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Memory and Triggers


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#1 QuitIsEasyDoneIt100x

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Posted 05 January 2015 - 03:50 AM

TL;DR:

Spoiler
 

 

 

 

I keep seeing this word - what is a trigger?

 

A trigger is anything that reminds you of smoking; typically on a level resulting in craving.

 

Sounds pretty vague.

 

It is vague.  A trigger could literally be anything.

 

Okay, well so what if I am reminded of smoking?  I want to quit - I hate smoking.

 

Well, unfortunately for you, memory doesn't work that way - you can't control which memories come to surface.  And memories often lie; this is especially true with addiction.

 

Go on...

 

Well, you might recall the memory of satisfaction.  Or the lie that smoking actually helped you do whatever it is was that prompted you to smoke.  Even flat-out lies can feel quite genuine in the moment.  Emotion often trumps reason.  And cravings can be said to be an emotion.

 

Yes, LIES!!  sFun_oldguy.gif All of them!  And satisfaction?!  Never!  All smoking did was relieve me of withdrawal.

 

Relief is a powerful form of pleasure.

 

I don't believe you.

 

http://www.pnas.org/.../20709.abstract

http://www.plosone.o...al.pone.0017870

http://www.uahealth....ief-pain-reward

 

Okay fine.  You win.  as$hole

 

sCo_blink2.gif I saw that.  

 

Anyways... Triggers!  Yes.  Why are they so ubiquitous?

 

That's the nature of the beast - and is one reason why quitting smoking can be so difficult for some.  Smokers tend to smoke all day.  They smoke when they wake up, they smoke when they have coffee, they smoke after they eat, they smoke on their way to work, they smoke before going in to work, they smoke on their break, they smoke before lunch, they smoke after lunch, they smoke on their second break, they smoke after work, they smoke on their way home, they smoke all the freaking time.  It is like every notable event is bookended with a cigarette.

 

Well you are talking about the past. 

 

How long have you been quit?  30 days?  You smoked for 30 years.  Over time, you have learned to associate pretty much everything you do - ever - with a cigarette. 

 

Learned?

 

Yes, learned.  Addiction is learning.  Addiction is memory.  Some people tend to think of memory as a sort of filing cabinet or hard drive, in which individual - and discreet - memories are formed and stored.  But this is not how memory works.  Memory is more like a complex system of spider webs, as is wonderfully explained here:

 

 

It seems that our memory is located not in one particular place in the brain, but is instead a brain-wide process in which several different areas of the brain act in conjunction with one another (sometimes referred to as distributed processing). For example, the simple act of riding a bike is actively and seamlessly reconstructed by the brain from many different areas: the memory of how to operate the bike comes from one area, the memory of how to get from here to the end of the block comes from another, the memory of biking safety rules from another, and that nervous feeling when a car veers dangerously close comes from still another.

 

Each element of a memory (sights, sounds, words, emotions) is encoded in the same part of the brain that originally created that fragment (visual cortex, motor cortex, language area, etc), and recall of a memory effectively reactivates the neural patterns generated during the original encoding. Thus, a better image might be that of a complex web, in which the threads symbolize the various elements of a memory, that join at nodes or intersection points to form a whole rounded memory of a person, object or event.

 

This kind of distributed memory ensures that even if part of the brain is damaged, some parts of an experience may still remain. Neurologists are only beginning to understand how the parts are reassembled into a coherent whole.

 

source: http://www.human-memory.net/

 

 

sCo_chinscratch.gif Interesting...so if I understand this correctly, my morning cup of coffee is not encoded to memory as just a cup of coffee?

 

Exactly.  The memory will include everything else that occurred at the moment you enjoyed your coffee.

 

Like smoking a cigarette..... sFun_idea.gif

 

Yes!  So the next time you think about coffee, it will recall the entire "web" of associated events, perceptions, emotions, thoughts, ect.  This can be a passive process as well.  All five senses, when presented with any sensory association, can recall the entire memory web.  You may have heard that smell is one of the strongest stimuli for memory recall.  Even something as simple as glancing at your coffee maker can be enough to trigger/recall memory webs which are likely to including smoking.

 

You can think of it like a chain:  Sight of coffee machine --> morning coffee --> sitting on porch --> smoking cigarette --> relief from withdrawal --> reward from relief = craving.

 

Crap....does this mean that for pretty much my entire day, for the last 30 years, everything I did was connected to the "memory web" of smoking?

 

Sadly, yes.  It does.   And this is why triggers are everywhere.***  This is why smoking will dominate your thoughts after you quit.... 

 

Because everything I do will recall the memory of smoking....

 

Yes. 

 

That sucks.

 

It does.  And this is probably a major reason why so many people fail in the early quit....but, the human brain is an amazing thing.  This process can be unlearned.  Time is your friend here...

 

Because after I quit, every single one of my new memories will be encoded without the association of smoking?

