a complete failure of the kind of defense that keeps one from putting his hand on a hot stove.
The alcoholic may say to himself in the most casual way, "It won't burn me this time, so here's how!" Or perhaps he doesn't think at all. How often have some of us begun to drink in this nonchalant way, and after the third or fourth, pounded on the bar and said to ourselves, "For God's sake, how did I ever get started again?" Only to have that thought supplanted by "Well, I'll stop with the sixth drink." Or "What's the use anyhow?"
... This is Jim's story:
"... On the way I felt hungry so I stopped at a roadside place where they have a bar. I had no intention of drinking. ... I had eaten there many times during the months I was sober. I sat down at a table and ordered a sandwich and a glass of milk. Still no thought of drinking. I ordered another sandwich and decided to have another glass of milk.Thus started one more journey to the asylum for Jim. ... He had much knowledge about himself as an alcoholic. Yet all reasons for not drinking were easily pushed aside in favor of the foolish idea that he could take whiskey if only he mixed it with milk!
"Suddenly the thought crossed my mind that if I were to put an ounce of whiskey in my milk it couldn't hurt me on a full stomach. I ordered a whiskey and poured it into the milk. I vaguely sensed I was not being any too smart, but felt reassured as I was taking the whiskey on a full stomach. The experiment went so well that I ordered another whiskey and poured it into more milk. That didn't seem to bother me so I tried another."
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