What are The Icky Threes?

The Icky Threes and Smoking Cessation

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"Icky Threes" is a term that comes up over and over again at the Smoking Cessation Forum here at About.com. It refers to particular phases of a person's quit program that can be bumpy and uncomfortable.

Not everyone experiences the Icky Threes, or if they do, it might happen at slightly different time intervals, but it is common enough to take note of and be prepared for should it happen to you.

3 Days -- Physical Withdrawal

The first three days of smoking cessation are intense for most ex-smokers.

Often, the first day or two are fueled by the 'excitement' of taking the initial plunge into quitting, but by the third day, reality is setting in and so are the discomforts of physical withdrawal from nicotine.

3 Weeks -- Psychological Withdrawal

At three weeks, we've gotten through the shock of physical withdrawal and we're just beginning to tackle the mental side of nicotine addiction. This turn of events often triggers cravings to smoke that can feel like we're back at square one again.

And be aware...even though nicotine might be out of your system by this point, psychological cravings can produce very real physical reactions in our bodies, making a mental trigger feel like physical withdrawal. Thinking about that smoke break you used to take at a certain time of the day can cause tension that makes your stomach churn and leaves you on edge. It feels like a physical craving, and in a way it is...but the source is a thought, not physical withdrawal from nicotine.

3 Months -- The Blahs

At three months the "newness" of the quit program is wearing off and we're often left thinking "Is that all there is?" The blahs hit, in other words. That usually triggers cravings to smoke, often quite intensely.  

This is a time period when relapse is common.

 It can be discouraging to have strong smoking urges surface after months of cessation.  For those who don't know why it's happening, it can feel like nicotine addiction will never let go of us, so what is the use of trying to quit.

Power on through this phase, because what you're feeling is temporary and normal.  Comfort with the new smoke-free life you're building will continue to grow with time, but only if you don't smoke.  If you do, you'll be right back where you started 3 months ago.

Knowledge is Power

Don't let the discomforts that come with smoking cessation throw you off course. They are all temporary, and once you move through them, they'll be cleared out and gone for good.  It takes time though, so try to settle in and let it unfold for you as it will.  

Don't put preconceived expectations on your recovery - just resolve to give yourself as much time as it takes for you.  Do this and you will find peace...and freedom.

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