Thursday, 14 January 2010

Quitting with CBT: Day 1

Day Forty Two.

This is my first day following the cognitive behavioral techniques (or CBT) developed to help smokers to stop smoking. The book I borrowed from the library is hopefully going to help me to train myself to get over the nicotine addiction, as well as the many "smoking habits" that a smoker develops.

Though I've given up (and obviously restarted!) many times since I began smoking daily (when I was about fifteen or sixteen years old), I've never tried this method before. Deciding to give up at 'the right time' has worked for me (under my own steam), as has getting ill... The Allan Carr 'Easy Way to Stop Smoking' was really good (you can get the book for 1p on Amazon!), its main point being that nicotine withdrawal symptoms are barely existent (otherwise how could a smoker sleep for a full night without needing a fix?) - Carr believes that the reason why giving up is so hard is because we feel deprived.

This CBT method is completely different. On the first day you are told to put an elastic band around your cigarette packet (so that you cannot smoke 'automatically'), and you are encouraged to smoke whenever you feel like smoking (because holding out makes the cigarette feel like more of a reward when you do finally smoke it, and the method is to train yourself not to see smoking as a reward), but whenever you do smoke, you must recite the following 'program' as you do so:

Smoking this cigarette is giving me NO SATISFACTION.
This is an UNPLEASANT experience.
Smoking actually makes me feel ROTTEN.
I am losing the DESIRE to smoke.

This is easy to remember as the acronym NURD, ha ha. As you say these things to yourself, you must think about just how unpleasant it is, and what parts of your body are potentially being damaged by the smoke and toxins.

Oh, and you must keep track of how many cigarettes you smoke over the day, noting the time, and starting to think about possible 'triggers' for each one.

I smoked six three-quarter size rollies (with filters) over the day. It felt weird to be telling myself how disgusting it was even though I wanted each one... It took all the pleasure away, ha ha. Or did it just help me to realise that there really is no pleasure in smoking? Ah...

I also learned from the book that nicotine releases a tiny amount of dopamine in the brain. We like dopamine. It feels good. So every time you smoke, you are rewarded with this little hit of dopamine. Weird, eh? I can see now why it's so bloody addictive.

I shall be keeping you posted.
But now I must go and smoke a fag.

Just kidding :)


  1. i can appreciate how hard it is to quit!! this method sounds pretty good (i stupidly went cold turkey for a time....not a good idea!!) to cut down i started to throw fags away as soon as i bought the pack, first 1, then 2, etc etc until i was only left with the option of smoking 2 or 3 (got a bit expensive tho)!!! But i feel so much better now that i dont more getting out of breath climbing flights of stairs hoooray :D I now use the extra money i save for balls of wool to crochet with.....ahh the life of a star eh?? good luck to you and keep on going, its totally worth it in the end!!!

  2. Hmmmm, maybe track down other triggers of dopamine?