Nicotine Freedom - Learning From Your History

by Marlene M. Maheu, Ph.D.


Failure is success if we learn from it.
-Malcolm S. Forbes

Many people have tried to stay nicotine free in the past, and have failed.
There is something to be learned by looking back at exactly what happened
during those times. Often you can predict your future difficulities if you
take a moment to remember your past failures. Your methods of coping with
relapse situations probably haven't changed much if you haven't worked at
learning new skills, so learning is crucial for success this time.

The following questions are provided to help you remember the most
difficult things you have experienced in becoming nicotine free so that this
time you can successfully prepare for the same challenges you faced in the
past. But this time, you can deal with these challenges by learning new
skills and making your expectations more realistic. Take this activity
seriously. It is one of the best ways you can help yourself.

If you have tried to become nicotine free for more than a few hours before:

1. What were you actually physically doing the hours before you started
using tobacco again?

2. Was alcohol involved when you started using tobacco again?

____Yes ____No

3. After you become nicotine free, did you suffer any withdrawal symptoms?

____Yes ____No

If yes, please check the symptoms that you experienced:

__ depression
__ headache
__ drowsiness or fatigue
__ gastrointestinal disturbances
__ restlessness
__ irritability
__ anxiety
__ sleeplessness
__ others (please describe): ______________________________________

4. Did any of these withdrawal symptoms contribute to your decision to
start using nicotine again?

____Yes ____No

5. Were you experiencing any of the following stressors when you started
using nicotine again? Please check appropriate lines.

__ loss of a close friend or relative __ gain of a new family member
__ divorce __ death of a close family member
__ change in job status __ death of a close friend
__ recent move __ personal injury or illness
__ marriage __ change in health of a family member
__ marital separation __ son or daughter leaving home
__ pregnancy __ trouble with in-laws
__ other: ___________________ __ other: ___________________

6. Were you experiencing any particular feeling, such as being "bored,"
when you started using nicotine? Look over the list below to identify
possible feelings that you'll need to learn new coping skills to manage
during the process of becoming nicotine free.

abandoned frightened miserable
afraid frusterated misunderstood
angry grateful panicky
anxious guilty pressured
ashamed happy proud
bored hopeless regretful
confused humiliated relaxed
disappointed hurt sad
discouraged ignored seductive
disliked inferior stressed
embarrassed jealous tense
empty lonely uncomfortable
enthusiastic loved upset
foolish mad worried



Marlene M. Maheu, Ph.D. is the founding Director of the Nicotine Recovery Institute. She is the designer of the Nicotine Freedom System, and specializes in the treatment of nicotine-related disorders. Such disorders include underlying depression and anxiety. She has worked extensively with smokers and tobacco chewers in hospital, industrial, and private settings, and is available for individualized consultation and program design. Her program and materials have been developed after completion of her doctoral dissertation in smoking cessation, and following a decade of work with thousands of smokers.

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