 

Exactly.  :-)   It takes time.  But it works.  Just ask anyone who has been quit for a while.  The associations will begin to weaken each and every day you are quit.  And before you know it, you will be able to go through an entire day, month, or maybe even year - without the thought of smoking.

 

Don't be discouraged by the constant triggers; it's simply part of quitting, and is very much doable (as evidenced by hundreds of people on this board).   And this is important to note - everyone is different....you may sail through your quit without major or constant triggers.  But regardless of where on the spectrum you fall, it will get much better each day you are quit.

 

You really do have a lot to look forward to :D

 

 

 

 

***(Also keep in mind that I am describing the absolute worst-case scenario.  Most people will not have everything linked to smoking)


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Cigarettes are like squirrels - harmless until you put one in your mouth and set it on fire.

 


#2 anna2013

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Posted 05 January 2015 - 06:12 PM

I love this post Quit - this is exactly the sort of thing I needed to learn when I first came here - so thank you for putting the time and effort into writing something that I'm sure will resonate and reassure both lurkers and newbies a like. 

 

I do not have a scientific type of brain on any level!  But funnily enough it was the science of smoking and the science of quitting (all learnt here) that really made me take the mental leap from romancing - to just knowing I didn't ever actually want to smoke again. It wasn't that easy for me, but it was and is so doable. I learnt about my addiction and what it did to my brain and body and learnt about what happened when I quit - and then I took comfort and had faith in posts like yours which told me why and how it would finally get better. And it does and it did.

 

Good to see you here - I hope you keep posting. 


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         Smokers don't 'get' to smoke, they 'have' to smoke - that's when the penny dropped for me..


#3 Cristobal

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Posted 06 January 2015 - 12:43 AM

Fantastic post David !!!

If you are new here, take the time to read it, everything is completely true.

Cristóbal
► I am a ** OLDE PHARTE ** (1 year + :grin: ) !!!
► I smoked 30 years, 2 packs a day ... Bleah ..... :shock: :shock: :shock:
► 14 October 2012 - ¡ This day I took control .... and took back my freedom ! :grin: :grin: :grin:

► ¡ Cold Turkey On A Whim ! :lol: :lol: :lol:
¿¿ How to quit and *STAY* quit ??
¡¡¡ Rocket Science !!! (N.O.P.E. - Not.One.Puff.Ever .... Just For Today)

My Quit & First Post: http://www.quitsmoki...php?f=2&t=46786


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#4 johnny5

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Posted 06 January 2015 - 12:50 AM

Awesome post.


If you have just one you will be right back where you started, and where you started was desperately wishing you were where you are right now. - Marvitta

 

I didn't quit smoking to live longer, I did it to live better. - jwg

 

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#5 Breatheasy2

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Posted 06 January 2015 - 01:06 AM

David,

 

You know me, Ms. this post looks long and complicated. I'll get back to it later when I have my thinking cap on. LOL :-)

 

This is one of the absolute BEST posts I've read regarding nicotine addiction. 

 

It really should be a must read for any quitter.

 

I'm so thankful I took the time to read through this entire post.

 

I really hope it is pinned as a must read in the Newbie Package!!!

 

EXCELLENT, EXCELLENT post David!

 

Thank you for taking the time to put the proverbial pen to paper.

 

I really miss you. :-(

 

I hope you stop by more often!!


~Happily Quit and Free since 7 June 2012


#6 marciem

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Posted 06 January 2015 - 01:10 AM

Hi there David... GREAT to see you here my friend!!  

 

and wonderful to see that you still have your powerful ability to take us step by step through a complicated process so that we can understand it.  Quitting smoking is much more than putting down the pack of cigarettes and walking away.

 

Great post as usual! 


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Quit Date 9/20/12
event.png
image.png?base_img=2&size=0&date_yr=2012
Honorary member of: 5a88dc8d35.png

S.moking is N.ot an O.ption T.oday
Better to be a nonsmoker with an occasional desire to smoke, than a smoker with a constant desire to quit.
Remember: everything bad about quitting is temporary, and everything good about quitting is permanent. TimidTulip
Not a day will ever go by that life is 100% perfect. But 100% of the days are better not smoking jwg
I feel no matter my outcome, quitting was still hands down the best thing I ever did....r.i.p. jwg 12/28/13
Like John, no matter my own outcome, quitting smoking is hands down the best thing I've ever done... mlm 2/16/17                                                       


#7 kinkash

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Posted 06 January 2015 - 01:12 AM

Haha....Quit Is posting :-)
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When the student is ready...The teacher will appear-Soul
Fear of the quit is worse than the quit-Cookielinda
When you stop buying cig......You start paying for your addiction - jwg

Smoking is not some friend that brings you comfort. It is the Enemy that wants to kill you!
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#8 Kathleen0515

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Posted 06 January 2015 - 01:16 AM

There you go, making my head spin again  ;-)  Great post David, as usual. Thanks.


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image.png?base_img=1&size=0&date_yr=2012

 

      phpus0IwXPM1_zps54aa894a.jpg"

"Grammy, why are you putting smoke in your body?"

