Type Shares

I Was Given Hope – by Roz

By the time I found these rooms I had pretty much given up on quitting smoking. I had not smoked for seven days, but knew it was just a matter of time before I smoked again. I had no problem quitting. I just couldn’t stay quit. I tried just about everything known to man in trying to stop smoking and nothing, absolutely nothing, worked.

I am a long term member of AA and believe in these 12-step programs, unfortunately there aren’t any Nicotine Anonymous meetings around me and don’t think we have any in Kansas. So there I was, hopeless, helpless and heading into my last days which I envisioned sitting in a wheel chair, sucking on oxygen and sadly a smoke hanging out of my fingers.

I’d developed copd with emphysema and breathing continued to get more difficult. Even all the inhalers (which had enabled me to keep smoking) were losing their effectiveness. I was full of desperation and despair.

A month before I quit, I bought a computer and got online. My daughter went to AA online meetings, so after I had those 7 smokeless days, she searched for a NicA group and there it was. That was March 22nd of 2002 and I am convinced to this day that my loving heavenly Father led her to this group because I haven’t had to smoke since. Yea!!

For me it continues to be a miracle, still a bit hard to believe I actually can live without the smokes and more than that, that I like it. No white knuckling it. Can you believe it? This person here couldn’t imagine life without smokes and saw my future looking might dismal. Of course, some of that goes on in the beginning. But it goes away and is replaced with good stuff. Lots of that was gratitude for me.

I’ve met lots of people who quit smoking on their own and they would try to help me, but they just couldn’t. I could not quit the way they did. This made me feel more hopeless. I felt weak because I couldn’t quit like they did. Eventually I just felt anger at them when they said how they did it. I also quit telling anyone I was going to quit, as I couldn’t bare the looks on their faces when I said those words. Like it was plain to see they sure didn’t believe that.

I heard someone say they had a lot of 2 hour quits; that was me. I tried all the NRTs and failed miserably with them. I grew to despise the concern on peoples faces when I just about coughed my guts up and they would ask, “Are you ok?  I hated that I smoked around my grandchildren. I would curse myself, swear I wouldn’t do again, and then light up again in their presence.

By the time I found this place I was full of self-loathing. The first thing I did was start going to meetings, as I believe in them. I started hearing all those things that had been going around in my head with nowhere to talk about them. I read literature that spoke to me like nothing else had. I talked about all the things I had tried in my denial and the hopelessness I felt. Well, it was really a lot like coming home. I fit perfectly within this program. I heard all the words I had yearned to say. And for the first time in quite a few years I was given hope.

People here gave me little hints on what to do about the craving: that it was ok if I went raging at times (I did a lot of that), it was ok if I slept the day away and my house went to pot. If I didn’t smoke, then I was a winner for that day. Well I just heaved a big sigh of relief, still am affected that way with what I found here. So, maybe I know a little bit about how you’re feeling, if you’re new. Yep, it defintely was my last gasp you might say. My last hope. I believed this was the last resort for me. If this didn’t work nothing would.

I found that this is the place for people who can’t quit; they come here and they quit. I encourage you strongly to come to as many meetings as you can, read the posts, literature and join us on the road of recovery. It’s awesome!! There is lots of compassion, caring, support and all that other stuff we need when we quit. You don’t have to do this alone. Here’s a huge welcome to you!!

-Rosalind H.

Meetings Are Where The Magic Is – by Gary

Hi, My name’s Gary and I’m a nicotine addict. I’m celebrating 19 years of being nicotine free. I started smoking at the age of eighteen and in short order became a one-to-two-pack-a-day smoker. I smoked for 31 years. I couldn’t not smoke! I was addicted!!!

