New Pathways Part 3

We all agree that quitting requires a fair degree of self discipline & control. That's me! I'm good at it, you have to be to train for & run a marathon. Call it stubborness or grim determination, I have quit successfully (?) for between 4-7 months on 4 occasions over the past 2 years (and on 4-5 other 

occasions in the past 10 years).  However, what I failed to do was develop new pathways to stimulate those happy chemicals, so when depression struck, the old pathways presented as the only viable option for relief.  now some will build those pathways on food or alcohol or perhaps other drugs, but those of you 

who have read my posts before would be aware that I have deliberately avoided substituting one addiction for another, which has left a gaping hole with nothing but that 6 lane expressway to fill it. I tried using my love of golf as my "happy place", but anyone who  plays the game will tell you it is an unreliable alternative if you're having a tough time off the course & it manifests itself on the course as well.   At the risk of sounding all religious, I want to throw in an analogy.  In the bible it says "resist the devil & he will flee from you". that's what I did, I resisted manfully & resolutely.  However, in its full context, the scripture also says "submit yourself to God".  In other words, resisting, on its own won't deliver us from the bad unless we replace it with something better. I have yet to discover what that "something better" is. Perhaps I'll find it further on in the book. If anyone wants to throw up some suggestions, I'm all ears.

26 Replies

  • I'm soooo sorry Ron, I just hated removing your badge pal, I really did :( :(

    It sounds like your not going to let it beat you though eh :) :) I have my lager to sort of fall back on at the moment, but want to cut that out soon, but maybe I will wait a bit longer before I do that eh :o

    I'm thinking of you and with you Ron, take care now and see's ya soon :) :)

  • Thanks Monky, that 5 months badge would have caused more pain if it had stayed, unearned. I'm just about through day 2 now & even though I'm coping just fine there have been some vigorous arguments between me & I did some grocery shopping today & all the way around the aisles I was debating with myself to buy or not to buy more cigarettes. I think it ended in a draw, but if my too'ings & fro'ings were audible, I may have ended up in a rubber room undergoing a psych assessment. I'd like to be able to tell you that logic & common sense have prevailed, but for now, I just have to take things one day at a time.

  • This is a very interesting perspective, and very thought provoking.

    My big fear, the problem area I know that is going to be difficult is going to the pub with friends. Luckily one can't smoke in a pub in the UK now which makes it much easier, and if I don't have my e-cig I can't smoke indoors. I have told my friends I have quit, so they won't let me. Simple solutions, but I'm not looking forward to the actual emotional side of wanting something in the other hand to balance with the pint.

    I think you have hit the nail on the head with the pleasure pathways, in that when we quit, we need to find a replacement simple pleasure (something easy, we can do any day which makes us feel good).

    As you say, the opportunity for another bad habit, addiction or just having too much of something to the point it's unhealthy (Food, alcohol etc...) is a real danger to those of us who are fighting the psychological battle.

    So we are left with, doing more of something we like (in your case Golf). Or taking up something new. Sports/physical activity is highly recommended as it's also a healthy way to spend time. But from the aspect of building new pathways, anything that you enjoy doing can be good for you, from jigsaw puzzles to knitting, anything that gives you a simple/easy pleasure can be good for you.

    As for the "bad day" problem, I'm not sure there is a solution to it. One can argue that you can count the money saved, you can think about all the benefits. But when one is having a "bad day" one is often unreasonable about it (and whether it's reasonable to be unreasonable or not is another matter) and feels justified in this opinion. For this there are numerous articles online, there are some ted talks (I can't remember the specific one) which might help:

    I have rambled a bit, Sorry!

    Hope that this provokes some thoughts which lead to ideas for solutions for somebody.

  • Please don't apologise David, I'm looking for as many perspectives & ideas I can get, particularly from long term quitters. I used to joke about a drink in one hand & a cigarette in the other was my balanced diet. One without the other & I'd overbalance in the chair. If act, concluded that nicotine was a stimulant & alcohol a depressant. One without the other made me either up tight or depressed. That's why I felt the need, in my case to quit both together. Even though my scotch drinking had to be bordering on problem drinking (3 bottles a week), I found it surprisingly easy to give up. Thanks for your input & suggestions.

  • If you are quitting two addictive substances (tobacco more physically addictive, alcohol more psychologically addictive) the you probably do need a replacement. Be it a hobby, a sport or activity. Something to fill the time and replace the pleasure you get/got from the alcohol and tobacco.