 

I stopped putting smoke in my body on June 28, 2012. 


#9 Guest__Luna__*

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Posted 06 January 2015 - 01:21 AM

Great post...Thank you :)

#10 Jeni

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Posted 06 January 2015 - 01:22 AM

You have a gift, David.

Thank you for sharing it with us.

#11 Chrysalis

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Posted 06 January 2015 - 01:34 AM

Excellent post, David. Not only the content-- which is wonderful and very helpful-- but the "conversational" structure you created that really holds my interest. Great writing! Thank you.


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Note to self: Even if I do smoke ONE cigarette and that ONE cigarette gives me relief from these AWFUL feelings, how long will that relief last? Forever? No, of course not. All day? No. An hour? Unlikely. I know perfectly well that the relief I feel, such as it is, will only last about 15 minutes before I'm right back to where I am now-- NEEDING just ONE cigarette to deal with these AWFUL feelings.  All right-- forget it! Forget the d*** cigarette! N.O.P.E.

 

image.png?base_img=3&size=0&date_yr=2014

 

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#12 QuitIsEasyDoneIt100x

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Posted 06 January 2015 - 06:49 AM

David,

 

You know me, Ms. this post looks long and complicated. I'll get back to it later when I have my thinking cap on. LOL :-)

 

 

TL;DR = Too Long; Didn't Read.

 

That's why I put it at the top ;)  

 

 

Thank you for all the kind words everyone :D   It really means a lot.


11/05/12
Keep on rocking that quit. headbanger.gif

Congratulations!  You have just discovered the secret text!  Have some cake. the_cake_is_a_lie_portal.jpg

 

Cigarettes are like squirrels - harmless until you put one in your mouth and set it on fire.

 


#13 Breatheasy2

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Posted 06 January 2015 - 07:02 AM

TLDR - too long didn't read

That's an acronym I've never heard of.

Well, I'm glad I read through the whole thing! :-)

~Happily Quit and Free since 7 June 2012


#14 Melody

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Posted 06 January 2015 - 09:25 PM

Loved it, great explanation!  


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#15 JMM

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Posted 06 January 2015 - 11:37 PM

Thank you!!
~ Jami

It won't be easy, but it will be worth it

Choose freedom - December 25, 2014 at 10pm

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NOPE - I don't smoke anymore

#16 Cristobal

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Posted 17 February 2015 - 07:06 AM

February bump !!!

Plesse read this, if you have not already done so.


Cristóbal
► I am a ** OLDE PHARTE ** (1 year + :grin: ) !!!
► I smoked 30 years, 2 packs a day ... Bleah ..... :shock: :shock: :shock:
► 14 October 2012 - ¡ This day I took control .... and took back my freedom ! :grin: :grin: :grin:

► ¡ Cold Turkey On A Whim ! :lol: :lol: :lol:
¿¿ How to quit and *STAY* quit ??
¡¡¡ Rocket Science !!! (N.O.P.E. - Not.One.Puff.Ever .... Just For Today)

My Quit & First Post: http://www.quitsmoki...php?f=2&t=46786


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#17 jft

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Posted 17 February 2015 - 10:56 AM

This has come at a really apposite moment, as am struggling at the moment, but reading this has helped me refocus, and reignited the hope that one day all this shall pass. I just need to keep rebuilding those memory webs!

 

Thank you so much for such a clear, thoughtful and positive post - upwards and onwards!


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Jane

 

 

post-27786-0-82152600-1418041933_thumb.j

 

 

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#18 hermine

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Posted 17 February 2015 - 11:06 AM

Great post... a must read for Newbies.


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#19 Cristobal

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Posted 09 March 2015 - 05:21 AM

March bump of a terrific post !!!

 

 

Cristóbal


► I am a ** OLDE PHARTE ** (1 year + :grin: ) !!!
► I smoked 30 years, 2 packs a day ... Bleah ..... :shock: :shock: :shock:
► 14 October 2012 - ¡ This day I took control .... and took back my freedom ! :grin: :grin: :grin:

► ¡ Cold Turkey On A Whim ! :lol: :lol: :lol:
¿¿ How to quit and *STAY* quit ??
¡¡¡ Rocket Science !!! (N.O.P.E. - Not.One.Puff.Ever .... Just For Today)

My Quit & First Post: http://www.quitsmoki...php?f=2&t=46786


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#20 GailN

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Posted 10 March 2015 - 03:57 AM

hi - this place has changed a lot since i last came here. Triggers - HUNGER! and fatigue (i have chronically) are the worst. I found that talking on the phone to annoying people also does it. i'm just starting to quit - again - and not finding it easy. such a slow road. i read the book You Can Quit Smoking years ago & use it as reference. ex-boyfriend just started smoking again after 3 years clear - weird - after 3 years nagging me! i heard that 3 solid days of not smoking clears the body of nicotine and then it's just detoxing & triggers after that. right?






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