100 Days of Writing – Day Thirty-Nine

What are five things I can do when I get the urge to smoke?

I have a good friend Michael who, like myself has in the past been addicted to smoking. Although I was addicted to cigarettes and him to smoking a pipe, the results were much the same: nicotine became addictive and began affecting our health. Michael had been able to quit several year ago and I was just starting out, so he was able to offer me some helpful hints, including “The Five Ds of Quitting Smoking and Defeating Urges to Smoke.”

The Five Ds of Fighting Addictive Urges…

  • Delay – When you get an urge to pick up a cigarette, delay that urge for as few as five minutes and you may very well find it passes. I still, one month into being cigarette-free have urges to light one up. I play the tape forward of what would happen if I actually did and remember what a struggle it was to quit in the first place. I know I’d likely buy a whole pack, which is twenty cigarettes and wouldn’t stop with just one. I would then get that feeling that I could stop after smoking just that one pack and I’d be right back where I was a month ago. I know that I’ve been pleased with my cessation practices thus far and don’t know that I could do it all over again.
  • Distraction – My thoughts on any particular topic are many times of an obsessive nature. Such can be the case when I have an urge to smoke. When these cravings do arise, I try to immediately switch gears and start thinking about something else. Since the start of school is just a couple of weeks away, it’s a simple and productive distraction for me to focus on what the first weeks of school will be like. And whether it’s just going through the process in my mind or actually sitting at my computer to flesh out those plans, it takes my mind off the cigarette I was wanting to light up. I also have taken up the habit of walking each day and nothing seems to help more than replacing my bad habit of smoking with a good one, walking. In connection with the first tactic of delaying, these two have been the two most helpful tools I have found.
  • Discuss it with someone – It never hurts to share with someone, especially someone who has been through the same thing, and talking with them may be a necessary step. I go through periods of time when I feel that no one else would understand what I’m describing, but that’s just my ego talking. And whether or not the person has ever tried to quit smoking or smoked at all for that matter, if they are supporting you attempt to quit, they’re more than glad to talk over your urges with you. They can provide you the support and motivation you need to kick the habit. It also works well with the first two Ds mentioned above. Even if you conversation is a short one, it does delay a possible relapse and your conversation can definitely be a distraction. One phone call may be all it takes to handle all of the first three Ds.
  • Drink water – I have to admit, this is one that I might make slight modifications to during my cessation attempt. I know water is the healthiest fluid you can drink, but I’m admittedly not a big fan. I most often can be found drinking a cup of coffee or having a diet soft drink. And while caffeine is not the optimal substance for my body, it does help to satisfy my thirst and keeps that oral fixation in line. I’m going to try to drink more of the flavored waters when the school year starts back, but no promises there. One addiction at a time as they say. Perhaps caffeine will be next.
  • Deep breaths– One of the best things about quitting smoking is that it increases your respiratory function. While your breaths might not be the deepest in the beginning, they do help slow your system down, including your obsessive thinking about lighting up. This is one that I have to make a concerted effort to do. I’ve never been able to meditate in the traditional sense, but I have found that without the cigarette smoke interfering, my breathing has improved. And what better way to celebrate non-smoking than by taking a deep breath that you previously wouldn’t have been able to accomplish?

So there you go…my friend Michael’s suggestion of “The Five Ds” have really helped me in this first month of staying away from cigarettes. And while I still get those urges, I haven’t found it necessary to act on them. That is indeed a gift.

I’m also aware that these strategies may very well work with other addictions or habits we’re trying to stay away from. When I’ve determined that there’s something I’m better off without in my life, whether it be alcohol, cigarettes, caffeine or even chocolate chip cookies, the “Five Ds” are a valuable tool on the road to recovery from addictive behavior.

David Lee

Published by David Lee Moser

I am a sixty year old semi-retired elementary science teacher.

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