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Harvard Commentaries
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Harvard Commentaries
Reviewed by the Faculty of Harvard Medical School


Triggers


June 09, 2014

Tobacco Cessation
22017
Predict the Potholes
Triggers
Triggers
SmokingStep2Piece9
Another step you can take to prepare for a smoke-free life is to identify your triggers -- those things that increase the urge for a cigarette.
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InteliHealth
2011-09-13
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InteliHealth Medical Content
2014-09-13

Reviewed by the Faculty of Harvard Medical School

Identify Your Triggers
 
Another step you can take to prepare for a smoke-free life is to identify your triggers — those things that increase the urge for a cigarette. (Every smoker has them.) For example, you might light up to reward yourself after logging in eight stressful hours at the office. Or maybe there is no better accompaniment to an ice-cold beer than a slowly puffed cigarette.
 
Alcohol, coffee, and other caffeinated beverages are common triggers for most smokers, but every smoker deals with triggers that are unique to them. What are your triggers? What are the things that make you yearn for a drag?
 
Try to identify all of the triggers that contribute to your hankering for a smoke. And be as comprehensive as possible. Now come up with some plans to beat those triggers, because you'll continue to face them after you quit.
 
For example, if you used to have a cigarette every morning with your first cup of coffee, you'll need to find a workable solution that will help you avoid a "slip." Maybe you'll need to avoid coffee for the next few weeks. Or try decaffeinated coffee. Or tea.
 
If every time you drink a cup of coffee you want to have a cigarette, you'll need to find an effective way to combat that urge.
 
For some people, the habit of smoking is tougher to beat than the actual physical addiction.
 
It might be easiest when you first quit to use avoidance as your solution to triggers. If you don't go to the bar and don't have a beer, you may not miss the cigarette you usually have in that environment. But you shouldn't need to completely change your life to be successful as a nonsmoker. Eventually, you'll need to return to doing the things you enjoy doing — everything except smoking, of course.
 
So take the time to develop some alternative ways you can react when a trigger makes you want to smoke.
 
Unlike withdrawal symptoms, which lessen with time, triggers will persist well beyond your quit date. Alas, it may take several years for you to conquer all of your triggers, so don't give up.

 

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