- AA Recovery and the Nicotine Dilemma

AA Recovery and the Nicotine Dilemma

Discussions related to 12 Step Recovery and Treatment

AA Recovery and the Nicotine Dilemma

Postby ElectronicDan » Tue Feb 13, 2007 2:27 am

Hello, I'm Dan and I'm an addict and an alcoholic.

I've been in the program sober for 66 days now. I'm still working on the foundation steps of one, two and three.

I am very certain I have done Step 1 for my alcoholism and drug addiction.

But a concern/worry/problem I'm having is my cigarette smoking. I've been smoking maybe half a pack a day on average for the last 7 years. Since I've been in the program and sober, though, it seems my smoking has picked up a bit to a pack a day.

What bugs me is I don't know if I should attempt to quit smoking or not! I've tried and tried again, on my own, to quit and I can't do it. I get my stretches of smoke-free living but I always go back to the smoke. But can I honestly say my life has become unmanageable because of my smoking?

It's so accepted and so intertwined with society and with my way of life and the only way I believe it has interfered with my life is constant "smoke breaks" at work, at home (while typing this), at school, etc. I get "you shouldn't smoke," daily from someone that cares for me, and that makes me feel guilty -- but I need to quit for myself. Quitting for another doesn't work and just mucks things up further. I've been down that road far too many times.

What's going to make me quit for myself? Utter hopelessness that this has become unmanageable-- that I am powerless over nicotine in any form. Right now, I feel the only way I could come to grips with that would have to be something immediately life threatening to me... It's an addiction! Seeing friends and relatives dying of the same exact thing I'm doing hasn't stopped me yet! I can potentially see cancer coming down the road for me if I keep this up, but that's down the road! "I've got time!" my addiction says.

With alcohol and drugs, my time was up! It was life or death. Death was at my door and God gave me a second chance, and I'm convinced of that. I was open to any solution because the doctors told me suicide wasn't an option and I had none left up my sleeves that were going to work.

I have a sponsor and I utilize his guidance. He has worked the steps many-a-times and although he's been 27 years sober from alcohol, he's still a smoker, and is battling cancer. Seeing what he's found in the program--peace of mind--has amazed me and I knew right away when I heard his story that I wanted him as a sponsor.

I see him and I say to myself "Wow, what's stopping him from quitting smoking?" or "What's got him so at ease with the idea that he's a smoker? Where did he get that acceptance?"

What's the secret I'm missing here? Should I accept, at least for right now, that I'm a smoker? Maybe my indecision and plight with my smoking habit may be part of my fourth step...? Or perhaps it's my third step...? hmm...

I'm working on a solution to a problem that's baffled me for years, and one part of me says why not the smokes too? Another part of me says, I'm too young in sobriety to be thinking about such a leap...

Another part of me says, what do other people in the program have to say about their smoking habits, both those that smoke now and those that have since quit...

If you still smoke, what keeps you smoking although you've maintained your sobriety to your other addictions?

If you quit since you've been in the program, what was the deciding factor for you, what did it for you?

Thanks for your support and I'm grateful to have you guys.

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Postby anniemac » Tue Feb 13, 2007 9:02 pm

Hi Dan, and welcome to both AA and Step12.com. Congrats to you on 66 days clean and sober.

I can only share my own experience on this matter; I don't know what's best for you (geez, I rarely know what's best for ME!).

When I first got sober, my smoking increased a lot. I was suddenly chain smoking. I was concerned about it, and knew I wanted to quit at some point, but didn't feel ready to tackle that biggie while still gaining my balance in sobriety. Too much pressure at once was not good for this newbie. A guy at a meeting said that although smoking may kill me some day, if I picked up a drink or a drug it could kill me today...and to keep my focus on staying clean and sober. That sounded reasonable to me, so I set a quit date some time after my 1 year anniversary.

Ends up, I quit sooner than that. Found out I had the beginnings of emphysema, and the medical advise to quit, coupled with the meds I was given to aid the cessation, allowed me to quit for good (so far).