When I was five years sober in the parent program (the summer of 1985) I decided to commemorate the event with a serious try at quitting smoking. I didn’t have much faith in myself—I had sworn off cigarettes countless times. But to show I was serious I went to the person I had used as a counselor for getting free of booze. He had studied hypnotism and went into private practice using hypnotherapy for substance abuse. His program consisted of a 90-minute session of hypnosis ten days before quit day, a 90 minute session on quit day, and a 90 minute follow up session ten days after quit day. There was also an emergency session available any time after the last session. I sign up for and completed his program and IT WAS FANTASTIC!

I never had any withdrawal symptoms and I felt wonderful. I still had occasional urges but they went away by my just announcing out loud that “I want a cigarette! And I’m still smoke free!”

Affirmations are a big part of my recovery. The blissfulness lasted for 52 days. On the 53rd day I took two puffs off a cigarette. I didn’t have an urge, I just had the stupid idea that one or two puffs would be OK. And I hated it!!! But two hours later I was obsessing about cigarettes. I had to have a smoke!

I never even thought about my affirmation. And as I walked across the street to buy a pack I was overcome with the realization of how powerful this addiction to nicotine was. How INSANE it was! I still went ahead and bought a pack of cigarettes and chain-smoke them until they was gone. And I went and bought more, and more. I smoke FOUR PACKS that day.

I was a basket-case. Totally and incomprehensibly demoralized!!! Well, I called for the emergency appointment and got back on the path of recovery. But I didn’t stick to it totally. I had sporadic “mini” relapses; one puff here, bumming a cigarette and taking two drags and stomping it out, doing this behavior here and there, all over the course of a few weeks.

I was complaining about my behavior to a friend and he said I might try going to the new Twelve Step Program called Smoker Anonymous that had just started in our area. I told him I think I should. But it took me two months of white-knuckle abstinence (November and December, 1985) before I got to my first meeting.

On the first Monday of January, 1986 I went to my first Smokers Anonymous meeting. There were only two other guys there and they made me do most of the talking since they had heard each other over and over. When I left that meeting I knew what I needed to do. I told myself “All you have to do is attend the meeting each week, not smoke in between meetings, and apply the principles of the twelve steps to your addiction and you’ll be nicotine free!” I made a commitment to do that, one day at a time. The only reason I could allow myself to miss the meeting was if I was really sick, or out of town on a business project. And that folks, is what I’ve done—and I’m still doing it.

These years of nicotine freedom have been amazing. I’ve been through wonderful times and many hard times, physically and spiritually, but I’ve stayed close to the fellowship of other recovering nicotine addicts and received the support and love that has sustained me. And I tapped into powers greater than myself that I call “LOVE” from that fellowship and that’s what has restored me to sanity. I have come to believe that meetings is where the magic is!

Hypnotism worked fine for me to begin the task of stopping smoking but Nicotine Anonymous meetings and the principles of the program are what have helped me STAY stopped. And now, not only do I have F2F meetings but there are the wonders of online meetings.

I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am for Nicotine Anonymous, which is the way I’m able to stay nicotine free. Now all I need to do is get a better computer that will allow me to have a microphone and I’ll be able to participate fully in the online meetings. My typing is too slow. Well, that’s it for now. Thanks for letting me share and remember: “Just keep coming back—IT WORKS!!!”

-Gary NicA

What Happened To My Quits? – by Elizabeth

I first joined an online nicotine recovery group in May of 2002. (It was UnofficialNicAnon.) I was NOT ready to stop using nicotine, but I did come to 2-3 meetings at 11PM each week. (Only 3 were available at that hour, or I would have come to more.) I loved the warmth and comradery among the members attending those meetings. The other meetings were inconvenient for me, due to all the other commitments I had.

I finally set my first “Quit Date” on August 9th of that year, because it would coincide with my 2nd anniversary of sobriety, which was achieved with the 12 steps. That lasted 5 weeks, until I allowed myself to get into a jealous rage, and smoked “at” him, to spite him. Of course, this hurt ONLY me. He is not even in my life anymore, and yet I wrecked my first quit to “get revenge” and “vent my wrath”, as though life happens, and smoking over it will NEVER make it better.

