Know the Smoking Triggers and How to Cope

What is a smoking trigger? A trigger is something that makes one want to smoke, and they are different for different people. A stressful situation could be a trigger for someone. Socialising with friends could be a trigger for someone else. A coffee break, after lunch, smelling cigarette smoke, these could all be triggers.

Types of Triggers

Almost all triggers can be categorized into:

  • Pattern
  • Social
  • Withdrawal
  • Emotional

Pattern Triggers

Pattern triggers are activities that an individual associates with smoking. Some of these activities can be drinking alcohol, driving, finishing a meal, drinking coffee, taking a break from work etc.

An effective way to beat a pattern trigger is to disassociate smoking with the trigger and find another activity to do. Doing this enough times will transfer the feeling to a different activity. Replacement activities might be chewing gum instead of reaching for a cigarette. Keeping one’s hands busy is a good idea, like squeezing a handball or doing needlework or woodwork. Exercise can distract from the urge to smoke. Another good idea is to change up one’s routine.

Social Triggers

This kind of trigger usually includes being around other smokers. Some examples are going to a party or a bar. Attending a concert. Seeing someone else smoke. Celebrating a big event.

Dealing with social triggers is harder. One needs to start avoiding places where people smoke. The individual could ask friends and family not to smoke in front of them, as a show of support.

Withdrawal Triggers

When a long term smoker quits smoking, withdrawal symptoms will manifest. Some withdrawal triggers are things like craving the taste of a cigarette, smelling cigarette smoke, restless hands or handling lighters and matches.

The best way to deal with such triggers is to find a distraction. Doing something that occupies one’s full attention will take one’s mind off the craving.  

Emotional Triggers

An individual gets the urge to smoke when they experience intense emotions. It reminds them of how they feel when they smoke to enhance a good mood, or escape a bad mood. An emotional trigger could be stress, anxiety, excitement, boredom, happiness, loneliness, depression or satisfaction.

There are other ways to deal with emotional triggers, rather than leaning on cigarettes. For example, an individual can try talking about their emotions to friends and family. Exercise is a great way to handle emotions too. Physical activity releases endorphins which lifts the mood. Deep breathing techniques can help calm the mind and reduce cravings. Listening to calming music can also relax an individual, lessening the trigger effect.

An understanding of triggers and identifying the ones that affect one the most will help the individual trying to quit smoking make a successful plan to manage cravings.

If you are struggling to kick a drug or substance use habit, call Hired Power. Let us help you create a solid foundation for lasting recovery. 1-800-910-9299