I can't say what's going to make you want to quit for you. For me, I know that the longer I am sober and the more I make conscious contact with the HP of my understanding, the more I want to live a 'clean' life in all aspects. As I travel down this spiritual path and continue to strive to allign myself with God, it seems that all by itself, without any will from me, I desire to be healthier in all regards. I've lost some weight, I work out more, I am more conscious of the foods I put in my body, I am more conscious of the chemicals I use in my house, I am less wasteful, etc.

So what worked for me, was, really, to work Step 11 -- to continue to make conscious contact with HP. A byproduct of that is that I now have more respect for my body, my life, and that of others and of this planet.

Best wishes to you!
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Welcome Dan!

Postby Dallas » Tue Feb 13, 2007 11:10 pm

Hello Dan! Glad you finally took the time to check in and introduce yourself! Welcome to the site!

Dilemmas. :lol: Wouldn't life be just grand without dilemmas!!!

When I was drinking I had all sorts of dilemmas! Then, when I got sober I had all sorts of dilemmas! For a while, I was beginning to belive that life itself was just one big dilemma!

I had to let go of dilemmas. I had to let go of them absolutely -- because they were keeping me all nerved up and unable to enjoy my sobriety! And, if I didn't find a way to enjoy the life I had -- and be happy with it -- I would end up on the brink of a drink!

That's not to say that I don't sneak around and once in a while find me a nice big juicy dilemma! :oops: :lol:

There have been times, when just to realize that I'm sober today -- that's enough reason to not consider anything else as a dilemma. Sometimes, just to be sober today is the biggest deal that there is for me.

We used to use the term around here "analyze" and "anal eyes". Even now, sometimes... if I let myself start analyzing too much -- I can get a severe case of sore eye! :wink:

My suggestion to you is to try to relaxe and take it easy. Try not to over do it. Somewhere, once, I heard some kind of slogan, that was something like "Easy does it!" Later, when I was doing it too easy... it was suggested to me "Easy does it ... but, do it!"

I'm not suggesting one way or another on the nicotine. That's a choice and a decision that you'll have to make on your own ... and you will decide, one way or other, when it's your time to decide. :wink: If you decide to stop... there is help available. If you decide not to stop... for now... there is help available for that, too!

Some changes for me have been a real struggle. Other changes didn't seem to be so much of a struggle. I would make the change when I was entirely ready to make the change.... and not a day sooner! :wink:

The greatest motivator for me to change something -- has been the pain associated with the something. When the pain gets too great... I have to do something about it. Sometimes just the struggle over a delimma is enough of a pain to do something about it -- and sometimes, the only thing I've been able to do is let go of the struggle -- and look for something that's easier for me to change.

Change for me -- seems to always be slow and incremental. My sponsor often reminds me of that! :oops: When I try to rush the changes... or start thinking... "You know! I should be changing this faster!" -- That's when I have a dilemma!

Best regards to you in whatever you decide to do! I wish you the best!

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Postby Marley » Wed Feb 14, 2007 3:44 am

Hey Dan,

When I quit drinking I smoked and the longer I stayed sober the more I seemed to smoke.

But we have to learn to take one thing at a time. The best advice I can give is don't worry about the smoking until you feel comfortable in your sobriety.

Once I had resigned myself to this healthier way of living the will power to quit smoking was there. I stopped 2yrs ago. It wasn't easy but it was the right decision.

Remember your sobriety comes first. If you were still using would you even be thinking about quiting smoking.

It took real courage to stop using. Concentrate on that for a while and give yourself a chance.

God Bless
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Postby ElectronicDan » Fri Mar 02, 2007 3:39 pm

Thanks for sharing, anniemac, Dallas, and Marley! You've shed some light on this dilemma of mine!

What was holding me up at the time I wrote that post was the Third Step Prayer. I wanted to be entirely sure I was ready and willing to give it up to my HP. Smoking was one of those things I kept battling with. I kept saying to myself "Well, I can't honestly say I'm taking the Step Three Prayer honestly if I'm still smoking afterwards!"