Prior to that quit, I had reduced my smoking from 4-5 packs per day down to half a pack, for over one year. After I destroyed that quit, I smoked like I was trying to make up for lost time; 2 or more packs each day. It took eleven months to get my next quit, and all that time I was attending Gord’s online meetings, I was smoking.

“The ONLY requirement for membership is the desire to stop using nicotine.” I certainly desired to be a non-smoker, as the cost of cigarettes in Ontario had risen to between $8-$9 per pack of 25 king sized smokes. This was an extremely important concern for me, because my second mortgage was up for renewal, and it was going from $23,500 @ 6% to $36,500 @ 28.1%, because of problems I had created with my credit rating. I COULD NOT AFFORD TO SMOKE AND STILL KEEP MY HOUSE, SO I WAS AFRAID THAT I WOULD LOSE MY ANIMALS. (Most apartments do not allow the type and number of pets, which I call my family.)

I have no one else living with me, and I have never even been pregnant, so they are essentially my “babies.”Next quit was on Canada Day, 2003, (July 1st.) It lasted 7 weeks, until I allowed myself to get overly emotional in response to the same person over whom I had lost my last quit. I got more and more frustrated, then hurt, then furious. And I smoked over it. It did not get any better because I smoked.

In fact, then on top of all the other out of control emotions, I now had to deal with the guilt and shame and embarrassment of losing another quit. But just as at any other time, smoking or not smoking, using nicotine or not using nicotine, the members in the group welcomed me into meetings, as long as I desired to become nicotine free. (Tradition 3.) I quit and kept quitting, and slipped and relapsed whenever I let my emotions and my will rule me.

Once I had seven weeks and then smoked one pack, very deliberately, on the night when I had to have my favorite 13 year old cat put to sleep, because of an extremely sudden illness, (only a few hours.) Following that I maintained a quit of over 9 months and some weeks, without even a single puff or any nicotine in my body at all. I lost that quit when I saw my sister having a smoke on the balcony of her new apartment. I had just seen my whole family the day before, and they all went out for a smoke and a chat without me. I reeked of self-pity.

I thought, well, I’m doing pretty good, “JUST ONE CAN’T HURT ME!” I couldn’t have been more wrong. I was just that ONE PUFF away from a pack a day. I have not yet been able to attain a lasting abstinence from nicotine. I need to go back and review and study step one, two and three, because I am powerless over nicotine and my life, (in general,) has become unmanageable. There is no human power, which can relieve my addiction. My Higher Power can and will if I ask honestly. My Higher Power has plans for me, and I do not believe that it is my Higher Power’s will that I use nicotine nor smoke. For me, those activities can only lead to problems which I cannot control.

Four days, 17 hours, 23 minutes and 54 seconds. 236 cigarettes not smoked, saving $85.04. Life saved: 19 hours, 40 minutes. Elizabeth/DragonsGlory

Quitting Again and Again – by Lissa

There seem to be a lot of people struggling with quitting and relapsing and that crazy cycle. I wanted to share my experience with that. I started smoking in high school, and I have vivid recollections of wanting to not smoke even then. I have spent the last 25 years trying to quit smoking. The number of times I “quit” is too many to count. It is embarrassing to me to even contemplate how many times I told my family I’d quit, only to have them see me smoking again the next day. Then to realize that my own children didn’t even listen any more when I said I was quitting – that was humiliating.

I’ve bought countless packs of cigarettes while attempting to quit, smoked one or a few of them, then destroyed the pack. I would get so fed up with smoking and wanting to quit I’d pour water in the pack, or throw the pack out the car window, or donate them to a homeless person, or just leave them on a table somewhere – anything to get the pack out of my life. Then I’d get a craving and go buy another pack and start the insanity again. And again. Sigh.

