When Will They Stop?

Have you been quit for a few weeks or a month? Are you starting to wonder how long you’re going to continue to have these cravings? Does it seem like the nicotine has got to be long gone, but you’re still having these craves? And do you still seem to think about smoking (or not smoking, as the case may be) all the time (or a lot of the time)? Do you wonder when that will stop?

If you’re anything like me, you used to use smoking to cover up a lot of stuff. What I mean by that is, as a smoker, there were a lot of issues I never really dealt with, because I’d always just “smoke them away” (in other words, instead of dealing with them, I would just “stuff” them and go have a smoke).

I Don’t Know About You

Obviously, we’re all different, so I have no way of knowing what those issues might be for you, but here’s one of mine: I used to hate to deal with relationship conflicts. If I had an argument with my girlfriend, I would almost always get to a point where I would walk away and smoke a cigarette to “calm down”. In reality, I was stuffing my anger (or other “negative” emotion) behind the smokescreen instead of dealing with it in the moment.

In the early days of my quit, I used to write about how I was “digging deep”; actively looking for those things that I used to cover up by smoking so I could take them out and look at them in the cold light of day and deal with them before they had a chance to sabotage my quit. I used to encourage other quitters to do the same.

But I Urge You To Do It Too

I encourage you to dig deep, too: go looking for those things you used to cover up by smoking, take them out and look at them objectively, and decide how you’re going to deal with them now that you don’t smoke any more, before they have a chance to sabotage your quit.

It seems to me that at a month into the quit, we’re in the perfect spot for issues like this to start surfacing; we’re far enough along in our quit that the unpleasant physical aspects of quitting are mostly behind us, and we’ve already run into many of the triggers that used to send us looking for a cigarette in the past and successfully dealt with them.

Why It’s a Good Idea

So now, our minds need something else to occupy them, and they start digging, all by themselves. Some of the stuff they dig up is not pretty. And some of the stuff they dig up subconsciously triggers the urge to smoke (because that’s been our coping mechanism for so long).

The good news is, now we don’t have to respond to those triggers by smoking any more: we can make different choices, if we remain vigilant; if we stay conscious of what’s going on for us in each moment.

How It Was for Me

Once again, we’re all different, so I have no way of knowing when you’ll stop having regular, frequent craves, or when you’ll stop continually thinking about smoking (or not smoking), but I can tell you how it was for me:

I stopped having regular cravings around three months into my quit, and by the end of my first year they had become extremely rare. At this point, it’s been many years since I recall having one. I also stopped thinking about smoking or not smoking constantly around three months in, and rarely thought about it at all after about 6 to 9 months. I’m pretty sure that, after I’d been quit a year, those “obsessive” thoughts about smoking were long gone.

Your Mileage May Vary

Of course, your mileage may vary, but you will stop having craves, and you will stop obsessing over smoking. As long as you keep choosing life.

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