For many addicts we have one vice we have a hard time just letting go. For many in recovery it is smoking. As non-smokers can understand, you arrive or leave an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting only to be overwhelmed by all the smokers who tend to hang out at the front door. I was one of them. But I, just like alcohol, made a decision to stop for the rest of my life. It’s not easy saying goodbye to your best friend you’ve had for 37 years. But I can relate. It’s just like any other addiction. For me, it’s “One Day At a Time”.
To my surprise, the first day without a cigarette was relatively easy. Honestly, I had three strong cravings all day. The first walking to my first AA meeting of the day. The next after I ate dinner at night. Finally the last, when I was done with my day and heading off to bed.
I did not go cold turkey, as I immediately have put a NRT patch upon waking up. Based on my own experience of trying to stop smoking in my past, the patches helped me “stay stopped” successfully. The challenge right now is filling my hands with something to do when the cravings start.
As I shared at a meeting yesterday, I am applying the same principles of AA to quit smoking. While I’m looking for some positive reinforcement in my decision to do so, many dismiss me. Doing so just makes my determination stronger. An old timer, who’s been smoke free for many years now, pointed to the toothpick he always chews when at an AA meeting. I responded with, “I’ll try that…I’m being honest, open-minded and willing, just as I am in AA”
Just like when I quit alcohol, the first few hurdles are the physical craving and mental obsession. The cravings come when my body says, “Hey, we’re missing something here.” My body is expelling those toxic chemicals, just like alcohol, that in the end want to kill me. For those who quit cold turkey, I applaud you because without the NRT, I highly doubt I would have gotten through the first 24 hours. The mental obsession as we know from our addiction takes time. Dammit, I want it all to go away, NOW! **great laughter** . I’ve been down this road before haven’t I?
Right now, it’s all about Step 1 to Step 3. I know I’m powerless – if I smoke one, I’m off to the races again and I can’t stop. Step 2, I “believe in a Power greater than myself WILL restore me to sanity” – I trust this will happen, giving it time. Lastly, Step 3, I “turn my will and my life over to the the care of God (or Higher Power) as I understand Him”. I’m not alone, my Higher Power is there to help me, if I let Him.
I say this as another craving sets in because I’m about to walk to outpatient treatment. Typical routine – smoke a cigarette. But just writing those three Steps, the obsession is NOT there, the physical craving has already lessened and I’m not even out the door. I know the program works, I just have to trust the process.