I knew it was insane and I knew my life was unmanageable, but I also didn’t know any other way to live!!! I knew what I was doing was not the right way. I was depressed and anxious. I did not want to live with or without cigarettes. I couldn’t imagine how I could possible survive without cigs, as I was barely surviving with them! I knew I wanted to quit, but it seemed impossible.  Then a few things happened that allowed me to quit again, and so far, at 36 days, I am on the other side of that insanity, at least for today.

Let me share with you what happened that allowed me to be where I am today, in the hope that those of you who are still suffering with the insanity can have some hope that you too will be able to have some serenity from smoking.

I was working at a drug treatment facility that based its program on the 12 steps. I was a “normie” working around people in sobriety, and helping people to become sober. I realized the similarity between their struggles with drugs and alcohol and my own with nicotine. I had respect for the 12 steps, and came to believe that they could help me too.

One thing I learned from working there was the understanding that if I kept doing what I was doing, I would keep getting the same results. In other words, I needed to do something different this time. So I resolved to do something different. In this case, that was one important thing. I resolved to find a NicAnon meeting.

That, I believe, was the one important difference between this quit and all the previous ones. So what happened when I found Nicotine Anonymous? I went to a meeting, and at my first meeting met someone who hadn’t smoked for EIGHTEEN years, and who had gone to a NicAnon meeting EVERY WEEK of those 18 years. WOAH. That blew my mind. The level of his commitment to his quit inspired me. I wanted what he had.

I made a commitment then to go to a meeting every week from now on. The other thing is that I discovered these message boards. To be able to get and give experience, strength and hope at any time of the day, has been a tremendous help. I am attempting to work the steps, and will continue to do so for the rest of my life.

I know now that smoking cigarettes was both a cause and a symptom of why my life was so f*&^ed up. It took a long time to get that way and will take a long time to undo  One other thing I learned from this quit: Don’t anticipate how it’s going to be, quitting smoking. I thought I’d be miserable and depressed and anxious…and I was, but not all the time. I spent more time before my quit being scared and anxious, and I learned that you really can’t know what it’s like until you do it.

The saying “one day at a time” to me means just do it, don’t anticipate it, just experience each moment, accept it, and deal with it, instead of thinking about it and fearing it and anticipating it. You may be surprised that it’s not as bad as you feared. Or it may be worse at times. But it makes no sense to think about it too much in advance. I also recommend obtaining in print a copy of the  Serenity Prayer for Smokers, and really reading it.

The technical things I did to quit this time, and I know everybody is different, but just for the record: I smoked my last cigarette before I went to bed on August 31, which was also my last day of work at a horribly stressful job (the one at the rehab program 🙂 So my life was a little less stressful. The next day my 15 year old daughter had a tonsillectomy, so she also stopped smoking that same day (after smoking about 9 months) but that meant she wouldn’t have cigarettes for me to steal.

One thing that’s always gotten in the way of my quits is if I get stressed, I’d just hop in my car and drive to the nearest gas station…Well this time, I couldn’t do that because my car was put on a ship to Hawaii. I was sharing my boyfriend’s car, and as he is a non-smoker in support of my quit, I was damned if I was going to borrow his care for the purpose of buying cigarettes. So that removed that temptation for me.

I also used nicotine replacement therapy. The first day I used the patch and the gum (not recommended by the medical professionals). I slapped that patch on right after my last cigarette so that the nicotine would be coursing through my body all night so that when I woke up in the morning I wouldn’t be craving a cigarette like an insane maniac. I had the gum right next to my bed so when I woke up I chewed on one of those babies…the first morning was always the toughest for me. Anyway, I stopped using the patch after 3 days, just used the gum, and tapered myself quickly and purposefully from the gum. I used NRT for about 2 weeks, which worked great. The last 5 days I went from 5 pieces of 2mg gum a day down to one piece on the last day. The first day of no nicotine was a struggle, but by then I had two weeks of dealing with cravings, support from my meeting, plus this group, and a start of working the steps, so I was able to do it! I hope this helps!!

Your friend in recovery,
Lissa