Kicking the Habit Through Negative Reinforcement

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My addiction to nicotine progressed from casual social smoking to consuming two packs a week. Although I've only been smoking for about one year, I had to quit before my addiction became much stronger. Like most smokers, I've tried to quit cold turkey on many occasions, but the mood and the will power lasts only until my synapses (nerve endings) start screaming, crying, and pleading with my conscious for a cigarette. The intendment of my quest was to discern the influences on my smoking habit and to curb the physical and psychological addiction through the implementation of specific reinforced behaviors. Positive reinforcers make me smoke, and negative reinforcers prevent me from smoking. By identifying positive reinforcements, I learned to quit smoking.

Before beginning my analysis of my smoking habits, I recorded the number of cigarettes smoked on a daily basis. On an average day I smoked 4-5 cigarettes. By establishing my baseline performance on a typical week, I set out to find the positive reinforcements, which coerced me into smoking. The days that were most prolific in smoking were Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. The primary reason for the increase in smoking was due to the social events of that particular evening, which included the occasional alcohol consumption, and companionship of fellow smokers/friends. "Partying" dramatically affected my smoking habit. Undoubtedly my gregarious antics affected my smoking, but the post-sex cigarette also added to the count. By pinpointing these factors, I was able to invent a fixed negative reinforcement schedule to lead me away from smoking and steer me towards a healthier lifestyle.

In order to develop a fixed negative reinforcement schedule, I divided my cigarettes into groups allowing myself only three cigarettes a day. I placed my daily ration of cigarettes into envelopes and labeled them for each day of the week. I smoked one cigarette after lunch, one after dinner, and one later at night. I...
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