I sat on that notion for a while. I wrote here, I asked my sponsor, I brought it up in discussion, and it still was haunting me in the back of my mind! All these ideas and suggestions were fantastic, but I still couldn't do it. I couldn't get passed the idea in my own head!

But then... I suddenly awoke...

I realized that this decision isn't mine to make! To smoke or not to smoke--let go and let God!

Who am I to say I know what God's will is--that He wants me to quit smoking or that He wants me to continue smoking? I was playing God and not even realizing it!

I let it go. I was willing to give God that decision. I trust and have faith in Him. He has guided me this far, how arrogant of me to say he doesn't know what he's doing in my cigarette smoking arena!

Thank you all, once again. I am grateful to be a part of this community, virtually, physically, and spiritually.
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Postby Dallas » Sat Mar 03, 2007 1:22 am

Thanks for the update Dan!

Your sharing about it reminded me of my Seventh Step... when I prayed... "My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me -- the good and the bad" :lol:

What a relief for me to discover that I didn't have to be a Saint to ask God for help, and that He loves and cares about me just like I am!!! :wink:

When stuff is bothering me... that I suspect that I need to change... I do pretty much the same thing that you did. I think about it. I pray about it. I let it bother me for a while. And, then I talk to my sponsor about it.

Then, if it still looks like something I need to change -- I go back to the prayer routine -- and ask God to help me become entirely willing to change whatever it is that I need to take action to change. I also ask Him to remove from me any defects of character that I have that are keeping me from becoming willing. Then, I leave it alone.

There really does seem to be such a thing as "God's time instead of mine."

So far... it's worked when I've worked it! :wink:

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Postby Zanthos » Thu Mar 15, 2007 12:28 am

ElectronicDan wrote:Smoking was one of those things I kept battling with....

But then... I suddenly awoke...

I realized that this decision isn't mine to make! To smoke or not to smoke--let go and let God!

Who am I to say I know what God's will is--that He wants me to quit smoking or that He wants me to continue smoking? I was playing God and not even realizing it!

Hi everyone. This is my first post. Sobriety date is 11/24/04. This thread caught my eye because my cigarette smoking is such that I'm afraid I'm going to seriously impair my health if I don't face it now. Been smoking for 30+ years. I really want to stop.

Dan's words above really hit home. Below is something I wrote the other day with respect to my alcoholism:

All those days and weeks and months and years that I wanted to stop drinking and COULD NOT. I tried so hard. At the end, it was a daily battle, one I lost on a daily basis. It was only when I finally realized that I COULD NOT STOP that things changed. So long as in my head I had the idea that I could stop, that I could make it happen, because I wanted to stop drinking therefore I could, so long as that was a part of my thought process, I could not stop.

But, as soon as that day came when I realized I could not stop, that nothing inside myself was going to keep me from drinking, when I completely FELT that I was truly powerless to stop, that was a key change. After that, I was able to reach out without any problems. I NEEDED HELP. I could not do this alone. I had no idea how to stop drinking and I was truly desperate to learn what others who had stayed sober had learned.

I only realized the other day that I can't control my smoking either. I acknowledged this to my HP and to myself, and prayed for guidance and help. Reading Dan's words were a great reminder that when I try to take control, even to do something good, it just doesn't work.

Since then, I haven't bought a pack of cigarettes. Still puffing a couple of handrolled cigs a day and slowly getting used to my sinuses clearing, the muscles in my head, neck and back relaxing, being able to smell stuff, and all sorts of weird emotions and feelings.

And trying not to feel sorry for myself because poor ol' me doesn't feel quite right! :)
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Postby Dallas » Thu Mar 15, 2007 7:05 am

Hey Zanthos!

Welcome to the forum and thanks for posting the great message!!! I sure identify with the experiences!

Keep coming back! It's great to have you here with us. Looking forward to reading more posts from you!

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