If you’re trying to quit, your triggers are your worst enemies. They sneak up on you when you least expect it.
They are precisely why a person relapses, so it’s very important to understand how to overcome them. If you plan ahead, you’ll succeed.
If you’re a pack a day smoker, then there are 1000’s of them engraved in your memory.
Now don’t be scared, it’s not as bad as you think. They can be reversed. Yes, it is possible.
Eventually, your daily routine will be a trigger-free environment. The exact things that set you off in the past will have no relevance anymore.
There are days when you won’t even think about cigarettes. Doesn’t that sound wonderful? Yes it does, so let’s get to that point.
Let’s start with some of the earliest triggers and work our way towards those that occur months or even years down the line.
As you go through life as a smoker, habits form, almost like clockwork.
You wake up, smoke a cigarette. Get out of the shower, smoke a cigarette. Drive to work, smoke a cigarette.
Almost to work? You still have time to have one more cigarette before you walk in the door.
These are your habitual behaviors, and they must be stopped.
In order to reverse these behaviors, which is paramount to quitting, you first need to acknowledge them, know they are coming, and plan ahead. If you don’t, they may catch you off guard and you may relapse, and that will send you back to square one.
It’s very easy at the beginning to naturally grab for a cigarette, or even give up all together because the temptation is too hard. Don’t let that stop you!
Understand that you’re only reaching for a cigarette, not because you want one, but because you’ve done so for many years.
It’s just a bad habit that needs to be reversed.
After so many years, it feels natural to reach for one while you’re walking down the street, or while dancing at a party.
What are some others?
Waking Up – This is the first one you’ll face. If you’re a pack a day smoker, you’ll probably think about having one first thing in the morning.
I know I did.
I smoked before even going to the bathroom, getting dressed, or turning the lights on.
When you wake up, you’re going to think about it, so what should you do? Instead, drink a glass of juice or go directly to the bathroom and take a shower.
Don’t sit around and ponder, you’ll go nuts.
Make some toast, or brew some coffee. Stay in bed longer, or turn on the TV.
After a Shower – For some reason, I loved to smoke after a refreshing, hot shower. Perhaps just the feeling of cleanliness sparked the nicotine craving.
If this pertains to you, focus on the smell of clean clothes, or your clean body.
Forget about those nasty cigarettes. They will stink everything up, including your freshly washed hair.
If you smoke, you’ll have ruined it for the entire day, and people will notice.
I work with people everyday who come into work freshly showered like the rest of us, only their hair, jacket, and even purse, REEK of cigarette smoke.
That’s because they smoked on the way to work.
Way to ruin a good shower. Everybody notices, too. Smokers can’t smell themselves, but the non-smokers can. It’s vile.
Eating – It’s quite common for people to smoke after they eat. It’s comes natural to them.
Ever notice how many people go outside after they eat? Remember when you could smoke inside of restaurants? How many people sat in those sections?
Once you’ve quit and eaten a few meals without smoking, you’ll reverse the behavior and you won’t dwell on cigarettes after you eat.
You might even save room for dessert now, instead of quickly going outside to get your fix.
This is a trigger that you’ll notice how quickly it fades away once you overcome it.
That is a tell-tale sign that habits are reversible.
Reach for a mint instead, or even a toothpick. Anything but a cigarette.
Driving – Smoking and driving seem to go hand-in-hand don’t they?
If that’s you, then you probably do this a lot while you drive. I smoked in my car all the time and it smelled really bad. So bad that I was embarrassed to have anyone ride with me.
Instead, you should snack on something light, hold a cup of coffee, sing to your favorite music, or simply focus on the road.
Stash toothpicks in your console to have at hand.
The cigarette stench does go away over time, and when it does you’ll probably take much better care of your car.
Work Breaks – Every employee gets a break during work. If you’re a smoker, then you most likely go on this break.
This is a tough one, because it’s been hammered in your brain for quite some time to go outside as soon as you get the chance.
If you’re a pack a day smoker, then the intense craving will surface every 30-45 minutes.
