As a smoker, you know how comforting stepping out for a smoke can be. Smoke breaks are relaxing rituals that can help you cope with stress, keep perspective, and feel good. So why give them up? With The Smoke-Free Smoke Break, you don’t have to. This groundbreaking approach presents a complete plan for quitting smoking safely by helping you transform your smoke breaks into a powerful self-care routine for managing stress and cravings.
The exercises and meditations in this program are designed to make it easy for you to mindfully manage stress, control cravings, and prevent relapse. Long after you’ve quit, you’ll continue to enjoy smoke-free smoke breaks to help you feel calm, relaxed, and in control throughout the day.
From the Publisher:
The Smoke-Free Smoke Break is a groundbreaking approach to smoking cessation that helps readers learn to replace smoking with mindfulness, craving control, and cognitive restructuring techniques that help readers reduce tobacco use gradually, at their own pace. Because the ritual and habit of smoking can be as addictive as nicotine itself, this book allows readers to continue taking "smoke-free smoke breaks" using tobacco-free relaxation methods.
Foreword by Andrew Tatarsky, Ph.D., with the Center for Integrative Harm Reduction Psychotherapy:
Welcome to Pavel Somov and Marla Somova’s guide to changing your relationship to smoking, whether that means quitting, cutting back, or simply smoking more mindfully. This groundbreaking book is both a state-of-the-art, research-supported, practical manual for breaking the habit, and a compassionate guide to waking up and becoming fully present in your life. I am deeply grateful for the gift of this book, and certain that you will feel the same as you work and play your way through it.
From the first page, I was riveted. Having worked professionally with addictive behavior for thirty years, I am seldom surprised with new ideas. Yet this book surprised me with many delightful, inspiring, and useful ideas and exercises that I immediately began to bring into my work with patients. This book rides the crest of a new, hopeful, and effective approach to positive behavior change that’s revolutionizing the way professionals understand and address addictive behaviors. We are emerging from a dark, pessimistic age in which addictive behaviors, such as smoking, were viewed as permanent, chronic diseases that only complete and total abstinence could heal. Therein, “addicts” were stigmatized as powerless and controlled by their disease. The prognosis was poor because these people were seen as merely responding to negative social sanctions and requiring coercive treatments that, unfortunately, failed the overwhelming majority. This failure was attributed to the disease and the “addict’s” lack of motivation—a bleak picture indeed!
While this scenario is more frequently associated with the “harder” addictions, it is also applied in more subtle ways to the smoking “addict,” reflected in the current embrace of increasingly punitive, unsympathetic social attitudes and actions toward smokers, such as increasing taxes on cigarettes to an extent way out of proportion with other recreational activities. I and others have critiqued the biologically reductionistic view that blames the evil drug or the “addict’s” moral weakness while missing the complexity of the smoker’s relationship to smoking. Inadequate understanding of the behavior and the resulting inadequate treatments explain the poor outcomes of treatment and self-help approaches. This book explores this stigmatization of smokers in greater depth and discusses why smokers warrant compassion, acceptance, and respect, which are essential for developing a healthier relationship to smoking.
The emerging paradigm offers a more complex and positive understanding of why people develop addictive behaviors, and suggests more effective approaches to changing them. This increasingly accepted approach understands addictive behaviors as being related to a complex interplay of biology, psychology, and social context that is unique for each person. Addictive behaviors reflect a variety of positive, adaptive motives that need to be recognized and appreciated before work on behavior change can be successful, motives that include the need to cope with stress and other difficult feelings and life circumstances, to care for ourselves, and to seek pleasure and enjoyment and the related social experiences. Addictive behaviors always have positive aspects that attract people to them. People smoke and use other substances because it feels good and works in some vital ways, even when the behavior may have serious short- and long-term associated risks. This view sees smokers and other drug users as people who are responsible for their choices, and approaches the question of why people make these choices with compassion, empathy, and respect. This adaptive viewpoint explains why people begin smoking and find it pleasurable, and also provides a way to consider what issues may need to be addressed to support a choice to stop or reduce smoking. Our understanding of behavioral conditioning provides a model for understanding how, ever so subtly over time, the initial choice to smoke can become a deeply ingrained, irresistible overlearned habit that is very difficult to change—in the authors’ words, from mindful choice to mindless habit. This understanding of addictive behaviors suggests that an effective approach to changing them requires both recognizing the positive functions of the behavior and employing a strategic approach to change these deeply ingrained habits. This book offers this solution: meet the mindlessness of habit with a mindful awareness that enables the smoker to confront powerful urges with an alternative solution or response that reinforces a new pathway.
This book beautifully brings these ideas to life in a way that is clear, compelling, and inspiring. The authors teach a comprehensive mindfulness-based craving-control technique for “awakening the smoking zombie” and turning mindless habitual smoking into mindful smoking, a process that literally extinguishes the smoking habit. Not only will you learn how to break the habit step by step, but—and this is the real payoff—you will also be introduced to mindfulness practice in the process! The authors will show you how to actually use your smoking urges as reminders to meditate and cultivate a greater capacity to be more fully present to yourself and your life. Their technique brings together mindfulness practice and relaxing breathing through many creative exercises and provocative koans designed to teach and provoke, encourage and seduce awakening. Like wise old Zen teachers, the authors are sometimes gentle and loving, and sometimes funny and perplexing, and they always invite deep introspection, recasting the hard work of quitting smoking as an exciting adventure of self-discovery.
Really learning the skills and craving-control strategies, and demonstrating your ability to use them before attempting to quit are stressed in this book. The authors suggest that premature attempts to quit or stay quit with inadequate preparation are usually what sets smokers up for failure, but the approach you will learn prepares you well for your chosen quit date. In fact, you are encouraged to continue smoking as a necessary part of the process of learning the skills you need to quit. You will smoke your way to quitting and won’t be asked to quit until you are ready!
Harm-reduction principles, which make up my personal and professional philosophy for living, deeply inform this book. Called “compassionate pragmatism” by trailblazing addictive behavior researcher Alan Marlatt, harm reduction asserts that all effective strategies must really start where people are, with their unique, complex subjective experience. There must be pragmatic acceptance that people are where they are, as well as compassion for any struggles and suffering linked to the problem behavior. Harm reduction recognizes all positive change as success, even if it’s just steps in a positive direction rather than stopping altogether. We don’t need to know the end point of the journey toward healing, growth, and positive change in order to begin the journey. Although it’s great if you are committed to doing so, you aren’t required to commit to stopping smoking before starting the process of cutting down. You will feel welcome here if you are simply concerned about your smoking and want to examine it more fully, are considering cutting back, or are clear that you want to stop.
As if all of this were not enough, the authors end the book with useful discussions about caring for yourself once you have quit or cut back, and many strategies to reduce and prevent relapse. The ideas and strategies that this book brings together are all evidence supported, the new standard for good treatment and self-help strategies. This book will be useful both to people working on their smoking and to professionals seeking tools to add to their support toolboxes.
With wisdom, wit, creativity, and humor, the authors take you on a journey that begins with support for addressing your smoking, and expands to encompass ways that you can attain better health, and greater awareness and enjoyment of life. I wish you a wonderful, enlightening journey.
Andrew Tatarsky, PhD Center for Integrative Harm Reduction Psychotherapy, New York