Will I Miss Smoking Forever?

Should Ex-Smokers Expect Cigarette Cravings for the Rest of Their Lives?

I just need some time off...
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A reader asks:

I quit smoking seven months ago. I do feel better, and don't struggle with cravings to smoke all of the time now, but I still have days when I miss cigarettes. I sometimes wish I could have just one now and then. At times, the urge to smoke is so intense. I wonder if I'll ever be free of this habit? Will I miss smoking forever?


Think for a moment of your life as a tightly woven piece of fabric.

Each thread represents your life events and experiences, and running alongside the many "life" threads are threads of a finer gauge. They are so fine in fact, they're impossible to see with the naked eye. Those threads are your smoking habit, and they've become so thoroughly interwoven in the fabric of your life, you find you can't do anything without thinking about how smoking will fit into it.

The associations that we build up over time between smoking and the activities / emotions we experience in daily life are closely knit. Once you quit smoking, the job becomes one of unraveling those smoking threads, or associations, one by one.

How does that happen? And how long does it take?

Recovery from nicotine addiction is a process of gradual release over time.

Every smoke-free day you complete is teaching you how to live your life without cigarettes. Bit by bit, you're reprogramming your responses to daily events that trigger the urge to smoke by choosing something other than smoking when the urge surfaces.

The more practice you get, the less cravings will plague you. Eventually, your mind will adopt the new way of managing and smoking urges will go away completely.

Over the course of your first smoke-free year, you'll encounter and have a chance to clear most of the events and situations in your daily life that you associate with smoking.

Seasonal Smoking Triggers

Some smoking triggers are seasonal in nature and can create strong smoking urges months into your quit program. For instance, say you quit smoking during the winter and you're an avid gardener. You could find yourself craving a smoke break the first time you're out digging in the dirt the following spring. 

Thoughts of smoking related to the seasonal activities may hit you with an intensity you haven't felt in months. Don't worry. Once you make your way through the trigger smoke-free, it will let go and you can move on.

Practice Makes Perfect

Practice is a necessary part of recovery from nicotine addiction, so try to relax and let time help you. You built your smoking habit through years of practice. Now you must build the nonsmoking you the same way. The more practice you put between yourself and that last cigarette you smoked, the stronger you'll become.

True Freedom is a State of Mind

There's another step in finding permanent freedom from nicotine addiction that is just as important as practice and time.

It involves your attitude.

You might know an ex-smoker who says they'll always miss smoking, even though they haven't had a puff in 20 years. That's a frightening thing to hear, but there's a reason they are in that position, and it is something you can remedy for yourself. People who reminisce about how great smoking was and how much they loved smoking never changed what cigarettes meant to them.  

As smokers, most of us do think we love smoking, but the truth is that we love the relief we feel when the nicotine is replenished in our bodies. Nicotine withdrawal starts as soon as we stub out a cigarette, and that physical need ends up becoming associated with the activities we're involved in at the time until we think smoking is something we need to enjoy life. 

True freedom is a state of mind. We can abstain from smoking forever, but if we don't do the work to change how we feel about cigarettes we can miss smoking forever too.

So, how do we do that?

As the saying goes...knowledge is power, and it's the truth when it comes to recovering from nicotine addiction. 

We all know that smoking is bad for us, but most active smokers do all they can to avoid reading about it if at all possible. Start seeking out information and research on how smoking harms us, and do it often. It will open your eyes, but more importantly, it will help you start to change the relationship you have with cigarettes. Once you do that, the mental chains of this addiction will begin to break down for good.

Read about nicotine addiction and do the work to change the way you perceive cigarettes. They are instruments of death. They deserve nothing more than your disdain. And, be patient with yourself. Allow for as much time as you need to heal from nicotine addiction. There is no set formula for recovery. We are all unique in how we move through the process.

Don't look at quitting tobacco as a sacrifice. You're not giving up anything of value. Your quit program is a gift. Change your attitude and you'll find lasting freedom.

Cessation is doable, and your precious and irreplaceable life is worth the work it takes to achieve.

If You Want to Change Your Life, Change Your Mind.

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