  • That's exactly what I did David. I threw myself into my golf. Whenever I wasn't playing I was at the range, exercising or practising in the backyard. Unfortunately it's not the best of choices. It can be a very frustrating game & the more you work at it, the harder it is to cope when things go pear shaped, particularly when other matters are getting you down & your backstop also lets you down. This set back has given me new clarity. I have a better notion of the problem but I have yet to come up with solutions that will sustain me "when the goin' gets tough".

  • If you are competitive with the golf (as I know I could be, I get too competitive with some things) then having a bad day on that will be twice as annoying. Hence my thought that a second easier supplement activity might help.

    Something that is both a "therapeutic activity" and if you can a mental state of "flow" (feel free to google them, or if you'd like some pointers shout me). These will be good for mind and body in the battle to quit.

  • Hey David, it sounds like you're describing sex. Great idea, but at 64 & single, I may struggle to reinforce that one 20 times a day:-)

  • The internet is famous for a solution to that situation ;)

    I wasn't actually suggesting sex, although it's apparently an amazing solution to many of the "symptoms" of quitting. This is an article I shared with my fiancee:

    If you have a game/activity which takes enough concentration to have your brain ticking over/take your mind off things but not so much as to be stressful (if you like crossword puzzles/sudoku etc...) that counts as a state of flow and becomes very therapeutic for the brain. Not to mention it's a good activity to keep the brain active and in turn reduce chances of some mental degenerative conditions at the same time.

  • Maybe just walking and breathing would be a great replacement for golf sometimes.

  • I could make a regular practice of that. Even though I golf 3-4 times a week, which certainly involves walking & breathing, my focus is on the golf & my golfing partners. Short frequent walks as a "stand alone" activity is one to add to the list for sure. Thanks for your input.

  • Hiya Ron, as you say you have deliberately avoided substituting one addition for another and my suggestion is perhaps you should use some form of NRT, maybe give it a go and see if it helps. I think you're being too hard on yourself, there's a gaping hole and just maybe some other form of nicotine will ease you into a better place. have you ever thought of using any NRT or is this something that you really don't want to do. Just throwing up a suggestion that's all. I would like to comment on how well you write and I think you could use those beautiful skills to write a journal. And do you know what............. I still Luvs ya Romeo 😘😘 xx

  • I just had a real surge of those happy chemicals Briarwood......complete with goosebumps. I have used NRT before......& quite successfully. That is until the weaning process ended after 3-4 months & I felt like I was starting all over again. I decided that my resolve was strongest when I committed to quit & that was the best time to wrestle with the nicotine addiction. I don't find it agonising so much as irritating & the withdrawal effects are usually over by a couple of weeks & determination is enough to get me through. However, by not replacing that smoking pathway to happy receptors, when I endure several days on end in the doldrums, despite my logic telling me no, my instinct is to tread that well worn path to beat the blues. Nicotine doesn't give that to me, but the act of smoking does. I just need to find a better more wholesome pathway. Until that happens, I'll just have to keep referring back to your words of affection:-)

  • NRT. Would you tell a guy that smokes crack to start shooting it up instead? I'm just saying.

    The physical Monkey is gone in less than a week.

  • Gautama,

    As for what works for me, I agree 100%, I also acknowledge that if people take the NRT path & quit smoking, they can stay on the NRTs for the rest of their lives if they have to, & still be healthier (& wealthier) than if they continued to smoke. My best attempts, so far have been from going cold turkey & I would always advocate that for anyone looking for a quit method. But people have quit successfully with hypnotherapy, acupuncture, aversion therapy, Zyban, Champix, tapering (like tearing off a band-aid one hair at a time), and a whole range of NRT alternatives. I've tried them all over the years with some measure of success. No one method stands out as a better than 50% chance of succeeding. In fact if we paid too much attention to the percentage of successful quitters over more than 12 months, a pragmatic person wouldn't bother even trying to quit. ( I think it's less than 15%). My personal "wall" seems to be around the 3-4 month mark. Interestingly, most structured NRT or prescription medicine programs end within that period & rarely highlight their success rates beyond that. I'm looking for something a bit more robust that can accommodate my periods of depression, that will overcome that empty deprived feeling & enable me to quit forever.

  • Thanks again Briarwood. You're not the first to suggest that I'm inclined to be too hard on myself. I don't regard myself as a perfectionist but I do tend to beat myself up a bit when I fail to meet reasonable e

  • That was meant to end "expectations".