If you’ve been working for 4 hours without a cigarette, you’re probably thinking about your next break, even if it’s only for a split second. It still has crossed your mind.
Non-smokers don’t need breaks. They can make more money instead.
Think about all the additional money you’re losing by taking that break while others are working.
It adds up.
Watching TV – Sitting around on the couch is the perfect opportunity to light one up, and I’m sure you’ve done it a 1000 times, especially if you smoke inside the house.
I always loved to smoke during an intense scene of a movie, or when you anticipate a “good part” was coming.
Instead, nibble on something light, or make a nice meal for yourself. Drink some juice, make some coffee, or simply just watch TV and abstain.
You’ll most likely be thinking about it, and that’s natural, but get through the moment and you’ll begin to reverse the bad behavior.
Enjoy your surroundings and the fresh smells around you. Cuddle with your pets.
Your neighborhood convenience store – You’ve likely bought cigarettes from here dozens and dozens of times.
You may even know the cashier’s name. On top of that, they probably know what brand you like, and they may have them sitting on the counter waiting for you when you come in.
Try getting out of that scenario on Day 1. You’re almost doomed to fail.
I would avoid this place all together for the first few days. Otherwise, you may go in there and buy them without fully thinking first, and you don’t want that to happen.
It’s easy to slip-up if you aren’t focused.
You’ll likely be taken completely off guard, and left stuck in a spot you can’t escape. It happened to me dozens of times.
Some strange event happened, and all of a sudden, I was away from home, out of my comfort zone, feeling helpless, and all I wanted was a cigarette.
That is not the best place to be. You have to know some of these situations.
Your Favorite Bar – You’re probably thinking “How am I ever going to be able to go out again to the bar and not smoke?”
Well, it’s tough, but not impossible.
Don’t go out for at least two weeks after you’ve quit…AT LEAST! I’d wait more than that if you want a good chance of succeeding, but no less than 2 weeks.
Most likely even more places than before.
If you do want to go out, go somewhere else, just don’t go to your favorite place.
Let someone else choose where to go, and tag along. You’ll be surprised by how the new place isn’t as huge of a trigger as your favorite place.
This is because you’ve conditioned your mind over and over again to expect a cigarette at that one place where you go out.
If you’ve avoided it, then you’ve avoided that expectation.
Eventually you’ll have to start reintroducing your old stomping grounds, but just for the first few days I’d steer clear.
Remember, you’re setting yourself up for success, not depriving yourself.
Forgetting the Negative – After you’ve quit smoking for a few days, you’ll begin to feel really, really good.
You may even feel so good you’ll forget why you quit in the first place. You won’t remember how crappy you felt.
This is the perfect time for nicotine to strike.
Think of it this way: if women remembered how painful giving birth was, they probably would only have one child. But naturally, they forget the negative feelings associated with it, all the pain from labor, and thus have more children.
It’s the same exact situation for quitting smoking.
You feel so good you forget how awful it was, so you convince yourself that having a cigarette is a good idea. Don’t let that ever happen.
Always try to remember that you quit smoking because it made you feel like crap.
Friends Who Smoke – Friends are important in life, even the ones who use tobacco. You can’t hide from them forever.
You’ve done a great job of avoiding them for a little while, now it’s time to hangout and deal with the pressure.
Imagine what their life is like as someone who is still a slave. Think of how much better your life already is because you AREN’T a slave.
Focus on that!
Smell them when they come inside. Isn’t it disgusting? You don’t want to smell like an ashtray. It’s not attractive at all.
This is how you smelled all those years you smoked. It’s revolting.
Liquor – Probably the biggest trigger of them all, and certainly one of the main reasons I relapsed over and over for years.
I’m not talking about beer or wine, I’m talking about booze.
Do not think you’re invincible after the first few days, or even the first couple weeks. It’s easy to feel that way, but liquor will catch you off guard a lot more than a beer will.
Avoid it until you are truly ready, because smoking and drinking go hand-in-hand.
Give it at least a month. This is a big one, treat is as such.
Now again, if you switch to vaping, you’re free to consume all the liquor you want in those early days. You’ll be getting your nicotine, so it doesn’t matter.
