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Have a Plan of Action Ready

Share Your Story: How I Lived Through Nicotine Withdrawal

By dfern

Updated November 01, 2009

Have a Plan of Action Ready

How nicotine withdrawal affected me

My quit program was much easier than most. I took Chantix for two months. My doctor would not let me have it any longer than that. It took the edge off the physical withdrawal from nicotine. My mental withdrawals were hard but still manageable. The mental urges to smoke would come out of nowhere, however I had a plan for almost every urge. I give planning ahead credit for making it through the first six months easier than I expected.

How I managed nicotine withdrawal symptoms

Typical urges to smoke would subside in about 5 or 10 minutes most of the time and were easy to control. Here is a list of items in my action plan to combat the urge to smoke:

1. Get up. Move around and do house cleaning.

2. Go to the forum to post and read.

3. Play games on the computer and work puzzles too.

4. Take a bubble bath and/or listen to music.

5. Watch a TV program.

6. Get some exercise. Take the dog for a walk.

8. Read in my journal. My journal was a folder, with quotes and articles meaningful to me.

9. Meditate and read. I spent time every day meditating and reading about nicotine addiction from my folder and at About.com Smoking Cessation. This kept me focused.

10. Eat well and get rest. I ate healthfully, did not miss meals, took a daily multi-vitamin, stayed hydrated, and got plenty of sleep.

11. Pamper myself! I pamper and treat myself often as a reward for not smoking - this is very important.

I give all the credit to the above 11 items, they helped me manage my triggers and urges really well. I used them faithfully when needed. Sometimes I needed them many times a day, but as time went by I had to use them less and less.

I still do most of these things and will probably continue to do most of them the rest of my life.

Had a few symptoms associated with quitting that were not normal. I had one urge having to do with driving that is just now going away. When going on trips or just doing shopping and errands, I would always smoke in my van. It was a safe place to smoke where people were not present, so I thought of it as my haven for smoking. It was the place where I was drawn to smoke more than any other, and it was so hard because just getting into the van was a trigger for over a year. To combat this, I kept an emergency kit in the van. Hard candy, cough drops, water, Crystal Light and gum. I also kept raw veggies in a small ice chest to snack on. These things really helped.

Another strange thing happened seven months into quitting. The whole seventh month felt like a never-ending craving to smoke. It was January and a very cold month. I spent most of that month alone in the house, and I think this was the problem. I did practice my action plan for nicotine withdrawal during the whole month and did get through it OK. I think I had cabin fever!

Lessons learned

  • Anticipate cravings and difficult times, and have an action plan ready.
  • Keep a written list of the reasons why you quit with you. Read it often.
  • Don't keep thinking about cigarettes and wanting to smoke. Romancing them can cause a smoking relapse.
  • Expect some sadness and grieving for your cigarettes.
  • Triggers/urges/nicotine withdrawal is an important area you must learn to manage. Important to have an action plan, if you can't manage this you probably will not quit smoking or will relapse.
  • As urges happen try to figure out what triggered the urge. Try to avoid the trigger next time. Make a plan. Knowledge is power

Terry Martin, About.com Smoking Cessation, says:

Congratulations, Dfern! Your planning and perseverance are key ingredients to long-term success with smoking cessation. When we know what to expect from the recovery process, we are much better able to manage the ups and downs that come with breaking the addiction to nicotine.

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