  • I have to agree with Brar, you really do have a beautiful way with writing Roneo :-) This may be part of the answer in your journey.

    Thank you all for sharing all your caring about this place, I have a lot of feel good chemicals floating about me right now :D :D

    I love our Quit Support members I do, you are amazing xoxox

  • Well, Emjay, to be honest, I HAVE found putting my thoughts down in writing to be somewhat cathartic. All of these caring responses are the icing on the cake. Particularly as I live alone, your feedback is like gold to me. I just hope there may be some others who will also benefit from my journey in forging their own success.

  • Just a thought,

    If you think that the thing you "need" on a bad day is that something in your hand, you can get an e-cig (some look and feel like a cigarette) with 0 nicotine. That way you have something to hold, puff on etc... But it's not feeding the addiction, just the physical processes.

  • Roneo

    What an excellent piece of writing. I have quit this time with all the NRT that was available to me. I purely want to sever that smoking link, I don't want to be controlled, to have to stop the car , or go outside the office in the rain for a couple of minutes of burn.

    The habit after almost 3 months has waned but the feelings are still there. The strong desire to smoke does raise its head. There is now a vicious circle where my occasional nicotine craving could just so easily be satisfied by a cigarette as a gum. The longer I don't light up I know that association will go.

    I have tried a few times to stop the NRT but notice I get grumpy and my anxiety comes back. The choice I have is to smoke or to get a NRT hit. So I consciously decide on the NRT hit. May be this will take 3 months 6 months a year. But in that time I will not smoke. That's what's important to me.

    I do notice that my desire is getting less and less. Some days better than others, Tried the strips that dissolve on your tongue for 2 weeks but noticed it really made me crave more. So there are definitely variations in all the NRT that can affect your moods and desires.


  • Jim, In his book The Easyway to Quit Smoking, Allen Carr regards nicotine withdrawal as a minor irritant. So in quitting cold turkey, I looked on it the same way. Sure, it was irritating & persistent, but far from agonising or unbearable. The fluey, cotton wool feelings were gone within 1-2 weeks as was the regular craves. That has been my dilemma. Months after I felt that nicotine no longer had a role to play.......the urge to smoke struck. Now I'm differentiating between the "urge to smoke" & craving nicotine. If they were one in the same, there would never be a desire to smoke whilst ever nicotine was administered in some other form. However, we know that people who use NRTs as you have also attested can still find themselves battling a strong desire to smoke from time to time. All that aside Jim, if you have confidence in the strategies you have chosen to quit, that will take you a long way to success. Like the golf swing, there's no perfect technique, there is only what works for you. I believe I'm close but clearly I have yet to find what works best for me.

  • You can quit without replacing cigarettes with anything. Hypnotherapy deals with the habituated side of smoking, without having to replace smoking cigarettes with food, alcohol, jogging, etc., Once that part of the mind that runs the smoking habit has accepted that we were not born as smokers, so it is, quintessentially, an unatural act and something we, as humans create. So in therapy, once we have restored that mindset we are born with, smoking will seem alien to the mind- and body denial, no replacement, just a natural born non smoker.

    As long as you find a hypnotherapist that doesn`t use aversion therapy . I used to use this technique, but I find this a bit of an outdated method of smoking therapy.

  • I can see that you have taken down the marketing links, which I presume was requested by an admin/mod. I don't know what the mods/admins take on this is, but I think that you should put on your profile/posts that you have a professional interest in Hypnotherapy (without advertising the brand).

    You have made a number of posts on here, every post you make suggestions that the poster (or anyone else) looks into Hypnotherapy, and they can contact you directly if they have more questions.

    I wish you well in the business venture, I know that it works for some people and have no problem with anybody trying Hypnotherapy. But to me as a user of this forum your posts are getting repetitive and appear more as advertising than being conducive to discussions.

    I personally think if you wish to discuss hypnotherapy, you should start a thread on the subject and let it be a discussion. Rather than suggesting it in every thread.

    Again, I don't know what the admin/mod take on this is and I'm happy with whatever they decide.

  • Hi David, I have been made aware that this is a forum for help and support.

    The admin has discussed this with me. They are quite happy for me to offer hypnotherapy as an option, provided that I do not link directly to my site.

    Sometimes hypnotherapy does get overlooked and so I mention the fact ( yes, several times ! ) . I am promoting hypnotherapy as a viable option, as I am fully qualified to do so, so this is a good opportunity for people to learn about it so then they can take a well informed decision.

    Not for every-one, but at least the information is then available.

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