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Quit 4,818 days ago

Beyond Withdrawal......Conditioned Response

May 15, 2019
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Excellent repost. Yes we are addicted to nicotine..... but for many of us, we used nicotine to comfort us, sooth us and relieve our boredom along with other things. I found key for me was learning how to deal with my emotions without smoking. KTQ Cara D4809


Beyond Withdrawal...Conditioned Response From knot on 1/13/2011 11:35:45 AM

I have been thinking about this for awhile, and I have touched on it briefly in previous posts. I think that we overlook one of the most powerful drivers of our addiction and that is the aspect of conditioned response.

I smoked all the time. When I was bored I would smoke. After dinner I would smoke. If I was angry I would grab my cigarettes. After I turned the key in the ignition of my car, I lit up. Every time.

I smoked playing Scrabble I smoked after washing the dishes If I took the dogs for a walk, I brought a cigarette. And so on, and so on ad infinitum

Each time I did these things, I smoked. When the nicotine hit my brain, it lit up in happiness as the dopamine flooded it. My brain began to associate all these things with getting it's candy, Nicotine.

So after I quit smoking and I walked my dogs, my brain was anticipating getting nicotine EVEN AFTER I HAD ALL THE NICOTINE OUT OF MY SYSTEM. And It would beg and plead for the reward of nicotine when doing these things. That is conditioned response.

I did not smoke to alleviate stress. I smoked all the time. But my brain tied these 2 things together. I did not walk the dogs to smoke but again my brain tied these 2 together.

In simple terms, this is how my brain viewed the world when smoking

Stress=Nicotine Food=Nicotine Scrabble=Nicotine Driving= Nicotime Sex= Nicotine Everything =Nicotine

When I quit I had to untie this knot of addiction in my mind. One trigger at a time, I had to re-train my brain. I had to break the conditioned response and give my brain a different way of bumping up the dopamine.

Some times when I would be obsessing about a smoke I had to stop and refocus.. Not so much distract myself but say what is really going on here? What is it I really want/need? What am I really responding to? How can I break this cycle and retrain my brain to function without that candy?

It made a huge difference in how I faced cravings..because I wasn't powerless over them. I could DO something. But I had to become aware of how deeply conditioned I was, how deeply I was motivated to get that hit of nicotine=dopamine.

I hope this helps, because I know it helps me even today.


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  • Terry1963
    Quit 343 days ago
    1 week ago #

    I remember in the beginning I would go for a quick power walk. It took less than 5 minutes, but it got my heart pumping in a good way. It was also an excellent dopamine hit. Maybe I should start doing that again. Just for the heck of it.

  • m
    Quit 1,727 days ago
    1 week ago #

    Twenty five a day, every day. The mind is a associative machine. That is why it takes time. Quitting starts fifteen minutes after the last cigarette and keeps getting better but that conditioned response is deep and override lessons are needed.

  • BobbieB
    Quit 459 days ago
    1 week ago #

    Yes very true that breaking all the associations takes time. Not smoking cigarettes isnt the whole thing to quitting smoking! Many routines to change (usually for the better).

  • A
    Quit 23 days ago
    1 week ago #

    16 days in. Things are going well, very few strong cravings now but I am finding it is the “conditioned” times and the bookended activities that seem to be that seem to be getting to me the most. So far, it has been easy to walk away and distract myself with gum or mints. I just keep telling myself that it will get easier everyday

  • m
    Quit 1,727 days ago
    1 week ago #

    Hello Anne_n. I think this is your second post. Good to read that you feel it is going well. It is doable but there are ups and downs. Distraction is key. The mind can be refocused. It does get easier. Practice and planning and pay attention to the benefits. Notice the extra money in your pocket? That helps.

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