Myth 3: You have to suffer from withdrawal

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Myth No 3: You have to suffer from withdrawal symptoms when you quit

The idea that stopping smoking is accompanied by bad physical withdrawal symptoms is so widespread that you would be forgiven for assuming that it’s a scientific fact. It isn’t.

Nicotine leaves the body very quickly – most of it within a few hours. The physical withdrawal is very slight, causes no pain whatsoever and is only noticeable over the first few days. This is another very important piece of information:

The physical withdrawal from nicotine involves no pain and lasts just a few days.

A lot of people ask me, if that’s true why is it so hard to quit? Why do most smokers seem to find it impossible to get free from cigarettes? And why do they (probably including you in the past) feel so terrible when they try to stop? So uptight, tense, irritable and angry?

The explanation for this lies in the mental process we go through when we try to quit on the willpower method.

It’s not physical pain we suffer. It’s a sense of loss, a psychological feeling of deprivation. The really unpleasant symptoms are actually caused by this feeling and how you react to it.

So there are two aspects to the addiction. There is the chemical addiction to nicotine which I have already explained and, more importantly, there is also a mental or psychological addiction. I have described the physical addiction as the Little Monster in the body. I describe the mental addiction as the Big Monster in the mind. The Big Monster is the result of the way we react to the Little Monster and the brainwashing that we are all subjected to about smoking which leads to misunderstandings and illusions about the benefits we get from it, such as we enjoy the taste or it relieves stress.

Like all smokers, you will have formed your own associations such as: ‘It’s impossible to enjoy a morning coffee without a cigarette’, or: ‘I love a cigarette after a meal.’ These have become so much part of your life that you feel it would be a huge sacrifice to be deprived of them, don’t you?

These are all part of mental addiction.

And unless we first remove the brainwashing, the misunderstandings and the illusions, we will find it hard to quit.

Until then, there’s a crazy tug-of-war going on inside our head.


Mental tug-of-war
I should quit because: But:
It’s killing me It’s my little pleasure/reward
It’s costing me a fortune It’s my little crutch
It’s filthy and disgusting I can’t enjoy life without it
It’s antisocial It relieves stress
It’s controlling my life I’ll have to go through a terrible trauma to quit and may feel deprived for the rest of my life


When a smoker is trying to quit on willpower, this mental tug-of-war intensifies and the quitting process becomes a tense and stressful time. And how do smokers usually react to stress? Well, they light a cigarette of course. But if you’re trying to quit, you can’t do that, so you feel even more uptight and miserable.

Can you see how unless you put an end to the mental addiction, quitting will inevitably be tough and will cause you to suffer?

It’s the mental addiction, the belief that we are being deprived of a genuine pleasure or crutch, that causes the unpleasant symptoms. Remove that and there is no need to suffer at all. In fact, you can enjoy being free from the moment you put out your final cigarette!


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