But you’ll still be an addict and a slave.
Your Favorite Song – Everybody has them. If you’ve been a smoker for years and years, then you probably associate some songs with cigarettes. I certainly did.
Some songs remind me of high school, or being young, or the “good old days.” They remind me of good times.
Therefore, if you’ve associated smoking with any of these songs, you’ll likely be triggered to smoke when you hear them.
You’ll be caught off guard. You might even make a mad dash to the nearest store to buy some.
That’s how powerful the addiction is.
Cigarettes didn’t make the song better and more memorable, your emotions did. You just happened to be smoking when that song was playing, that’s all.
Death – The biggest trigger of all time.
If it’s your mother who died, who would blame you for smoking? It’s a tough time, right?
Even I have to worry about this one. But you and I MUST be strong.
Is it worth relapsing and going back to square one? The answer is undoubtedly NO!
Going back to square one is no picnic in the park, and you must go through all the physical pain again. It’s not worth it.
If by some chance I absolutely just HAD to have something, I certainly wouldn’t go back to cigarettes, I’d go back to vaping. Same nicotine, just way healthier.
Or even just vape 0mg.
Getting Dumped – This is no fun for anyone. If you just got dumped, I’m sure the first thing you’d think about is reaching for a cigarette to help calm you down.
But again I ask you, is it worth going back to being addicted to nicotine? Didn’t the previous months or years mean anything to you? How will it solve anything?
Getting dumped is hard to get through, but try to focus on the positive.
Maybe it was a good thing. Maybe something great will come out of it. Keep your chin up! Maybe that person wasn’t right to begin with.
If you need some sort of satisfaction in a moment like this, go for junk food. Indulge in whatever you want. It’ll be way better than relapsing, that’s for sure.
Celebrating a Big Event – If you just got promoted, had a baby, or won the lottery, there is a good chance you want to celebrate that moment with friends.
If your friends are smoking, it will be tough to overcome that moment, especially if you just recently quit smoking. Just because THEY smoke doesn’t mean YOU have to smoke when you are excited.
All it’s going to do is make you feel horrible. Plus, it sends you right back to square one.
Is that what you want?
Celebrate that moment with something less harmful, like a nice dinner with a group of friends, or a glass of champagne.
The possibilities are endless.
Celebrate it in a positive way. You’ll reverse that trigger in no time.
Weddings – These events are the perfect opportunity to do things we normally wouldn’t be doing. This trigger will sneak up on you.
If you were at previous weddings as a smoker, even if you’ve quit for years, then the mere presence of being at a wedding will trigger you to smoke.
People love to just “let it all hang loose” at a wedding. It’s like a free-for-all sometimes.
All that will happen is it will send you right back to the beginning and you’ll have to deal with all the withdrawal symptoms all over again. Yuck!
If it becomes difficult to resist, leave the wedding early. Explain yourself. People who care won’t mind you leaving.
Or stop drinking so much. Switch to water or eat some food. Whatever it takes to deter your mind from focusing on smoking.
Vacation – This is often when you party the most, and just let yourself go. You’re on vacation, so who cares, right?
Try focusing on good food and company rather than wanting to “just have fun for the weekend.” It’s not worth relapsing.
Don’t get all nuts, be responsible. Don’t put yourself in a situation where the pressure to smoke will be too overbearing. Don’t drink too much. Get a grip on the situation.
Go with friends who don’t smoke.
If you must inhale something, then vape 0mg. No nicotine, no addiction.
Losing Your Job – Getting fired sucks. I got fired once, and I ended up at the bar getting drunk and chain smoking.
But did I wake up the next day feeling good about myself? Absolutely not!
Not only did I not have a job, I was also back at square one with nicotine addiction, and that is totally a losing combo.
I felt horrible about it.
Again, this is an issue of emotions being down (just like getting dumped), so all you need to do is focus on the positive.
“Where one door closes, another one opens.” Live by that rule.
Perhaps you didn’t even like the job in the first place. It could be a blessing in disguise.
It’s certainly not worth relapsing no matter what the job was.