NOTE: If you grasp the five distinct aspects of your complicated relationship with tobacco (or other substances) you are already way more likely to be successful at taking back your freedom. As you probably know, unless you’re very new here, we envision those five distinct aspects as the heads of a dragon. If you want to understand the Five Headed Dragon better, please READ these articles, LISTEN to this podcast, or WATCH this presentation.
OK, I see the dragon… now what?
First of all, that’s great! You’ve already multiplied your chances of getting free and staying free (when compared to folks who haven’t learned about BESOCHEMPS. And remember that many of the folks reading this also have access to individual phone, text, and group support. So if – for instance – you’re still not certain about how to tell the difference between a chemical craving and an emotional urge, connect with others and get the support you need. We’re better together!
Remember that when it comes to tobacco cessation, most people only address one or two heads. That’s why many of us haven’t been able to quit permanently. To continue the dragon analogy, we tamed the chemical addiction to nicotine and maybe tried to build a new habit of drinking more water and we quit – but only for a few weeks or a few months. The dragon wasn’t dead and it only took a little while before the other heads (we didn’t deal with) caught up with us.
If you’re ready to start building a five-headed Quit Plan, this downloadable tool will be helpful.
There are important questions to consider for the behavioral, social, chemical, emotional, and psychological aspects. Again, don’t hesitate to discuss this with a supportive friend, your healthcare provider, behavioral health professional, or your Quit Coach. Having a sounding board for your ideas can help you hear them more clearly and a good listener, who doesn’t even offer advice, may help you convince yourself. If your healthcare provider better understands your complicated relationship with tobacco, they may be better able to recommend a quit med that suits you better. A therapist or counselor will bring great insight, especially for the emotional and psychological aspects. This is complicated – get the help you need. People don’t climb Mount Everest alone.
Small Steps Will Get You There
If addressing all five heads of the dragon at once seems overwhelming, focus on one or two at a time and remember that humans typically learn in small incremental steps. Nobody learned 26 letters of the alphabet in one day and started writing full sentences! Humans don’t learn that way. While I’m a big fan of the rare epiphany or miracle, lasting behavioral change is often attained – one – step – at – a – time. So maybe thinking about changing the morning coffee routine, rather than stopping smoking completely, is a more realistic first step. By the way, if the term ‘baby steps’ has any sort of negative connotation, try reminding yourself that babies are fierce learners – little sponges absorbing all kinds of information in their path. Baby steps are human steps.
Consider taking a ‘divide and conquer‘ approach. By separating the coffee and smoking behaviors from each other, the coffee behavior may become less of a trigger to smoke. Building a new habit of finishing the first cup of coffee and then going out on to the porch for a less inviting, coffee-free butt-break will start to shake the trigger off from the coffee. It will normalize the practice of having coffee that is just coffee, or perhaps coffee and newspaper, coffee and crossword puzzle. Meanwhile that cigarette that we put in ‘time out’ (no coffee, no phone, no fun) becomes less and less attractive. We feel like we’re making progress before we even start reducing or stopping. This climb starts to feel more possible!
Substitutions Are Essential!
When you notice that you’ve got a flat tire on your car, there are two steps that you need to make. One – remove the bad tire. Two – replace it with a good tire. If that seems really obvious, the reason I say that is because I have seen countless people white-knuckling it (and often ultimately failing) as they try to drive home from work without their “relax and reward smoke.” As an act of sheer will, they deny themselves the relief or satisfaction they used to feel when they lit that cigarette. And all too often, they are eventually overwhelmed and cave-in, pull into a convenience store, and buy a pack. That also reinforces the internal narrative that “I failed again, I’ll never be able to do this.” Yikes! They had removed the bad tire and were driving without a new one!
So, as you walk to the car after work, remind yourself that you DO deserve a reward and that a couple lungs full of arsenic and polonium are not a reward! Look at the tail pipe and say, ‘Thank goodness the tailpipe protects me from having to inhale deadly fumes!’ I don’t know about you, but I’d be smirking by the the time I said those things, and feeling pretty pleased with myself. Now, sit in the car and reach for the… (no, not the lighter!) …the radio dial! Now as we drive home after work we’re listening to our new favorite radio station. Or maybe we bought some new music to listen to without any commercials. But we’re definitely not listening to any talk-radio programs that make us feel anxious or angry. See the ‘new tire’ you installed. Make whatever adjustments you need until it fits just right!
Get your Quit Plan and get going! You can do this (and we can help!)